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the comfort of comfrey

Posted in Botanicals, Markets, Products and People

the comfort of comfrey

ancient medicine 

on a market day in summer, it would be fair to say that several thousands of people walk by our farm stand every week.  considering that we have about 70 different products gracing our market tables, it is always interesting to see what catches people's eye - there's always something wonderful to try!  each market, we have a basket which holds 12 comfrey creams and close by, a display of comfrey oil and for about 10 years now, we've had this little sign by the comfrey cream that says:  'age-old remedy for aches and pains with 21st century results' ... time and time again, it is this little sign that always slows their roll and it is this little pause that has prompted many a long conversation about the amazing plant comfrey ... which has subsequently seen comfrey cream be our number one selling product year after year.  how exciting to be growing the bocking 14 genetics and seeing, here in 2020, something that would make a wisewoman from the 16th century to say 'duh'!  comfrey, and its' active, allantoin*, provide something so healing and comforting that when used in a gorgeous shea-rich cream formulation, well, to those in the know, it is a true delight!!

comfrey is a plant that is so easy and so satisfying to grow.  one of the first bit of greenery to awaken in the spring, it quickly forms a dense, stocky clump with deeply veined, velvety leaves which are wreathed with purple flowers in early summer.  we wait until the late summer to dig the dark, thick, fleshy roots - no need to be delicate here and heavy equipment is required as these roots are dense and tenacious.  yet, no matter what kind of a beating comfrey takes during harvest, the next spring rolls around and it just makes them grow bigger and better.  the freshly dug roots are then thoroughly hosed off and placed in the drying shed to dry for a few months.  then, in the dark days of winter, the clumps are wrenched apart and placed in large glass jars (3 gallon) and both sweet virgin almond oil and vegetable glycerin are used as solvents for extraction.  left to rest for a few months in the cool, dark extracts cellar, the highly desirable phytonutrients seep into the solvents and the result is heavily infused extracts ... they are a dark, mystical hue and there is no mistaking the fact that the solvents have changed dramatically and are now heavily impregnated with wonders of the comfrey root.  

*when you see allantoin as an ingredient on a topical product, please know that it is a synthetic, lab-produced additive that aspires to mimic the naturally occurring allantoin contained in comfrey.  allantoin is so highly desireable to the skin care industry because of its abiltiy to heal and promote healthy skin.  please note that here we do not list allantoin as an ingredient, even though it is packed with the real deal, because we use our very own, farm-grown, single-estate, genetically-gifted comfrey in our extracts          

the magic of comfrey extracts

i cannot recommend enough the use of comfrey, as a topical, on any area of your body that 'doesn't feel right' and see how quickly, almost magically, niggly little problems that 'nothing' has 'worked' to alleviate the aggravation, are gone.  i've experienced it myself many times for a wide-range of issues with varying degrees of severity never mind my comfrey cream customers who like to keep it on hand because you never know when that elbow/knee/finger/foot/wrist/neck/back/ankle are going to act up.  and the feeling of the cream on your skin feels so good too!  sorry, but there is one use that i have for comfrey that i have to share ... when i come in after working outside, like on a day like today where it was 8 celcius, sunny with a brisk, cold wind blowing the whole time, i will rub some comfrey cream into my hands and then press it into my face - it smells so refreshing and immediately i know that all that environmental damage that i suffered, is now getting a deep repair from the allantoin.  the real mccoy allantoin, not the lab-generated stuff.    

now, onto to the magical part.  when i first started out extracting signatures from plants, i could only do research on a small palette of botanicals - remember, i was and still am, for all intents and purposes, a one-woman show when it comes to the crops here at vauxhall so it is/can be a lot sometimes.  calendula, chamomile, damask roses, attar of rose geranium and helichrysum were on the top of the list but comfrey kept showing up on my radar and i really began to investigate it.  it was about this time i was spending a fair bit of time in california and i somehow learned of a woman, catherine yronewode, who knew a lot about hoodoo (among other things as the woman has lived an incredible life that has been very prolific in many areas) which is an early form of spirituality that was brought to america by slaves from west africa and haiti.  a lot of the 'magic' of hoodoo is based on the 'magic' of certain plants.  so, i headed on up to forestville, ca to the lucky mojo curio co. and i actually met with catherine yronwode and she showed me around and spoke to me at length about her life which was so vastly different from my own (i mean not one but living on several 'anarchist communes' does not even compute in my brain yet how wonderful that someone actually lived that life) yet in many ways similar because of our shared love of plants.  anyway, how wonderful to learn that comfrey, which hoodoo believes provides protection and security, was a traditional part of early black culture and perhaps a catalyst of its use and popularity spreading throughout north america.


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