Episode-1371- All About Comfrey the Miracle Plant

Comfrey - A Proven Medicinal Herb, With a Undeserved Bad Reputation.

Comfrey – A Proven Medicinal Herb, With a Undeserved Bad Reputation.

Why do I call comfrey a miracle plant?  Well if I said their was one plant that could help heal broken bones, speed wound healing, heal skin ulcers that nothing else could close, provide fertilizer, provide mulch, feed livestock and be as easy to grow as breaking off a piece of a root and sticking it in the dirt, what would you call it?

Comfrey does all of these things and frankly more.  It also has a very undeserved bad reputation as being toxic if used internally.  In fact some over zealous nanny state types even caution against using it externally.  I am not really sure if the misinformation about comfrey is simply tea cup protectionism run a muck or an outright slander campaign.  And while I can’t advise you to use comfrey internally, because it is illegal for me to do so, what I will say is at times I do and I certainly am not dead or ill from doing so.

Even if you plan to never use comfrey internally it is still a plant every person should grow and be familiar with.  Its uses are too many to ignore and further it is so easy to grow and propagate there is no reason not to.

Join Me Today As I Discuss…

  • What exactly is comfrey
  • Why are we told comfrey is toxic
  • What is wrong with the research done to say it is toxic
  • What are the main comfrey types and what does Bocking mean?
  • How do you propagate comfrey
    • From seed (“wild comfrey” only)
    • From root cuttings, crowns, etc.
    • From tiny cuttings (make a lot fast)
    • Growing out cuttings in containers to multiply results fast
    • How I would propagate lots of roots fast if I wanted to
  • Uses for Comfrey
    • As fodder for cows, chickens, pigs, geese, etc. what you need to know
    • As fertilizer
      • Awesome NPK Ratio 1.8-0.5-5.3
      • A Dynamic Accumulator of Si, N, Mg, Ca, K & Fe
      • Making Liquid Fertilizer
      • Mulching
      • Leaf Boosting
    • For Medicinal Use
      • On wounds and ulcers
      • On bites and stings
      • On broken bones and sprains
      • On bruises
      • Internally (this is illegal)
      • Making oils and salves
  • Rules for successful comfrey patches
    • Keep it “clean, cut and fed”
    • Grass can and will choke out comfrey
    • You can graze it, best to do when you would have cut it
    • I prefer a distributed model but might do a propagation patch
  • Sources of Comfrey

Resources for today’s show…

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51 Responses to Episode-1371- All About Comfrey the Miracle Plant

  1. Lead time from coe’s comfrey is about 2 months right now. I talked to him on the phone about a month ago. Great guy to chat with. Probably need’s to adjust his sales process a bit though. Once I get my order in from him I’m going to ship him back some of the officinalis that I started from seed.

  2. Jack, I have eaten this plant for 2 years and no issues. I eat the flowers and new leaves. Again I would never suggest anyone to eat a ton of this plant without knowing what you are doing.

    • I’m curious – how do you eat it? Raw, as a tea? cooked? Do you eat it every day?

  3. I have bocking 14 that purchased from Horizon herbs 2 years ago growing everywhere now and my chickens and turkeys love it. I put in 2 huge arm fulls and it was gone in about 30 minutes! I just ordered bocking 4 from coes. Hope to be selling cuttings from both in a year.

  4. Some sellers on Ebay have comfrey in stock.

  5. I have some comfrey available

  6. Jack would you consider using Comfrey in a food forest model. For example plant some near and around fruit trees?

    • Modern Survival

      As I said we planted it all over the food forest here, pretty much between every two trees is a comfrey plant.

      • Thanks, I guest I should’ve finished with the show before I asked that question. I feel like a donkey now. lol

    • I placed a comfrey plant in front of each fruit tree and I routinely rip off leaves to mulch on top of the tree roots. I also put bush bean seeds around tree’s root ball.

  7. Jack, I really enjoyed this episode and would like to see a series of the same type of show on many other “must have” and greatly beneficial plants. You have done several shows with many plants discussed, but this type of in depth work on one plant at a time is great. Keep up the good work.

  8. Travis Toler

    I agree with Steve Larkin

    I was starting comfrey last winter in planters from root cuttings sourced at Coe’s. I had 3 sprouts appear and within a week my two little dogs devoured the leaves like they were treats. They still hit them pretty steady and this has made it difficult to really get it going…

  9. I posted in the “Barter Blanket” section of the PermaEthos community forum. I have some comfrey available if anyone is interested.

  10. Jeff Powers

    I did what Jack said and took a shovel to a comfrey plant my mother has in front of her house. I split into about 10 pieces and planted at the base of each of my fruit trees along with bean seeds. My wierd version of a 3 sisters. Comfrey is about 2 foot tall after a couple months.

    • I think this is a great idea! I think Jack mentioned that Comfrey needs nitrogen to grow so planting it with beans is perfect. I’m going to do the same. I have comfrey near all of my fruit trees but I think I’ll add some bean plants

  11. Great show Jack. Thanks! I love comfrey and fertilize my plants (especially tomatoes) with a tea I make from it. There is some of the bocking-14 variety on Amazon right now. I also use it medicinally and plan to start eating small quantities.


  12. I finally had a “question for Jack” about combining comfrey and plantain and some dude does a great podcast on comfrey. Well done Mr. Spirko.

  13. Awesome show Jack, Do you have any advise on growing Comfrey in a HOT zone(10a)? Will it grow & thrive? Special considerations? Deigo from Permaculture Voices indicated that he didn’t have to much luck in San Diego which is zone 9 I believe. Of course, mileage may vary but hope you have some pointers

    • Im in northern California zone 9 and my bocking 14 is doing great.

    • I’m only 4 or 5 miles from Diego of Permaculture Voices. I live on the borders of San Marcos and Carlsbad and Vista.

      I have 6 large plants in the ground – they are 2-3 feet high . They are now 2 years old. They took a long time for me to grow from root cuttings and for the first 6 months I didn’t think it worked.

      I’m just about to dig some roots up and move them to other fruit trees and areas of the yard.

      Maybe with a bit more time Diego will actually see comfrey in his yard.

  14. Jack mentions that the button mushroom has the same toxin as the destroying angel mushroom (which is amatoxin); however they are from different families (button Agaricaceae / angel Amanitaceae). This does not mean that button mushrooms cannot have amatoxin (as they are from the same Order). Jack, do you have a reference on this? I am aware that if the toxin is present, your point is that the dose makes the poison…

    • Modern Survival

      It is from a book I read years ago on mushroom harvesting. It appears that book may have been wrong, as you stated destroying angel has amatoxin, portobello, criminis and white caps have small amounts of agaratine. I guess the days of not trusting what you read started before the internet though some claim it is not so.

  15. Jack

    Loved the show today. Being from North Carolina we use to white water rafting on the Nantahala river every year at least once. I didn’t know there was a comfrey producer so close to me till today. Having to go to town for wifi really cuts down on my web surfing. Nantahala is pronounced around here anyway “Nat-ta-hay-la” it “is a Cherokee word meaning “Land of the Noonday Sun.” The name is appropriate as, in some spots, the sun only reaches the floors of the deep gorges”. Thanks for all you do and keep the great shows coming.

  16. Dear Jack,
    I have been the johnny Comfrey plant man in Bradford County.
    I grow it everywhere I can find space for it. Thank you for telling the world about it. It is an unsung hero like Tesla. I cut mine at an angle and leave the roots in and end up with 4-5 little plants. I have put at a friends house high up letting the dead leaves in winter break down and flow down the bank to her garden.
    I wonder if you could make methane out of it.. Keep up the great work.

  17. A good video to identify common/wild comfrey

    Our new house has lots of this around the edges of scrub oak areas. It is much smaller than the bocking 4 I bought from coes last year. And the 2 year crowns are well over 2 foot tall and look to have multiple stocks at this point. Time to divide. As Javk once said plant done by each tree to make chop and drop easy. I’m also planting daffodils by each fruit tree some they are toxic to keep pests away.

    • Jeff Powers

      I like the daffodil idea. I alread saw ants on one of my pear trees. I wonder if that would help?

  18. Brent Eamer

    Jack, I found a local source for Comfrey, it’s part of a seed saving group on the Island that I once attended a meeting. There is also a guy in the same are going to give me some red wigglers for my Vermicompost project

  19. We are at the beach and got pretty badly burned. So we went to the local wallyworld and grabbed some Ocean potion for burns. It actually has comfrey listed in the ingredients. The type is Symphytum Officinale extract. It even has Arnica Montana flower extract. I was surprised to say the least.

  20. Awesome show Jack. Last year I planted 2 small crowns, split them this spring and I have 50 huge plants now.
    So you know Nantahala in these parts is pronounced

  21. Rick Worden at Rise and Shine Rabbitry is selling Bocking 14 comfrey. He was Jack’s guest on episode 875.

  22. I have so much comfrey in one section of my property I hardly know what to do with it, but my animals don’t seem to care to eat it. I could very easily propagate it to sell, but if it is a type that is less desirable I’m not sure if I should bother. How do I determine what variety it is and whether it is worthwhile to propagate?

    • Modern Survival

      I don’t eat it, I occasionally use it as a tea, again I have to say you are not supposed to do so according to the governmetn so I am not recommending that you do so, what you choose to do is your own business though.

      Now that I think about it, I do occasionally take a nibble of it raw when the mood suits me, it works for livestock right? Again though this is a personal individual choice and by law I can’t recommend anyone follow my example or choice. Do your own research and make your own decisions.

  23. Doing some googling on creating a comfrey salve and found an interesting nugget – http://snh.cc/community/index.php?topic=1568.0 – that claims young comfrey leaves are higher in alkaloids as a protection from animal browsing. So use mature leaves for internal use.

  24. Jack, After going through the show yesterday I bought some comfrey on ebay. http://www.ebay.com/itm/Comfrey-10-Plant-Crown-cuttings-Grow-your-own-Most-Indispensable-Valued-Herb-/111108395866?pt=US_Dietary_Supplements_Nutrition&hash=item19de93935a#ht_4969wt_867

    It’s Comfrey 10? I don’t recall hearing that on your show? So my question is, did I just make a mistake?

    • Modern Survival

      Who knows really? I doubt it is actually “Bocking 10” but who knows, all of the bockings are russian based hybrids and all work well, I just don’t know of anyone selling bocking 10, can’t even find a description of it with google. The picture looks like 14 to me. Ask the seller what he means by Comfrey 10.

      Anyway comfrey is comfrey to a large degree. Honestly if somehow this person knows for a fact that it is Bocking 10 let me know because I want to trial some.

      • I bought from the same seller. Does not know what type it was because I emailed her and ask her a few weeks ago. She said it will not reproduce. The word 10 here means we will send you 10 individual root cuttings. Gayle from you can homestead podcast has a link to this ebay seller. that is how I ended up getting that kind.

        • I recently bought a smartphone. My speech to text conversion can cause my messages to appear hard to read and has many mistakes even though I’ve tried to fix them I missed a few

  25. We had comfrey growing on our farm in Michigan way back in the 60’s. I was given a horse and I planned to sell it as an investment for my college fund. Turns out the horse went lame as a result of a fracture inside the hoof. My mom had me make a slurry of comfrey root that was packed inside a protective shoe and pad. We waited and when the horse came sound we took another x ray of the bones and it had healed up. I rode him that summer and sold him later that year perfectly sound. Bone knit…lives up to the claim in my mind. My brother tells me it still grows at the farm. Going to have him send me some roots. Also, the skin irritation seems to be more about the little hairs on the leaves that can be an irritant. Crushing the leaves works as does steaming them.

  26. Was making some Comfrey tea for fertilizer as you describe Jack and then started using my Vitamix to make a comfrey smoothie: fill vitamin with leaves, add water, hit the high button, blend for 30 seconds. Then I add this to a five gallon bucket of water. Seems like this way you only have to wait a few days at most and no stink.
    I’m guessing there is no magic to letting the minerals leech out thru osmosis in the way you describe vs. mechanical breakdown with the Vitamix?
    Great show. Second the Coes recommendation-he’s no Amazon in speed, but who else calls to let you know your package is one the way and he sent you a little extra!

  27. jeff nw ohio

    I have a huge patch of bocking 14 and a small patch of 4 and even smaller patch of common. Funny thing is that common was not that aggressive, only third of the size of other two and grows at a much slower rate for me. I let mine go to flower, pollinators here are under a lot of stress d/t gmo’s chemicals, etc. Seems like bumblebees like them the most and really prefer 14 in my patches. I make a lot of tea, in 20 or 25 gallon garbage cans and use dip method and must use rubber gloves and remove clothes before I return to house. Smells heavenly, just like manure.

  28. this is one of those classic TSP episodes. I fell asleep halfway through tbe episode and dreamed we’re all camping in the woods around campfire listening to Jack talk about comfrey. Funny how comfrey has miracle qualities as well as deeply consipiritorial associations from establishment.

    I have about 15 plants from last year I got from eBay. The seller doesn’t seem to know what kind it is but says it does not reproduce. If I can make it up to Maine soon I may try to get some from that rabbit farmer in mechanic falls who has been on the show.

  29. ThinkingFin

    Folks, has anyone ordered from Horizon yet? If so what kind of turn around time did you have?
    I placed an order with them almost 2 months ago and still no package, they replied back once to my inquiries for a tracking number that it would be in Monday of last week. I tried to recontact them with no response. I know that this is the busy season but does this sound normal?
    Might be some great items, and I hope they are 🙂

  30. morana revel

    I have Comfrey in a polyculture with spearmint. It has been in the same location for about 16 years now.

    I would have no issue selling roots, my patch is about 15 square feet square now

    I do not know what kind mine is. It has only recently started sending out runners into the hay field. Plant had large pointed leaves and it gets about 4 ft high in bloom.

    • Modern Survival

      Sounds like 14 it is either that or 4 if it doesn’t spread by seed and has really large leaves. Wild varieties don’t have the big of a leaf. Ill try to do a video showing 4 and 14 so you can see the difference.

  31. We live in the North end of the Peoples Republic of Kalifornia, where it doesn’t rain for 4 months and everything turns brown. I could provide irrigation for the new plants, but what about our delicious 4 legged Bambi. Do they like these plants too? We have to keep our garden behind a deer fence.
    Thanks for any info.

  32. So, if you put comfrey leaves in a bucket with water for a month isn’t the mixture turning anaerobic?

    I saw mention in the posts above of someone who blended it and put it in the bucket and it took a lot less time to break down – like a few days.

    Wondering which method would be better for the plants? Would it matter?

    • Modern Survival

      No it doesn’t matter, first you are diluting it anywhere from 8to1 to 16to1 with water. So that alone is going to deal with any anaerobic action. You can use it sooner but it stinks to high heave in a day or two anyway. When you wait 4-6 weeks you get inky black goodness with a full on extraction. This is a plant food, not something you water with daily.

      • Jeff Powers

        Jack…I hope you do a video of your tea making system. I thought I heard you mention that in your last show?

  33. Some pictures of a simple milk crate tractor and a rant about weeds, and dynamic accumulators.


  34. I already thought comfrey was an under-appreciated herb, although you taught me so much more in your podcast. The comfrey plants in my garden I bought from the Growers Exchange at http://www.thegrowers-exchange.com/Comfrey-Common-p/her-com01.htm.