Bastyr Center for Natural Health, Seattle, Washington
Health Information
Overview Health Conditions and Concerns Conditions A-M Conditions N-Z Healthy Lifestyle Tips Bastyr Health-E News News and Events Recommended Reading List Recipes National and Community Resources
Schedule an appointment today
Injuries | Comfrey Cream for Sprain Pain

Comfrey Cream for Sprain Pain

A comfrey cream can relieve the symptoms of an ankle sprain, according to Phytomedicine (2005;12:707–14).

The ankle joints are particularly prone to sprain and strain injuries because of their small size and heavy load. An ankle joint is sprained when it is turned beyond its usual range of motion and one of its ligaments is pulled and damaged. A sprained ankle is typically tender and swollen and feels worse when weight is put on it. Treatment aimed at reducing the swelling and pain of a sprained ankle includes staying off of one’s feet as much as possible, elevating the ankle several times per day, and applying ice often during the first 24 hours. Sometimes anti-inflammatory medicines, either topical or oral, are also recommended.

Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) is a flowering plant that has been used for centuries in creams, salves, and poultices to treat joint and muscle pain, bumps, bruises, sprains, and strains. Studies have shown that comfrey extracts have anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving (analgesic) effects and can stimulate tissue repair.

In the current study, 160 healthy adults with sprained ankles were randomly assigned to use either a comfrey cream or a topical anti-inflammatory medicine (diclofenac gel). Each person entered the study within six hours of being injured and began using about 2 grams of the cream or gel four times per day for one week. Pain level and the degree of swelling were measured upon entering the study, after four days, and after six to eight days. Participants also answered questionnaires about their experience of pain and disability, and their need for oral anti-inflammatory medicines.

The people using comfrey cream had significantly greater improvement in pain and swelling than those using diclofenac gel. Furthermore, those using comfrey reported faster and more complete recovery than those using diclofenac.

These findings suggest that comfrey cream might be more effective than diclofenac gel in treating the symptoms of a sprained ankle. These results must be considered preliminary, however, because the people in this study knew what treatment they were receiving. A placebo effect in either group could have influenced the results. A double-blind trial would help to confirm these findings. Longer studies to compare the effects of these treatments on the time required for complete recovery would also be useful to determine whether this difference in the short-term response to treatment is important.

Maureen Williams, ND, received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania and her Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from Bastyr University in Seattle, WA. She has a private practice in Quechee, VT, and does extensive work with traditional herbal medicine in Guatemala and Honduras. Dr. Williams is a regular contributor to Healthnotes Newswire.

Copyright © 2006 Healthnotes, Inc. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of the Healthnotes® content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Healthnotes, Inc. Healthnotes Newswire is for educational or informational purposes only, and is not intended to diagnose or provide treatment for any condition. If you have any concerns about your own health, you should always consult with a healthcare professional. Healthnotes, Inc. shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon. HEALTHNOTES and the Healthnotes logo are registered trademarks of Healthnotes, Inc.

Learn More About It

1 | 2 |

Find a Provider

Want to find the provider that's right for you? Learn more about our health care providers.  »

Bastyr Center Disclaimer

The health information contained in this site is not intended as medical advice and should not be considered a substitute for appropriate medical care. Any products mentioned in studies cited in Healthnotes articles are not necessarily endorsed by Bastyr. As with any product, consult with a natural health practitioner to discuss what may be best for you.


Appointments: 206.834.4100
Bastyr Center clinic appointments

Submit a contact request or call us to schedule an appointment »

Bastyr University Clinic in San Diego

Are you looking for Bastyr University Clinic, our new teaching clinic in San Diego? More »

Learn More About Our Services

Natural medicine can treat many types of conditions including:

More treatable health conditions »

Bastyr Center healthcare providers

Interested in finding a provider who's right for you? We recommend that your first visit at BCNH be with a Naturopathic Medicine Provider. »

Home  | Health Information  | Health Care Services  | Our Providers  | Patient Care  | Dispensaries

About BCNH  | Contact Us  | Appointments  | Privacy Policy  | Site Map | Bastyr University