Herbs With Barbara

Comfrey & Borage

todayThursday 27 April

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Comfrey & Borage

It’s the first Thursday of the month – and time for our regular check in with the wonderful Barbara Wilkinson, our Medical Herbalist – who today comes bounding into the studio wielding two humongous triffids…

These large, very green, stretchy leaves have a hairy texture and look a little like Dock Leaves on steroids – but it turns out they are actually Comfrey leaves, Symphytum Officianle, a perennial herb that has been used in herbal medicine for centuries.

Also variously known as Knitback, Knitbone & Bruisewort – the plant is favoured as a natural remedy for it’s ability to speed up the healing of bones and wounds.  In fact, Comfrey tablets were even standard issue in World War 2 first aid packs!

Comfrey is typically used to make compresses and ointments to be applied topically.

Time for tea

The leaves can also be used to make tea, said to be beneficial for a number of conditions including upset stomach and for relieving heavy menstrual periods.  In the photo, producer Graham bravely tried a few sips – but he wasn’t too impressed with the taste!  I suppose you have to have the right mind set!

In addition to the reported health benefits, Comfrey can also be used to make a very effective garden fertiliser.  Many claim that it out-performs manure, compost and many liquid feeds for its concentration of nutrients.

But as always, just because something is natural – it doesn’t mean that it is safe or recommended for everyone.  

As with all herbal remedies, it is always best to take the advice of a Herbal Practitioner – and especially with Comfrey due to the potential efects of pyrrolizidine alkaloids on the liver. 

Comfrey Ointment

Barbara kindly gifted us a small pot of Comfrey Ointment – a good all rounder for every first aid kit.  We’ll be trying this over the next few weeks and will be reporting back.

Did you know you can also make your own ointment and salves?  Be sure to follow a recipe (rather than just Googling a random one) from a trusted source – such as The Herb Society.


Comfrey is such an interesting herb, we almost ran out of time to talk about Borage – also known as Starflower.

Shame as this is such a pretty-looking plant with bright blue flowers and is a distant relation to Comfrey and also provides many benefits and is often used as a garnish for a glass of Pimms!

Hopefully we can talk about this again and maybe try a glass of Pimms on a future edition!

In the meantime, you can listen again to this months broadcast right here!

Herbs with Barbara: Comfrey
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    Comfrey & Borage ian

Written by: ian

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