Knitbone, Knitback, blackwort, Consolida, Slippery Root


Comfrey Information

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Comfrey - Symphytum Officinale - also known as Knitbone, Knitback, blackwort, Consolida, Slippery Root

This plant grows wild in in the wetlands of Europe and parts of Asia.

Roots, rhizome and leaves of the plant are used.

Because of the Pyrrolizidene Alkaloids Comfrey must never be ingested

It is used for treating:




Below we list reported constituents of this herb. This may not be complete as continuous research constantly discovers new constituents. Where possible we also provide information about constituents and their application, effect and side effects, if any. We do not provide information on the interaction between constituents. We do not give quantities of each individual constituent as these vary considerably due to region and climate. By comparing the treatments above with the constituent benefits below some indication of quantities can be gained.

Phenolic acids: Therapeutically valuable and not toxic the Phenolic acids are analgesic, anti-inflammatory, hepatoprotective and hypotensive.

Saponins: Wound healing, anti-scarring. Saponins occur as glycosides with aglycone structures that are steroidal or terpenoid. Saponins can cause the destruction of red blood cells if injected causing anaemia or worse. Ingested saponins are poorly absorbed in the digestive system reducing the risk of poisoning but care must be taken on dosage as Saponins are mucus membrane irritants.

Many herbs containing saponins have been identified as "adaptogens" also referred to as harmony remedies (see: The Root of being: Ginseng and the Pharmacology of Harmony - Stephen Fulder 1980). Instead of being purely remedial herbs these adaptogens improves and energizes vitality and resistance thereby keeping ailments at bay. It is claimed that these adaptogens can improve mental functions like learning speed, awareness and alertness as well as help with emotional and intellectual stress. As a tonic they will also reduce the risk of infections by stimulating the immune system.

Saponins are also expectorant, anti-inflammatory, hepaprotective, combats cholesterol build up and antifungal.


Glycosides: Most glycosides remain inactive until they are hydrolysed in the gastric tract by specialised bacteria which then releases an aglycone (phenols, terpenes, steroids and quinones) that has the active effect. These compounds could be phenol, sulphur or alcohol based and many of them like the Cyanogenic glycosides are extremely toxic.

Glycosides are widespread in plants and are extremely varied in action, effect and medicinal application.

Glycosides are characterized by the chemical composition of a combination of sugar and non-sugar compounds capable of forming esters with an acid or ethers with alcohols.

When glycosides hydrolyse (with enzymes or acids) they form glycones (sugar moiety) or aglycones (non-sugar moiety)


Pyrrolizidine Alkaloids: Pyrrolizidine Alkaloids are associated with the formation of occlusion (blockages) in veins. This compound is wide spread amongst Boraginaceae, Astereceae and Papilonaceae families of plants. None of these plants should be ingested.

Pyrrolizidine Alkaloids have little or no known therapeutic  value and are exceptionally toxic. Unless a herb is used for external topical application that can not be satisfied by any other means we suggest that alternatives be found.

Several countries have banned the herbal use of plants containing Pyrrolizidine Alkaloids. Keep away from children and never ingest.



Administered as:

A poulticeInfusionOintment
Fluid extractDo Not ingest 
How current is this information?




* Statements made have not been evaluated by American Food and Drug Authority or similar board or authority of any other country.
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