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Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2014 Nov;20(4):347-55. doi: 10.1016/j.ctcp.2014.07.003. Epub 2014 Jul 30.

The external use of comfrey: a practitioner survey.

Author information

1
Department of Health Sciences, University of York, York, UK. Electronic address: rachael.frost@gcu.ac.uk.
2
Department of Health Sciences, University of York, York, UK. Electronic address: s.m.omeara@leeds.ac.uk.
3
Department of Health Sciences, University of York, York, UK. Electronic address: hugh.macpherson@york.ac.uk.

Abstract

AIM:

The survey aimed to assess how often and in what ways herbal practitioners use comfrey (Symphytum officinale L.) externally in everyday practice.

METHODS:

A 2-sided A4 survey was sent to all UK members of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists, the College of Practitioners of Phytotherapy and the Association of Master Herbalists with viable practice addresses (n = 598).

RESULTS:

239 herbalists responded, of whom 179 (75%) reported regularly using comfrey, in 15% of their consultations. It was most commonly prescribed as a cream for tendon, ligament and muscle problems, for fractures, and for wounds, the indications for which it was also perceived to be most effective. Comfrey was rated least effective for haemorrhoids, varicose veins and boils and was considered to carry the greatest risk when prescribed for ulcers, wounds and boils.

CONCLUSION:

Practitioner experience suggests that comfrey can be used safely and effectively externally for certain indications.

KEYWORDS:

Comfrey; Herbal medicine; Survey

PMID:
25113427
DOI:
10.1016/j.ctcp.2014.07.003
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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