written by: Lindsay Evans
• edited by: Lisa Lambson
• updated: 7/2/2010
Comfrey is an herb best know for its ability to bring relief and speed healing of inflammation associated with bruises, swellings, sprains, and strains. Learn how this herb can provide non medication arthritis pain relief.
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Why Use Comfrey?
Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) is an herb that has been used for centuries to speed healing of various conditions. Widely used throughout its native Europe and Asia, comfrey is powerful herb that contains substances that can reduce inflammation and encourage regeneration of new skin cells.
Any condition resulting in inflamed tissues can benefit from the healing properties of comfrey. Comfrey is often used as a remedy for treating inflammation due to bruises, swelling, sprains, and strains. Because arthritis is caused by inflammation and swelling of the joints, comfrey can work to bring relief.
Comfrey contains the effective ingredients allantoin and mucilage throughout its leaves, stems, and roots. Allantoin has been shown to speed the healing and regeneration of new skin cells. Mucilaginous plants, such as comfrey, are used in herbal medicine to soothe sore joints and assist in healing wounds and broken bones.
Unfortunately, no significant studies have proved the effectiveness of using comfrey for non medication arthritis pain relief. However, plenty of anecdotal evidence from pain sufferers throughout time suggest that comfrey is a powerful herb that can help ease arthritis pain and improve mobility.
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How To Treat Arthritis Pain with Comfrey
For maximum effectiveness rub a comfrey oil, cream, or ointment on the skin where you feel stiffness and arthritis pain. The oil can be applied several times a day or as often as needed. Comfrey products are available from herbal suppliers, such as Gaia Herbs and Bioforce USA.
Be aware that comfrey should not be taken internally or applied to broken skin. Comfrey contains harmful compounds called pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs). PAs can cause liver damage - from mild to severe - if ingested. Internal treatments containing comfrey are now illegal in countries such as Germany, Canada, and the United States.
Most comfrey products do not list the amount of PAs present in their product. Mature comfrey leaves have been shown to be lower in PA content than the roots or immature leaves. In the absence of PA content labeling, choose a comfrey product made from mature comfrey leaves.
Herb Pharm Comfrey, available in a 1 oz. liquid herbal extract, claims to be an organic "mucilage-rich extract that contains less than 1 part-per-million of pyrrolizidine alkaloids," according to the iHerb website. The site suggests applying the extract with cotton gauze or rubbing into the skin.
A comfrey poultice may also be used to help bring relief from arthritis pain. To make a comfrey leaf poultice puree fresh mature comfrey leaves in the blender, adding water as necessary to form a thick paste. Wrap the puree in a cotton cloth or gauze and apply to the skin. A poultice may also be made in the same manner from dried comfrey leaves that have been softened in hot water.
Try this herbal remedy for effective non medication arthritis pain relief.