Symphytum officinale

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This article is about the species. For the use of comfrey in gardening and herbal medicine, see Comfrey.
Symphytum officinale
Symphytum officinale 01.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: (unplaced)
Family: Boraginaceae
Genus: Symphytum
Species: S. officinale
Binomial name
Symphytum officinale
  • Symphitum officinale (orth.var.)

Symphytum officinale is a perennial flowering plant of the genus Symphytum in the family Boraginaceae. Along with thirty four other species of Symphytum, it is known as comfrey. To differentiate it from other members of the genus Symphytum, this species is known as common comfrey or true comfrey.[1] Other English names include Quaker comfrey, cultivated comfrey,[1] boneset, knitbone, consound, and slippery-root.[2] It is native to Europe and it is known elsewhere, including North America, as an introduced species and sometimes a weed. The flowers are mostly visited by bumblebees.[3]


The hardy plant can grow to a height of 1.3 m (4 ft).


Symphytum officinale roots have been used in the traditional Balkan medicine internally (as tea or tincture) or externally (as ointment, compresses,or alcoholic digestion) for treatment of disorders of the locomotor system and gastrointestinal tract. The leaves and stems have also been used for the treatment of the same disorders, and additionally also for treatment of rheumatism and gout.[4]

Comfrey has been used in folk medicine as a poultice for treating burns and wounds. However, internal consumption, such as in the form of herbal tea, is discouraged, as it has been highly debated about whether it can cause serious liver damage.[5]


  1. ^ a b The potential of Russian comfrey (Symphytum officinale) as an animal feedstuff in Uganda
  2. ^ GRIN Species Profile
  3. ^ Van Der Kooi, C. J.; Pen, I.; Staal, M.; Stavenga, D. G.; Elzenga, J. T. M. (2015). "Competition for pollinators and intra-communal spectral dissimilarity of flowers" (PDF). Plant Biology. doi:10.1111/plb.12328. 
  4. ^ Vogl, Sylvia; Picker, Paolo; Mihaly-Bison, Judit; Fakhrudin, Nanang; Atanasov, Atanas G.; Heiss, Elke H.; Wawrosch, Christoph; Reznicek, Gottfried; Dirsch, Verena M.; Saukel, Johannes; Kopp, Brigitte (2013). "Ethnopharmacological in vitro studies on Austria's folk medicine—An unexplored lore in vitro anti-inflammatory activities of 71 Austrian traditional herbal drugs". Journal of Ethnopharmacology 149 (3): 750–71. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2013.06.007. PMID 23770053. 
  5. ^ Oberlies, Nicholas H; Kim, Nam-Cheol; Brine, Dolores R; Collins, Bradley J; Handy, Robert W; Sparacino, Charles M; Wani, Mansukh C; Wall, Monroe E (2007). "Analysis of herbal teas made from the leaves of comfrey (Symphytum officinale): Reduction of N-oxides results in order of magnitude increases in the measurable concentration of pyrrolizidine alkaloids". Public Health Nutrition 7 (7): 919–24. doi:10.1079/phn2004624. PMID 15482618. 

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