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You have a Friend in Solomon(‘s Seal)

March 26, 2019

We have come to rely on Solomon’s Seal as one of our favorite plants and remedies for all kind’s of joint and tendon issues. 

[But first, let us say that we are not dispensing medical advice or making suggestions for treatment of any disease or condition.  We are merely reporting our experiences.  Seek proper medical advice for any medical condition about which you are concerned.  Any statements and claims regarding any product or advice offered have not been evaluated by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).]

The Plant

The Solomon’s Seal plant (Polygonatum spp. – there are several species, all of which seem to produce the discussed results) is a simple, pretty plant.  There are even a few varieties that have been bred as ornamental specimens for the home garden.  The plant has a single non-branching aerial stem – usually about 1 to 3 feet tall, simple alternate leaves with parallel veins and whitish/pale green/cream flowers that hang down from the axil of the leaf attachment.
Depending on the species, the flowers may occur singly, doubly or a few per leaf axil.  Blooming usually occurs in early summer and the resulting (inedible) fruit is a dark blue round berry.

The ‘root’ – a rhizome or underground stem actually – is the plant part used.  The shape or form of the rhizome is a clue of its usefulness.  In herbal medicinal studies, there is a principal known as the ‘doctrine of signatures’.  This doctrine implies that a plant’s appearance gives clues to its use.  Looking at the rhizome, one can imagine one is looking at a string of knuckles or vertebrae:  thus the plant offers aid in the health or healing of joints!  The “seal” part of the name comes from the ‘scar’ of previous years’ aerial stem attachments.  The photo below shows the ‘true’ rhizome on the left and the ‘False’ rhizome on the right. 

The rhizome’s active components can be extracted with ethyl alcohol (producing a tincture) or vegetable oils (like olive oil) which can then be used to make a salve.  The dosage is either a few drops of the tincture taken orally or some of the oil, salve or tincture applied to the skin and rubbed in.  The main action of Solomon’s Seal in our experience is to help the body lubricate joints and tone tendons.

There is another plant that looks very similar to Solomon’s Seal, including the rhizome ‘signature’ (see above), called False Solomon’s Seal (Maianthemum racemosa).  The main difference is False Solomon’s Seal – or Solomon’s Plume – has its flowers and fruit in a cluster of small white flowers at the end of the stem.  It has the same healing properties except this one is more effective or more specific at working on small joints:  fingers and toes.  We have used this to good effect also…

Fingers

A couple of years ago, Harry’s age seemed to begin to manifest with stiff, sore fingers when he awoke each morning.  Once it became clear this was not merely pain and stiffness from overuse the day before, he rubbed 3 or 4 drops of the False Solomon’s Seal tincture into his fingers each evening at bedtime.  After about 2 weeks, he no longer had the morning pain, so he discontinued use.  The stiffness has not returned.

 In the words of one client about true Solomon’s Seal for fingers ~
“For many years I’ve had a condition affecting my left index finger.  The knuckles on the first and second fingers swell and I have been unable to close my hand into a fist.  My orthopedic surgeon calls it ‘trigger finger’.  The condition has been severe enough to keep me awake at night due to pain.  Steroid shots have been relatively ineffective.  Recently, at Deb’s suggestion, I tried Solomon’s Seal Oil [Solomon’s Seal root extracted in olive oil], applying it twice a day.  After three days of using the oil, the swelling had gone down markedly, along with the pain, and I was able to flex and use the hand.  I can now clench it almost completely closed, something I have not been able to do for several years.  I was doubtful, but it works!”

Knees
Another client was complaining of knee pain.  He took a bottle of our Solomon’s Seal tincture with instructions to rub a few drops into his knee (and if he was so inclined, 3 or 4 drops orally) two or three times a day.  When last asked, he had no problem with his knee.

Deb also uses Solomon’s Seal for knee and joint issues due to Lyme disease.  Originally, she was diagnosed with a torn meniscus (again from a doctor using his specialist’s straw perspective, see a previous post) ~ her knee was swollen and unstable for months.  Her right knee would swell so large that she couldn’t wear pants and needed to use crutches.  Herbalist Matthew Wood suggested Solomon’s Seal, which seemed to be appearing nearer and nearer to our house.  [Another ‘indicator’ that a plant’s services are needed. Having plants show up at our door ‘magically’ is part of why we started studying herbalism!]  Within a month, Deb was able to abandon the crutches and start wearing jeans again.  She takes it regularly to aid her joints and to help with joint pain.

Another client bought a jar of our Solomon’s Seal Salve for her knee and she wrote us:
“I injured my left knee 2 years ago. I finally went to the doctor on February 28th 2019.  Almost 2 years exact from injury.  They took an x-ray and determined that I had bruised the back side of my kneecap.  And with this all of the muscles surrounding my knee went out of balance.  This caused my knee cap to no longer slide in the groove it’s supposed to which is what’s been causing me pain ever since.  My doctor recommended physical therapy.  With the hopes of stretching out the muscles on the outer left side of my knee and strengthening the inner right side in an effort to pull the kneecap back into alignment.  I’ve yet to see a physical therapist.  But I have been putting on the Solomon Seal Salve three times a day since seeing my doctor.  I can feel my muscles lengthening and contracting into their proper length.  I can bend my knee all the way back when doing yoga now – something I could not do 2 weeks ago!  The pain has lessened and I’m able to put more and more weight on my left side again! “

As amazing as these stories are, perhaps the most miraculous result we personally had with Solomon’s Seal came to our beloved dog.
After we moved here, during our frequent hikes in our wonderful mountains we eventually noticed Tulsi no longer cavorted joyfully through the forest, but instead would walk out ahead of us on the trail and lie down panting heavily to wait for us as we strolled up to her.  She also seemed to be in discomfort, pain or extreme fatigue when we returned to the car, barely able to get back in or needing to be lifted in.  We feared she might have a life-threatening condition so we took her to the veterinarian who informed us that, not only did she have hip dysplasia, but BOTH her rear ACLs (anterior cruciate ligament) were torn!
He suggested very expensive surgery for the ACLs and no hope for the hip.  Online research Deb did indicated that the surgery, if successful at all, may need to be repeated in about two years.  An alternative therapy she found was extreme rest for an extended time.  Have you ever tried to keep an active dog from running and jumping?

We chose to try the rest therapy anyway and also added a small dose of Solomon’s Seal tincture to every meal.  (She loves it!)  After about a year of that regimen (with probably nowhere near as much ‘rest’ as is recommended?), she seemed completely well and has been her old self ever since (three years now):  jumping over the rock wall, across the creek, happily climbing the mountain out our back yard… chasing our cat! (“Stop, Tulsi, Please!”)  To be ‘safe’ we still give her a little Solomon’s Seal tincture with her food daily (and we do not want to subject her to the trauma of another x-ray to check on the condition of her hip.) We withhold it for about a week every once in a while so she does not build a tolerance for it.  (We don’t know if this is a genuine concern.)  We should add that we also found a holistic vet who supported our use of Solomon’s Seal and suggested adding Omega-3 and other supplements.  We are very lucky to have a vet who knows about and uses homeopathic remedies, flower essences and herbs! 

Other herbalists opinions
Herbalist Jim MacDonald wrote on his website:
“… a woman I knew slipped and fell, wrenching her knee quite badly while I was over at her place. I went out into the woods behind their house, dug some roots up, simmered them for a bit in oil and had her use that topically. She went to the doctor the next day, and was referred to an orthopedic specialist the next day, who said it was quite a bad injury and would likely require surgery. A day after that I dropped off some of the tincture I had made, and then next time she went in to the orthopedist (a couple weeks later), she was told that she had healed phenomenally well and there would be no need for the surgery after all.

“Without doubt, Solomon’s Seal is the most useful remedy I know of for treating injuries to the musculoskeletal system. I’ve used it to treat broken bones, sprains, injured tendons and ligaments, tendonitis, arthritis, dryness in joints and “slipped”/herniated discs (including mine – that sure did hurt…). Solomon’s Seal has the remarkable ability to restore the proper tension to ligaments, regardless of whether they need to be tightened or loosened. This makes it a valuable remedy for sports & activity related injuries, used either before resorting to or along with conventional surgical procedures. I know of several instances when use of Solomon’s Seal prevented the need for surgery, and also have seen it speed recovery time for people who have had surgery.

“I consider Solomon’s Seal an invaluable connective tissue anti-inflammatory. Several people I know swear by Solomon’s Seal as their preferred treatment for arthritis, but its certainly not a universal remedy in this condition. I use it frequently to address tendonitis and repetitive stress injuries; its much more clearly indicated here.”

One of our teachers, herbalist Matthew Wood, also says Solomon’s Seal is an excellent remedy for tendon rehabilitation [i.e., loosens over-tightness and tightens overly stretched/loose ligaments – a pretty smart plant!].  Matthew says this herb will also tighten/bind large joints (knees, hips and shoulders) as well as treat bone spurs. (This action probably immensely helped dear Tulsi with her hip dysplasia!)  Matthew believes Solomon’s Seal also works by helping maintain the joint synovial fluid.  He also agrees (communicated in personal conversations with us) with Mr. MacDonald that Solomon’s Seal use at the first signs of hip or knee problems may eliminate the need for hip or knee replacement procedures.

We have another client whose son’s shoulder keeps popping out of socket.  He sent some of our Solomon’s Seal Tincture to him and we are awaiting a report.



Flower essence
We also make and use a Solomon’s Seal Flower Essence.  It’s one of Deb’s top 5 favorite flower essences.  Deb says the Solomon’s Seal energy is close to the energy of a nursing mama… again, the doctrine of signatures in the pendulous flowers mimicking teats from an udder, dropping down mercy like milk coming to an infant.   “I find her soothing and opening ~ the place that arises naturally when one feels safe from being sheltered and nurtured.   She offers the energy of the mother.”  From our web site: “When taking this essence, one will feel the true healing effects of forgiveness merged with the mercy of the Mother. Humility naturally arises in one who takes this essence as well as compassion towards others because of their self-forgiveness.”


You can purchase several different Solomon’s Seal products online, just search “solomon’s seal” and you will be presented with many options.  Most of these have other appropriate and useful herbal musculoskeletal healing active ingredients in them but we choose to leave our Solomon’s Seal products as ‘simples’ because of its effectiveness.  We believe that by using simples, one can connect to the plant better to allow the healing action.  We also find that it’s easier to tell what is working and what is not!  Why take five or six or more herbs when you only need one!

Our Solomon’s Seal Tincture, Solomon’s Seal Oil and Solomon’s Seal Salve have only the one active ingredient.  We also have a little False Solomon’s Seal Tincture mentioned above.  Since there is no commercial source for this plant we must sustainably wildcraft it hence the price differential.  For the emotional healing power of Solomon’s Seal, you can purchase our  flower essence here.

We have found these to be powerful and useful remedies for joint and tendon health.  Along the way, Solomon’s Seal has become a true and dear friend.  Take care of your joints and tendons – they’ll come in handy along your life journey.

We hope that knowing about Solomon’s seal may come in handy for you if you ever have a need.

With hope and gratitude for the green world,

You’ll Miss a Lot Viewing the World Through a Straw

January 21, 2019

Greetings, Friends:
We apologize for being out of touch for more than a year. This letter will explain why and offer a (perhaps) cautionary tale and useful advice. During that time we have learned a lot… about herbs, health and life. We have arrived at several interesting (we think) insights. We will be sharing some of these with you here and in the future. We hope you find at least one of them useful.

When we first married, 14 years ago, Deb had some scary and very worrying neurological symptoms. Several doctors and specialists did many tests and ultimately pronounced that her problem could be any of several dread conditions, but they had no specific diagnosis. Eventually, it was determined that she had been infected with several tick-born rickettsia that were slowly, increasingly affecting her health.

About two years ago, Deb’s Mom was finally diagnosed with 4th stage breast cancer. We say ‘finally’ because she had been having various seemingly unrelated but serious symptoms. One of which was skin lesions or sores. She was given a salve to ‘treat’ them. Another symptom was rapidly deteriorating sight in one eye. The ‘cure’ was a new vision prescription. By the time it was ready it was no longer effective. ‘Finally’, a third medical professional took the larger view and figured out that the eyesight problem was caused by a tumor growing under her eye socket distorting and mis-aligning the eyeball, which was actually a manifestation of breast cancer, which also caused the skin lesions. The first doctors were looking at Mom through the straw of their narrow-focused perspective and specialty. They did not consider looking at her issues with a broader, more holistic view.

Six months later, Deb fell and broke her foot while visiting and caring for Mom up north. Her break was treated more or less appropriately, but a painful fascia tear over her shinbone was missed initially – we assume because it was not a ‘bone problem’ which that orthopedic doctor could/did not recognize (or did not mention) through the straw of his specialty focus on the broken bone.

In her last days, Mom fell out of her bed at the care facility. Immediately, she complained of her arm hurting. Nothing was done except to give her analgesic medications. They did not catch the broken arm until she had suffered a while. With what straw were they looking at Mom – if any?

This past September, Harry thoroughly forgot his childhood flying lessons as he slipped from our porch roof and crushed his L1 vertebra. Thankfully, the hospital staff began looking at him with a broad-field view to ascertain what damage had occurred during the uncontrolled landing. However, again this orthopedic doctor (who thankfully did NOT recommend risky surgery) switched to his specialist’s straw and never really satisfactorily explained why all Harry’s pain was not at the break but elsewhere. Harry’s physical therapist concentrated on restoring muscle strength and mobility, but the pain did not abate. Recently, a young EMT friend suggested that Harry’s pain might likely be from the many tendons and sinews that were likely traumatized upon impact. No one else mentioned this possibility.

One big lesson learned from all these dealings with the American medical establishment is this: a proper medical approach (and with other non-medical endeavors and life in general, too, we would suggest) is to begin with as broad a ‘view’ as possible before narrowing in on specifics. To summarize the analogy: start with the panoramic survey, then bring in the binoculars or magnifying glass and finally employ the microscopes if needed. Do not start with viewing the world through a straw and zoom in… there is so much you will miss.

The other major lesson and point of this letter is to mention that much of the actual ‘care’ and ‘healing’ involved in all the above was through the use of our flower essences, tinctures, infusions, poultices and salves we have collected and made.

Deb helped her Mom through the emotional aspects of her disease with our flower essences and some of her other issues with our tinctures, etc . Deb has been treating, with the help of another herbalist, her own Lyme and other tick-borne diseases with herbs. We believe Deb’s foot and Harry’s back healed more quickly than ‘normal’ (according to the doctors) with our administration of the proper herbs. Recently, a consultation with two other herbalists confirmed our correct treatment of Harry’s back and suggested (again in agreement with our own assessment and approach at this stage of recovery) a slight adjustment to our treatment which quickly addressed his lingering pain and debility. Also, Harry’s injury took us out of our usual Qi Gong sessions. Since he has been able to move more easily and go through some simple Qi Gong routines, his pain has abated and mobility improved even more.

To take this philosophy out into the wider world: We believe there is much healing available in that wider world. Wisdom flows through the interactions at the most macro and micro of scales: the interplay of the heavens and heavenly bodies; the turning of the seasons; how our neighbor plants and animals adjust and adapt to this flow; how one organism benefits or affects another.

Much benefit can come to those who participate in this cosmic and earthly pageant. Scientific studies have shown that participating in the grand design by merely walking in the woods, through a meadow or along a beach can improve one’s physical and mental health. And, of course, we definitely believe there is also much healing in individual plants and working with your internal energy (Qi – pronounced “chi”). (More on both later.)

In conclusion, we suggest you approach your life – and every aspect of your health in a broad-spectrum, holistic, panoramic way. When problems occur, don’t treat the symptoms; correct the root cause. Set aside the straws. Take off the blinders. Go outside. (Yes, we know it’s cold in January, still there is much beauty and healing out there!)

And, with Deb’s compassion, care and increasing knowledge and honed skills, it is possible we may be able to help a little with some things that may ail you. If you think we may be of assistance, please contact us .

Peace and health,

Deb, Harry, bee balmNature enthusiasts Harry LeBlanc and Deb Vail are at home in the forest hiking to reach beautiful vistas and searching for native plants in the southern Appalachians. They are co-founders of Grandparents of the Forest, an intimate business offering simple yet meaningful ways for children and their parents to connect to Nature for well-being and healing. They also make Sacred Forest® Flower Essences from the plants they encounter. They are former organic farmers and parents of 5 grown children.

New Year Wishes for 2017 and Beyond

December 31, 2016

May you walk immersed in fields of wildflowers; barefoot in teeming creeks; awed along ridge-tops with endless horizons.  May you climb welcoming trees and savor ripe fruit from their branches.

May you feel the fair breeze caress your skin, hear its voice and understand its language.

May you revel in rich damp soil and smell the ‘green’ of fresh snap peas and the ‘red’ of perfect tomatoes in the garden.

May you laugh often and deeply hand in hand with those you love as you explore Nature together.

Love and starlight to you ~ now and always,
Deb and Harry
Your Grandparents of the ForestDeb, Harry, bee balmNature enthusiasts Harry LeBlanc and Deb Vail are at home in the forest hiking to reach beautiful vistas and searching for native plants in the southern Appalachians. They are co-founders of Grandparents of the Forest, an intimate business offering simple yet meaningful ways for children and their parents to connect to Nature for well-being and healing. They also make Sacred Forest® Flower Essences from the plants they encounter. They are former organic farmers and parents of 5 grown children.

Shared Meals from the Garden ~

July 26, 2016

Contributed by Deb

garden bountyOur garden was completely full last week and now, we have some vacant rows.  We’ve dug all the potatoes and garlic and the first planting of beans are finishing up, the second planting of beans are ready to begin harvesting ~ and now, it’s time to plant more for fall.  We can almost do a complete meal from the garden when we use squash, the first of the tomatoes, dill, cilantro, beets, cabbage, lettuce and tiny baby carrots. We also have some ‘alien-looking’ kolrabi that is about the right size to harvest.

Cabbage, Zucchini, Sungold cherry tomatoes, yellow 'wax' beans and coriander (Cilantro seed)

Cabbage, Zucchini, Sungold cherry tomatoes, yellow ‘wax’ beans and coriander (Cilantro seed)

Harry and I, of course, eat nearly every meal together.  Harvesting from the garden, cooking together and then eating meals together is one of our favorite things in the whole world. Everything tastes better and is fresher, of course, but the added touch of love and care that is shared gives extra nutrition for body and soul.  I often forget that the extra love and prayers that I can add to my cooking will be felt by those eating the meal!

We both had a tradition from our childhoods.  Sundays were special.  My grandparents came for dinner and would bring food from their garden or the farm roadside markets in my home state of Ohio. Mom would always have fresh pies in the summer – blueberry, strawberry, cherry, peach – even grape! (Yes, she peeled and pitted each grape!).  Harry always ate Sunday lunch and/or supper at one or the other of his grandparents homes.  Vegetables often came from the gardens, either fresh or frozen, and the meat was often raised and butchered by a relative.  His maternal Grandma often made a lemon meringue pie for his Dad.

Our children are scattered to the winds, but these traditions are still practiced by others:  one of our neighbor’s house is filled every Sunday afternoon with offspring and grandchildren.

Such simple things ~ and yet they can make a positive impact on us that lasts a lifetime.Deb, Harry, bee balmNature enthusiasts Harry LeBlanc and Deb Vail are at home in the forest hiking to reach beautiful vistas and searching for native plants in the southern Appalachians. They are co-founders of Grandparents of the Forest, an intimate business offering simple yet meaningful ways for children and their parents to connect to Nature for well-being and healing. They also make Sacred Forest® Flower Essences from the plants they encounter. They are former organic farmers and parents of 5 grown children.

Local Treasures

May 10, 2016

Contributed by HarryHarry closeup glasses

Over Mother’s Day, we took a trip to Ohio to celebrate the family matriarch’s 90th birthday!

Two of the small towns we visited displayed perfect examples of being able to find ‘Nature’ just about anywhere you choose to seek it.

P1100581P1100654Chagrin Falls, Ohio has the picturesque Chagrin River (what else?) flowing through the center of town. What fish, reptiles (we saw a black water snake sunning on a rock in the middle of the river), amphibians, mollusks and birds (there were Canada geese strolling in the shallows between the two falls) would one find on close exploration?P1100601

Chagrin Falls also provides a beautiful park area next to the river and downtown with formal plantings, grassy lawns and shade trees. What other birds and insects and other creatures would provide study there?

 

Burton, Ohio has a central ‘square’ (a rectangle actually) with trees, lawn and other plantings. Many of the residences have lovely front yard gardens.

Not far from downtown Burton is a wetland area with trails. What plants and creatures make their home, permanently or transiently, there for someone to study with children or grandchildren?P1100645P1100674

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also near Burton is Punderson State Park offering a 150 acre lake and about 10 miles of trails open year-round. There’s a lot to explore there, too.

Surrounding both towns were miles of forest and farmland that were experiencing spring growth. Just from the road we could see skunk cabbage, mayapple and flowering trees and many other plants that would need closer inspection to identify. (Of course, always ask permission before exploring a neighbor’s or stranger’s property.)

Near our previous home there were the Haw River, Jordan Lake, Eno River State Park, Umstead State Park and much more.

And, of course, we now live near the Blue Ridge Parkway with trails to explore at many of the overlooks, the New River, The Watauga River, Grandfather Mountain State Park, Linville Falls,  Elk Knob State Park, our own back yard and so much more.

What Nature can you discover near your home?Deb, Harry, bee balmNature enthusiasts Harry LeBlanc and Deb Vail are at home in the forest hiking to reach beautiful vistas and searching for native plants in the southern Appalachians. They are co-founders of Grandparents of the Forest, an intimate business offering simple yet meaningful ways for children and their parents to connect to Nature for well-being and healing. They also make Sacred Forest® Flower Essences from the plants they encounter. They are former organic farmers and parents of 5 grown children.