Tag Archives: comfrey

Ask the Perfumer 5/12/2013 – Mothers, Herbs and of course, Fragrance

Sunday - 12 May 2013

Happy Mother’s Day, everyone!  I offer that greeting to all females, because we are blessed with the mothering ‘gene’ from the earliest age, so I honor every female on this day.  Today I’m going a little off-topic, and honoring a plant that I regard as the most mothering, comforting, healing plant: comfrey, aka Symphytum officinale in the botanical world.  Please feel free to ask your perfumery questions, that’s the purpose of this forum, and I’d love you to take you on a little side trip to my other love, herbalism (and aromatherapy, too).

A comfrey salve recipe from http://valwebb.wordpress.com/2007/09/09/garden-journal-comfrey/

Click to enlarge: A comfrey salve recipe from http://valwebb.wordpress.com/2007/09/09/garden-journal-comfrey/ 

I started to reconnect with comfrey and my decades of herbal study a few weeks ago when I attended a comfrey salve workshop at the local urban farm Earth N Us given by Julia Onnie-Hay of Bless Botanicals.  I went home with a jar of salve we made that day, and it came in handy yesterday.  Let me give a little backstory.

My intuition told me it was time to reconnect with herbalists, they’re always lovely people, and I felt I had neglected my herbalism for too long.  Then, Julia’s workshop popped up, and I loved it. Well, yesterday, against my inner voice, I decided to go to several yard sales.  It was hot, steamy, and despite my inner voice, I went. And I fell, and hurt both knees and sprained a big toe.  My knees started swelling before I made it back to my car.  At home, I immediately started putting Julia’s salve on my injured parts, and also some of a great herbal/aromatherapy pain relief oil I make.

I did the RICE routine without the C (compression): rest, ice and elevation. Started around noon, kept it up until bedtime. I dug out some dried comfrey root pieces from my apothecary stash, poured hot water over them, blended them, and started to make poultices.  Luckily, I had a lot of 4×4″ gauze bandages left from when my mother was living with me (mothers day bonus!) and gauze tape, and I rubbed some salve on, sprinkled some of my pain relief oil on the root smush on the gauze pads, and taped them on.  Hobbled back and forth to the freezer for the ice packs, and just chilled, thinking about the lessons in listening to “inner voices” can bring.

I don’t regret the fall: it taught me a big lesson!  I’ve been soured on garage sales for some time, and this was a bit NO! against me going to any more.  Don’t ask me why I’ve soured.  Maybe it’ll protect me in the future from bringing home a desk infested with termites, which happened once.  I truly have not found any treasures at them, so they’re in my past now. For sure.

What’s really in my future now is a return to my herbal roots (pun intended!).  I have to give thanks to Jeanne Rose, author of Herbs and Things (among many other books on healing) for first turning me on to comfrey in 1975.  It was her enthusiastic sharing of information and stories that first made me love that plant. Time advances to 2013 and a new herbalist, a young master of the flowers, leaves and roots enters my life: I loved how Julia called the comfrey plants “her” at the workshop, and reminded us to ask “her” for permission to harvest some leaves.  Women helping and educating women about herbs – a perfect theme for Mother’s Day!

Everyone who’s had a bad fall knows that the pain and stiffness are far worse the next day, and pretty bad for days afterwards. When I’ve fallen in the past few yeas, I’ve used my oil, and RICE, but never had the results I had today.  Before I got out of bed today, I realized, upon flexing my knees and big toe, that 90% of the pain was gone!  Yes, my knees are stiff, but the pain is negligible.  My toe started to hurt a big when I walked around doing morning stuff, so I’m still going to rest today, but know that my knees are not swollen, my toe is no longer swollen and discolored, and I’m as happy as can be.  Lessons learned, old ways revived, and a great relaxed feeling. Happy Mother’s Day everyone!