Misconceptions about Comfrey!
Comfrey is frequently considered as toxic because it contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids, necine bases or N-oxides; some plants that contain these alkaloids have demonstrated hepatoxicity in laboratory studies: specifically those with unsaturated alkaloids like Comfrey contains.
How can this be broken down in layman's terms that we can understand?
The compounds Comfrey contains can in fact be toxic to humans in extremely high levels; i.e. more than you would normally consume orally. The main thing we have remember is that a plant, especially one as complex as Comfrey, is not the same as an extract in a laboratory and unfortunately experimentation in our scientific method tests on other species and frequently in unnatural doses. There are many other compounds at work in the process; also it is worth noting that consuming Comfrey and topically using it are not one in the same; although throughout my research I have found anecdotal evidence (experience based) of individuals who frequently consumed ample portions of the raw root daily with no noticeable or long term ill effects. There is also a very small body of evidence that might suggest that this herb, used for centuries, can be toxic. The majority of these studies are not realistic and based on huge doses given to animals in very short periods of time. It is worth considering that there is evidence that common pharmaceutical drugs can cause far more damage than their herbal counterparts and yet fear based issues still remain with this herb that has been used for centuries to treat a long list of ailments. In fact it has been used for over a thousand years in Chinese medicine both internally and externally.
Now that we have debunked the horrible portrayal of Comfrey we should give equal attention to the benefits of this fine herb.
Since Comfrey contains a large amount of Mucilage and Allantoin it has powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Allantoin helps cells and is extremely beneficial to the skin promoting healing and rebuilding of cells; it is frequently artificially included in chemically created skin care products. Mucilage will help keep skin hydrated and protected. These two substances are the main reasons Comfrey preparations are so beneficial to most external skin problems. Specifically bites, scars, burns, scrapes, and many more. In addition to these powerful substances this magical herb also contains a large amount of vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, sulfur, calcium, potassium, iron, selenium, vitamin B12 among many others. These vitamins and minerals also play their part in healing and nourishing cells.
Comfrey has a long history of beneficial use. It is a shame that a few studies could detrimentally affect its perception after being known as one of nature's most powerful healing herbs. Despite these studies many people around the world still have Comfrey as one of their most frequently used herbs. When using herbal remedies it pays to be informed and read as much as one can before making drastic conclusions. There are many companies and individuals who would like to see such cost effective natural remedies banned or limited as it might cut into their profit margins to such an extent that they would create a huge amount of fear based evidence to suggest you ignore these herbs and opt for more chemically based solutions. Comfrey should be given back its place and known to all as the amazing medicinal plant it is and will always be.