Comfrey for Pain Relief
Comfrey (Symphytum officinale L.), also known as knit bone, has been used for centuries to treat wounds, muscle sprains and, as its common name indicates, bone fractures. The antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects of the herb is primarily due to rosmarinic acid and tannic acid.
Several recent clinical studies demonstrate the efficacy of comfrey compounds in reducing swelling and pain associated with osteoarthritis, as well as chronic or acute back pain resulting from injury. In addition to pain relief and improved range of motion, botanical therapies like topical comfrey may also help some people to reduce or even eliminate their use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). As anyone who watches television knows, several prescription NSAIDS, most notably COX-2 inhibitors, have been pulled from the market because they increase the risk of high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke.
Despite numerous injury claims and lawsuits filed with a phone call to 1-800-BAD-DRUG, we’re a little slow on the uptake in the US when it comes to employing safe and natural methods of treating pain and inflammation in mainstream medicine. While it’s certainly encouraging that the number of clinical trials involving comfrey and other natural therapeutic agents to manage chronic pain and inflammation have significantly increased in recent years, the majority of American physicians still hand out one or more autographed pages from their prescription pads without blinking an eye. Meanwhile, comfrey has been used for the treatment of musculoskeletal conditions in Germany since 1920.
The comfrey ointment used in many studies is called Traumaplant, which is manufactured in Germany and can be found online from various sources. Alternatively, you can make your own version by simply making a salve or ointment that contains 10% tincture of comfrey. Note, too, that an excellent pain-relieving partner to comfrey is rosemary (tincture), which also contains rosmarinic acid and other antioxidant and anti-inflammatory phytochemicals, such as hesperidin and carnosol. You can find organic comfrey to make your topical formula here: Organic Herbs and Spices
Learn more about comfrey research:
Journal of Chiropractic Medicine: Effect of a blend of comfrey root extract (Symphytum officinale L.) and tannic acid creams in the treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee: randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind, multiclinical trials; Doug B. Smitha and Bert H. Jacobson; Sept. 2011