The Comfrey Story

( from May 18, 1975 Issue of the Brijabasi Spirit )

by Madhava Gosh dasa

“I think that we should all go to the forest known as Vrndavana, where just now there are newly grown plants and herbs.”—KRSNA BOOK

We took the first cutting of comfrey this week. The best time to take it is just when the buds form; if the flowers blossom out, then it has passed its highest value as food, feed or medicine9 and growth is slowed. This is the second year for our 100 plants, and they are producing more per plant, although they won’t reach peak levels until their third year.

We use lots of comfrey at New Vrindaban, both as a dahl green and as a medicinal tea. But one day Kirtanananda Maharaja came up and clued us to a new use. He had seen an ad in the Farm and Dairy (the local farm oriented newspaper that plugs us into the latest who, what, when and where) for a series of comfrey meetings throughout Ohio, in which the theme was comfrey as an animal feed.

Tapapunja and I got really excited about it and asked if we could go. Maharaja said we could, so we made plans to go to the one nearest New Vrindaban.

As it turned out, there was an auction the same day that was to begin before the comfrey meeting, and it was right on the way. There was a pile of black walnut boards to be offered, so Parambrahma came along also.

We got to the auction and the boards were just what Parambrahma had his eye out for to be used for some of the windows at Prabhupada’s Palace. We waited, but after a while, instead of the auctioneer coming over by where the boards were, they went down to sell all the sheep instead; if we waited for that to be over, we would have been late for the meeting and maybe missed it altogether. So Parambrahma put his faith in Krsna and just stayed.

Tapapunja and I went on ahead the last 20 miles to Carrolltown, Ohio, where the meeting was. You can just see how Krsna’s in control, because we weren’t there very long, talking to the farmers who had come and just ‘getting ready’ for the slide show to begin the meeting, which was late, when Parambrahma showed up. He said that the auctioneer came to the boards just after we left. He started bidding on them and got them for such a fraction of their value that instead of saying ‘sold,’ the auctioneer said ‘stole!’

The slide show and lecture dealt with the value of comfrey as a field crop. The moderator likened comfrey’s position today to that of soybeans 30 and ho years ago when nobody was growing them in this country because they didn’t know what to do with them. Now it’s one of the country’s leading crops.

Comfrey is a perennial that needs to be reestablished only once every 15 to 20 years, and is producing as high as 100 tons per acre per year in semi-tropical climates and it should produce as high as 50 to 60 tons in this area.

The moderator said that comfrey, when used as a large portion of the ration, will cure scours and’mastitis in cows. This is because of the presence of allantoin, a healing agent in the comfrey. I’ll be writing more about this in a later issue.

After the meeting, when we had asked all the questions about comfrey and talked about New Vrindaban, he gave us the book about comfrey that he was selling. Tapapunja didn’t miss the opportunity to preach a little bit, and the comfrey man ended up giving us a donation for a Krsna Trilogy.

We left the meeting and went back to the auction site, loaded up the black walnut and headed back to New Vrindaban and the lotus feet of Their Lordships Sri Sri Radha Vrndavana Candra.

The next night Kasyapa and I were out working late trying to get the disc ready for the next day’s plowing, when the night guard came out and said there was a karmi looking for me. Turned out it was the comfrey man. Kirtanananda Maharaja was just coming out of the temple and invited him and his friend up to the cabin.

The comfrey man is a representative of the Wonder Life Corporation, which sells natural animal medicines, supplements, a soil conditioner, and is now starting to preach comfrey and natural farming. After they had given us the rundown, Kirtanananda Maharaja waved his hand indicating the bowls of maha-prasad that had been brought up and told them to take prasadam, explaining that this was spiritual food, offered to Krsna.

Then he benedicted them with a nectarean lecture about New Vrindaban, Prabhupada and Krsnaa He said that, yes, we are also interested in doing things the natural way, but what makes us different is that we are asking Whose nature, and that no matter how-wonderful a system of farming or how wonderful a plant we have, we are still subject to birth, death, old age and disease.

When the comfrey man left, you could see he was impressed, and even a little awed, and all the devotees were again inspired by the association of, Kirtanananda Maharaja, who is so attached to Srila Prabhupada and the Sankirtan movement of Lord Caitanya, which is the only hope for all the suffering conditioned living entities in this age of Kali Yuga. And as soon as it quits snowing in Oregon, 5,000 comfrey plants will be heading towards New Vrindaban, to be used in the service of Krsna’s cows.


Jai Radhe, Madhava Ghosa dasa

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Reader Comments

I always heard that the very first comfrey in New Vrindavana was bought, brought and planted by Chakradhari from 6 comfrey roots he had ordered from CA. Is that true? We were good friends but not super close. He was always planting great gardens and then moving back to LA just before he could harvest them. Helped him plant the windbreaker hedge around the Palace rose garden and what started out as the comfrey ‘ground cover’ for the embankments there.

I am interested to know how much comfrey is safe to give animals.And what else devotees use it for.Does it have much nutritional value and is it dangerous for long term use.
I find my cows arent too interested in eating it.

I don’t remember exactly how the first comfrey came. It wouldn’t be inconsistent to think it was Chakradhari as he was very involved in horticulture.

As for comfrey as animal feed, that was one of those great ideas that didn’t work out. It is fuzzy and cows didn’t like the mouth feel. They would eat around it everything to the ground and leave it standing.

It was okay if it was dried, but was difficult to dry due to it thick stem and would mold easily if it wasn’t spread out really well.

This meant it couldn’t be handled in bulk, which made it unrealistic to use as fodder.

There is still lots of comfrey around and if we ever don’t have access to any other scours medicine, it is a safety net back up.

Chakradhari used to make a salve out of the root that was very healing. I remember once I got an infection that my stock tincture, golden seal, myrrh, and cayenne, wouldn’t heal. I used his comfrey salve and the infection healed right up.

The salve had a lot of similar qualities to aloe vera, and would be the northern counterpart.

Large quantitie of comfrey, more than common sense would dictate, taken internally over an extended period of time, has been known to cause liver damage.

As a liver patient, I avoid it, though a cup of tea now and then would be beneficial for most people with healthy livers.