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Solomon's Seal

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Solomon's Seal, Other Names - Past and Present

Chinese: yu zhu
Tibetan: mahmeda / meda
French: faux muguet / genouillet / herbe aux panaris / herbe a la rupture / sceau de Salomon
Spanish: sello de Salomon
English: King Solomon's seal / Solomon's seal / St Mary's seal / dropberry / faux muguet / Lady's Seals / sealroot
Latin (scientific nomenclature): Polygonatum multiflorum / Polygonatum biflorum

Background and History

Solomon's seal is a medicinal herb with a long history of use in both Western and Eastern alternative medicine. It has been used as an herbal medicine for a wide variety of ailments in both the Eastern and Western systems of herbalism for more than a thousand years (at least, within the context of traditional Chinese Medicine). Solomon's seal is a large, flowering plant that is characterised by broad, glossy leaves often edged with white to ivory white alternately growing on drooping branches. Depending on the varietals, it is replete with either drooping bell-shaped flowers, or star-burst shaped flowers dispersed in between the stalk where the leaves grow. The flowers may come in ivory white to stark white hues, although specimens possessing pinkish, fuchsia-hued, and even slightly yellowish flowers are not uncommon. True Solomon's seal possesses a cluster of fruits in the form of tiny, brownish to umber-hued berries that turn a bright red upon ripening. [1] While Solomon's seal is indeed a medicinal plant, its leaves, flowers, and berries are highly poisonous, and only the root of the plant is employed medicinally, it being the only part of the plant that possesses no lethal compounds.



The root of the plant is distinctive in that, while it resembles most medicinal roots (i. e. mandrake root; ginger root), it possesses a unique characteristic - a sort of 'seal' like appearance that is only discernable when the root is transversely cut, no doubt giving rise (at least in Western herbal lore) to its association with the legendary Sorcerer King, Solomon.

Common / Popular Uses

While the leaves, fruit, and flowers of the Solomon's seal plant is poisonous and serve only an ornamental purpose when employed in gardening, the roots serve a variety of medicinal purposes. Today, Solomon's seal is chiefly employed as ornamental gardenvariety plant, mainly due to its uniquely shaped flowers and the fact that is makes for a perfect ground-cover, and fence foliage. Despite its attractive appearance, growing Solomon's seal for ornamental purposes is not advisable, especially if there are children in the household, as its berries and leaves are highly poisonous. Cultivated for medicinal use in select areas of one's garden however, Solomon's seal can prove to be a very useful plant, although waiting for the roots to grow and harvesting them when they become mature can be a time consuming process. A not so well-known feature of Solomon's seal is that the plant can be consumed as a type of vegetable while young, as the immature shoots and (with proper treatment) roots of the plant can be eaten as a foodstuff. [2]

The roots, when employed medicinally, contain a near panacea-like ability to heal a wide array of afflictions, making it a constant ingredient in many traditional herbal remedies.

When infused in alcohol, a tincture of Solomon's seal can be taken as a medicinal tonic drink - a practice which is used to be popularly subscribed to by Mediaeval herbalists, similar to how a similar-sounding plant, Chinese knotweed (he shou wu, Polygonum multiflorum) is prescribed in the Eastern branch of holistic healing (it should be noted that the latter is not similar to Solomon's seal, although it is most commonly confused as such by inaccurate herbals. A tincture of Solomon's seal is said to help relieve coughs and invigorate the body, while it further actions involve nourishing the internal organs and improving the flow of blood and energy throughout the meridians of the body. [3]



Perhaps the most popular use of Solomon's seal in the Western context of herbal medicine is in its seemingly panacea-like ability to heal all sorts of physical ailments. Prior to its general use, physicians such as Galen recommended the use of Solomon's seal as a beautifying agent, believing the plant to be helpful in ridding the skin of blemishes, freckles, dark spots and the like. When used in this manner one may choose to either grind the root into a fine powder and mix it with water to be used as a face pack, or to create a strong decoction of it, and the ensuing liquor used as a cleansing facial wash. [4]

Perhaps the most well-known use of Solomon's seal is as a healing poultice for broken bones, as it has the long-standing reputation of being able to 'knit' broken bones together. Aside from its use as a poultice, taking Solomon's seal internally as a medicinal tisane was also believed to hasten the recovery of broken bones, and if it employed as a gargle or mouthwash, is even known to help improve the strength of teeth and gums and stave off gingivitis. [5] When left to infuse in oil, it can be used as a medicinal liniment for minor wounds and for sprains and other injuries. It may also be used as an inhalant and massage oil to help relieve congestion and alleviate the symptoms of migraine.

Consuming a moderate amount of Solomon's seal tea, or drinking a medicated tincture of the root regularly is also believed to help aid in digestion, improve overall health, increase one's libido, and detoxify the liver. Solomon's seal is a perfect general tonic for individuals who suffer from minor cardiac problems, as it has a long-standing reputation in both Western and Eastern alternative medicine as being among the best cardiac tonics available. [6] Solomon's seal works best if combined with other medicinal herbs such as Echinacea and goldenseal, especially for treating injuries and mending broken bones. By itself, Solomon's seal is a great pick-me-up, although its efficiency is enhanced by other herbs and spices.

Esoteric / Magickal Uses

In magickal practice, Solomon's seal is used to ward off evil and protect magicians from any harm directed unto them. True to its name, it is usually burnt as incense during ceremonial invocations, not only to grant the magician protection, but to confer unto them power over those beings that they attempt to summon. Like the legendary Solomon's seal of occult lore, the plant itself is ascribed similar powers and properties found in the Seal itself, going so far as being more than a warding herb, but a grounding, and empowering article as well, making it indispensable for magickal purposes. [7]

References:

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polygonatum

[2] http://www.solomonsseal.net/abouttheplant.html

[3 - 4] http://solomonsseal.wordpress.com/2011/02/14/solomons-seal-tea-healingbenefits/

[5] http://www.herbcraft.org/solseal.html

[6] http://www.livestrong.com/article/95841-health-benefits-solomons-seal-tea/

[7] http://www.helium.com/items/1413758-plant-folklore-the-properties-ofsolomons-seal

Main article researched and created by Alexander Leonhardt. © herbs-info.com 2013

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