just a little idea for us herbalists......

novice_2009(zone 6b)April 12, 2009

I use comfrey a lot in many herbal preparations, externally usually. If any of you garden, i read it makes a wonderful mulch, will help things grow. So don't toss that spent comfrey! Use it in your gardens.

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rusty_blackhaw(6a)

Comfrey supposedly is high in potassium which might be of benefit in the garden in some circumstances (though I haven't seen comparisons to mulches/compost from other sources). The Bocking 14 variety is said to be sterile so you won't get the invasive weed problem.

"I use comfrey a lot in many herbal preparations, externally usually."

For safety's sake this should be "externally only. From a German review:

"Only recently was the use of comfrey leaves recognized as a substantial health hazard with hepatic toxicity in humans and carcinogenic potential in rodents...The mechanisms by which toxicity and mutagenicity are conveyed are still not fully understood, but seem to be mediated through a toxic mechanism related to the biotransformation of alkaloids by hepatic microsomal enzymes. This produces highly reactive pyrroles which act as powerful alkylating agents. The main liver injury caused by comfrey (Symphytum officinale) is veno-occlusive disease, a non-thrombotic obliteration of small hepatic veins leading to cirrhosis and eventually liver failure...Therapeutic approaches include avoiding intake and, if hepatic failure is imminent, liver transplantation. In view of the known serious hazards and the ban on distributing comfrey in Germany and Canada, it is difficult to understand why comfrey is still freely available in the United States."

Here is a link that might be useful: Comfrey toxicity

    Bookmark   April 12, 2009 at 7:09PM
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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

If not mulching or using in another way, your spent herbs should always make it to your compost bin, not the garbage. Throwing stuff in the garbage is not only wasteful and adding to the over burgeoning landfills, it seems like a poor way to thank and show respect for the plants that have done so much to help you.

FataMorgana

    Bookmark   April 14, 2009 at 4:51PM
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jonnys(9 Orlando Fl)

Has anyone used comfrey as a living mulch? It seems like it would do well.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2009 at 8:51PM
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rusty_blackhaw(6a)

Or too well (invasive in many gardens).

Plus, the described soil-enriching benefits wouldn't occur with growing the plant as opposed to using it as mulch or a composted soil amendment.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2009 at 8:15AM
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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

There are sterile varieties of comfrey available, if comfrey spreading via seed is a concern. But I seem to recall that it spreads most commonly through people "disturbing" the soil around the comfrey and tiny rootlets get broken off, moved around, and sprout new plants.

I would suggest planting it in its permanent location and not fiddling around in the soil next to it if you don't want "volunteer" comfrey plants. I've had a "normal", standard variety in the garden for many years with no new comfrey volunteers.

FataMorgana

    Bookmark   April 17, 2009 at 2:46PM
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novice_2009(zone 6b)

Okay, I am talking about comfrey leaves, not roots. After they have been used in an infustion, water or oil, why throw them out? If they make good mulch, cool. I'm gonna try it. toxicity is in the root mostly. Out of respect for my herbs, I dispose of them under a tree, in the compost, etc. they should never go in the trash. the Native Americans had such respect for herbs, after using them, they would put them under a tree, where no one would walk on them, and use them as offerings. I don't grow comfrey, just a thought on how to use the used leaves as a way to add back to the earth! Much love to you all. Yes, eric, the Germans are ahead of us in using herbs. Let's always keep in mind that toxicty reports here in the US are often exgarrated by the FDA. Hmmmmm.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2009 at 1:08AM
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rusty_blackhaw(6a)

"Yes, eric, the Germans are ahead of us in using herbs. Let's always keep in mind that toxicty reports here in the US are often exgarrated by the FDA. Hmmmmm."

The report on comfrey's toxicity that I linked to in this thread (and which references the German ban on distributing comfrey) comes from Germany, not the FDA.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2009 at 12:42PM
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novice_2009(zone 6b)

Thanks, eric, for your enlightenment. But as i said, used externally, how toxic is it? Not very!

    Bookmark   April 24, 2009 at 10:44PM
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eibren(z6PA)

Intermittent external use in small amounts might be tolerated, but many things can get absorbed through the skin--whether the substances at issue can be, I don't know.
I occasionally use a bit of salve that has comfrey in it, but I do that knowing I may be taking some risk.

Some remedies are more acceptable for older people than for younger ones, and always have been, too. An elderly person who can no longer sleep because of arthritic pain may be justified in using a salve with something poisonous in it to dull pain, but that practice would be questionable in a younger person of childbearing age.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2009 at 2:33AM
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novice_2009(zone 6b)

Oh my! comfrey, who would've thought it would be such a controversy? Give me one example of the use of it externally (occasinally like most herbs should), causing a severe toxicity or health problem?????? Just one, justified, true case to back this paranoia up? Please.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2009 at 12:24AM
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goshen(6)

LOL Novice, Any herb will bring up contention on this forum even the poor innocent strawberry. This would never happen on Daves Garden the other garden web site.Try it.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2009 at 1:26AM
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givelittle_getlots(Zone 8 TX)

Hi I usually hang out in the brugmansia forum. Very toxic plant roflmao. This is the second time I am trying to get into herbs on GW to find out how things are here in the USA.
After reading the 1st 3 threads....I am ready to go to DG. I do not understand why people who love and use herbs as alternative medicine are being put down like this.

I was deadly ill while living in germany 4 years ago. Doctors had NO clue what was wrong with me. I went the alternative medicine route and thanks to combined things I got rid of lots of crippling and cronic illnesses.

There ARE folks out there who would love to learn more about herbs without having controvercies going on about each little herb. Unless you are a teenager trying to get high, we are all adults and can make up our minds what we want to do with herbs. Or?

Sorry. But like someone mentioned on this thread...it started out SO BEAUTIFULLY!

Lucy

    Bookmark   April 29, 2009 at 10:19AM
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brendan_of_bonsai(4b AK)

I don't think anyone was downing the external use of comfrey.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2009 at 6:44PM
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rusty_blackhaw(6a)

"I do not understand why people who love and use herbs as alternative medicine are being put down like this"

Herb users are not being "put down" (it's often a different story for those who question the use of a particular herb).

And as mentioned, it's government health agencies in Germany and other nations, concerned about health risks associated with consuming comfrey, that have sanctions against its sale for this purpose. Could givelittle clarify whether Germany has reversed its stand against comfrey, and if she credits comfrey for recovery from all those chronic diseases?

    Bookmark   April 29, 2009 at 9:11PM
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brendan_of_bonsai(4b AK)

I am going to disagree with your choice of the word invasive Eric. Invasives are plants that jump a few miles down the road to a wetland and take over, plants that spread in your garden are aggressive.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2009 at 12:44AM
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rusty_blackhaw(6a)

Good point, but many refer to plants that spread sneakily by roots/stolons/runners as invasive (or locally invasive).

    Bookmark   April 30, 2009 at 8:59AM
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novice_2009(zone 6b)

I'll do that goshen, givelittle, you should do the same. This isn't the forum it should be. Sigh. Going to DG i guess, maybe if more of us posted threads on here- things would change?

    Bookmark   May 2, 2009 at 4:19PM
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goshen(6)

Novice, I'll be looking for you on DG. You will not beleive the difference. Two people on this forum would be kicked off the first day.
Janet

    Bookmark   May 6, 2009 at 2:33AM
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