8.29.2007

Sparkly Comfrey Powder

It's late August, the sun is still hot, the evening light is orange, and the Comfrey is still going crazy.
This unyieldingly generous plant keeps coming back, and spreading, no matter how often you harvest its leaves for improvised poultices, throw its long hollow stalks into the compost, or even dig away at its root. And regardless of what you think of the pyrrolizidine alkaloid content of this bristly Boraginacea, you can't deny that its topical use is very safe and effective.
I love chewing a Comfrey leaf to put on a bad scrape or superficial wound, you can feel its texture going from almost spiny to green to slimy. And the gel that is created is some of the best medicine for the skin, rich in allantoin, soothing and healing.
My problem was that, during the winter, it gets very difficult to recreate that smooth green gel without access to a fresh plant. The dry leaf approximates it, but isn't nearly as pleasant to chew and simply re-hydrating it doesn't come even close. So for this month's blog party, here's what I came up with for those bushels of Comfrey leaves you've got growing in some corner:

Sparkly Comfrey Powder:

You will need a good, strong blender. A Vitamix is good, but any commercial blender with a sturdy motor will do.
Harvest lots of Comfrey leaves.
Stuff the blender, not too tight, with coarsely chopped leaves.
Add 1 cup of water (for a half-gallon blender)

Blend, pulsing and stirring from time to time, until the mixture is a homogenous mass of green goo.

Press the mass through muslin, so that all the fiber is removed, saving the juice. This stuff should be very dark green and frothy.

Evaporate the moisture from the juice in a slow (150 degree) oven, or in strong sunlight. I use Pyrex pans for this purpose. Depending on how much juice you made, and the size of your pan, this could take all day (or more).

Using a metal spatula, knife, or spoon, scrape the dehydrated juice from the pan once all the water is gone.

Place the scrapings in a smaller container, and dry for another hour at 150 degrees.

Grind the dried Comfrey in a mortar and pestle.

Voila! You're done. This powder, which does seem to sparkle when in direct light, re-hydrates quickly to a slimy mass. Try 4-5 drops of water on a 1/4 tsp. dab of the powder. It also quickly colors pale oils, like sweet almond oil, a nice green color and makes a very good addition to salve recipes. Finally, I like to sprinkle it directly on bad scrapes I get during the winter months, where it quickly stops light bleeding and gets nice and mucilaginous, unlike the dry leaf.

Just remember: don't use Comfrey preparations on deeper wounds, puncture wounds, etc... as it will very likely cause an abscess to form.

The final product, infused for 15 minutes into sweet almond oil. On the right is a heaping spoonful of the re-hydrated powder, ready for use!

12 comments:

Rebecca said...

What a great idea!

Angie Goodloe LMT, Herbalist said...

NICE!

Moon Dancer said...

Hello,
Thank you for the tip. I have many, many comfrey plants for the garden. Im always looking for uses for this lovely plant. Im a soap maker and I make a comfrey soap that I love, but I use the root. I was wondering if you could tell me a way to grind this root to make comfrey root powder. It dries to a rock hard consistancy and is then impossible to pulvarize/grind. Ive ruined a magi mix blade. Hope you can help.
Lisa

guido said...

Hey Lisa,
I've run in to similar problems with Comfrey root, and others (like Kava, or Wild Yam). My first suggestion is to chop or grate the fresh root before drying, then to dry it quickly in a sunny greenhouse or a dehydrator. The second suggestion involves purchasing a hammer mill. They're pricey, but pretty amazing as long as your starting material is somewhat chunked up to begin with. If all else fails, cover your roots with a clean towel and bash them a bit with a 3-pound sledgehammer. Works great for Kava-kava.

Pauline said...

You said not to apply it to deeper wounds or an abscess may develop. Well, what do you do if you didn't know that and you need to get rid of an abscess?

guido said...

Hi Pauline,
an abscess needs to be treated aggressively. I usually use a combination of therapies: soaking in hot Yarrow/Lavender tea; high doses of Echinacea internally (1 teaspoon of tincture 5 times a day); Calendula/Red Clover tea internally (or Yellow Root / Red Root if you have them available).
That's a good start. Other options are the application of Bloodroot on the abscess, to open it for drainage; opening it with a sterile scalpel (not my favorite) for drainage.
Finally, take a magic marker and draw a ring around the red area of the abscess. If it's not receding within 24-48 hours, you might want to ask for additional help.

erin said...

I am giving your recipe a go with a blender full of comfrey leaves. What fun! But I am having difficulty squeezing out the juice (I am using a piece of muslin fabric). The whole mass is rather thick. How important is it to separate the fiber from the juice? Could I spread the unfiltered paste into a glass pan and dehydrate (along the lines of a fruit leather so to say)? I appreciate your help and input!

guido said...

Hi Erin,
my suggestion is to add a little water to the blender to make the comfrey leaf juice a bit more "runny". You could try dehydrating the whole mix, but it will be pretty fibrous and might behave strangely when you go to infuse it into the oil.
So, either: dilute the juice before straining; strain through a more porous filter (like doubled-up cheesecloth); or strain your oil after adding the dehydrated pulp.

Christiane said...

Would using a Champion juicer work just as well?

guido said...

Sure. Might need to add a little water. I've burned out 2 juicers trying to do this to Comfrey leaf - but they weren't Champions...

oluchi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
oluchi said...

Hi,

Thanks for these tips. Apologies if my question sounds ignorant. I thought comfrey leaf is harmful if ingested? I had wanted to try some dried leaf powder (make into tea) to help with stronger bones and teeth but have been reading warnings against taking it internally because of its effects on the liver. Please enlighten me about this.

thanks