You are currently viewing Amakhambi


  • Post comments:0 Comments
  • Reading time:7 mins read

Family: Boraginaceae

Scientific name: Symphytum officinale

Authority: L.

Zulu name: amakhambi, izicwe

Other names: black wort, boneset, bruise wort, comfrey, common comfrey, knit back, knitbone, Russian comfrey, slippery root, true comfrey

Plant description: S. officinale is a herbaceous perennial that was introduced into South Africa and is predominately used in the Eastern regions of the country. It has large hairy ovate to lance-shaped leaves, bell-shaped purple flowers with shallow lobes, and nutlets that turn black when ripe. 


  • The leaves are eaten as a leafy green.
  • The leaves are used to make an infusion that is taken orally as tea. 
  • The leaf infusion is used to improve skin tone and reduce inflammation. 
  • The leaf infusion is used to treat bronchitis and tuberculosis. 
  • The roots are dried and ground to powder and mixed with Vaseline, the mixture then is applied topically to treat burns and wounds. 
  • The leaves and roots are used to make poultice that is applied topically to promote the healing of the bruises, wound, sprains, broken bones, tendon damage, and arthritis and rheumatic pain.
  • The leaves and roots are used to make a decoction that is used to treat colitis, gastric ulcers, diarrhoea, and haemorrhoids.

Safety precaution:

Using traditional medicine responsibly can enhance your overall health and well-being. Misuse and abuse can lead to complications. You can inquire about the correct use of traditional medicine from a knowledgeable herbalist and practitioner. You can also visit or email: to learn more about traditional medicine

References and further reading: 

  • Adams, M., Berset, C., Kessler, M. and Hamburger, M., 2009. Medicinal herbs for the treatment of rheumatic disorders—a survey of European herbals from the 16th and 17th century. Journal of ethnopharmacology, 121(3), pp.343-359.
  • Adeneye, A.A., 2014. Subchronic and chronic toxicities of African medicinal plants. In Toxicological survey of african medicinal plants (pp. 99-133). Elsevier.
  • Aftab, K., Shaheen, F., Mohammad, F.V., Noorwala, M. and Ahmad, V.U., 1996. Phyto-pharmacology of saponins from Symphytum officinale L. Saponins Used in Traditional and Modern Medicine, pp.429-442.
  • Bhat, R.B., 2014. Medicinal plants and traditional practices of Xhosa people in the Transkei region of Eastern Cape, South Africa.
  • Maroyi, A. and Mosina, G.K., 2014. Medicinal plants and traditional practices in peri-urban domestic gardens of the Limpopo province, South Africa.
  • Oberlies, N.H., Kim, N.C., Brine, D.R., Collins, B.J., Handy, R.W., Sparacino, C.M., Wani, M.C. and Wall, M.E., 2004. Analysis of herbal teas made from the leaves of comfrey (Symphytum officinale): reduction of N-oxides results in order of magnitude increases in the measurable concentration of pyrrolizidine alkaloids. Public Health Nutrition, 7(7), pp.919-924.
  • Rb, B. and Moskovitz, G., 2009. Herbal medicinal teas from South Africa. Phyton, 78, p.67.
  • Rode, D., 2002. Comfrey toxicity revisited. Trends in pharmacological sciences, 23(11), pp.497-499.
  • Thibane, V.S., Ndhlala, A.R., Abdelgadir, H.A., Finnie, J.F. and Van Staden, J., 2019. The cosmetic potential of plants from the Eastern Cape Province traditionally used for skincare and beauty. South African Journal of Botany, 122, pp.475-483.
  • Williams, R., Pelser, D. and Black, V. eds., 2018. Agroecology is best practice. Biowatch South Africa’s work with smallholder farmers.

You Can Order Your Copy Of The Book By Emailing:

Feel Free To Add Other Uses Of This Plant In The Comment Section Below:

Leave a Reply