Hadrian's Wall

Hadrian's Wall
Hadrian's Wall at sunset

Monday, June 28, 2010

Ancient Medicine: Comfrey

You may have known that honey could be used as a dressing for wounds, and some of you out there perhaps knew that willow bark contained the main ingredient in aspirin, but I dare say not too many people know the uses of Comfrey.

Comfrey has had lots of other names over the course of history: Blackwort, Knitbone, and Boneset among others. The last 2 names give a hint as to one of the major uses of comfrey in ancient medicine.

The leaves would be ground to make a vivid green poultice for bruises and sprains. For broken bones, the fresh roots would be grated onto a clean cloth and applied over a broken bone. This root poultice would become rock hard and be left over the fracture until the bones had "knit."

Hence the name Boneset or Knitbone. Comfrey contains several different vitamins and minerals, allantoin (aids cell growth) and 18 amino acids. Dioscorides of ancient Greece mentions comfrey in his 1st Century writings. He is quite an interesting character, Dioscorides, and is considered to be one of the fathers of modern pharmacology. I think I will have to do a post on him!


  1. Renee, I gotta say I am sooo proud of you for being open to seeing the value of natural remedies for health! I told David about your blogs and he thought I was making it up! :-D

  2. Hey, Ginger, I think being a nurse I have always been aware that many of the medications we use today come from nature in the forms of leaves, flowers, roots and bark. When I was writing my first manuscript, I had my character, Ciara, learning the physician arts. It was then that I really researched ancient medicine and found it fascinating.

  3. I agree. This is a topic that I have always been interested in, too. Wouldn't you like to be able to just go for a walk in the woods and know the medicinal value of all the different plants and roots and mushrooms? Every once in awhile the parks department in NH offers a course in this and I would like to take it, but I never find out about it at the right time.


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