Friday, 12 February 2010

Comfrey and watercress and a cancer theory



There is a lovely Australian website and blog for lovers of all things herbal. It is Isabell Shipard's Herbs Are Special. It explores every herb I have ever heard of and lots more, in depth, and son Hugh sent me a link to the page about comfrey, which has from time to time been given a rough trot. Maybe, like many another theory, comfrey is about to have its name cleared and become the latest wonder herb, as it once was. Being a lover of leaves and knowing how easy it is to grow comfrey I would love to start eating it too....well, actually I put it in last night's dinner. I know chooks love it and I have fed it to mine for years. It would be interesting to know what readers think.

....Read the book, ‘World without cancer, the story of vitamin B17’ by Edward Griffin, which reveals how science has been subverted to protect entrenched commercial and political interests. The book explores the revolutionary concept that cancer is a deficiency disease, the substance missing being B17 (also called laetrile), discovered by German chemist Leibig in1830, and further researched by Dr. Ernst Krebs and others.

Another Australian, who valued the HDRA research, was Foster Savage, who I mentioned earlier. I had the opportunity to know him, personally, when he settled in Nambour to farm (and later Cooroy); and, I knew you would guess, he grew lots of comfrey! Wilted comfrey was fed to his animals in large amounts. Why did he allow it to wilt? He told me that animals could eat much more, each day, when it was wilted! He often had groups and private people visit and he would, freely, share his knowledge of comfrey and how it benefited his land, animals and his family (note, he had 13 children). When legislation placed comfrey on the poisons schedule in Australia, and newspapers highlighted the ban, he wrote a letter to the Sunshine Coast Daily, in defense of comfrey, saying:

"I was perhaps responsible for 95% of the comfrey in Australia, having introduced the plant to this country in 1954, and having used the plant in great quantities, since then; I am, perhaps, competent to speak about it and to make a few comments on the …remarks about comfrey made by the CSIRO scientist …"To say that two leaves, eaten daily - over a couple of years - will cause serious disease, is simply not true. In our house, we have eaten 70 leaves, or thereabouts, daily, for 24 years: in the form of comfrey tea, liquidised in a vitamiser as a green drink, and in salads. I also fed comfrey to my farm animals.

Knowing the power of comfrey to restore a worn out animal quickly, and make her milk again, I once bought an old cow at the Dandenong Market, when farming in Victoria. It had been discarded by some farmer, as worn out. I put her on comfrey, giving her 90 lbs of wilted comfrey (wilted to increase the cow’s intake of comfrey’s extraordinary nutrients), and 90 lbs made a pretty big heap, about 4 feet high. This poor, old, creature took to the comfrey, without hesitation … she was starving for minerals and her instincts gave her a craving for comfrey. When she began to eat, she would eat off the heap of leaves for a couple of hours, then sit down for an hour or so. Later, she would continue eating, until every leaf was gone. If Dr. Culvenor’s words were true, imagine the poison she would be taking into her body, with this quantity of comfrey daily. If comfrey attacked the liver, then this cow would have died, because she was in a worn out condition. Instead, she doubled her milk output, within a week, and in a fortnight, trebled it. The remarkable thing, was that the cream that settled overnight, was some 3/4 inch thick and the separation of cream from the milk was so perfect, that the cream could be lifted off, with none remaining. I fed comfrey to calves, as much as they could eat, again with only gratifying results. I fed pigs, entirely on comfrey and grain, as much comfrey as they could eat, and the quality of those pigs was legendary, in the district.

The fame of comfrey spread far and wide, for my farm was visited by 6,000 farmers from around Australia and from overseas. Finally, I well remember the enthusiastic remarks of the butcher who regularly killed our comfrey-fed calves. He told us that he had never before, seen such healthy livers … that, mind you, after being reared on a herb that was supposed to cause liver diseases!"

 Watercress is one of my favourite salad additions and the information on this website about its properties makes me glad it is also very easy to grow in a tub of water. You can give it a haircut daily and it seems to grow back overnight in summer!

You can buy herbs, vegetables and fruit trees and seeds from them too.... I will put their link in the side bar, under seed companies.

Picking Herbs To UseYou can visit the Shipard's Herb Farm, which is in Queensland:

139 Windsor Rd., Nambour.
(on right, past Sunshine Coast Institute of TAFE)

Open hours -
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday - from 10:00am till 2:00pm.

If you would like to come at any other time, please phone during open hours a day or more in advance to confirm a time when you would like to visit.

Phone No. -
(07) 5441 1101

Fax No. -
(07) 5471 6430

email -

There are no blog entries after 2008..... shame... but you can subscribe to email updates from Isabell.


chaiselongue said...

This is interesting, Kate. I remember my parents growing comfrey in the sixties and then being put off it by reports about cancer. I could never really believe that a leaf could be that dangerous ....
And watercress is wonderful - tasty and easy to grow!

Heiko said...

One of my favourite ways of eating comfrey always was as a tempura. Just dip in a light tempura batter, which it takes up beautifully with it's hairy surface, fry and serve with soy sauce, or as I like replacing it with, pontac sauce made from elderberries.

First time I've heard comfrey being supposedly poisonous! Unfortunately I can't find any seeds or plants here in Italy, otherwise I'd be growing it here too.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't be so confident about comfrey. My wife is a vet, she operated on a cat which seemed to have cancer in virtually all its organs. She couldn't understand why this cat had such a high level of cancer. When she asked the owner about her cat's diet - she mentioned taht she fed her cat comfrey every day!

Anonymous said...

Not buying the story about the cat eating comfrey. Never had a cat eat any vegetable matter unless it was sick and then only a nibble on a blade of grass.