comfrey flower
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Marshmallow root is highly lauded in the curly community as a favorite for its slip and ability to detangle knots. But there is a little-known extract that has even more slip. Comfrey extract or Symphytum officinale is actually one of the best-known healing herbs of all times. This perennial shrub native to Europe and parts of Asia is fond of moist soils. It has a thick hair stern and grows between 2-5 ft. tall with purple, white, or blue flowers that are densely arranged in clusters. It has been used in folk medicine throughout Europe and North American and is widely cultivated as a garden medicinal due to its highly popular reputation for healing various internal and external wounds. Comfrey extract can be derived from the roots, leaves, or entire plant. 

What makes comfrey so special?

Well, its components of course! It has active constituents like allantoin, which is a cell proliferant, rosmarinic acid, tannin, mucilage, vitamin B-12, protein, and zinc. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, the tannins, rosmarinic acid and allatoiin are all substances to help skin regrow.

Because of this, oral comfrey products have been banned in the U.S. and many European countries, but it can still be found in creams and ointments for applications to the skin. Despite being safe for skin, those toxic substances can be absorbed by the skin so even with the creams and ointments they should be used for a short period of time.

A helpful reminder is to only use it externally, never on broken or abraded skin, and within a short time period.

Comfrey benefits for hair

Comfrey root is great for hair because it has healing properties and is chock-full with minerals, vitamin A, B-12, and antioxidants. It is superb at preventing dryness because the presence of attantoin not only stimulates skin cell proliferation, but it is also an excellent exfoliant that will soften skin cells. It is the backbone of the soothing and anti-inflammatory component of comfrey and actually makes hair softer.

Comfrey is helpful for hair growth because it has gamma linoleic acid, a omega-6 fatty acid, that helps stimulate skin and hair growth, which is why many cosmetic companies use comfrey. Comfrey also has more mucilage than marshmallow so it will soften, detangle, and add shine to strands as mucilage is the slip master and always a benefit for hair.

Comfrey also has more mucilage than marshmallow so it will soften, detangle, and add shine to strands as mucilage is the slip master and always a benefit for hair.

Comfrey has great polyphenols like caffeic acid, chlorogenic acid, and rosmarinic acid. Caffeic acid is one of the most effective antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties that will help with scalp irritations. Chlorogenic acid is anti-fungal, anti-viral, and anti-bacterial, which is highly beneficial for scalp ailments like dandruff and eczema. Rosmarinic acid is anti-inflammatory that can relieve an irritated scalp, so these three polyphenols alone will soothe an ailing scalp quite effectively.

Major benefits to hair

  • Softens hair
  • Adds slip to tangles
  • Adds shine to hair
  • Soothes an irritated scalp

Comfrey can be a skin or hair wash or salve for an irritated (but not broken) scalp. Here are a couple of DIY hair rinses that utilize the benefits of comfrey’s components to relieve the scalp while adding shine and softness.

Comfrey Hair Rinse

  • 1 Tsp. of dried comfrey
  • 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
  • 1 cup of boiling water

Place herbs in a heat-resistant bowl. Pour boiling cup of water over herbs before adding ACV or lemon juice. Mix and allow to steep, covered for 10-15 min. Strain and allow to cool before pouring over freshly washed hair.

Comfrey Scalp Soothing Rinse

  • 3 (or more) tbsp. dried comfrey 
  • 3 cups of boiling water

Place herbs in a heat-resistant bowl. Pour boiling water over them and allow them to steep for eight hours or overnight. Strain and either use cold or gently warm to desired temperatures before slowly pouring rinse over your head. Massage into your scalp and hair but keep a large bowl under your head to capture liquid and reapply. Repeat several times and either rinse out or keep in and style as usual.