Symphytum. Symphytum officinalis.

Botanical name: 

(A lot of plants in the Boraginaceae contain hepatotoxic pyrrolizidine alkaloids. Comfreys are among them. More info here: Livertoxic PAs --Henriette.)


It contains tannic acid, starch and a small quantity of asparagine.


A tincture and a fluid extract are prepared, also specific symphytum. Dose of tincture is from one to ten drops.

Therapy—Its direct influence, like other mucilaginous agents, seems to be upon the mucous surfaces when taken internally. It was previously advised in all forms of bronchial irritation, with cough or difficult breathing, especially if there was hemoptisis. It was used in the chronic cases, or where there was protracted convalescence. of severe acute cases. Some writers have been very enthusiastic concerning its specific influence. One physician who has used it for over thirty years, claims to obtain the best results from a strong decoction, made from one ounce of the root, in a pint of water. He gives this almost ad libitum is a drink. In pneumonia, this decoction relieves the difficult and painful breathing. It aids expectoration, and tends to lower the temperature. In all serious cases, he depends upon this remedy. Its properties lie believes to be not only soothing, but demulcent, balsamic and especially pectoral.

Where there is inflammation of the stomach or bowels, he has obtained signal benefit from this infusion, especially if, as a result from inflammation, there is hemorrhage or passive discharges of any character. He also gives the infusion as a drink in nephritis, in both acute and chronic cases. In inflammation of the bowels, it may be injected, and being retained it exercises a direct soothing influence, which would probably be enhanced by the addition of the proper intestinal antiseptic.

Old European writers called attention to this remedy as a vulnerary. It had a great reputation as an external application in the treatment of wounds, bruises and putrefying sores. They used it for ruptures and applied it where a bone was fractured, believing that it would stimulate the knitting of the bone. These old writers claimed that it was useful in all hurts and bruises, internal and external, in all cases of hemorrhage, blood spitting, flux, diarrhea, dysentery, menorrhagias, leucorrhea. It will certainly relieve the swelling and pain of a bruise or sprain as quickly as any other remedy with which we are familiar. One writer, in his zeal and confidence, says: "It acts upon an inflamed surface like a charm, subduing inflammation as water subdues and extinguishes fire." Another writer says: "This agent has marvelous healing and cicatrizing properties. If the tincture be applied to swollen and painful parts, it quickly reduces the pain and swelling. It stimulates granulation in slow healing ulcers, and rapidly promotes healing in bruises of the muscles, ecchymosis, injuries to the tendons, and cartilaginous tissues. It is indeed efficacious. An antiseptic decoction will produce much the same results as the tincture."

The American Materia Medica, Therapeutics and Pharmacognosy, 1919, was written by Finley Ellingwood, M.D.
It was scanned by Michael Moore for the Southwest School of Botanical Medicine.