Symphytum officinale


Image I


Image II

Botanical Name: Symphytum officinale
Common name: Comfrey (Hoffmann, 2003, p. 586)
Family: Boraginaceae (Hoffmann, 2003, p. 586)
Parts used: Root, rhizome and leaf(Hoffmann, 2003, p. 586)


  • Allantoin
  • Pyrrolizidine alkaloids: Echimindine, Symphytine, Lycopsamine and Symlandine (in fresh young leaves and root)
  • Phenolic acids: Rosmarinic, Chlorogenic, Caffeic and Lithospermic
  • Mucilage
  • Choline
  • Asparagine
  • Volatile oil
  • Tannins
  • Steroidal saponins
  • Triterpenes

(Hoffmann, 2003, p. 586)



  • Vulnerary
  • Demulcent
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Astringent
  • Expectorant

(Hoffmann, 2003, p. 586)



  • Wound healing (Hoffmann, 2003, p. 586)
  • Fosters proper scar formation (Hoffmann, 2003, p. 586)
  • External ulcers (Hoffmann, 2003, p. 586)
  • Fractures (Hoffmann, 2003, p. 586)
  • Chronic varicose ulcers (Hoffmann, 2003, p. 586)


Preparation & Dosage

  • Compress
  • Poultice
  • Ointment (5-20% dried herb)

(Hoffmann, 2003, p. 586)


Commission E recommends that the daily does does not exceed 100mg (Hoffmann, 2003, p. 586)



  • In deep wounds comfrey can cause tissue to form over wound before deeper healing in finished resulting in abscesses (Hoffmann, 2003, p. 586).



  • Due to the presence of pyrrolizidine alkaloids comfrey is not indicated for oral use
  • Currently banned in Australia and New Zealand (Hoffmann, 2003, p. 586).
  • Pyrrolizidine alkaloids are potentially toxic to lungs and liver and may cause acute liver failure, cirrhosis, pneumonitis or pulmonary hypertension. Animals stuide show that they are potentially carcinogenic and hepatotoxic (Altamirano, Gratz & Wolnick, 2005, Abstract)


Altamirano, J. C., Gratz, S. R., & Wolnick, K. A. (2005). Investigation of pyrrolizidine alkaloids and their N-oxides in commercial comfrey-containing products and botanical materials by liquid chromatography electrospray ionization mass spectrometry. Journal of AOAC International, 88(2), 406-412. Retrieved from:

Hoffmann, D. (2003). Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine. Rochester Vermont: Healing Arts Press.

Images: Balagizi, I., Cihyoka, A., & Mapatano, S. (n.d.). Prelude Medicinal Plants Database. Retrieved from:

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