DANGERS OF USING COMFREY
Is comfrey toxic?
Yes, comfrey (Symphytum officinale) is a poisonous plant with a high toxicity. It should only be used externally as a vulnerary.
Being a toxic plant, comfrey can not be ingested (Pyrrolizidine alkaloids are the toxic principles of comfrey).
U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA.) prohibits its internal use.
Recent studies have shown that this plant, used internally, can cause serious liver damage and even cancer.
What are the main medicinal principles of comfrey?
What are the main toxic principles of comfrey?
Pyrrolizidine alkaloids are the main toxic components of comfrey: Symphytine and consolidine (main alkaloids in the aerial part), symlandine, ecuimidine, intermidine, lycopsamine, myoscorpine, acetyl lycopsamine, acetyl intermidine, lasiocarpine, heliosupine, viridiflorine and echiumine.
Comfrey is rich in this kind of alkaloids, which are toxic and make its internal use dangerous.
Pyrrolizidine alkaloids are highly toxic to the liver (hepatotoxic). These can have a cumulative effect on the liver causing serious damage to the liver tissues in the long term.
Comfrey alkaloids are found throughout the plant (0.3%) and they appear in the root in greater proportion (10%). This rood has a a sticky texture, so in English is called slippery-root). The old leaves contain more alkaloids than young shoots.
Toxicity and dangers of comfrey
Comfrey toxicity is high. The plant is rich in pyrrolizidine alkaloids that have toxic effects on the liver.
Poisonings occur primarily through internal plant use (teas, herbal teas, in food, etc.) or as a ressult of a too too frequent external use.
The presence of hepatotoxic principles echimidine, lasiocarpine, lycopsamine and symphytine (They affect the liver) and the carcinogenic principle lasiocarpine (it causes cancer) makes it unfit as an internal use remedy.
Symptoms of poisoning
Comfrey safety in pregnancy and lactation
DO NOT apply comfrey treatments of any kind during pregnancy and lactation. This plant may have uterotonic (it may induce labor) and teratogenic effects (it may produce malformations to the fetus). The toxic principles can cross the placental barrier and breast, reaching the fetus or the baby.
More information on comfrey in the listing above.
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This material is for informational purposes only. In case of doubt, consult the doctor.