Solomon's Seal

Monday, March 30, 2020
image credit - Pixabay

Common name: Solomon's seal, sow's teats, fragrant or aromatic Solomon's seal, dropberry, sealwort, seal root, lady's seals, St. Mary's seal, Conquerer-John, High John the Conqueror.
Botanical name: Polygonatum multiflorum (formerly Convallaria), Polygonatum officinale, Polygonatum odoratum, Polygonatum biflorum, Polygonatum giganteum, Polygonatum commutatum, Polygonatum canaliculatum, etc. 
Family name: Asparagaceae (formerly Liliaceae)

Overview: Solomon's seal has been used in Western herbal medicine since classical times. An interesting attribution to the name used most often for Plogonatum spp. is to King Solomon, the Judaic monarch who was the son of David and well known for his wisdom. Many accounts claim that the scar on the rhizomes left by each year's stem growth resembled the ancient seal of the king.

Native to North America, Northern Europe, Siberia and Asia. In the United States it's mostly found in the East Coast and Midwestern states.

Solomon's seal is a perennial and loves shady woodland locations. It grows as a single stalk with the flowers hanging underneath in creamy white clusters of 2-7. The leaves have very distinct parallel veins that clasp at the base and are arranged in an alternate pattern along the stem. Though its existence may be one that's common to many woodlands, it's not always prolific, often growing in scattered patches.

The parts used are the root/rhizome. Autumn is the time to harvest the roots, which are often close to the surface. I really like herbalist, Jim McDonald's method, which is to trace back two to three inches from the stem and sever the rear portion of the rhizome with a knife, trowel or even your fingers if the soil is soft. If the growing portion of the plant is never removed from the ground, this type of harvest will have the least impact and the plant will continue to grow with no problems.

Primary therapeutic constituents: Steroidal saponins (related to those of wild yam), mucilaginous polysaccharides, non-protein amino acid (L-azetidine-2carboxylic acid), allantoin (as in comfrey - wound healing), a "glucokinin" (an unstudied constituent with antihyperglycemic effects)

Medicinal actions: Anti-inflammatory, wound healing, tissue repair, anti-arthritic, astringent, demulcent, expectorant.

Common uses: Connective tissue anti-inflammatory; prevents excessive bruising and stimulates tissue repair; helpful when tendons, fascia or ligaments are either too loose or too tight; probably by restoring moisture. Specific to joint conditions characterized by inflammation and dryness, sense of friction in joints; repetitive stress; useful for joint pain from lupus. Statin drug side effects of pain in limbs.

“Without a 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."– Jim McDonald * (great read - link in references)

Other valuable uses are that it loosens mucous in the lungs to treat dry coughs, sore throats, bronchial congestion and chest pain. Solomon's seal is considered a yin tonic.

Technique: Poultice, salve, decoction, tincture, double extraction.

Adult dose: Tincture: 1-5 drops daily - topically or internally. Decoction: 1-4 ounces, three times daily. Poultice: fresh root mashed and applied topically. **

Cautions and contraindications: considered safe when used in recommended doses. At high doses may cause gastrointestinal irritation with nausea and vomiting. Berries are toxic and NOT for internal consumption.

Care should be taken not to confuse Solomon's seal with False Solomon's seal or Bellflower as they both look similar to TRUE Solomon's seal.

Taste: Sweet, bitter, acrid, starchy.

Energy: Cooling, relaxing, building, toning.

Educational video is by Jim McDonald. It's only about 15 minutes long but very informative. Enjoy!


Personal experience: Solomon's seal captured my attention due to its affinity for the musculoskeletal system. I was especially interested to see if it would help with myofascial pain. It was somewhat difficult finding a source for the tincture but I have and started with it in my low and slow method. Today I move to 2 drops!

References:

Herbal Academy, n.d. **Solomon's seal monograph. Retrieved from https://herbarium.theherbalacademy.com/monographs/#/monograph/5102

Jim McDonald, Herbalist. *Solomon's Seal, Polygonatum biflorum. Retrieved from https://www.herbcraft.org/solseal.html

Andrew Chevallier, FNIMH. Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine. Solomon's seal. p. 253



Nutritious Nettles - Easy Infusion

Monday, March 16, 2020
Image credit - Pixabay

I'm trying to remember when I first fell in love with nettles (Uritica dioica) but it's been quite awhile now. I believe this herb was the very first one I ever bought in bulk. When I discovered for myself just how amazing nettles were I knew I always wanted to keep them on hand.

You might be thinking, "Isn't this the plant that stings you if you try to touch it?" And the answer to that is yes, YES it is! But oh if you can get past its prickly nature you will discover an emerald gem of an ally you'll likely want to keep close too.

Nettles are a nutritive herb, which means they assist the body in restoring balance. They nourish, tone, and promote healthy metabolism. Nutritive herbs help in the functioning of the liver, the kidneys and the lymphatic and immune systems. Nettles have a particular affinity for the adrenal glands! That makes me especially happy as my adrenals struggle a bit. Just look at the nutrition that's packed into just a one quart infusion.

Minerals:
Calcium (1000 mg per quart of infusion)
Magnesium (300 mg per quart of infusion)
Potassium (600 mg per quart of infusion)
Zinc (1.5 mg per quart of infusion)
Selenium (.7 mg per quart of infusion)
Iron (1.5 mg per quart of infusion)
Manganese (2.6 mg per quart of infusion)
Also: chromium, cobalt, phosphorus, copper, sulphur, silicon, and tin.

Vitamins:
Vitamin A from {beta carotene} (5000 IU per quart of infusion)
Vitamin B complex, especially thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, vitamin C, vitamin D, and K 
Each quart of infusion also contains about 3mg of Boron. 

How To Make A Rich Nettles Infusion

Can there be an easier recipe on the planet? Well maybe but you'd be hard pressed to find it! So here goes... 

Take 1 cup of dried nettles (don't pack it down) and place them in a glass quart jar. Fill the jar up with hot water that's just about to boil and put the lid on. Let it sit on the counter and steep for at least 4 hours. I always do mine in the evening and let it sit over night. 

After it's finished steeping strain the liquid out into another jar, pressing down on the herbs to get as much out as possible. That's it! 

I put mine in the fridge because I like to drink it cold but you don't have to. I do try to drink it all up in the same day, about a cup at a time. However, it will remain quite good into the next day if I have some left over. I personally don't keep it longer than that. Some folks like to fill a go-cup with their infusion and just sip it all day. That would be great too! 

No matter what infusion may be in my rotation I always give it a 1-2 week break every 6 weeks. That's just my way. I don't remember where I first heard that advice but I think it's a good idea.  

Some Like It Hot On The Spot

If you just want to relax with a nice nutritive cup of hot tea then go for it. I love it this way! All you have to do is put 1-3 teaspoons of dried nettles into your favorite cup and pour boiling water over it. Let it infuse for 10-15 minutes, strain and drink. It's delicious... I think I'll go make a cup now! 

Of course, with either of these methods a little honey or stevia can be added for sweetness before drinking. Some folks even like to add a little salt to round out the flavor and/or top off the mineral content. 

There are many other surprising ways to enjoy nettles and I plan to share some of those in future posts so keep a look out! 


Cautions: Considered safe and nutritious but some allergic reactions have been reported. Raw nettle stings may cause some discomfort. Internal use may decrease the efficacy of anticoagulant drugs (Hoffman 2003). 


References:

Herbpathy - Alterative Herbs. Retrieved from: https://herbpathy.com/Action-of-Alterative-Cid617

Sassy Holistics. Nettle Infusions: The Most Versatile Herbal Infusion. September 17, 2015. Retrieved from: https://www.sassyholistics.com/2015/09/17/nettles-infusions/

Herbal Academy. (n.d.) Nettle monograph. Retrieved from https://herbarium.theherbalacademy.com/monographs/#/monograph/1023