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,

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