The boneset (comfrey, knitbone, Symphytum officinale) is a great gift of the nature that helps heal a lot of ailments. You can find it all over the Czech Republic but especially in higher altitudes. The whole plant can be used although the root is the most potent part and it’s collected in spring and autumn. I set off to the field twice a year with a spade to find and dig this plant with purple blossoms.
The comfrey is used in many ways, I will show you four ways of processing that I like to use.
1. Dry plant
As I have laready mentiones, the comfrey is collected especially for its root. However, you shouldn’t throw away the rest of the plant. Dry the leaves and blossoms in a dark and dry place and store them in a dry place. Use the dried plant in your bath to help alleviate joint pain, rheumatism, gout and blood perfusion problems. Boil the plant for 10 minutes, then let it stand for another 30 minutes, then strain the infusion and add it to your bath. You can also use the plant to prepare infusion to drink in case of gastric ulcers. Pour 250ml of boiling water over a handful of chopped dry plant, let it infuse for 3 minutes and drink.
2. Dry root
Wash the root, brush it and chop finely. Let dry in a dry and light place but not in direct sunshine. Store in a dry place. U can use this dry root to prepare tincture or you can grind it to powder which you can use to make paste which is used to alleviate swollen joints and nape pain. To make the paste simply mix some powder with a little of water. You can also make infusion from the root that helps cure bronchitis, digestion troubles and gastric ulcers. Pour 500ml of boiling water over dry or fresh root, let it infuse for 10 minutes, strain and drink.
The tincture is used to cure rheumatism, joint swelling and it’s even used to boost hair growth, all by rubbing it into the skin. Make it easily by chopping the dry or fresh root finely and pouring alcohol over it so that all the root pieces are submerged (use clean alcohol from the pharmacy). The you let the tincture stand several days or even weeks in a glass jar and shake it every day. Then filter it and keep it in a dark bottle away from the sunshine. I actually skip the last step and leave the root in the alcohol to make the tincture more potent, I filter only the amount needed at the moment of use.
The comfrey ointment can be used instead of the paste for joint swelling. It is also great for healing of wounds. To make it, chop the fresh root and put it into a water bath together with the ointment base. The base should melt slowly at a low temperature and all the root pieces must be submerged. Then pour everything into a jar and let it stand. Melt the mixture once a day for the next three days to help the infusion process, then filter it and pour into a cream container. Store it in a cold place. And what can you use for the base? For medicinal use, you can get a cheaper fat such as lard or vaseline. If you want a more luxurious product, use shea butter and to make it a bit more liquid add some coconut oil.
Bonus – fresh plant
Not only the root can be used fresh, the leaves of the plant are useful, too, they are a good wound healer. Rinse the leaves and knead them with your fingers or run the dough roller over them a few times to break them a little so the juice starts coming out. Then place a leaf on the wound.
I hope I inspired you to collect and especially to use this wonderful plant. If you have a herbarium book at hand, read about boneset to learn more about this fascinating herb.