Plant Spirit Medicine
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Comfrey root poltice is messy

I find myself, for the second night in a row, in front of the mirror with a bowl of brown slime and a roll of Saran wrap. This time the brown slime is less chunky, but my fingers are much more tingly from handling it for a long time.

Comfrey, comfrey root poltice, Healing, dislocated shoulder, herbal healing

A week ago I fell ice skating, yes in July. I dislocated my right shoulder. This is an old chronic weak point, though it had been almost 9 years since the last time it happened. If it weren’t for the lovely and kind Dr. Judith Boothby, my chiropractor, bailing me out on a Sunday, I’m sure I’d be in much worse shape. But as it is I have very little pain and a fair about of mobility. Still the job remains to rebuild all this torn tissue and hopefully stronger and more aligned than the last time.

So I get to experiment on myself with herbs and other magic.

The first week it was mostly Arnica; internal, external, homeopathic, oil, homemade tincture and lots of ice and rest. This weekend I looked into some other supporting herbs: St. Johnswort for nerve damage and pain, Solomon’s seal for joint and tendon healing, horsetail, nettle, oat straw for silica and other essential nutrients and of course good old bone broth, duck tendons and whatever else nutritious I can eat.

But in the last minute of herb school I got some great advice. My instructor, the inspiring Larken Bunce from Vermont Center for Integrative Medicine, overheard my dilemma and suggested I grate up some Comfrey root and put it on my shoulder every night for a week or two. With a little ginger and wrapped in Saran wrap. Sounds easy enough.

So there I am, Sunday eve, standing in a shared garden with a big digging fork and my injured shoulder digging up several comfrey plants. Mind you I’m in my nice school clothes and shoes without any gloves, and comfrey is very poky, and my right shoulder is injured (did I mention that already). Then I bag it up so I don’t get my borrowed car all dirty and drag it on home. I wash the roots, pull out the grater and …. fail miserably. Grating slippery, slimy, roots with a bum shoulder is not only almost impossible but totally painful. I finally settle for a small handful of root bits layered around my joint and go to bed.

Today I am more on it. I pull out the food processor with the grater blade and start shoving roots into it. Another half failure, some bits make it through, but mostly it becomes a big, jammed up, goey mess. This root stuff becomes very gelatinous and sticky. Eventually I dump it all into the Vitamix with a little water, and after blowing the fuse several times and almost overflowing it with water I finally get a relatively smooth, brown slurry. It’s almost 3 pints, enough to last all week for sure. I won’t go into the cleanup, but it was messy and slimy.

Comfrey, comfrey root poltice, Healing, dislocated shoulder, herbal healing

Now that my hands have been well soaked with comfrey, soap and hot water I finally get to spread this wonderful paste on my shoulder and wrap it all in plastic. So nice! I hear it will dramatically increase the healing of all the tissue and tighten things up. I guess we’ll see, though it’s not a very scientific experiment as I can’t really compare it to my previous injuries.

Comfrey, comfrey root poltice, Healing, dislocated shoulder, herbal healing
Comfrey, comfrey root poltice, Healing, dislocated shoulder, herbal healing

At the very least I’ll have some advice for the next person who needs to grate fresh comfrey root.

P.S. It felt quite good all night and rinsed off relatively easy in the morning. Though I tried to catch it before it gummed up my drain. My shoulder continues to get stronger all the time. So that is a good thing regardless.



  1. I had heard that comfrey root was good for poultices for the skin and joints. Thanks for blogging about this. I’ll link it up to my next blog about how comfrey camouflages the blueberries from the birds. (Comfrey Camo)
    When we first started gardening here we planted comfrey. That was 35+ years ago. It’s still growing in our comfrey corner. The bees love it…mainly bumblebees, but some honey bees that pollinate both the comfrey and the blueberries.
    Comfrey is another one of those plants considered invasive. I can see why, but if the bees like it and it’s got healing qualities, I say “leave it.”

    • Cat says

      I look forward to reading your post about Comfrey and Blueberries, always wondered about how to keep the birds out.

  2. Pingback: Comfrey Camo « Adventures in Natural Beekeeping

  3. We have used Comfrey several times over the years. Two examples will suffice to illustrate the healing power of Comfrey. The first: I had a golf ball size swelling on my elbow due to landing on it. It was embarrassing to wear short sleeve shirts. For a few days I just let nature take its course until my wife applied a comfrey compress. I had taken to showing people, in the spirit of scar sharing, my golf ball elbow. I went to show them my specimen, rolling up my sleeve, and what to my surprise the golf ball had completely disappeared. I was really shocked that I had not noticed its decline. The other example: I had a basketball knee injury. I was extremely impressed at how quickly the swelling declined. We have helped many neighbors with bruises, injuries, etc. One thing– make sure your Comfrey is fresh. We have noticed that it does have a shelf life, probably of not more than two years..

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