Comfrey under fruit cordons

The health benefits of comfrey have long been known. Among its common names are woundwort, bruisewort, and knitbone. You may have guessed… it’s effective at speeding up recovery from sprains, bruising and broken bones.

I’ve been wanting to make comfrey oil for several years and having planted comfrey this spring, I took the chance. If you don’t have comfrey growing in your garden or nearby you can buy organic comfrey roots online. I’ll write another post on the benefits for the garden, but for now, just know it’s one of the staple permaculture favourites, and a great addition to any garden and has multiple benefits.

You’ll need:

  • Chopped comfrey leaves
  • Olive oil
  • Sterile jars – I used Kilner

Methods

Cold method

Harvest the comfrey in the afternoon on a dry sunny day to make sure it’s as dry as possible. Cut it into small pieces and lay out to dry for 24 hours. Pack the comfrey down into a sterilized jar (we just ran it through the dishwasher) and cover with olive oil to the brim. Place the jar in a warm sunny location for 3-4 weeks, turning the jar regularly to mix up the contents which encourage the medicinal properties to infuse into the oil. Strain the oil, discarding the leaves, bottle the oil and store in a dark place.

Heated method

Follow the harvest and drying process as above. Using a Bain-marie / double boiler method (fill a large saucepan with water and find a glass bowl which will sit within it, without touching the bottom of the pan, while still being submerged in the water). Add your comfrey and oil to the bowl, cover and heat very gently for 3 hours. Do not let the water begin to simmer or the medicinal compounds will be destroyed. The longer and cooler the process, the more concentrated the medicinal properties will be. Now strain and bottle your oil, discarding the leaves and store in a dark place.

Many people prefer to use dark glass to protect the oil from degrading during storage. You can buy some quite cheaply on amazon.

A word of caution: there is some evidence that ingesting comfrey can cause liver damage so the oil should only be applied topically on unbroken skin.

If you’d like to read more about comfrey and its benefits I recommend reading Plants for a Future.