Comfrey for shallow, open wounds?

Owl Posts: 346 ✭✭✭

An herbalist friend recommended pouring boiling vinegar over comfrey leaves and using the leaves on the shallow skin tears my 80 year old father gets. I call them sheet tears because a large area of skin simply peels off with the slightest trauma. I don’t know if it’s due to the collagen defect we share but it definitely gets far worse with the thinning of the dermal layers as we age. I was just reading the FAQs on the comfrey salve package and it says never use on open skin.

It also said never ingest comfrey but I have heard several people using it for fodder for rabbits, is it safe for them?


  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,513 admin
    edited August 2022

    @Owl I have heard of Comfrey being used on abrasions. My daughter has done this as well, but she found that she needed to be sure the shallow cut/abrasion was quite clean first or she would still develop small infections. I'm sure @torey & @judsoncarroll4 will have more to say.

    I wonder if something a little slower acting might be better, like plantain. Honey would be a good choice, and possibly mixed with a healing or soothing herb. It would be sticky though! Honey is my go to for the birds and some small injuries.

    Maybe the article that Doc did called "Squirrel!" would be helpful. It was about making an easy to use spray to heal a little dog's injuries. I'm thinking herbs used & ease of application.

    As far as livestock feed, my understanding from reading is that animals love it and do well on it. Their digestive systems are much different than ours. A rabbit is a ruminant, so I can see that being any different from a cow. Now, if you want to ask an expert, I'd go with Doc Jones at Homegrown Herbalist for that. His forum is not a busy one, but you will get an answer.

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,632 admin

    Comfrey has so much controversy about it. I watched quite a few of the presentations in the comfrey conference and I am of the same opinion as most of the participants. There has been a lot of negativity that was unwarranted.

    That being said, I use comfrey leaf in my preparations as opposed to the root. It has less of the “harmful” PAs. I use it in salves and compresses on shallow skin wounds that are well cleaned because of the incredible cell proliferation rates of comfrey. It can seal over a wound that is dirty or not healing well, causing infection or healing issues. The leaf works well enough without having to use the root.

    Comfrey is higher in PAs early in seasonal growth and less so in older leaves, so harvest older leaves if that is a concern.

    I never recommend to anyone that they take it internally. I’ll let Susun Weed promote that.

    @Owl Check the salve and see what it is made from, leaf or root. The PAs affect the liver so if your dad has any kind of liver disease, I would avoid it. You could try calendula or make your own salve with comfrey leaf and calendula. That would be a good combination. If you have access to cottonwood bud oil, you could add that to the salve as an antibacterial agent. At this point you may be wanting to prevent bed sores.

    I would just use boiling water to steep the comfrey leaves if you are going to try fomentations on the skin. ACV might be too acidic.

    Another salve(s) to try would be made from any of the conifer pitches, particularly if there is any “weepiness” to the tears.

    Comfrey is a recommended feed for goats.

  • Owl
    Owl Posts: 346 ✭✭✭

    Thanks so much, both of you! He’s doing well with bedsores and maintenance issues like that because he’s still pretty active. I am so relieved that you both feel the comfrey is safe because it works incredibly well! I’m new to salve making, can the comfrey be used fresh or should I dry it first? My calendula is already dried.

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,632 admin

    @Owl I have done both methods with comfrey, dried and fresh. Both work equally as well.

  • judsoncarroll4
    judsoncarroll4 Posts: 5,456 admin

    I wouldn't hesitate to use it. There are also some good sales specifically for bed sores that they use in nursing homes. Some of them is made from silver sulphate, if memory serves. i think it is a prescription though

  • JodieDownUnder
    JodieDownUnder Posts: 1,483 admin

    @Owl I’m of the opinion that comfrey (leaves) is great for lots of applications, even shallow abrasions or wounds. Just don’t put on puncture wounds etc, as it can make the skin close up but leave the foreign body (if there is one) behind. I had a spot burnt (liquid N) the side of my face last week & I’ve been using a homemade salve consisting of comfrey, calendula & frankincense & I gotta say you can hardly notice the spot now, very happy with the result.

  • SuperC
    SuperC Posts: 951 ✭✭✭✭

    @JodieDownUnder I have used raw honey on all of my burns and the end result is no scars

  • water2world
    water2world Posts: 1,156 ✭✭✭✭

    @Owl My first thought was to use as a spray! My mom also gets blisters/sores on her legs and a spray is much easier for her to use!

  • jowitt.europe
    jowitt.europe Posts: 1,452 admin

    @Owl I would use fresh honey from a reliable beekeeper. Or calendula oil or salve. I use comfrey a lot, but never on open wounds. Recently I cured my hurting toe by applying healing clay mixed with thinly sliced comfrey.

  • vickeym
    vickeym Posts: 2,102 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I am currently using honey on a burn on my arm. My comfrey never got very big this year, but I do have a few leaves I could try making a poultice from. Might do that as well.

  • marjstratton
    marjstratton Posts: 1,132 ✭✭✭✭

    I used to drink comfrey tea on a fairly regular basis to help alleviate allergies. Then my mother-in-law read that it can cause cancer and she stopped using it and so did I. In another discussion here, I read that the research that implicated comfrey as cancer causing was severely flawed.

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,513 admin

    @marjstratton Yes, I have read that the study was very flawed. This information was from very reliable, respected herbalists. As well some will tell you external only. I'm not sure if this is what they truly believe, or just out of caution or for liability reasons.

    It really is what you feel comfortable with after reading the information from various sources. Being well informed is best. The source is important, a conflict of interest, and the reputation of the source should all be considered.

    I am aware, yet my personal choice, depending on the situation & my body's health, would be that I would probably use it internally. I would also makr sure I used liver supportive herbs. I would not feel comfortable using it internally with children.

    However, if it would do what I want it to do just by using it externally, I don't know that I would necessarily do both in that case, even if, as Rosemary Gladstar & Susun Weed claim, it speeds up healing to do both. I think it's plenty speedy enough!

    @torey is it cancer the people were concerned with? Somehow I thought it was liver damage (which is serious too). I'm just too lazy this evening to look it up. 😏

  • marjstratton
    marjstratton Posts: 1,132 ✭✭✭✭

    I agree that being well informed is the best.

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,632 admin

    @LaurieLovesLearning Yes, it was more of a liver damage concern than cancer, although there may have a higher susceptibility to liver cancer if the liver is damaged.

    My reasons for not recommending comfrey internally do come from liability concerns rather than my comfort level with using it. Of course, anyone who has any kind of liver issues should avoid comfrey internally, but there are many very well educated herbalists that do suggest taking comfrey is safe, although it is generally the leaf and not the root. The root should be left for external applications.

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