An introduction to the medicinal benefits of garlic and comfrey
This week is to be our last article exploring local and backyard plants for this series. Our last plants are Comfrey and the locally abundant Garlic.
Comfrey – Symphytum officinale as it is known by botanically, is a plant of high esteem. In the garden, its deep root system helps to break up compacted soils in preparation for new planting. It is also a great accumulator of minerals and as such features highly in many permaculture gardens where the plant is chopped and left to break down into the top soil or mixed with water to create a nourishing fertiliser.
The leaf has a rich mineral content combined with a soft, soothing gel like character that appears after crushing the plant. Crushed leaves can be used as a poultice to speed the healing of bruises, sprains and broken bones. Applied regularly this can help to reduce swelling and improve knitting of the bone. Comfrey also works wonderfully applied to cuts and wounds and is great for soothing and promoting healing of all other skin conditions.
Historically Comfrey was used internally for conditions of the digest and respiratory tract however some research now suggests that alkaloids found in the plant may be highly toxic to the liver.
Garlic – Allium sativum is well known as the foundation for many a dish and is a significant local industry. Garlic has a great track record when it comes to warding off ye old vampires and various other evil spirits. Interestingly it also does the same for ill health! One of natures most potent antibiotics, garlic can be used for just about all infections. It is wonderful for infections of the nose, throat and lungs and can also be used to help get rid of intestinal parasites.
Garlic has other wonderful uses including helping to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels and as a part of a balanced diet and lifestyle, can help to balance blood sugar levels in late onset diabetes.
Hopefully you are just that little bit more savy now about what is lurking at the bottom of the garden.
Please as always, before using any of these plants, be sure that they have been identified correctly. If in doubt, don’t! Avoid harvesting herbs from roadsides or areas where sprays or other toxic substances may have been used. If you are experiencing a serious health condition, please visit your health professional.
Article by Damian Harrison, Naturopath from Chamomile Naturopathy , Bellingen.