Comfrey- Bocking #4 The Wonder Plant
So if you haven't heard of Comfrey you are in for a serious treat!
INTRODUCING... the much coveted and sought after…
Russian Comfrey Bocking #4
Why is Comfrey- specifically the Bocking #4 variety- called a "Wonder Plant"?
Some of the EASIEST greenery on the planet to grow, Comfrey doubles as a medicinal herb and Beautiful Landscaper (complete with pretty purple flowers mid-season). The first plant to leaf out after winter and the last to fade at summer’s end, it is EXTREMELY hardy, UNBELIEVABLY USEFUL, drought resistant, excellent for animal forage, has tons of medicinal uses including an amazing ability to heal bones (and tissue) as it’s nickname “knit bone” suggests and can be planted from any piece of root or crown cutting and harvested several times throughout the season!?
Why Bocking #4, when there are 21 varieties of Comfrey?
With large tap roots that go as far as 10′ into the ground, Comfrey is an amazing mineral miner and pretty much impossible to get rid of once established. The domesticated, non-invasive variety of Comfrey, Bocking #4 will stay where you plant it without multiplying from the abundance of seeds produced up to 5 times per season. Developed by Dr Lawrence Hills, Bocking #4 not only STAYS WHERE YOU PLANT IT, but also also contains the highest protein content for fodder and the least Pyrrolizidine Alkaloids- PA’s (which may be toxic to the liver in large quantities) which makes it the preferred medicinal variety.
NO, I'M NOT AN MD... *DISCLAIMER REQUIRED BY FDA (as if you thought I was...?)
Right about here I’m obligated to tell you that… I’m NOT a Medical Doctor. Nope, just the mother of 8 healthy kids ranging in ages from 5-19 with all kinds of experiences and knowledge you might learn from. I am required by law to tell you that my statements are not intended to “diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease” for you, but rather, to tell you how it’s been used throughout history and in my own family, help you understand what it’s capable of and familiarize you with some common forms of application so that you can use your own brain and make your OWN diagnoses and treatment plans. You are much smarter and more capable than the FDA gives you credit for so don’t be deterred by the scary jargon. These amazing solutions are God given (strike one), really inexpensive (… now that’s where they really take issue!) and fairly simple as you will see.
**Nothing can replace your own intelligence nor hurt you like your own lack of it. Please don’t mistake the “slow action” of herbs for “no action” . When you consider that herbal treatments are HEALING your body- not just masking symptoms, it’s easy to understand that they are MUCH FASTER ACTING UPON YOUR HEALTH THAN DRUGS, yet the results can be slower to see.
FIRST, SOME FACTS
- Comfrey is an excellent landscaping plant, can be helpful with erosion control and is EXTREMELY drought resistant with roots 8-10′ deep.
- Useful for fodder and natural garden fertilizer.
- This natural hybrid is an extremely low-maintenance crop, resistant to rust and has very few problems with pests or disease.
- Perenial in USDA Zones 2-9. Originating in the Caucasus Mountains of Russia, it is cold hardy to -40, and can survive up to 120 degrees.
- Bocking #4 seeds are sterile and it does not send out invasive runners. (It will eventually widen and propagate new plants around an established plant- which can be divided to replant elsewhere.)
- You can replicate and divide from any single, 1″ piece of root or crown (crown pieces will leaf out faster than root pieces) and it can be planted ANY TIME the ground is not frozen! (For real- just stick a piece in the ground a couple inches below the surface and it will grow!). 1 caveat- it can take full sun, and is shade tolerant, but needs some sun to thrive.
*A WORD OF CAUTION: Bocking #4 is the only variety of Comfrey I would use for medicinal purposes (as well as forage) because of the low to nearly non-existent level of Pyrrolizidine Alkaloids in the leaves. Pyrrolizidine Alkaloids may be damaging to your liver.
The many varieties of Comfrey have been used for centuries to treat a variety of pain and inflammation related issues including muscle, joint, ligament & tendon problems, inflammation, bruises, skin ulcerations, wounds, burns, eczema, psoriasis, bees stings, spider bites (including brown recluse) staph infections, bedsores, tumors, shingles, athlete’s foot, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, varicose veins, gout, sprains, strains, and bone fractures.
WHAT MAKES COMFREY SUCH AN EFFECTIVE HEALER?
Comfrey contains a special substance called allantoin, which is a cell proliferative. In other words, it makes cells grow faster. This is one of the reasons why comfrey-treated bones knit together so fast, wounds mend so quickly and burns heal with such little scarring. Additionally, it is rich in calcium salts, mucopolysacharrides and calcium, all of which encourage rapid growth of cells and tissue repair. The qualities of these elements that regenerate cells also serve to neutralize the cell-inhibiting action of the Pyrrolizidine alkaloids.
Allantoin, the same substance that helps to regenerate cells, is found in the placenta of a pregnant mother which helps the baby grow rapidly. After the baby is born, allantoin is also found in the mother’s milk — abundantly at first and less so as the child grows.
The biggest issue with Comfrey is the possible presence of Pyrrolizidine Alkaloids (PA’s) which may be toxic to the liver, and it is important to note that the various strains of Comfrey differ GREATLY in the amounts of PA’s they contain! All Comfrey has been labeled unsafe for internal use by the Federal Drug Administration. For more on the controversial USDA studies and possible negative side effects of Comfrey…
Recommendations & Tips
- Topical application of comfrey can actually cause a wound or puncture to heal so quickly on the outside, that you have to be careful that it was well cleaned or debris and bacteria could be trapped inside causing infection.
- Internal use of comfrey tea should be guaranteed basically pyrrolizidine-free. I am personally limiting my intake of Comfrey to Medicinal Tea rather than food substance- like a salad.
- The root contains 10-1000 times more Pyrrolizidine Alkaloids than the leaves (depending on the strain).
-As always: Do your own research!
How to Use Comfrey Externally
The object here is to blend up mostly just the Comfrey leaves with only enough water and flour to make it smooth and pasty enough to stick to your skin and not run off the paper towel (that’s a mess).
- Cut 6-9 fresh Comfrey leaves (the leaves are slightly spiny- annoying, but do not hurt you in any way. Just brush them off your hands or use scissors & gloves if you don’t want to touch them.)
- Rinse & put the leaves in the blender with maybe 1-2 Tblsps of water and less than a Tblsp of flour. This is NOT AN EXACT SCIENCE. This is a simple poultice (gooey slather of green stuff to apply to skin).
- Blend till smooth.
- Spoon onto paper towel the approximate size of your injury.
- Apply the paper towel to the affected area and wrap with Saran wrap a couple of times to confine the drips to the towel (hopefully).
- Give it 10-15 min and then remove.
You can do this every half hour if you like.
How To Use Comfrey Internally
My family takes fresh Comfrey Leaf tea for a week or so every Spring as an internal cleanse. I wouldn’t use it longer than that consecutively because the leaves to contain low levels of Pyrrolizidine Alkaloids (PA’s) and neither would I EVER internally take the root since the Pyrrolizidine Alkaloids are so much more concentrated in the roots.
For a small pot of tea, just boil water, take it off the heat, cut off a couple of fresh leaves (1-2), chop them up and steep them in the boiled water for 5-10 min. We usually use a large stock pot and throw in 6-12 leaves depending on how much water is actually in there.
Honestly, Comfrey is a plant you just darn near can’t kill (which is why you DON’T want the varieties that reproduce by seed.) Of course, if you want to get the best out of your Comfrey, make sure you locate it in decent ground (I have planted it in the worst hardpan dirt I have and though it did grow, it is still significantly smaller that my Comfrey elsewhere). It can survive in full sun or complete shade, but to flourish it needs at least a small amount of direct sun.
Plant your bare roots or cuttings a couple inches beneath the ground surface, preferably with the bud portions up if you have them. Water from time to time while establishing. Anything additional you want to add at this point, like compost or natural fertilizer, will cause it to thrive.
At maturity, it will develop into a bushy, medium sized 3′ plant. Once your Comfrey has grown, you can harvest leaves selectively or you can chop the whole bush at once. It will re-grow in a week or two (up to 5 times per season) depending on how developed the under-leaves already are, producing another round of fodder, medicinal herb or natural fertilizer for your garden. If you allow it to grow to maturity without chopping, it will produce beautiful, edible lavender flowers. After the flowers are produced, the leaves will get a little long and “lanky” and seem to hang like it’s not thriving. It really just needs to be hacked off at this point and allowed to regrow. It you are using it as a landscaper, don’t worry- it will be back soon!
Once it is full grown, you can dig it up and divide it yourself to plant out in other areas. Comfrey will grow from any piece of root or crown as small as 1″ (I’ve experimented) but preferably make your pieces a couple inches if you want them to take root quickly. The main plant will always come back, but it you want it to return fast, make sure you leave a small portion of crown to re-sprout from.
WHERE TO GET LIVE BOCKING # 4 COMFREY ROOT?
ROOT CUTTINGS- Three (3) 6″ Bare Root Cuttings for $15.00.
CROWNS DIVISIONS- One (1) Bare Root Crown division for $19.00.
These can be planted in spring, summer and early fall (any time the ground is not frozen).
*Planting stock is shipped via U.S. Mail. ALL plants are non-GMO & pesticide free and come with our money back guarantee to leaf out.