COMFREY Symphytum officinale (pic Comfrey growing in my garden before the drought).

Right now Comfrey is springing back from its winter dormancy and drought decimation in places where it has rained and is ready for use by people smart enough to grow it.

Comfrey is famous for its unique ability to aid the body in the speedy and firm uniting of fractures. Research confirms that it stimulates formation of bone cells, connective tissue matrix and collagen precursors and cartilage matrix cells.

The wide ranging actions of Comfrey make it one of the most useful for horses and their humans, especially for its ability to accelerate healing of fractures as well as bone, tendon and ligament damage and to promote cartilage repair in early arthritis and rheumatoid diseases.

GREEN POULTICE

One of the best ways to use Comfrey is to select medium age/size leaves to make a green leaf poultice to bring down swellings in legs, as well as a valuable first aid/early treatment for all bone, joint, tendon and ligament injuries.

It’s important to know that any trauma to a joint can be a site for osteo-arthritis later on, so prevention is the way to go.

To make a green leaf poultice crush the leaves in a blender or mash with a mortar and pestle, then spread on a nappy or some gauze roll and bandage on to the affected area. Take the poultice off after a few hours, and apply a new one the following day.

Comfrey is cultivated and grows wild in many countries. Symphytum aspericum (Prickly Comfrey) is a fodder plant in Europe and I recall the British team bringing Comfrey hay to the Olympic Games in Sydney!

COMFREY OIL

To keep the useful properties of Comfrey available, an infused oil is easily made from finely ground dried root and olive oil. Ideally use 15% Comfrey to 85% olive oil in an airtight glass jar, stirring it round occasionally, it will take about a month if kept out of the sunlight but will be ready in a couple of weeks if left in the sunlight. Strain well, into brown glass jars in a cool place out of sunlight and the oil will keep for a couple of years.

My neighbour has a broken foot at present and was pleased to receive a bottle of Comfrey Oil, as she has used it before when she had a badly damaged knee.

Comfrey Oil resolves bruising and takes the pain out of laminitic hooves, as well as damaged ligaments and tendons, capped hocks and big knees. Massage well into the coronet band regularly to stimulate healthy hoof growth.

The actions of Comfrey are cell proliferating, anti-arthritic, anti-inflammatory, anti-rheumatic, anti-ulcer, demulcent and vulnerary.

I have heard of horses eating Comfrey plants back to the ground with no ill effects.  Animals know more about healing themselves than we ever will which is clear from these cases.  However, pyrrolizidine alkaloids which can cause liver toxicity are present in Comfrey and this is the reason why this most useful of herbs remains controversial. Their toxicity is highly variable due to the changes in distribution between root and leaf, between and within species as well as individuals of those species. For example, the young shooting leaves are higher than mature leaves, which is why it is advised to use mature leaves.  The really old leaves are often very dry so best to select the medium-sized mature leaves to make a poultice, and you can also dry the leaves to reconstitute with water to use when fresh are not available.

Comfrey should not be used for wound healing until the risk of infection is over, to prevent encapsulation of any infection, especially in a deep wound due to the accelerated healing effected.

Juliette de Bairacli Levy wrote in 1991 “The truly great herb, Comfrey has recently been condemned by scientists following unnatural experiments. Ignore their baneful findings.”

Comfrey is easily grown, shooting from the tiniest piece of the fresh root,  but prefers a shady position, with plenty of moisture,  dies back in winter and cannot tolerate frost.

If you would like professional assistance with healing any horse problems, contact me by phone 0439 800343 or email enquiries@victoriaferguson.com.au

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