Spring is a really, really fun time of year to be a herbalist or plant lover (or both!) – you may have noticed that EVERYTHING is blooming, or getting ready to bloom, or just finished blooming. I can barely contain myself! I love watching the plants awake from their slumber and shower us with their beauty and magic.
I had a hard time deciding who to profile for you in this article. I am feeling inspired by so many plants right now. In the end, I have chosen a plant that some may consider more humble; comfrey.
With the spectacular lilacs, the powerful poppies and the magnificent hawthorns blossoming all around us (well, here in Seattle at least) it can be easy to miss comfrey, with her small blossoms and abundant foliage.
That is, until you get to know her. Once you know comfrey, you can’t miss her.
The comfrey plant is luscious and leafy; she has HUGE green leaves and can grow up to 5 feet tall. Her stalks are wide and watery, her flowers are small, bell-shaped and range anywhere from light yellow to blue to deep purple in their hue.
Comfrey is an expression of the earth element. (Crash course in herbal energetics: all plants express an element, which is a kind of energy. Some plants have a lot of fire energy, some are an expression of water… you get the picture.)
Comfrey’s expression of earth energy is obvious – she is a dense, substantial plant. Once the comfrey plant grows to certain height, it falls over. Comfrey’s large leaves turn downward at the tips (earth energy flows downward) and the strong root reproduces prolifically if split.
A little bit about earth energy:
This is the energy that allows us to feel grounded (okay, duh.) and it is also the energy that allows us to let go. Physically, it allows us to let go of waste (i.e. going to the bathroom). It is also the energy that allows us to let go of outdated or toxic mental and emotional patterns. Earth energy also soothes and calms us and helps us to feel safe.
It is also the energy associated with physical structure. For example, people who carry a lot of earth energy can sometimes express that with a physical body that is more dense and substantial.
If I need to repair my physical body; i.e. make more tissue, it’s earth energy that allows me to do this; It is an energy for building, growing, replenishing and restoring.
Unhealthy or deficient earth energy could manifest as trouble with any or all of the things I just mentioned.
If you feel like your earth energy might need some help, call on comfrey!
Comfrey is one of the most widely used herbs today. It is known in many cultures around the world for its ability to heal tissue damage to the skin, bones, intestines, heart, arteries, and lungs. There is literally no part of the body that this herb has not been used to repair tissue damage from! Its many preparations include teas, salves, oils and poultices.
Comfrey has a special affinity for the bones; it was and still is one of the main plants used by traditional healers for fractures. In fact, comfrey’s nick name is knitbone. Because of her affinity for the bones, Comfrey is also great for your teeth. Comfrey toothpaste is a great all natural alternative to manufactured toothpaste.
Comfrey soothes the nervous system, digestive system and hormonal system. She helps us to feel grounded and “knit together.”
Comfrey leaf tea is delicious and nourishing. There is some controversy around taking comfrey internally, because comfrey contains a compound that has been found to damage the liver (in rats). Drinking comfrey leaf tea is not a concern for me at all personally, and for many other respected herbalists. We are not concerned because there is a very small amount of this compound in each plant. You would have to ingest an incredible amount of comfrey in order to ingest an amount of the compound that would actually damage your liver. Also, this compound is found mainly in comfrey root, and the tea is made from the leaf. Obviously, if you do decide to drink comfrey tea, you’ll want to do some of your own research and come to your own conclusions.
If you’re feeling nervous about the tea, comfrey is also amazing and very safe to apply externally. Try a salve, a poultice or an infused oil. You can apply comfrey to any tissue or area of the body that needs earth energy, repair and regeneration.
You can also work with the spirit, or energy of this grounding and soothing plant. You can receive all of the healing that comfrey has to offer by simply connecting with her consciousness on a subtle level. You can sit with a comfrey plant and meditate, or meditate anywhere and ask her energy to come to you, or try comfrey flower essence (available in most herbal medicine shops) and notice how it feels. Enjoy!