Working with the Magical Comfrey

Working with the Magical Comfrey

Comfrey for Your Garden, Apothecary, and Spells

Medicinal, Magical, and Regenerative Uses for Comfrey, and How to Grow it.

Unearth the power of Comfrey: a powerful herb that has been used for its healing properties since 400 BC (1). Also used as a fertilizer, soil enrichment, animal feed, in landscapes and pollinator gardens, and for magical purposes, this is a great plant to have in your yard.

I frequently use this plant to make soaks for sore muscles and strains. I’ve used it to take care of my plantar fasciitis surprisingly fast. It’s my mulch, compost activator, homemade liquid plant food, and even a supplement to my chicken feed. It’s the first plant I made sure to have in my yard, and I got mine from my Grandmother. I was most eager to have Comfrey at my fingertips again as soon as possible.

It’s easy to grow. Harder to kill. I’ll tell you how to get and use it…

Medicinal Uses of Comfrey

Other names for the Comfrey plant are Bone-Mender and Knit Bone (2), along with various other nicknames. It is said to regenerate tissues and heal skin so effectively that you want to be sure not to use it too soon. It’s a good idea to talk to your physician before you use Comfrey or any other natural remedy.

Warning about Internal Use:

There’s some confusing information about the safety of Comfrey used internally. The FDA advises against it due to potential liver toxicity. I am not a doctor of any sort. I’ve heard it would take large quantities of Comfrey to produce those harmful effects, but I just don’t know, so I don’t advise you to use it internally and I don’t do so for my family.

Comfrey is infused into oils and salves for many purposes. It’s pretty easy to make and with only a few ingredients. Here is a simple recipe for Comfrey salve from a great blog called Grow Forage Cook Ferment. You can also make deodorants, like this Comfrey Calendula one here.

You can buy dried if you aren’t growing your own Comfrey. Etsy can be a nice place to support another person’s small, probably home-based business. I don’t recommend using multi-level marketing companies. They have exploitative practices and aren’t the same as supporting a friend’s business.

I do highly recommend Mountain Rose Herb… a local company with great online options. Here’s a link for Mountain Rose Herb’s salve: Comfrey-St. Johns Wort Compound. If you want to get their high-quality dried herbs, here are the links for their comfrey leaf and comfrey root.

I very commonly put fresh or dried comfrey leaves right into some simmering water or the bathtub. It makes a great foot soak with some Epsom salts. Sometimes I’ll wander around the yard for other things to add. Lavender, marigold, mint…

Comfrey in the Garden

Comfrey is a champion in the garden. Pollinators love it. The roots pull up nutrients and minerals from the soil. (6) Its leaves can be cut and used as a nitrogen-rich mulch. It makes a great living mulch because it grows vigorously enough to compete with weeds. And it’s often planted around fruit trees in food forests and permaculture guilds.

Comfrey as Compost and Mulch

Comfrey is a compost activator. I like to plant it next to the compost bins so I can chop and toss the leaves in. It also works as mulch atop raised beds. When I mow it on the mulch setting, I think about it adding nutrients to the entire yard. If I’m using the mower bag, it mixes the Comfrey with grass clippings for the compost pile or chicken run.

Comfrey as Fertilizer

Compost tea and liquid plant fertilizer are a couple of my favorite things to make with Comfrey. Just put the leaves in a bucket of water, leaving it steep for around a month. Then dilute it with water by at least half, but many people dilute it up to ten times. The nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium (NPK) ratio of dried comfrey leaves is 1.8-0.5-5.3 (7). So it works really well for fruiting and flowering plants. You should avoid using it on root crops or leafy greens, it’s not the right ratio for them.

Sometimes, I just leave it steeping for a few days, skip diluting it, and water plants with it. I’ll leave my watering can out on a rainy night with some comfrey leaves in it. Then, in a few days, I water my house plants with the Comfrey moon water.

Another easy use for Comfrey is to simply bury a leaf or two next to some plants that like nitrogen. I plant it, along with banana peels, in my tomato beds. It breaks down very quickly and becomes a nutrient the plants can use.

Magic Uses for Comfrey

Comfrey can make a great replacement for white sage in your energy-cleansing rituals. Smoking your space with it can promote peace and well-being. Make a bundle, including some complementary herbs if you wish. Lavender for protection and calm (and beautiful color and scent). Thyme to remove obstacles and mental blocks. Rosemary to remove negative energy.

This powerful herb provides two very specific protections: protection for travelers and protection from theft. Carry a leaf with you when you travel. Plant it around the yard for theft protection and boundary setting. Place it in a spell jar for your mantle or a sachet for your car.

Comfrey can be used in bath rituals, healing rituals, money spells, and boundaries spells. Spread the leaves around the perimeter of your yard to encourage respect for your space. It is also used for divination, even better if mixed with mugwort.

Growing and Harvesting Your Own Comfrey

I was surprised at the cost of dried Comfrey. A woman at the local wellness store was seeking out something for a rash all over her face. The herbalist who recommended it was apologetic about the price. She explained how easy it would be to grow it herself.

“Sorry to interrupt,” I said, “but I have a pot of Comfrey root in the back of my car”

Don’t you love synchronicity?

I put it in the back of my car for a fellow gardener, but it was definitely meant for this woman’s garden.

It is pricey for a plant that is such an incredibly vigorous grower. If you put a piece of a root in the ground, you will have Comfrey coming up there for years. It will expand, so you can share plenty with your friends…maybe even sell some.

Choose your Variety Carefully

My advice is to keep it simple and stick with Russian Bocking 14 or Bocking 4. Those make up two of the three most common Comfrey types. The third type is actually called “Common Comfrey,” but I don’t recommend it. It spreads by seed and can get out of hand quickly. Listen to me, my friends. You will have plenty of Comfrey with your Bocking cuttings. Even that can get carried away. I don’t recommend introducing the Common Comfrey to your yard.

One of the best ways to get Comfrey is to ask around your gardening community and friends. Just make sure you’re getting the variety you want (Bocking). Just a piece of the root will work. I’m always happy to dig a plant right out of my ever-spreading Comfrey beds for anyone who wants it. If you would rather order it and have it come to your door, plenty of Etsy shops sell it. Perhaps you’ll even be supporting someone running a business from their backyard.

Planting Comfrey

Comfrey prefers wet soil, but my biggest patch is growing in my hardest, driest dirt. We struggled to dig holes in that part of the yard, but the Comfrey had no problem growing. It breaks up compacted soil, so it’s beneficial there. Make sure you put it where you want it to stay. The roots are deep, and it’s a cut-and-come-again crop. It won’t be easy to move it later. Consider putting it in pots or a raised bed if you want to contain the spread.

To plant: take an approximately 2-6 inch piece of root, and bury it a few inches deep where you want it. That’s it. You can find more detailed information, including instructions for fertilizing, but I don’t think it’s necessary at all. Just put it in the ground, and it’s going to grow. You can certainly add fertilizer and create a monster of it if you want to but don’t worry about it.

If you want to put more into it than that, here are some fun ideas:

  • Make a ritual for planting your plant, and infuse it with your intent.
  • Enchant your root or crown before planting.
  • Whisper to your root before planting it. Introduce yourself and your intention to the plant.
  • Is there anything else that feels special to you? Since this plant isn’t very demanding, you can invest your energy creatively. I’d love to hear what you chose to do.

In Closing

Comfrey is one of my favorite yard plants. Its diverse uses make it a go-to for many things, from permaculture to the medicine cabinet. I’d love to hear about your own relationship with Comfrey. What are your favorite uses? What is your favorite diverse plant?

You might also like to read:

The Magic of Purple Deadnettle– This is a plant you likely have growing right outside your door.

The Hearth Keeper’s Garden– Get ideas for a magical garden for your sacred space.

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