Saturday, 16 May 2009

Comfrey

Growing among the many ornamental plants in the once 'Italian' gardens on Shipley Hill is this un-assuming beauty.

These bright little flowers belong to a comfrey plant. Comfrey has for many years been one of the most useful plants in the garden. A hint of it's usefulness comes from one of it's common, country names, 'Knitbone'. It was used as an aid to all sorts of 'bone' problems including breaks, sprains and arthritis. Other uses include gastric problems, ulcers and a whole manner of skin conditions such as acne and burns. Further uses include aiding with teeth formation in children.

Among the more bizarre claims of old was that it could 'restore a woman's virginity' by immersion in a Comfrey Bath! Modern medicine has proven many of the 'old wives tales' as there are numerous helpful constituents including mucilage, steroidal saponins, tannins, pyrrolizidine alkaloids, inulin, vitamin B12 and proteins. Internal usage should be avoided however as it can cause liver failure. Excessive ingestion of comfrey leaves has been linked to at least one death.
Comfrey is well known to gardeners as the plant, when placed in the compost heap is a great aid to decomposition of the other constituents of the heap, adding nitrogen as it does so. Lets hear it for the very useful Comfrey plant.
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