Comfrey

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Information about Comfrey

Comfrey is an plant belonging to the Borganinaceae family, extracts of the leaves and roots of which has been used as an herbal to treat wounds and to decrease pain and inflammation associated with arthritis, sprains and bone fractures. 

Liver safety of Comfrey

Comfrey, however, also contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids and, when taken orally, can cause sinusoidal obstruction syndrome and severe liver injury.

Mechanism of action of Comfrey

Common comfrey (Symphytum officinale) is a perennial herb belonging to the family Borganinaceae which is native to Europe and Asia, but is now found worldwide.  Leaf and root extracts have many constituents including allantoin, rosmarinic acid, triterpene saponins, silicic acid, and tannins, believed to be the basis for its antiinflammatory and wound healing activity.  However, comfrey also contains several pyrrolizidine alkaloids (symphytine, echimidine, symglandine and lycopsamine) which are toxic and capable of causing sinusoidal obstruction syndrome (previously called veno-occlusive disease) and severe liver injury.  Comfrey has been shown to cause similar liver injury in laboratory animals and has also been linked to liver cancer.  Comfrey products are marketed as herbal teas, root powders and as capsules.  Oral comfrey has been banned or restricted in most countries, but topical forms (ointments, creams and liniments) are available and advertised as useful for wound healing sprains and bone fractures.  Human studies have shown that comfrey creams have mild analgesic effects and decreases muscle and joint pain.

Herbal and dietary supplements

Chinese and Other Asian Herbal Medicines

Multi-Ingredient Nutritional Supplements

See also Nutritional supplements
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