Comfrey root ointment for back pain.
Article Type: Clinical report
Subject: Backache (Care and treatment)
Backache (Reports)
Comfrey (Chemical properties)
Comfrey (Health aspects)
Comfrey (Reports)
Materia medica, Vegetable (Usage)
Plant extracts (Usage)
Ointments (Usage)
Author: Hunter, Kim
Pub Date: 03/22/2010
Publication: Name: Australian Journal of Medical Herbalism Publisher: National Herbalists Association of Australia Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Health Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2010 National Herbalists Association of Australia ISSN: 1033-8330
Issue: Date: Spring, 2010 Source Volume: 22 Source Issue: 1
Accession Number: 223824001
Full Text: Giannetti BM, Staiger C, Bulitta M, Predel HG. 2009. Efficacy and safety of a comfrey root extract ointment in the treatment of acute upper or low back pain: results of a double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled, multi-centre trial. Brit J Sports Med May 21 (Epub ahead of print).

This study compared an ointment containing an extract of comfrey root, Symphytum officinale, (Kytta-Salbe(R) f; Merck Selbstmedikation GmbH) with a placebo ointment in patients with acute upper or lower back pain.

Using a double blind multicentre randomised clinical trial with parallel group design over a period of five days, 120 people (average age 37 years) were treated three times daily with 4 g of either comfrey ointment or placebo. Participants were asked to assess their levels of back pain and to what degree this interfered with normal movement, using validated pain and mobility scales on four separate occasions before, during and at the end of the study period. They were also asked to assess their back pain at rest.

The results showed a significant treatment difference between comfrey extract and placebo. Pain intensity fell by an average of 39% between the first and fourth assessment among the 60 people treated with the dummy ointment. But among those treated with the comfrey root ointment the fall in pain intensity averaged 95% between the first and fourth assessment. Back pain at rest was reduced 97% in the comfrey root group and 40% in the placebo group. Comfrey root was also fast acting, relieving pain after one hour.

Kim Hunter MNHAA
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