Comfrey Ice Packs for Sports Injuries
Herbal Comfrey Healing Ice Packs!
A step by step guide to making a comfrey poultice for healing breaks, strains, sprains, & bruises.
First off, what in the world is a Poultice?
It’s really simple. A poultice is a soft, moist mass of mashed up material, typically plant material. This soft pulp of plant material is then kept in place with a cloth and applied to the body to relieve soreness and inflammation.
A comfrey poultice is made of the leaves, flowers, and stems mashed up and applied over top of the injury (usually a break, strain, sprain, bruise, etc) to decrease pain and speed the healing of cells. These poultices are especially helpful for injured that cannot be casted or treated otherwise, such as fractures of the ribs or facial bones.
Below is a step wise guide to everything you need to know about comfrey poultices from where to find to and how to store it long-term.
Comfrey (symphytum officinale) was traditionally known as “Boneknit” or “Boneset” as it was historically used to help heal broken bones. Today this traditional medicine is widely supported by modern scientific and clinical data that demonstrates comfrey’s ability to stimulate cell growth and tissue regeneration. Several studies demonstrate that the topical application of comfrey reduces pain, decreases inflammation and swelling, and decreases wound healing time.
The healing properties of comfrey makes it an essential adjunctive treatment to healing any injury including broken bones, sprains, strains, bumps, bruises, sore joints, and skin afflictions like scrapes or rashes.
Take note! Comfrey is not to be taken internally. Comfrey is used topically in herbal preparations such as ointments or poultices.
Step 1: Growing Comfrey, or finding it!
Comfrey is an easy to grow perennial of tall stature with ornamental bell-shaped flowers. You likely find it growing in patches throughout the city, whether it’s in your neighbours garden or under the fire escape stairs of your Toronto apartment. A comfrey patch will come back heartier and larger each year so if you have a little extra space in your garden (24-48 inches) a comfrey patch is a great addition.
Step 2: Harvesting comfrey.
Another great aspect of comfrey is that it can be harvested several times per season.
HOW: While using gardening gloves and shears, harvest the entire plant leaving a few inches at the base. A new patch will grow in it’s place within a few weeks. Gardening gloves are ideal as the little hairs on the comfrey stems can irritate the skin.
WHEN: The best time to harvest comfrey is just before the flowers bloom. That is when the medicinal properties are said to be the most potent.
Step 3: Wash, shake off excess water, coarsely chop.
Step 4: Blend/mash.
You can use a mortar and pestle but for larger quantities a blender works well. Add water if needed to get the blender spinning but just enough to get the job done.
Step 5: Assemble & Store.
Apply the desired amount to a sheet of paper towel and fold each edge over to make a pack . If making multiple, separate each herbal pack with wax paper and freeze. That way you will have ready to use herbal ice packs for whenever those bumps and bruises may happen.
Apply over top of injury for 20-30 minutes or longer. As long as herbal pack is intact, you can refreeze & reuse it, usually 2-3 times. If you are using the frozen pack you will want to apply it over 1-2 sheets of paper towel and for no more than 10-15 minutes at a time with 20-60 minute rest periods. This is because excessive cold application can actually damage cells.
When the pack is not frozen you can keep it on as long as you like. After 24-72 hours when the injury is no longer in an acute state of inflammation you can apply a hot water bottle over top if you find warmth soothing. For better results, longer and more frequent applications are best as we increase the exposure of comfrey’s healing properties to the injured cells.
Wishing you speedy healing from the Head to Toe Health Centre in Kensington Market!
Staiger, Christiane. “Comfrey: a clinical overview.” Phytotherapy Research 26.10 (2012): 1441-1448.