How to use and make Comfrey Salve
Comfrey has been used medicinally for thousands of years to reduce pain and promote healing. Modern peer-reviewed studies are finding that topical comfrey preparations, such as comfrey salve and comfrey cream, are an incredibly effective herbal pain reliever.
Comfrey is a controversial plant. Many gardeners have it growing somewhere whether it’s a relic of a past garden or used to make plant feed. Bees and other pollinators love it too and for that reason alone it’s a fabulous plant to have in an organic garden. I have several clumps in my allotment and use the leaves as a compost activator, a feed, and also in ointments. The reason I use it? In one study it’s been shown to accelerate skin healing by 58%!
Although comfrey is a wonderful skin healer, it also has a long history of use for internal injuries. Traditional folk medicine has it used in all kinds of preparations, from poultices to lay on the skin to medicinal teas. Incredibly, it’s been used for at over 2000 years. However, studies using rats have shown that it can be dangerous when taken internally.
There is A LOT of information on comfrey and potential toxicity out there. Quite a lot of folks that defend its safely too. The bottom line is that all varieties of comfrey contains alkaloids that could cause liver damage. Especially when taken internally, in high doses, and/or long periods. This is why you should avoid using comfrey root at all, since it has ten times more pyrrolizidine alkaloids than the leaves.
Fortunately, these alkaloids are not easily absorbed by the skin. That makes using comfrey oil on your skin safe, as long as it’s not put on open wounds or sores.
Below is a recipe that combines comfrey and plantain.
Comfrey and plantain are two herbs that have been used for thousands of years for a variety of ailments.
The infused oil is then thickened with melted beeswax before pouring into containers to harden.
Once you have a comfrey infused oil, it’s simple to thicken it into a herbal salve.
Salve recipes vary, but I like the consistency when I use a 1 to 8 ratio of oil to beeswax (by weight).
So if you are using say 100ml of infused comfrey oil you would then want to add in 800g of melted beeswax.
Put the oil and beeswax in a heat-safe bowl or double boiler bowl, and gently melt it over a pot of simmering water (basically, in a double boiler). Once melted, pour the salves into jars or salve tins.
- Place comfrey and plantain in a pint mason jar and cover with a carrier oil (like olive oil). Be sure to cover the herb material by at least 2.5cm, and stir to remove air bubbles.
- For the fast infusion method, which is required for fresh herbs, place the jar in a double boiler or crockpot with water. Turn it on very low, and gently heat the mixture keeping it under 60 degrees Celsius. Allow the herbs to infuse in the warm oil for 24 hours before straining. (Can be used with fresh or dried herbs.)
- For the slower infusion method (only with dried herbs), allow the herbs to infuse at room temperature for 2-6 weeks before straining.
- Measure the strained herb-infused oil. You should have roughly 250ml of oil. For every 250ml of oil, add 30g beeswax (by weight).
- Place the herb-infused oil and beeswax into a heatproof bowl and warm gently over a double boiler. Stir to combine and once melted, remove from heat.
- Pour the comfrey/plantain salve into salve tins or small jars and allow the mixture to cool for a few hours before using.
If using fresh herbs, you must quick infuse the oil because the water in fresh herbs will cause the oil to go rancid if slowly infused for 4-6 weeks. Drying the herbs first is also an option, which will allow you to use the slow infuse method if you wish. This remedy can be made with comfrey leaves or comfrey root, or a combination of the two.
Herbal salves keep 1-2 years in a cool dark place.
If you’re feeling adventurous you can also add Rosemary and Vit. E oil to your salve.
Below is a video on HOW TO MAKE AN INFUSED OIL which is the basis for making your salve.
Then the second video shows how to make a comfrey salve.