I can't tell you how many times I have gone to recommend comfrey as a means to help someone heal, and within a few hours they call back and say "Comfrey is dangerous! I read on Google that it kills people and hurts the liver!" I drop my head down and sigh... here we go again. I have been defending this plant and trying to teach people the history and the truth for over a decade. Here's the real deal about how this plant came to be so severely misunderstood.
Herbalists have been ingesting comfrey regularly and safely for thousands of years. My herbal teacher has huge patches of it on his herb farm in San Diego and he used to document all the times the injured animals would limp into his property in order to eat the leaves and heal their injuries. During the Irish potato famine, the people who survived the starvation were the ones in the hill areas who had surplus amounts of comfrey growing. Many of them survived the famine solely existing on comfrey alone (it provides all the aminos for the protein matrix and the bones and structure of the body (thus preventing wasting). It’s a survival food. My herbal lineage is partly from Dr John Christopher and he and countless other herbalists have internally used this plant, in abundance and safely. I tested this personally for years and at certain seasons, would do comfrey fasting, where, for a few weeks on end I’d drink nothing but comfrey green drinks. I healed a stomach ulcer from past pharmaceutical pill use.
In 1995, the government went on the largest crusade against herbal medicine in the history of the country. The American Medical Association (owned by Rockerfeller's and a global banking cartel) set out to destroy herbal medicine and increase their profit margins. They do this by discrediting natural cures and making more people dependent on big pharma...the western medical death cult. They submitted a plan before Congress to pull all natural remedies from the shelves of health stores and make them only available by doctor prescription. In this process they pulled and demonized comfrey to set an example of how “dangerous” plants are. They claimed that four people around that year had been hospitalized after taking comfrey for liver damage. Funny enough, no hospitalizations had happened previously. Who knows if they were even honest hospitalization cases. They may have been coincidence or the people may have had liver problems completely unrelated to comfrey yet the doctors blamed the herbs. Either way it was very convenient.
The scientists inspected the plant and decided it was the Pyrrolizidine alkaloids that were causing liver damage. They isolated the PAs and then injected 400 times the lethal dose of PA into rats and the rats got liver cancer. Based on this erroneous and inappropriate application of science, they pulled comfrey off the shelves and tried to pass the law before Congress. The bill failed in a major way and DHSEA was enacted in order to protect natural healers and plants.... but the damage to comfrey was already done and its reputation has never been redeemed. Most herbalists, including my teacher, were too scared to speak the truth because they would get shut down, jailed or fined. But we learned the truth in school. Which is that the damaging effect of the PAs are neutralized almost entirely by other active constituents in the plant. When one constituent is taken alone and standardized from the thousands of other synergistic plant components, it begins to act like a pharmaceutical drug and therefore carries risk of side effects. If someone has a weak liver the uPA levels in the root might aggravate it. Similarly to how the gum resin in chaparral can aggravate the kidneys of someone with kidney disease. If this is the case and someone has liver damage but needs to take comfrey, dosing comfrey with milk thistle will entirely neutralize the PAs and protect the liver against any possible side effects.
Moral of the story? Eat your comfrey.