comfrey

Generic Name: comfrey (CUM free)
Brand Names:

What is the most important information I should know about comfrey?

Since the use of comfrey has been associated with serious liver damage, ingestion of comfrey is not recommended. The FDA has issued a warning to consumers that the use of comfrey may present a serious health hazard. Also, the topical application of comfrey preparations to broken skin should be avoided.

Comfrey has been associated with cases of severe liver damage. Notify your doctor immediately if you develop nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, unusual fatigue, loss of appetite, yellow skin or eyes, itching, dark urine, or clay colored stools. These symptoms may be early signs of liver damage.

Comfrey has not been evaluated by the FDA for safety, effectiveness, or purity. All potential risks and/or advantages of comfrey may not be known. Additionally, there are no regulated manufacturing standards in place for these compounds. There have been instances where herbal/health supplements have been sold which were contaminated with toxic metals or other drugs. Herbal/health supplements should be purchased from a reliable source to minimize the risk of contamination.


What is comfrey?

The use of comfrey in cultural and traditional settings may differ from concepts accepted by current Western medicine. When considering the use of herbal supplements, consultation with a primary health care professional is advisable. Additionally, consultation with a practitioner trained in the uses of herbal/health supplements may be beneficial, and coordination of treatment among all health care providers involved may be advantageous.

Comfrey is also known as Symphytum officinale, Russian comfrey, knitbone, knitback, bruisewort, blackwort, black root, slippery root, boneset, consound, gum plant, healing herb, salsify, and wallwort.

Comfrey has been used externally for bruises, sprains, burns, and swelling and as a mouthwash and gargle for gum disease and sore throats. Comfrey has also been used internally for stomach upset, stomach ulcers, hemorrhoids, and diarrhea.

Since the use of comfrey has been associated with serious liver damage, ingestion of comfrey is not recommended. The FDA has issued a warning to consumers that the use of comfrey may present a serious health hazard. Also, the topical application of comfrey preparations to broken skin should be avoided.

Comfrey has not been evaluated by the FDA for safety, effectiveness, or purity. All potential risks and/or advantages of comfrey may not be known. Additionally, there are no regulated manufacturing standards in place for these compounds. There have been instances where herbal/health supplements have been sold which were contaminated with toxic metals or other drugs. Herbal/health supplements should be purchased from a reliable source to minimize the risk of contamination.

Comfrey may also have uses other than those listed in this medication guide.


What should I discuss with my health care provider before using comfrey?

Before using comfrey, talk to your doctor, pharmacist, or health care professional if you have allergies (especially to plants), have any medical condition, or if you use other medicines or other herbal/health supplements. Comfrey may not be recommended in some situations.

Do not use comfrey without first talking to your doctor if you are pregnant or could become pregnant. It is not known whether comfrey will harm an unborn baby.

Do not use comfrey without first talking to your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby. It is also not known whether comfrey will harm a nursing infant.

There is no information available regarding the use of comfrey by children. Do not use any herbal/health supplement to treat a child without first talking to the child's doctor.


How should I use comfrey?

The use of comfrey in cultural and traditional settings may differ from concepts accepted by current Western medicine. When considering the use of herbal supplements, consultation with a primary health care professional is advisable. Additionally, consultation with a practitioner trained in the uses of herbal/health supplements may be beneficial, and coordination of treatment among all health care providers involved may be advantageous.

Since the use of comfrey has been associated with serious liver damage, ingestion of comfrey is not recommended. The FDA has issued a warning to consumers that the use of comfrey may present a serious health hazard. Also, the topical application of comfrey preparations to broken skin should be avoided.

If you choose to use comfrey, use it as directed on the package or as directed by your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.

Standardized topical formulations of herbal/health supplements may provide a more reliable dose of the product.

Topical forms of comfrey are intended for external use only.

Do not apply comfrey topically to broken skin.

Store comfrey as directed on the package. In general, comfrey should be protected from light.


What happens if I miss a dose?

No information is available regarding a missed dose of comfrey. Consult your doctor, pharmacist, or health care professional if you require further information.


What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention.

Symptoms of a comfrey overdose are not known.


What should I avoid while using comfrey?

There are no restrictions on food, beverages, or activity while using comfrey, unless otherwise directed by your health care provider.


What are the possible side effects of comfrey?

Although rare, allergic reactions to comfrey may occur. Stop using comfrey and seek emergency medical attention if you experience symptoms of a serious allergic reaction including difficulty breathing; closing of your throat; swelling of your lips, tongue, or face; or hives.

Comfrey has been associated with cases of severe liver damage. Notify your doctor immediately if you develop nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, unusual fatigue, loss of appetite, yellow skin or eyes, itching, dark urine, or clay colored stools. These symptoms may be early signs of liver damage.

Other less serious side effects have not been reported with the use of comfrey, although they may occur. Talk to your doctor about any side effect that seems unusual or that is especially bothersome.


What other drugs will affect comfrey?

Interactions between comfrey and other prescription or over-the-counter medicines or herbal/health supplements have not been reported. Talk to your doctor, pharmacist, or health care professional before using comfrey if you are using any other medicines or herbal/health supplements.


Where can I get more information?

Your doctor, pharmacist, or health care provider may have more information about comfrey.


Consultation with a licensed health care professional is advisable before using any herbal/health supplement. Additionally, consultation with a practitioner trained in the uses of herbal/health supplements may be beneficial and coordination of treatment among all health care providers involved may be advantageous. Remember, keep this and all other prescription drug products, over-the-counter drug products, and herbal/health supplements out of the reach of children.

Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided by Cerner Multum, Inc. ('Multum') is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. Multum information has been compiled for use by healthcare practitioners and consumers in the United States and therefore Multum does not warrant that uses outside of the United States are appropriate, unless specifically indicated otherwise. Multum's drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. Multum's drug information is an informational resource designed to assist licensed healthcare practitioners in caring for their patients and/or to serve consumers viewing this service as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Multum does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information Multum provides. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

Copyright 1996-2004 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 2.03. Revision Date: 1/23/04.