The comfrey plant has a widespread use going back for thousands of years. Symphytum officinale, also known as knit-bone or boneset, contains a variety of useful compounds for skin health. Its habitat is marshy areas however it can grow in depleted soils, extending its taproot to draw up water and minerals from deeper within the soil. It is interesting that it’s therapeutic compounds work in a similar restorative manner with skin.
Although its mechanism has not been fully elucidated, allantoin seems to help reduce inflammation, loosen protein bonds, and promote collagen formation. It also has some bactericidal effects. It has been clinically studied extensively, however more research is required to fully understand the properties of allantoin.
“We see that healing is improved and inflammation is decreased. Many patients also report less itching and pain, which can speed dressing changes, and that is a huge quality of life issue for families. Although these results are still early stage, and in a small number of patients, they were enough for us to move forward,” said Dr. Paller, professor and chair of the department of dermatology and professor of pediatrics at Northwestern University, Chicago.
Beneficial Healing Properties of Allantoin
Hydrating: Increases the water content of skin.
Desquamating: It encourages natural exfoliation in the stratum corneum, the outer layer of the skin.
Repairing: It is well known for its ability to stimulate cell proliferation, encouraging new tissue growth. It is known to be extremely wound healing, research has shown that it clears away necrotic tissue, making way for a healthy new tissue.
Healing: An active skin protector, it naturally encourages the skins healing process; making it a suitable ingredient for treating minor wounds and irritations.
Relieves dryness: Promotes cellular regeneration, counteracting dryness and repairing impaired skin barrier function. Allantoin encourages sensitive skin to become more resilient.
Protecting: This is one ingredient that really does soften the skin, it also protects chapped, sun damaged skin, studies have shown that it protects against UV induced cell damage.
Soothing: It is considered an excellent anti-irritant, calming and soothing inflamed skin. So, it’s great when used in baby products.
Free Radical Activity: Topical application helps reduce free radical activity on the skin.
Keratolytic action: In performing its protective and regulatory functions, the outer layer of skin our epidermis, allantoin promotes production of a large number of proteins and oils (lipids) that are naturally found in the stratum corneum.
Beauty Leaf products follow traditional systems of medicine, where comfrey leaves are dried, ground up, and mixed with water, a moisturizing oil, or Aloe Vera to form lotions and ointment products that can be used externally to promote the healing of skin ailments, while reducing inflammations and infection. Historically, when native Americans applied the crushed herb to an injured limb, allantoin absorbed into the outer layer of skin to speed healing. Even today, when a compress of crushed comfrey is applied immediately to a sprained ankle, can significantly reduce the severity of the injury.
A lotion or solution of comfrey leaves made by soaking them in hot, but not boiling, water and can be applied to abrasions to soothe the irritation. Comfrey leaves are useful in healing stubborn skin ulcers, bedsores, and other lesions. They can also promote the healing of minor burns, while reducing the appearance of eczema and psoriasis, soothe bee stings and spider bites (including those of the brown recluse), and mitigate skin infections including athlete’s foot.
This powerful plant compound has earned its place in the herbalist’s apothecary. The tannins and mucilage of the plant are soothing and cooling to bruises and scrapes, standing the test of time with its use across the planet and consistent efficacy. If you have one thing in your first aid kit, make sure it is a well-designed product containing allantoin, derived from natural comfrey.