Knitbone (comfrey)

Comfrey, also known as “knitbone”, has remarkable healing powers.
Issue Date 27 April 2007

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Comfrey is probably one of the most controversial herbs used for horses, because some cultivars contain pyrolizidine alkaloids, which may cause cancer. There are other herbs that can be used internally, so if in doubt, play it safe.

Comfrey, also known as “knitbone”, has remarkable healing powers. It contains allantoin, which encourages cell growth, and it is very easily absorbed into the skin so external wounds heal rapidly. Because of this speed it is essential to clean a wound very well (with Epsom salts and lukewarm water) before applying the herb.

Comfrey should be used sparingly, as the rapid healing has a tendency to cause proud flesh.

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Arthritic joints, sprains and tendon injuries also benefit from an application of comfrey oil or ointment. I f the horse has a minor bone fracture such as a splint bone, make a purée of fresh leaves and poultice the area.

To make a poultice, cut a large piece of thick cotton wool and place it on a large piece of clingwrap. Spread the puréed fresh herb on to the cotton wool and carefully pour on a little boiling water to moisten the cotton wool. Once it cools, place the poultice over the sprain or inflammation and bandage it in place. This poultice may be left on overnight. Bandage the opposite leg as well to suppport it, as it will take extra strain until the injury heals. Ensure that there is plenty of padding underneath the bandage. Too little padding can create pressure sores and give you additional problems.

Comfrey cream is wonderful for any wound. Melt 150g emulsifying ointment and 70ml glycerine in a double saucepan. Add 30g dried comfrey and heat gently for three hours. Strain and store in a cold place. Add calendula for even better results. A tincture can be added to a saline solution to wash an open wound. – Kim Dyson Contact Kim Dyson on 082 888 6511. |fw