Our first preparation for our medicine chest project is comfrey plaster.
Partly because we already had some dried root but also because the root is usually harvested late autumn through to winter. We want to align this projects as seasonally as we can.
Comfrey (Symphytum offinale), is the number one root to use for any strained ligaments or broken bones. It can also be used for external ulcers and tissue damage. It helps to speed wound healing, with minimal scarring. In old herbal folk history it is even known by the name knit-bone, signalling to its medicinal uses.
But care must be taken not to use on really deep wounds. Comfreys healing ability is so potent it can cause fast tissue growth over the wound before lower layers have healed. This can lead to abcesses. It is always best to be aware of any contraindications of using any plant medicine. We only recommend using Comfrey root externally and not to ingest, as some research has suggested internal use could attribute to liver damage.
Comfrey root can be used fresh; cleaned and mashed into a mucilagenous poultice it can be applied to any of the above injurys.
We have used dried root here, as we are making this with the intention of being in a herbal first aid kit. Dried root has a longer shelf life as well as being easier to transport and use.
We blitzed the dried comfrey root in a coffee grinder but a high speed blender would also work.
This was then sieved a few times, until we had a reletively fine powder, and stored in a jar.
This should keep for up to a year. Of course in a situation where we dont have an electric grinder, we would have to use a lot of elbow grease, pestle and mortar or two rocks.
The Comfrey powder is mixed with water, a little at a time until it reaches a gel like paste consistency.
You really dont need very much powder at all, maybe start with one teaspoon. A little goes a long way.
The paste is spread over the area of damage in a thin layer, approximately 2mm thick or slightly more, then allowed to dry.
It will become like a fruit leather over your skin. This should be left on for a number of hours or longer if possible – of course it can always be reapplied.
The amazing thing about Comfrey plaster is the fact it can even help old injuries, ones that are taking ages to mend or just dont feel quite healed yet!
The magical ingredient that causes healing is a chemical within Comfrey called allantoin, a natural cell proliferator.
Comfrey root is one of the first herbs we became aquainted with.
An ointment from a combination of the roots and leaves was made and in our household it became fondly known as Green Cream – it was put on everything!
Now our family has grown up, they still turn to making their own Green Cream.
As always we suggest you do your own research, identification and information gathering before trying this at home.
The Plant Path Folk