phytochemicals Phytochemicals

More plants with phytochemicals



Symphytum officinale

What is comfrey?

Comfrey is a leafy perennial herb reaching up to 1 m. Comfrey grows erect and has large and hairy leaves. The comfrey roots are large and black coloured. The inside of the root contains slimy juice, hence its names slippery root and gum plant. Comfrey flowers grow at the end of the stems in one sided clusters. They are tubular shaped and white or blue coloured. The seeds consist of four shining pear shaped nutlets, adhering to the flower base.

Parts used

Aboveground parts but mainly the roots and rhizomes of comfrey are harvested.


These are typical phytochemicals found in comfrey: the comfrey root contains mucilage (frutans), pyrrolizidine alkaloids, triterpenes, allantoin, rosmarinic acid, tannins.

Benefits of comfrey

Comfrey has been used for centuries for its wound healing properties. Comfrey is mainly used externally to treat inflammation and to stimulate wound and fracture healing. The phytochemical allantoin is known for its stimulation of cell proliferation. The tannins and rosmarinic acid are responsible for the anti-inflammatory action of comfrey.

The comfrey root is also used internally against coughs and other respiratory problems such as bronchitis and pleurisy. Because of the presence of pyrrolizidine alkaloids in the comfrey roots, the internal use of root is not recommended. Pyrrolizidine alkaloids are potential carcinogens and hepatotoxins.

Other facts

Comfrey is native of Europe and Asia. It is a common herb which can be found in wet places and is often planted in gardens. Comfrey plant and root should not be eaten as a vegetable.

Other names

Blackwort, bruisewort , common comfrey, gum plant, knitbone, slippery root.

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