Do you know the extraordinary virtues of comfrey for our hens?
In Europe, in the time of the nannies, this plant was called the grass with chapping, or sewing, or carpenters, herb of the cardinal, grass with pigs. This plant cured not only the fractures, and the open wounds, but also fed the cattle. The use of this plant goes back to the dawn of time.
The comfrey, of the Borraginacées family, of the genus Symphytum comprises at least 18 botanical species. In Latin, consolidated, it’s called plant that fixes broken bones. Everywhere in the world, this plant has had several names, but from everywhere one recognizes its virtues.
It is a rustic perennial that resists the cold and takes root deeply. The leaves are covered with fine and rough hair. The base of the hairs is rich in calcium. In order to ensure its fertilization, it forms flowers that change colors according to the sexual maturation of the flower.
Since the 1813, botanists and researchers have been studying comfrey. During the years it was Lawrence Hills who followed the footsteps of Henri Doubleday and Crawley’s discoveries. Hills devoted part of his life to comfrey and created many cultivars of the same name of the village of Bocking where he did his work with his wife. In the years 1970, rumors of Australia cast a shadow on this plant, as it also denotes the presence of alkaloids. (Alkaloids if ingested in very large quantities and long could affect the liver.) The cattle ate it in large quantities because it is rich in B12 and protein. We had been eating and using this plant for centuries without anyone ever getting sick. But doctors chemists have warned the abusive consumption of certain varieties of comfrey and the newspapers and rumors were due to the reputation of the comfrey and everyone began to believe that the Comfrey kills!
Although it contains alkaloids, it is present in 5% of all plants including tomatoes and green potato parts (solanine). There has never been evidence of any comfrey poisoning. Never. Where did this false rumor come from? It appears that Australian researchers were working on cases of food poisoning in Afghanistan. The grains used to make the flour were polluted by heliotrope seeds, which contains high doses of alkaloid.
The researchers concluded that all the plants in the Borraginacées family were toxic, disseminated information that journalists seized and made perverse by creating a shockwave. Despite the blatant slippage of this information, all the international press has published without worrying about verifying the merits of this assertion. Indeed, it would probably be necessary to eat a huge concentration over a very long period, but again, studies on rats subjected to intensive treatment with comfrey have never been conclusive! More than 20 years after the scandal, we see that the economy is leading the world. Many testimonies of people like this lady who ate for 15 years 85 g of comfrey every day without any problem. Many farmers have bred cows, goats, horses, pigs and poultry for years without ever having any problems. Comfrey is a food of choice for our poultry. It contains little cellulose and a lot of protein. We can give them about 100 grams a day that helps egg production. It can be distributed chopped or mixed with grains and cereals. Moreover, as the hen is unable to synthesize vitamin B12, the comfrey will allow it to refuel. Because if it eats insects and worms, it will fill up with good bacteria that help synthesize vitamin B 12.
Comfrey is one of the few plants on earth capable of synthesizing vitamin B12.
In the garden, it is a fertilizer, a compost accelerator. Its roots are nutrient pumps that it captures and resurfaces and actually benefit the other plants! On the other hand, it can be invasive, so book specific areas to this plant. It makes a perfect floor cover at the foot of the roses. Personally, I ordered in August 2016 the comfrey of Bocking 14 of Richter’s and this plant has enjoyed very well in my vegetable garden. I intend to use and experiment this plant not only with my chickens, but as a medicinal plant with a thousand virtues. The book by Bernard Bertrand is an excellent work for those who want to learn about this plant that can both feed chickens, elephants and meet the food needs of developing countries. Here is a fine example of permaculture and ecosystems that complement and benefit.
I invite you to discover this plant with a thousand uses, which treats wounds, sunburn, contusions, which serves as fertilizer and compost! No wonder she’s so afraid of the economic powers and pharmaceuticals!
Text written by Louise Arbour de poules en Ville enr.
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