Symphytum officinale Linn

Family ► Boraginaceae.

Habitat ► Europe and from the Mediterranean to Caucasian region. Russian Comfrey or Blue Comfrey has been introduced in Simla; Prickly Camfrey is cultivated in Western India.

English ► Comfrey, Knitbone.

Folk ► Sankuutan (Maharashtra).

Action ► Vulnerary (The British Herbal Pharmacopoeia), astringent, demulcent, haemostatic, tissue-restorative (repairs broken bones and lacerated flesh, promotes formation of a callus).

Key application ► Externally for fractures and sprains, to promote bone growth and formation of callus. (German Commission E.)

Allantoin, a cell proliferant, helps repair damaged tissues. Anti-inflammatory action is due to rosmarinic acid and other phenolic acids. Used for stomach ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, colitis, hiatus hernia; pleurisy, bronchitis (contraindicated in oede-matous conditions of the lung); and for the treatment of fractures, sickets, varicose ulcers. Experiments, during the 1960s, reveal that pyrrolizidine alkaloids are toxic to liver (dispute still unresolved); it is still not clear if these are hepatotoxic in the context of the whole plant. The aerial parts are considered safe.

Russian Comfrey or Blue Comfrey has been equated with Symphytum peregrinum Ledeb. (introduced into India in Simla).

The Plant is a good source of al-lantoin, a drug used in the treatment of gastric ulcers, disorders of liver and cancer. Tincture of the fresh herb is reported to be used for asthma, bronchitis and congestive conditions of the lungs.

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