… and make way for “Comfrey salve”!
I am actually stunned! I knew Comfrey helped with pain and inflammation but I didn’t think it would be that dramatic (I know I should believe more by now but I am by nature sceptical). I have neck, shoulder and various places in my back ache, had a bit before the little one was born and now due to being a single, hands-on (can’t keep my hands off!) mummy have had it BAD since. I get massages, see a chiropractor from time to time, use ice packs, hot water bottles and microwave heat pads very regularly, and when it gets really painful ibuprofen gel… BUT NO MORE!! I rubbed some newly made Comfrey salve on it and the pain and aches instantly went away! No-one is more stunned than me! Here was this “weed” in my garden all along, and I was using it as compost feed for the plants. 20 minutes later and it was still pain free, I could move normally and moreover behave normally (as pain doesn’t half make me grouchy).
How did I make it? I first pick some perfect Comfrey leaves.. small, medium and large, but all dark green and intact.
I lay them out on brown paper, out of direct sunlight and let them wilt for 24-48hrs to get most of the moisture out.
Then I chop them finely and put in a heatproof jar, and cover with Extra Virgin Organic Olive Oil (I prefer Zaytoun, the Palestinian fair-trade brand). Then comes the “magic”.. I cook it in my solar cooker!
Obviously it needs to be warm and ideally a bit sunny to get the temperature up, but it can stay very warm for hours in the cooker even without direct sunlight. I place the solar cooker in a sunny spot in my south facing back garden and on a fine day, the oil can be infused in a morning or afternoon (mid-summer I do have to keep an eye on the temperature so it doesn’t start to fry). Two great things about my solar cooker are that it makes the most beautiful infused oil, as the temperature is nice and hot without being too hot, for hours on end, and, of course, that it uses no fossil fuels (apart from the few recycled, and renewable resources it took to make it). I can also make several oils at once and heat up water for making creams and salves at the same time.
The day I put my first infusion of oil batches in the solar cooker is also generally the day I pick some more of the same herb – in this case Comfrey, for a second infusion a day or two later. I try to pick herbs in the morning, after the dew has dried off, but before the midday sun. So they are then laid out to wilt, while the oil is brewing.
At the end of that first day, I let the oil cool down then strain it (through a sieve at this point as it’s ok to leave bits in). Then on the next fine or sunny day, I repeat the process with the newly wilted Comfrey leaves and the once-infused oil to get a rich, dark green, double Comfrey infused oil.
This oil them forms the basis of the salve. I heat up the oil (on the stove this time – in a bain marie/double boiler) with organic beeswax pellets (11-12% of total weight) which melt at around 70 degrees C. Once it’s all melted I take off the heat and mix thoroughly.
When it cools to under 40 degrees, I add a few drops of organic essential oil (optional, depends if you like the smell of Comfrey) – I tend to go for sympathetic and calming EOs, as I figure if you have pain that’s what you need. In the batch I’ve just made I’ve used Lemongrass, which is also good for aches and pains, as well as uplifting for the spirit. Lavender would be another good option, which is great for skin and calming.
Then before it starts to solidify, it’s time to pour into clean jars. Once it’s cool, it gets a lid on and labels. And it’s ready to use!