Having suffered two herniated discs in my lumbar spine, I have been exploring which herbs and other plants can help with pain management and support the healing process. One thing I have been doing recently, now that comfrey is in season, is making poultices from fresh comfrey leaves and applying them to my lower back.
The leaves and roots of the comfrey plant have long been used externally in poultices for bruises and broken bones; in fact, comfrey is also colloquially known as boneset and knitback. According to David Frawley’s The Yoga of Herbs, comfrey is one of the best agents for promoting tissue growth and healing throughout the body when it has been afflicted by disease or traumatic injury. It can also be used to speed external wound-healing, though it is important to use caution with very deep wounds as the application of comfrey can lead to tissue forming over the would before it is healed deeper down, possibly leading to abscesses.
In order to make a comfrey poultice, I take about six to eight fresh comfrey leaves. I cut them into small pieces and then put them in a blender. I add water until the comfrey is mostly covered and then blend on low speed it until it is liquified. After blending it, it is traditional to add flour to the liquid until the consistency is so thick that it will not run. I’ve been using psyllium husk instead of flour. Then I put the comfrey paste in cheesecloth, apply it to my back, and cover the cheesecloth with cling wrap to keep it in place and to keep my clothes clean. I keep the poultice on for at least four hours. If you have leftover comfrey leaf paste, you can freeze it and then just thaw it out when you are ready to use it.
An instructional video I found helpful when learning how to make the poultice is by OldAlabamaGardner.
Frawley, David and Lad, Vasant. The Yoga of Herbs: An Ayurvedic Guide to Herbal Medicine. Twin Lakes: Lotus Press, 2001.
Hoffman, David. The Holistic Herbal. Shaftesbury: Element Books Limited, 1996.
White, Martha. Traditional Home Remedies: Time-Tested Methods for Staying Well- The Natural Way. Yankee Publishing, 1997.