Reply To: Foraging 16: Borage family

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Louise Hawkins

Hi everyone, comfrey root is available to purchase in the UK but primarily as a plant cutting to grow in gardens. There are a couple of companies that provide dried comfrey root online, one being It can also be purchased at our local herbal shop in Bristol called Urban Fringe (I use this shop a lot!). I grow Russian Comfrey in my garden and make liquid fertilizer by soaking the leaves in water and leaving it to stew in a bucket over winter. By the summer the comfrey “garden tea” is ready to dilute and use on vegetables and flowers. The leaves are also great for adding to compost bins as they act as a compost accelerator. Today I made comfrey infused oil for the first time to use on my dry hands. I did note though that after studying comfrey I found it contains echimidine, pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs), and symphytine, which can damage the liver, is carcinogenic (cancer-causing) and may harm a fetus. I have labelled the oil to ensure it should be used with caution and for only short periods of time.