Symphytum officinale. N.O. Boraginaceae.
Synonym ► Knitbone, Nipbone.
Habitat ► Damp fields and waste places ; ditch and river sides.
Features ► The hairy stem is two to three feet high, freely branched, rough and angular. Egg-shaped to lance-shaped leaves, with wavy edges, hug the stem above, the lower ones having long stalks ; they are all large and hairy. The plant produces yellowish, bluish, or purplish-white flowers in May and June, all on the same side of the stem. The root is brownish-black, deeply wrinkled, greyish and horny internally. The taste is mucilaginous and sweetish, and the dried herb has an odour resembling that of tea.
Part used ► Root and leaves.
Action ► The roots, and to some extent the leaves, are demulcent and astringent.
The action of Comfrey is similar to that of Marsh Mallow, and consequently it is a popular cough remedy. It is also used as a fomentation in strained and inflammatory conditions of the muscles, and will promote suppuration of boils and other skin eruptions. A decoction is made by boiling 1/2 to 1 ounce of the crushed root in 1 quart of water,
reducing to 1 1/2 pints, and is taken in wineglass doses.
Coffin tells us the root of the plant is also “a good tonic medicine, and acts friendly on the stomach; very useful in cases where, from maltreatment, the mouth, the throat and stomach have become sore.”