Comfrey may well be one of the most valuable, amazingly healing herbs one can ever employ in treating racehorses or any animal for that matter. This is a pretty powerful statement, but comfrey has proven to me its value over and over again. Live and learn! If I had only known the power of comfrey when I first started out training horses. I would have produced a much more healthy animal. As it was, most leg paints used in the race barns of my day were counter-irritant formulas containing iodine, mercury and often herbal extracts designed to stimulate blood flow by irritating the tissue. Oh, certainly the anti-inflammatory steroids were used too in a DMSO base, but not so much. If I had only just had a comfrey extract in DMSO as a leg paint, I could have treated a number of racehorse injuries more efficiently. Maybe you can learn from my ignorance which has been enlightened by old age?
Comfrey is a very old medicinal herb undoubtedly used in the stone age. First recorded uses go back to the Greeks (Galen) and Romans (Dioscorides & Pliny the Elder). From 1000AD onwards comfrey can be found in many herbals and monastery writings.
From Dr. Edward E. Shook's Advanced Treatise of Herbology:
LATIN NAME: SYMPHYTUM OFFICINALE.
NATURAL ORDER: Boraginaceae. This is one of Nature's great masterpieces, and one of the most important therapeutic agents ever discovered by man. It has been used for thousands of years, and during that time by millions of people.
SYNONYMS: Comfrey, consound, knitbone, bruisewort, yalluc (Saxon), slippery root, black root, etc.
HABITAT: A native of Europe, but has became naturalized in America and grows in moist soil and low ground in almost all parts of U.S.
PARTS USED: Roots and Leaves.
CONSTITUENTS: Mucilage 70 to 80%, tannin, aspargine, sodium, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, and from 0.3 to 0.7% of Allantoin. Iron and a little starch.
ALLANTOIN. (C-4, H-6, N-4, O-3). Is a most remarkable substance found plentifully in the urine of pregnant women and animals, also in the urine of newly born babies. It has been found in the germ of wheat, in French peas and several other legumes. Allantoin is undoubtedly a cell proliferant, having something to do with the genesis of cells, and it seems to act upon both animal and vegetable cells. It has been injected into hyacinth bulbs and caused them to flower more rapidly.
PROPERTIES: Demulcent, nutrient, astringent, vulnerary, expectorant, haemostatic.
The reputation of Comfrey as a vulnerary, from ancient times right up to the present, is unique, and it will be well worth our while to spend a few minutes in glancing at the history and folklore of that most important plant. In a very old book by the English Herbalist, Baker (l567) occurs the following reference to Comfrey: "The water of the greater comfrie druncke helpeth such as are bursten and have broken the bone of the legge."
The world-famous English Herbalist, Culpepper of the Middle Ages says, "The great comfrey root boiled in water or wine and the decoction drink, heals inward hurts, bruises, wounds, and ulcers of the lungs and causes the phlegm that oppresses him to be spit-forth. A syrup made thereof is very effectual in inward hurts, and the distilled water for the same purpose also and for outward wounds and sores in the fleshy or sinewy parts of the body and to abate the fits of agues and to allay the sharpness of humours. A decoction of the leaves is good for those purposes, but not so effectual as the roots. The roots being outwardly applied, cure fresh wounds and cuts immediately, being bruised and laid thereto and is especially good for ruptures and broken bones. So powerful to consolidate and knit together that if they be boiled with dissevered pieces of flesh in a pot, it will join them together again. The roots of comfrey taken fresh, beaten small and spread upon leather and laid on any place troubled with the gout, presently gives ease and applied in the same manner, it eases pained joints and tends to heal running ulcers, gangrenes, mortifications for which it hath by often experience been found helpful."
So, all through the Middle Ages and right up to the present, comfrey has been extolled for its great curative properties. Dr. MacAlister, an English chemist and scientist was quoted in the British Medical Journal, January 6th, 1912 as saying "Allantoin (from comfrey root) in aqueous solution in strengths of 0.3%, has a powerful action in strengthening epithelial formations and is a valuable remedy not only in external ulceration, but also in ulcers of the stomach and duodenum."
The discovery of allantoin in comfrey root and the investigation of its cell proliferating action has led to the belief that comfrey root owes its powerful healing virtues to allantoin. The chemist and druggist of August 13th, 1921 published an interesting article on comfrey as follows: "Allantoin is a fresh instance of the good judgement of our rustics especially of old times with regard to the virtues of plants. The great comfrey or consound, though it was official with us down to the middle of the eighteenth century, never had a prominent place in professional practice but our Herbalists were loud in its praise and the Country Cullers of Simples held it almost infallible as an external and internal remedy for wounds, bruises and ulcers, for phlegm, for spitting of blood, ruptures, hemorrhoids, etc., - for ulcers of the stomach, and liver, especially, the root was regarded as of sovereign virtues. It is precisely for such complaints as these that allantoin obtained from the rhizome of the plant is now prescribed." The world famous English Herbalist, Henry Box, in his book says, "A question often asked - What is the best thing for spitting of blood from the lungs?". " Comfrey root, I have never known it to fail. I am glad to learn that several private persons are distributing it among those suffering from bleeding of the lungs and stomach, or the bursting of other blood vessels, and they too state that it never fails." Again he says, "My consumptive mother had a large cavity in her left lung. The hemorrhage was often alarming, and there was no hope. I had the happiness of curing her with Comfrey Root and Clown's Woundwort, a strong decoction almost as thick as treacle was taken freely. It wrought a complete cure."
The following short quotations are from the English Medical Publication called The Lancet (1/99 910) "Symphytum Officinale" - The Comfrey plant and root are boiled, as a poultice for sarcomatous or cancerous tumors: One such cured, and in the same issue on Page 939 - for haemoptysis and kidney disease with blood in the urine, as a decoction or syrup. I have taken this valuable time in order to impress upon your minds firmly, what a truly wonderful Herbs comfrey is, and now to it's uses, formulas, method of preparation and administration.
FORMULA No. 54. Mucilage of Comfrey Root. Into 2 quarts of distilled water, put 2 ounces of sodium phosphate. Stir until dissolved. Heat if necessary. Put into the above fluid 4 ounces of Comfrey Root (cut) and let stand for 4 hours, stirring occasionally. Boil slowly for 10 minutes. Strain through a fine strainer, put into wide-mouthed bottles or jars, and keep in a cool place. Honey or molasses may be added if desired.
DOSE (human): From a wine glassful to a teacupful. For wounds, bruises, broken bones, torn ligaments, sprains, hemorrhage of the lungs, stomach, bowels, kidneys or any internal or external part, comfrey has no equal. It is perfectly harmless and may be taken as often and as much as seems necessary. In hemorrhage of the lungs it should be given often, and in large doses. It will soothe and heal when everything else fails. For delicate children with diarrhoea, summer complaint, cough, give sweetened with honey, and in tablespoonful doses, frequently. It will be found wonderfully strengthening, nourishing, soothing, and quickly and effectively healing without danger. For tuberculosis and wasting diseases, when combined with garlic, is the best remedy ever discovered. It will cure all curable cases, and in the incurable ones will soothe, comfort, support the heart, check hemorrhage, ease cough, help breathing and check diarrhoea. It is not contra- indicated in inflammations as most astringents. In cases of internal injury, broken bones, torn ligaments, lacerated tissue, it is the quickest, safest and most certain healer. It causes broken bones to knit together in one half the usual time. Combined with Burdock Root, it is a certain and speedy cure for ulcerated stomach, intestines, larynx, mouth, tonsils or any part of the whole organism. For old ulcers, varicose veins, old wounds that will not heal, it is Nature's greatest and most beneficial remedy.
FORMULA No. 55. Consumption Remedy. To every pint of Formula No. 54 (Mucilage of Comfrey) add one tablespoonful of fresh garlic juice. Stir well or shake into a uniform mixture.
DOSE (human): From a wine glassful to a teacupful every 4 hours, according to the severity of the case and the ability of the patient to assimilate. When there is hemorrhage and an antipathy to garlic juice, use the following.