Comfrey

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The stalke of this Comfrey is cornered, thicke, and hollow like that of Sow-thistle: it groweth two cubits or a yard high: the leaves that spring from the root, and those that grow upon the stalkes are long, broad, rough, and pricking withall, something hairie, and being handled make the hands itch; very like in colour and roughnes to those of Borage, but longer, and sharpe pointed, as be the leaves of Elecampane: from out the wings of the stalkes appeare the floures orderly placed, long, hollow within, of a light red colour: after them groweth the seed, which is blacke. The root is long and thick, blacke without, white within, having in it a clammy juice, in which root consisteth the vertue.

Comfrey joyeth in watery ditches, in fat and fruitful medowes; they grow all in my garden.

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The rootes of Comfrey stamped, and the juice drunke with wine, helpeth those that spit bloud, and healeth all inward wounds and burstings.

The same bruised and laid to in manner of a plaister, doth heale all fresh and greene woundes, and are so glutenative, that it will sodder or glew together meate that is chopt in peeces seething in a pot, and make it in one lump.

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The slimie substance of the root made in a posset of ale, and given to drink against the paine in the back, gotten by any violent motion, as wrastling, or overmuch use of women, doth in foure or five daies perfectly cure the same: although the involuntary flowing of the seed in men be gotten thereby.

The rootes of Comfrey in number foure, Knotgrasse and the leaves of Clarie of each an handfull, being stamped all together, and strained, and a quart of Muscadell put thereto, the yolkes of three egges, and the powder of three Nutmegs, drunke first and last, is a most excellent medicine against a Gonorrhaea or running of the reines, and all paines and consumptions of the backe.

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Moreover, it staieth the overmuch flowing of the monethly sickenesse, taken every day for certaine daies together.

It is highly commended for woundes or hurts of all the rest also of the intrailes and inward parts, and for burstings or ruptures.

The root stamped and applied unto them, taketh away the inflammation of the fundament, and overmuch flowing of the hemorrhoides.

JOHN GERARD, The Herbal or General History of Plants: The Complete 1633 Edition as Revised and Enlarged by Thomas Johnson (Dover Publications, 1975)

(For a more recent description of comfrey and its medical benefits, see Maude Grieve.)
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I blogged about Gerard’s Herbal here and here.

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Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave’s writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the “share alike” provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).

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