One of the things I love to do is explore folk medicine. I consider a lot of medieval herbals part of the “folk medicine” journey. Some of it works, some of it doesn’t, some of it is deadly; you have to actually know (or have a good idea about) what compounds can do more harm than good.
In my SCA recreations, I chose to research out comfrey, a medicinal weed that has been used for various ailments since the paleolithic period. Known as “Boneknit” or “Knitbone,” comfrey is widely considered a weed that grows pretty wildly on the East Coast. The roots and the leaves have medicinal properties.
The plant itself has a compound that stimulates cell regeneration. In Medieval times, medical practitioners (from Hedgewitches to Midwives to Doctors to Barbers) would use comfrey in various forms to heal broken bones, sprains, scars, cuts, internal issues (such as internal bleeding, torn organs, etc). In more recent times, a study was conducted on the health risks associated with comfrey. The researchers gave daily high-level dosages of comfrey to lab mice who subsequently suffered from liver failure. Comfrey was deemed toxic to ingest and banned from medicine cabinets for internal use. Whereas comfrey can cause liver damage, one would have to take large amounts daily, for nine years for it to cause actual harm. Which is what the two cases of comfrey-poisoning entail.
In more modern times, cannabis has been ascribed many health benefits, similarly to comfrey. Though I do not believe cannabis has the same compound that stimulates cell regeneration, it does have compounds that attach to brain chemicals, stimulating positive reactions (e.g., nerve blockers to deal pain; dopamine replicators*; etc). Still, there have been some articles that decry the use of cannabis as purely placebo and try to ascribe severe health risks to its use. Similarly to comfrey.
Why am I discussing all this? Because something that I’m working on is a comfrey-cannabis infusion that will treat deep muscle and join pains. I have a batch of it I’m testing on myself for effectiveness, amongst other things (consistency, absorption, etc). So far, I have noticed an increase in the effectiveness of dealing with muscle/joint issues (versus just comfrey salve or just CBD oils).
To clarify, I do not believe this is a placebo. I am used to medications and home remedies not working. The first time I used comfrey salve on my neck (suffering for about 3 months with severe muscle spasms/cramps in my neck), I wasn’t paying attention to it and about 10 minutes after I applied it, I turned my head to look at something–a movement that I couldn’t do to that point!
As for the comfrey + cannabis salve, I woke up to a charlie horse trying to take hold in my neck–a distinctly not-fun thing, by the way–and grabbed my salve. I rubbed it into my neck and pressed on a couple pressure points, briefly. In fact, I’m not even sure they were pressure points. I think they were just points that had massive knots. Regardless, about 5 minutes later, my neck felt much less stiff and spasm-y and much more relaxed. It still hurts, sadly, but it’s a manageable pain and one I know consistent application throughout the day, today, will address.
My infusion was 1/4c comfrey root, 1/4c comrey leaves, 1/4c cannabis leaves, 1-1/2c olive oil. I then mixed in about 4T of beeswax pastilles, and 60 total drops of peppermint & eucalyptus (which did absolutely nothing for the scent; it’s a very heavy cannabis smell, which is fine for me). The infusion of leaves:oil was created using a slow heat process, via a water bath in a crockpot set on low (36-48 hour cook time). Right now, I swear by this blend, though I would really like to try some other oils that may absorb into the skin more quickly than olive oil.