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!


Herbal Academy, n.d. **Solomon's seal monograph. Retrieved from

Jim McDonald, Herbalist. *Solomon's Seal, Polygonatum biflorum. Retrieved from

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