El Paso Functional Medicine
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Got Pain? Get Comfrey


Chronic pain is a way of life for millions of Americans, and many risk addiction by resorting to dangerous opioids to ease their suffering. Even those who are willing to risk addiction are finding painkillers harder to get as doctors cut down on the amounts of opioids they prescribe. Other desperate victims of chronic pain opt for over-the-counter relief, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil). But in addition to often being less effective, taking just slightly more than the recommended amount can have devastating consequences.

A recent study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) found that common non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) raised the risk of a heart attack as soon as one week after beginning their use, especially in higher doses. The medications include ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), diclofenac (Voltaren, Cambia), celecoxib (Celebrex), and naproxen (Midol, Aleve).

A Scottish study published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology found that taking large doses of Tylenol over a period of time, even at recommended levels, can build up in the system and cause life-threatening liver damage. In addition to liver damage, ibuprofen can also cause gastrointestinal bleeding.

The answer to chronic pain, especially lower back pain and pulled muscles and ligaments, may be comfrey, an herb that’s been used for thousands of years in topical ointments to ease pain.

“Comfrey is an effective pain killer that can be used to treat any kind of pain,” says nationally recognized pain expert Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum, author of Pain Free 1-2-3! “Comfrey cream can be rubbed on wherever you hurt, and it works immediately — within seconds.”

Comfrey contains two compounds, allantoin and rosmarinic acid (also found in rosemary) that reduce pain and inflammation.

Comfrey’s power isn’t anecdotal. Many studies confirm its effectiveness in helping several painful conditions. They include:

 • Upper and lower back pain. A double-blind, placebo-controlled study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine studied volunteers between the ages of 18 and 60 who had acute lower or upper back pain. Those who used an ointment containing comfrey root extract three times daily for five days had significant reduction in pain. Patients using the comfrey ointment reported a 95 percent reduction in pain compared to only 38 percent in those who used a placebo ointment. “Comfrey root extract shows a remarkably potent and clinically relevant effect in reducing acute back pain,” wrote the researchers.

• Sprains. A randomized study published in the Journal of the Australian Traditional-Medicine Society found that comfrey relieved the pain of sprains better than a prescription medication. Participants with acute ankle sprains received either topical comfrey root extract cream or the prescription diclofenac (Voltaren) gel. After seven days, swelling was down 70.5 percent in the comfrey groups compared to 69.4 percent in the diclofenac groups. Pressure pain was reduced by 80.6 percent with comfrey compared to 74.7 percent for diclofenac.

• Arthritis. In a study published in Phytomedicine, volunteers with painful osteoarthritis of the knee who used a comfrey cream three times a day for three weeks reported a 55 percent reduction in pain both when moving and when at rest. The randomized, double-blind study found that patients who used a placebo cream reported an 11 percent improvement.

• Wounds. A randomized, double-blind study used comfrey creams to heal wounds. Volunteers used two different strengths of comfrey creams. One contained 10 percent active ingredients and a second cream contained 1 percent. After two to three days, wounds treated with the 10 percent preparation were 49 percent smaller than those wounds not treated with comfrey, and wounds were 29 percent smaller in volunteers treated with the 1 percent cream. Comfrey’s healing power is attributed to a component called allantoin that’s believed to spur the growth of new cells.

Although comfrey can heal, it can also harm due to pyrroloxidine alkaloids (PA), which can be toxic to the liver. Experts warn to limit comfrey’s use to no more than 10 days at a time, and to never put it on an open wound.

Some PA-free comfrey products are available which have no detectible PAs. PA-free ointments can also be used on cuts and abrasions, since there are no toxins to get into the bloodstream.

Comfrey salves are inexpensive, and can be found in health food stores or ordered over the internet.

Post Disclaimer

Professional Scope of Practice *

The information herein on "Got Pain? Get Comfrey" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional or licensed physician and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.

Blog Information & Scope Discussions

Our information scope is limited to Chiropractic, musculoskeletal, physical medicines, wellness, contributing etiological viscerosomatic disturbances within clinical presentations, associated somatovisceral reflex clinical dynamics, subluxation complexes, sensitive health issues, and/or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions.

We provide and present clinical collaboration with specialists from various disciplines. Each specialist is governed by their professional scope of practice and their jurisdiction of licensure. We use functional health & wellness protocols to treat and support care for the injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system.

Our videos, posts, topics, subjects, and insights cover clinical matters, issues, and topics that relate to and directly or indirectly support our clinical scope of practice.*

Our office has reasonably attempted to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research study or studies supporting our posts. We provide copies of supporting research studies available to regulatory boards and the public upon request.

We understand that we cover matters that require an additional explanation of how it may assist in a particular care plan or treatment protocol; therefore, to further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez, DC, or contact us at 915-850-0900.

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Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, RN*, CCST, IFMCP*, CIFM*, ATN*

email: coach@elpasofunctionalmedicine.com

Licensed as a Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) in Texas & New Mexico*
Texas DC License # TX5807, New Mexico DC License # NM-DC2182

Licensed as a Registered Nurse (RN*) in Florida
Florida License RN License # RN9617241 (Control No. 3558029)
Presently Matriculated: ICHS: MSN* FNP (Family Nurse Practitioner Program)

Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, RN* CIFM*, IFMCP*, ATN*, CCST
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