Tim's Comfrey Project

By Tim

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NZ $3,145 pledged


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About

Tim's Comfrey Project

Project 2015-02-08 13:53:28 +1300

Hi, I’m reaching out for support on a citizen science project I’ve just launched and need a bit of cash to run some experiments, if my hunch is right it could help allot of people around the planet.

There’s this ancient Russian herb called comfrey, the king of accumulators, that has some very beneficial characteristics.  It was much heralded back in the 1950’s as a bit of a miracle plant for agriculture but when the age of chemical fertiliser swept the planet it was forgotten about by most.

For subsistance farmers, where self resilience is of paramount importance , It can provide significant benefit, fertilising soil and crops by mining deep down soils, a vitamin B12 source, healing herb and a protein source for animals and people.

But there’s one big problem, comfrey harbours varying amounts of naturally occurring toxins called PA’s, similar to those you might find in green potatoes. They’re pretty nasty, so much so that comfrey as a protein source is currently off the table. 

There is a great deal of debate about PA’s, about how nasty they are and how much is nasty. My research avoids this debate by assuming PA’s are as nasty as they come. Rather I want to test a hypothesis posed back in the 1950’s that by simply wilting comfrey under certain conditions for a period of time these PA’s degrade, effectively removing them.  Back then to test this was quite problematic and expensive but with recent developments in testing technology it’s much easier.

Also some recent research in NZ has shown that PA’s in Ragwort, a common weed on farms, do degrade when handled in the way I’m proposing. So I want to run a few lab tests to determine the potential for this simple approach that may make comfrey usable. I have a test program ready to go and it’s going to cost around $3000. If these initial tests show promise then it will give me enough information to plan and seek funding for a full research program. All of my results will be published for everyone under creative commons license. 

If you could help with some spare cash and/or pass the word on I would be forever grateful.  And If you want to know more about comfrey, read this - http://piginthemud.com/comfrey

Comments

Updates 2

Tim's Comfrey Project - Research program update

30/08/2015 at 4:05 PM

Hi everyone, thanks again for your support of my project.  A quick update for you ...

A comfrey wilting experiment to degrade PA in the plants was carried out under controlled conditions with suitable controls. We have begun analysis at Cawthron Institute using liquid chromatography mass spectroscopy (LCMS) to ascertain the base level of PA’s in a freshly harvested comfrey leaf. So far the methods routinely used there were unable to detect PA’s from our sample. This does not necessarily mean the PA’s aren’t there, rather it’s that the PA’s are of a type that have not been previously tested for at Cawthron in other plants. Cawthron scientist’s are now investigating development of a new method using reference standards specifically suitable for comfrey that will allow us to follow PA levels during the wilting experiment that has been performed. The samples from the experiments are safely desiccated in the freezer until the method has been validated.  I’ll be in touch with an update following this next phase in the program. 

Cheers,

Tim

You need to pledge to see this update.

    Pledgers 55

    julie nicolaou
    2015-04-10 19:02:07 +1200
    Anonymous pledger
    2015-04-10 17:01:54 +1200
    JM
    2015-04-10 16:21:30 +1200
    Daniel Diack
    2015-04-10 01:52:11 +1200

    "Good luck......nice project.....my wife has been growing lots of borage"

    Abbey Packer
    2015-04-09 22:04:15 +1200
    Abbey Packer
    2015-04-09 21:48:59 +1200
    Forde whanau
    2015-04-09 19:44:54 +1200
    Patrick McCombs
    2015-04-09 16:57:40 +1200

    "The blue flowers of Comfrey are great for bees too. All power to you :)"

    Ania Upstill
    2015-04-09 08:30:26 +1200
    Matt Sharpe
    2015-04-08 21:38:11 +1200

    "A great project!"

    Fiona Solomon
    2015-04-08 21:02:06 +1200
    Rochelle Forbes
    2015-04-08 11:38:03 +1200
    Rochelle Forbes
    2015-04-08 11:34:27 +1200
    Gerard Elkink
    2015-04-08 10:54:05 +1200
    Blair Kippenberger
    2015-04-08 08:16:39 +1200
    James Watt
    2015-04-08 06:13:05 +1200
    Michelle Murray
    2015-04-07 22:53:25 +1200

    "Good luck with your research :)"

    Tim Holden
    2015-04-07 20:03:14 +1200
    Sonia Corbett
    2015-04-06 14:08:56 +1200
    Anonymous pledger
    2015-04-03 13:15:37 +1300
    radhasahar
    2015-04-03 11:39:15 +1300

    "Go well. Let's know if you find further knowledge on the B12 aspect - be great if it undergoes changes that make it absorbable by humans!"

    Brett Shand
    2015-04-02 16:53:57 +1300

    "Great research topic. Comfrey is an amazing plant."

    [email protected]
    2015-04-02 13:09:01 +1300

    "Awesome work Tim- This will be very valuable"

    Renate
    2015-04-01 20:47:31 +1300

    "I look forward to hearing of your results. I wish you every success."

    Kath Irvine
    2015-04-01 19:42:00 +1300

    "Love your work Tim. Look forward to the results."

    Rochelle Zammit
    2015-04-01 09:21:03 +1300
    Celia
    2015-03-31 21:41:56 +1300

    "Go Tim. Sounds like a brilliant research area."

    Laureen Bamford
    2015-03-31 21:32:17 +1300
    Hugh Packer
    2015-03-31 13:37:27 +1300
    Anonymous pledger
    2015-03-31 12:11:15 +1300

    Tim's Comfrey Project

    Project 2015-02-08 13:53:28 +1300

    Hi, I’m reaching out for support on a citizen science project I’ve just launched and need a bit of cash to run some experiments, if my hunch is right it could help allot of people around the planet.

    There’s this ancient Russian herb called comfrey, the king of accumulators, that has some very beneficial characteristics.  It was much heralded back in the 1950’s as a bit of a miracle plant for agriculture but when the age of chemical fertiliser swept the planet it was forgotten about by most.

    For subsistance farmers, where self resilience is of paramount importance , It can provide significant benefit, fertilising soil and crops by mining deep down soils, a vitamin B12 source, healing herb and a protein source for animals and people.

    But there’s one big problem, comfrey harbours varying amounts of naturally occurring toxins called PA’s, similar to those you might find in green potatoes. They’re pretty nasty, so much so that comfrey as a protein source is currently off the table. 

    There is a great deal of debate about PA’s, about how nasty they are and how much is nasty. My research avoids this debate by assuming PA’s are as nasty as they come. Rather I want to test a hypothesis posed back in the 1950’s that by simply wilting comfrey under certain conditions for a period of time these PA’s degrade, effectively removing them.  Back then to test this was quite problematic and expensive but with recent developments in testing technology it’s much easier.

    Also some recent research in NZ has shown that PA’s in Ragwort, a common weed on farms, do degrade when handled in the way I’m proposing. So I want to run a few lab tests to determine the potential for this simple approach that may make comfrey usable. I have a test program ready to go and it’s going to cost around $3000. If these initial tests show promise then it will give me enough information to plan and seek funding for a full research program. All of my results will be published for everyone under creative commons license. 

    If you could help with some spare cash and/or pass the word on I would be forever grateful.  And If you want to know more about comfrey, read this - http://piginthemud.com/comfrey

    Comments

    Tim's Comfrey Project - Research program update

    30/08/2015 at 4:05 PM

    Hi everyone, thanks again for your support of my project.  A quick update for you ...

    A comfrey wilting experiment to degrade PA in the plants was carried out under controlled conditions with suitable controls. We have begun analysis at Cawthron Institute using liquid chromatography mass spectroscopy (LCMS) to ascertain the base level of PA’s in a freshly harvested comfrey leaf. So far the methods routinely used there were unable to detect PA’s from our sample. This does not necessarily mean the PA’s aren’t there, rather it’s that the PA’s are of a type that have not been previously tested for at Cawthron in other plants. Cawthron scientist’s are now investigating development of a new method using reference standards specifically suitable for comfrey that will allow us to follow PA levels during the wilting experiment that has been performed. The samples from the experiments are safely desiccated in the freezer until the method has been validated.  I’ll be in touch with an update following this next phase in the program. 

    Cheers,

    Tim

    You need to pledge to see this update.

      julie nicolaou
      2015-04-10 19:02:07 +1200
      Anonymous pledger
      2015-04-10 17:01:54 +1200
      JM
      2015-04-10 16:21:30 +1200
      Daniel Diack
      2015-04-10 01:52:11 +1200

      "Good luck......nice project.....my wife has been growing lots of borage"

      Abbey Packer
      2015-04-09 22:04:15 +1200
      Abbey Packer
      2015-04-09 21:48:59 +1200
      Forde whanau
      2015-04-09 19:44:54 +1200
      Patrick McCombs
      2015-04-09 16:57:40 +1200

      "The blue flowers of Comfrey are great for bees too. All power to you :)"

      Ania Upstill
      2015-04-09 08:30:26 +1200
      Matt Sharpe
      2015-04-08 21:38:11 +1200

      "A great project!"

      Fiona Solomon
      2015-04-08 21:02:06 +1200
      Rochelle Forbes
      2015-04-08 11:38:03 +1200
      Rochelle Forbes
      2015-04-08 11:34:27 +1200
      Gerard Elkink
      2015-04-08 10:54:05 +1200
      Blair Kippenberger
      2015-04-08 08:16:39 +1200
      James Watt
      2015-04-08 06:13:05 +1200
      Michelle Murray
      2015-04-07 22:53:25 +1200

      "Good luck with your research :)"

      Tim Holden
      2015-04-07 20:03:14 +1200
      Sonia Corbett
      2015-04-06 14:08:56 +1200
      Anonymous pledger
      2015-04-03 13:15:37 +1300
      radhasahar
      2015-04-03 11:39:15 +1300

      "Go well. Let's know if you find further knowledge on the B12 aspect - be great if it undergoes changes that make it absorbable by humans!"

      Brett Shand
      2015-04-02 16:53:57 +1300

      "Great research topic. Comfrey is an amazing plant."

      [email protected]
      2015-04-02 13:09:01 +1300

      "Awesome work Tim- This will be very valuable"

      Renate
      2015-04-01 20:47:31 +1300

      "I look forward to hearing of your results. I wish you every success."

      Kath Irvine
      2015-04-01 19:42:00 +1300

      "Love your work Tim. Look forward to the results."

      Rochelle Zammit
      2015-04-01 09:21:03 +1300
      Celia
      2015-03-31 21:41:56 +1300

      "Go Tim. Sounds like a brilliant research area."

      Laureen Bamford
      2015-03-31 21:32:17 +1300
      Hugh Packer
      2015-03-31 13:37:27 +1300
      Anonymous pledger
      2015-03-31 12:11:15 +1300
      This campaign was successful and got its funding on 10/04/2015 at 10:00 PM.