About a year ago, on a patch of land in the southern mountains of Colorado, I was introduced to a plant named Comfrey.
I’d never seen it before, but something told me to reach out and touch it’s leaves. They are fuzzy, covered in little white hairs, and feel almost prickly to the touch. It’s an unforgettable texture, and I’m a ‘texture person’ so it was easy to remember despite my typically frustrating inability to keep track of plant names and details. That same summer, I was introduced to another fuzzy plant called Mullein, which is the softest plant in the world as far as I’m concerned, and every camper’s best friend when nature calls.
So after that first hand-shake with those fuzzy leaves, I forgot all about Comfrey, honestly…. Until the one day that my friend Steve badly bruised his ribs.
He’s an older man, somewhat disabled, and he had fallen down the stairs. His bruised ribs were making it difficult to get up and go about his day, and the pain was making him miserable. Worried about him, I told a friend about his ribs and asked if I should give him an herb called Arnica, that I’ve used with great success on a bruised shoulder. This wise friend recommended that I go to the herb shop in town instead, and ask about a Comfrey Salve. I remembered the prickly plant from Colorado, but had never heard of a salve. After an hour long discussion with my local herbalist ( a brilliant woman named Ember that I hope to introduce you to via the internet at some point along this journey ) I had been informally educated about the bone-knitting, muscle healing and cell-regenerating qualities of this particular plant. I was also armed with 2 small jars of an amazing (albeit quite expensive) Comfrey Salve. It was green, smelled lovely, and was made right here in New Mexico. I took one to my friend Steve’s house right away. He agreed to apply it to his ribs every day when he got out of the shower, and he told me that he could “tell by the way it smells” that it was good medicine.
I went home and studied the ingredients list on the Comfrey Salve with my computer open to the google homepage. I started doing some research, with the thought in mind that I knew where to find at least 7 organic Comfrey plants the next time I took a trip up to that remote canyon in southern Colorado….
A week later I went to visit my friend Steve. He was standing up straight when he opened the door. Sitting at his kitchen table petting his roommate’s little dog, Blanca, he told me with excitement about applying the salve every day after he last saw me.
“I woke up on the 4th day,” he said, “and the pain was gone.”
Completely? “Totally. Now every time something hurts, I just go get me a little bit of that miracle (stuff),” he says, “and I put that on there, and it goes away.”
So when I took a trip up to that canyon in Colorado a few weeks later, it was a no-brainer. The plants were huge, bright green, lush and propagating. There were three more of them growing up around the others. I harvested enough large, fuzzy leaves to infuse a quart of oil. And that oil became the base of my first Comfrey Salve.
I sent out 10 jars to friends and family who had sore feet and muscles. Everyone in my house was using it on all of their sore muscles and bruises with wonderful results. And a couple months later I was back up in that same canyon. The Comfrey was starting to flower. I decided on one more harvest before I leave them alone for the summer. I waited for the right time, and infused again. I did it a little differently, with a different oil base, for a different amount of time at a different elevation. The infusion is amazing.
The sunshine in the mountains is incredibly intense, and the weather is so lovely that the hills and forests are irresistible. I blistered my forehead with a severe sunburn that weekend, climbing up the rocks to get the gorgeous views of the valley. As soon as I realized what I had done and how bad the burn was, I opened the jar of my infusion and applied the oil directly to the burn.
The skin literally grew up around the blisters within 3 hours and the burn that covered my entire face had turned to a tan in 12 hours flat. It was incredible.
I used this oil, a tincture, another amazing plant called Calendula, and a combination of sage oils to create my Sacred Sage & Comfrey Salve. I’ve sent out more of these in the mail to friends and family who have suddenly been injured, broken a bone, or have persistent muscle pain and bruising. I have two more jars of oil infusing right now… and there will be another harvest this fall.
But it’s not an infinite resource in my world, because I want to be gentle with the plants and ensure their continued growth.
I will not over-harvest. I’m grateful to have the privilege of utilizing such an amazing medicinal herb; for me it is an awesome manifestation of divine love & healing that grows right out of the ground we stand on. Entirely complex; amazingly simple.
If you want to read more about Comfrey, try a quick google search. And if you stumble across any good articles, send me an email or post them on my facebook page. If you have an experience you’d like to share, I’d love to hear about it. And if you have an ailment or a severe condition that would benefit from one of my products, send me an email at SheabyShay@gmail.com and I will see if I have a jar for you. Much Love and Gratitude,