Maribeth, our resident staff "herbalist-in-training" wrote this beautiful blog post on the versatile herb Solomon's Seal, a plant that does not often get the limelight!
True Solomon's Seal has been captivating my attention over the past few years while living in New England. As a plant that is not written about much in the western world, it makes me so happy to see our customers taking a strong interest in such a useful herb.
In 1597, herbalist John Gerard wrote about Polygonatum biflorum, stating "common experience teacheth, that in the world there is not to be found another herbe comparable to it."
Often considered a "miracle plant," many herbalists and healers throughout Asia, Europe, and North America consider True Solomon's Seal to be a must have in one's medicine cabinet. It is well known that Native Americans used the plant as a nutritive food and medicine and that the rhizome is still used as a trail food today. Also known as King Solomon's Seal, the plant has roots in Hebrew folklore. The scar left on the rootstock after the stem dies back resembles the seal that King Solomon used for his magical endeavors.
Magic? Perhaps. But Solomon's Seal is truly a versatile plant.
Known mostly for its action on tendons, joints, ligaments, and the musculoskeletal system, it is said that Solomon's Seal has a kind of intelligence that allows it the "ability to restore proper tension to the ligaments, regardless of whether they need to be loosened or tightened." As a yin tonic, Solomon's Seal is a restorative, nourishing, moisturizing, and lubricating tonic herb. These actions can be seen especially in the tendons, joints, ligaments, bone, connective tissue, cartilage, throat, and mucosa lining of the lungs, gastrointestinal tract, and reproductive system of both men and women. It is said that Native Americans also used the plant to help moderate intestinal inflammation. Galen recommended the herb to "remove freckles, spots, and marks for a fresh, fair, and lovely skin."*
My body seems to crave Solomon's Seal to help restore moisture, lubrication, and proper movement to the many corners of my body after the especially long winters we experience here in the north east. I have also used a few drops of the tincture, or an infused oil, to remedy a chronic bruised tailbone and for the wear my knees experienced from being a ballerina. I imagine anyone who is partaking in intense physical activities would benefit from the protecting and healing qualities of Solomon's Seal.
True Solomon's Seal is found in the U.S. throughout the eastern woodlands and into the Midwest. It's important to learn how to properly identify True Solomon's Seal from False Solomon's Seal as they do grow near each other. As the herb has often been over harvested and is constantly at risk, it's important to be very mindful when wild harvesting! However, Solomon's Seal grows very well in shaded gardens, as I've seen all over Cambridge and Somerville!
Here at the store we carry a 2 oz. tincture by David Winston of Herbalist & Alchemist, who finds it particularly effective for complaints of the respiratory system as well as injuries to the joints, tendons, and cartilage.
*This blog post — Solomon's Seal: A Medicine Cabinet Must-Have — is for general health information only. This blog post is not to be used as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment of any health condition or problem. Users of this Web site should not rely on information provided on this Web site for their own health problems. Any questions regarding your own health should be addressed to your own physician or other healthcare provider.