Thursday, October 17, 2013

Comfrey Ointment

 Comfrey Ointment

Comfrey has been of interest to me lately. Besides it's uses as a plant food and compost activator, it is a wonderful, natural healer, promoting speedy repair of bruises and damaged bones. It isn't known as the 'bone-knitting herb' for nothing!

Hubby had a nasty run in with the ride on lawnmower several weeks ago, and not having used this miracle herb before we decided to give it a try. We placed a bruised, bashed up leaf on his swollen hand (one really shouldn't place their hand in the moving parts of lawnmowers!), and taped it up with some of the daughter's netball tape. Two applications over 8 hours saw the swelling virtually diminish and the pain brought down to a bearable level. The healing was amazingly fast, too. Within a week!

So, as you can imagine, I was interested to know what more could be done with this most valuable plant we have growing in the garden (which also happens to be ridiculously hardy and easy to grow from root divisions).

Comfrey Ointment

To assist the healing of bruises, sprains, backpain and aches and pains associated with arthritis.

This ointment is easy to prepare using just a few ingredients. The only thing that might need to be hunted down is some beeswax, which can usually be found from honey sellers at local markets.

After digging out my old herbal remedy book bought at last year's flea market, I found a recipe for a basic ointment base. Using these quantities, I infused the comfrey leaves in the oil until I thought they looked suitably spent....

Ingredients: (yield: 300ml, shelf life: several months, approx)
300ml vegetable oil (I used olive, although sunflower is also recommended)
large handful of fresh comfrey leaves (next time I will allow mine to wilt for a day or so, just so they aren't so 'splattery' in the oil
25g-30g beeswax, grated for faster melting

So back to the infusing, I placed the oil into a small pot and as many comfrey leaves I thought could fit in there and placed (jammed) the lid on. The oil was gently heated over a low heat until the leaves were mushy, wilted and the oil had turned green. It was a bit of a guessing process as this was the first ointment I had made. I would think the slow cooker would perform this task beautifully, too. My book also suggests heating the oil in a stove-top water bath (bain marie), to be sure the oil does not overheat and burn.
The oil was left to cool slightly and then strained. For a stronger oil, this process could be repeated a second and third time if need be.

The grated beeswax was then added to the comfrey oil and placed back over a low heat for a couple of minutes, until the beeswax had melted into the oil. This was then poured into a clean salsa jar and left uncovered until set. It's worth noting that any residue in the bottom of the pan should be left in there and not added to the jar as this excess moisture will cause the ointment to spoil faster than usual.

A hidden gem in the bookcase: HERBAL REMEDIES by Christopher Hedly and Non Shaw
Apply as needed by rubbing a small amount onto the affected area (not to be used on broken skin - just aches and pains) as often as needed. Comfrey ointment really does relieve pain fast. This is coming from a person who was very silly and pulled a muscle in her back only two days into the school holidays, eek!