Comfrey, Symphytum officinale, comes from the Latin words con firma, which means “with strength.” Also known by other names like “knitbone” and “bruisewort,” comfrey is a perennial herb with a dark, turnip-like root, thick, hairy stems, and flowers arranged in clusters of purple, blue, or white. Native to Europe, it grows in damp, grassy places like river banks and ditches.
Although comfrey is no longer recommended for internal use, it is often used in topical salves, ointments, and other skincare products.
Both the root and the leaf of this valuable herb are known to heal and soothe. Comfrey leaves and roots contain a chemical compound called allantoin which is believed to stimulate cell growth and repair while decreasing inflammation. During the Civil War, comfrey poultices were used to wrap the wounds and broken bones of soldiers which is how it earned the nickname “knitbone.” Some research has shown that allantoin has soothing, firming, and tightening properties.
Comfrey has gained popularity as a skin-healing herb and is used to heal rashes, inflammation, and other skin problems. Comfrey leaves (fresh or dried) or roots in a muslin tea bag added to the bathwater can be used to soften skin. Comfrey is also great for sensitive skin. It has mild cleansing properties that make it a good product for removing dirt, oils, and impurities without irritating skin.
In hair care, comfrey soothes and stimulates the scalp, and enriches lifeless hair.