Herbal medicines are an increasingly popular alternative. There are numerous active ingredients that are supposed to help with a wide range of complaints and diseases. Nevertheless, many people do not know the scientific background and facts about comfrey. We want to give you a good overview of the topic with our guide.
In our large comfrey test 2021 we have summarised all the important information for you. You will learn about the risks as well as the benefits of comfrey in the following.
- 1 Weekly newsletter with the best personal finance tips
- 2 The most important facts
- 3 The Best Comfrey: Our Picks
- 4 Buying and evaluation criteria for comfrey
- 5 Guide: Frequently asked questions about comfrey answered in detail
- 5.1 What is comfrey and how does it work?
- 5.2 When and for whom is it useful to take comfrey?
- 5.3 What do comfrey products cost?
- 5.4 What types of comfrey are there?
- 5.5 How should comfrey be dosed and what should I bear in mind?
- 5.6 What alternatives are there to comfrey?
- 5.7 What side effects can comfrey have?
The most important facts
- Comfrey is used as a remedy for musculoskeletal injuries such as the back and has been shown to be effective in some studies.
- You can take comfrey in the form of a tea or rub it into affected areas with creams or ointments.
- Comfrey also contains toxic substances and should be used with caution. The exact side effects have not been researched enough, especially in pregnant women and children.
The Best Comfrey: Our Picks
Buying and evaluation criteria for comfrey
When buying comfrey, you can pay attention to various aspects, such as:
By making the right choice for you, you can save money and also ensure that you are not giving your body anything it does not need. Therefore, always look for high quality and ask to see the manufacturer's certificates if necessary.
The healing effect of comfrey is due to the composition of various substances. However, this can vary depending on the product. The most important ingredients include:
In addition, many comfrey products contain other ingredients. The most common additives include:
- Vitamin E
- Essential oils
Area of application
Comfrey is usually applied externally in the form of ointments, gels or creams.
Comfrey compresses are also popular.
Comfrey in solid form such as creams are ideal for larger areas such as the back and legs.
However, in liquid form they are more concentrated and good to use for deeper areas.
You can find the exact application in the package leaflet. Please follow the instructions exactly.
Certain side effects can always occur with medicines and remedies.
As with any cream, read the risks and side effects carefully before the first application.
Most common comfrey products are made from mostly natural ingredients. Look at them carefully before use and check that you have no known allergies to any of the ingredients.
However, the product is considered safe for the skin and is used to soothe irritated skin.
If you already have allergies or skin conditions, you should check with your doctor first.
Comfrey is now available in many different forms. We have summarised the most important forms so that you can choose the one that suits you best.
- Comfrey ointment: Comfrey ointment has a firm consistency and is easy to apply to the skin and rub in.
- Comfrey tea: Comfrey tea is intended for internal use. The substances such as vitamin C and calcium have a cleansing and purifying effect.
- Comfrey tincture: Comfrey tincture is liquid and is available in glass bottles.
You can choose between the different forms depending on your symptoms. However, caution is advised with internal applications due to the toxic substances.
Guide: Frequently asked questions about comfrey answered in detail
In order to provide you with comprehensive information about the effectiveness of comfrey and to give you an understanding of the current state of science, we have summarised all the important information in the following sections.
What is comfrey and how does it work?
Comfrey can be used for many diseases and complaints. These include:
- Joint pain
- Scars and skin injuries
Comfrey can be used both internally and externally. In the following we will show you the effects of the different applications.
Effect on injuries to the musculoskeletal system
Comfrey is used particularly frequently for injuries to the musculoskeletal system. Numerous studies have confirmed the effectiveness of comfrey for a wide range of injuries. (12)
Studies have shown that comfrey improves inflammation, swelling, sprains and bruises. Comfrey can be particularly helpful for injuries after sporting activities. (1)
Many people in particular suffer from joint pain, and the causes can be very varied. Comfrey is often used as a remedy here too. Science has researched this well. The studies show that joint complaints can be alleviated by comfrey. (2)
Effect on osteoarthritis
Some joint pain can be attributed to osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is a painful joint disease that occurs especially in old age. Comfrey has also been researched for this condition.
In a 2007 study, the effect of comfrey root extract ointment was investigated in 220 patients with osteoarthritis of the knee joint (gonarthrosis). The results show a positive efficacy of comfrey in the therapy of gonarthrosis. A reduction in pain and an improvement in knee mobility were achieved. (3)
Effect on wound healing
Because of the special effect of allantoin and choline, comfrey is often used for scars and skin injuries.
In one study, the effect of comfrey as a remedy for skin burns was investigated. The active substances of comfrey are hardly toxic and do not cause skin irritation or allergic reactions. The special anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effects of comfrey can thus be a good remedy for burns. (4)
Comfrey can also lead to faster wound healing for other wounds on the skin. Particularly in the case of abrasions, a slight improvement could be recognised. (10)
When and for whom is it useful to take comfrey?
Comfrey can be used in these cases alongside the usual medicines and can be combined with other therapies. However, the doctor's opinion should be taken into account. (3)
Caution: Pregnant women and children under the age of 3 should not use comfrey. Studies so far have not been able to classify comfrey as safe in these groups.
What do comfrey products cost?
We have compiled an overview of the price range of comfrey products for you to use as a guide:
|Comfrey ointment||approx. 10 to 40 euros/100 grams|
|Comfrey dried||approx. 4 to 15 euros/100 grams|
|Comfrey tincture||approx. 15 to 50 euros/100 millilitres|
The cheapest is dried comfrey, which can be made into a tea and can also be bought in larger packages. However, this is not easy to use for external application.
The most expensive is comfrey tincture, which costs up to 50 euros. However, it has a much higher concentration.
What types of comfrey are there?
- Classic leg ointment
- Comfrey in liquid form
For comfrey in liquid form, you can choose between different forms, such as tincture or tea. We will explain the advantages and disadvantages of each form in more detail in the next section.
Comfrey drops, tea and tincture
With the liquid form of comfrey, you can choose between 3 different variants. However, the concentration of comfrey varies depending on the form. The advantages of comfrey in liquid form include:
When choosing between the forms, you should pay attention to the type of complaint. For severe problems, a tincture is best.
Classic leg ointment
Classic comfrey ointment is the most common form of ointment. It is ideal for minor injuries and complaints. The simple packaging in a tin or tube makes it easy to use, especially for large-area injuries such as on the knee or back.
How should comfrey be dosed and what should I bear in mind?
Unfortunately, we could not find any scientific information on the correct dosage of comfrey. The exact consequences have not yet been researched in detail. Therefore, usually only guidelines are given. A purely external application is classified as harmless by most studies (11).
In general, as with all medicinal plants, it should not be consumed in excessive quantities. In addition to the positive active substances, the comfrey plant also contains toxic substances such as pyrrolizidine alkaloids.
For most products containing pyrrolizidine alkaloids, use for a maximum of 4 to 6 weeks per year is recommended.
If you are unsure, you can also try external use only, using leg ointment or tincture. However, be careful not to apply the product to open wounds.
What alternatives are there to comfrey?
You can find numerous herbal remedies in pharmacies, drugstores and online shops. In the following, we have summarised the best-known alternatives.
|Arnica||Arnica may have antibacterial, antitumour and anti-inflammatory activities. (5)|
|St. John's wort oil||Hypericin may counteract bacterial inflammation and thus promote wound healing. However, the studies are not yet conclusive enough. (6)|
|Peppermint oil||The active ingredient is comparable to paracetamol and can help with headaches or muscle cramps, for example. A study was able to show the effectiveness of peppermint oil against tension-type headaches. (7)|
What side effects can comfrey have?
Comfrey can have side effects due to its toxic substances. Pyrrolizidine alkaloids are found mainly in the root of the plant. This causes poisoning of the liver and in the worst case can lead to death. (8) Therefore, it should always be taken with caution and used within the specified period of use.
However, the toxic substances can hardly pass through the skin, which makes the external use of comfrey relatively safe.(9)
Cover photo: hikersmurf /123rf
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