Comfrey (Symphytum spp.)

This photo shows a member of the comfrey family, Symphytum ibericum, currently in flower on the allotments. Its close relative Symphytum officialis , which has purple/blue flowers and similarly hairy leaves, has traditionally been used to heal broken bones.

The root, and to a lesser degree, the leaves of comfrey contain a chemical called allantoin which has the ability to penetrate deeply through the skin layers, reducing inflammation and promoting cell regeneration. It is used as a “miracle” ingredient in many anti-ageing skin care creams. Make a poultice from the leaves or grated root and apply to small cuts and grazes, bruises and burns. Comfrey should be used with caution on deeper wounds as it can knit together the superficial layers of the skin so quickly that an abscess may form underneath