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Fibromyalgia treatment warning: Comfrey herb dangers

Lana Bandoim's picture

Before you try a new herbal treatment for fibromyalgia, you want to be aware of the risks and side effects.


Comfrey is a controversial herb that has medicinal properties and dangerous side effects. The leaves and roots of this plant are often used in balms and creams because they can reduce inflammation. In addition, they can fight muscle aches and pain, so some fibromyalgia patients have turned to this alternative treatment. However, before you try this type of cream, you have to know the risks and consult your doctor.

What is comfrey?

Comfrey is a plant with bell-shaped flowers, but it is the leaves and roots that are popular in herbal medicine. Researchers mention that it has been used to treat a variety of problems ranging from stomach issues to muscle pain. However, comfrey has dangerous pyrrolizidine alkaloids, which are naturally found in the plant, capable of damaging the liver.

In the United States and parts of Europe, comfrey pills and other oral supplements have been banned. However, ointments, creams and other external products with comfrey are still allowed on the market. The U.S. National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health explain that comfrey can cause serious damage to the liver, and there have been documented cases of injury.

Why is comfrey still being sold?

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According to researchers, external preparations of comfrey are generally considered to be safe, so creams, balms and ointments are still being sold. In addition, the ban on oral preparations is not worldwide, so some patients have been able to find the supplements online. Nevertheless, medical experts warn that patients should avoid taking comfrey pills or tablets. It is possible to suffer a severe liver reaction, and in some cases patients have died.

In addition, you have to be careful with the creams and balms. An open wound is dangerous because comfrey can be absorbed through the skin, so you do not want to use the cream. Additionally, you must limit the amount of time you use the external preparations because ongoing applications can be unsafe. Furthermore, comfrey can interact with other medications, so you must consult your doctor.

Why are some fibromyalgia patients still using it?

The search for pain relief and the lack of a cure for fibromyalgia has forced some patients to try alternative treatments. Comfrey can provide relief from muscle aches, general pain, arthritis, back pain and other issues. The herb is easy to find online and at retail locations as a balm, cream or ointment. Unfortunately, it is crucial to stay aware of its side effects and dangers.

Comfrey should not be used for an extended period of time, but fibromyalgia symptoms make it hard for many patients to discontinue it. You have to discuss this with your doctor and find a way to minimize the risks. In addition, if you take other pain medications and use other creams, there is a possibility of drug interactions. Liver toxicity is the biggest risk, and the most common symptoms are abdominal pain, jaundice, skin problems, fatigue and fluid retention.

Before you try comfrey, you want to consider the risks and discuss them with your doctor. Although this herb has medicinal qualities, it also has the potential to cause liver damage. It is important to be aware of the side effects of all of your treatment options.