Solomon’s Seal

The name Solomon’s Seal comes from the Biblical King Solomon, whose divinely-gifted ring had a special seal that aided him in magically commanding demons. According to lore, King Solomon placed his seal upon the plant in recognition of its great value. If you dig up a rhizome of Solomon’s seal, you can see the scarring on the rhizomes from where old shoots once sprouted. They look like the marks of an old-fashioned wax seal made by a ring.

There is a great deal of herbal lore about this plant. Galen (130-200 A.D.) recommended Solomon’s seal to remove freckles and skin spots.  It was said to improve complexions and help women retail beauty and agelessness (perhaps because of its tightening effect on connective tissue?). And sixteenth century English herbalist John Gerard has some misogynistic suggestions for bruising that I will not repeat here.

Native Americans and the 19th century Eclectic physicians used Solomon’s seal for a variety of “female troubles”. It has applications for first aid, and the urinary, cardiovascular, respiratory and digestive systems, but its main claim to fame is as a tonic to the musculoskeletal system…

Botanical Name: Polygonatum biflorum

Family: Asparagaceae

Description: Native to North America, Europe, Siberia and Asia. It grows in deciduous woodlands with full to partial shade. The stems form arches with alternate, parallel-veined leaves. The creamy tubular bell-like flowers hang from the undersides of the stems, going on to form blackish blue berries.

Part Used: Rhizome

Taste: Sweet, bitter

Energetics: cooling, relaxing, toning, moistening

Actions: demulcent, yin  tonic, expectorant, nutritive, vulnerary, anti-inflammatory, relaxant, cardotonic (mild), amphoteric

Constituents: Asparagin, Convallarin (a cardiac glycoside), steroidal saponins, saponosides (including Diosgenin), Allatonin, Sapogenin, lectins, non-protein amino acids

Uses: A superior tonic and anti-inflammatory for the connective tissue, Solomon’s seal is ideal for connective tissue injuries (tennis elbow, carpal tunnel, arthritis, partial tears of the rotator cuff, runner’s knee, mild tears of the meniscus of the ACL, disc injuries and sacroiliac pain.

As an amphoteric (an herb that works bidirectionally), Solomon’s seal can both tighten and restore tone to overly loose ligaments, muscles and tendons, and loosen the forementioned tissues when they are overly tightened. According to herbalist Jim McDonald, Solomon’s seal nourishes and moistens dried out, atrophic tissues by improving the production of synovial fluid.  I think of Solomon’s seal for loud, crackling joints and joint pain that is worse after exertion.

As a demulcent herb, Solomon’s seal is soothing and moistening to the digestive tract. It also soothes hot and irritated tissues of the urinary tract and respiratory system. Traditional Chinese Medicine classifies Solomon’s seal a yin tonic, meaning that it strengthens the yin faculties (the nourishing, lubricating, restorative aspects of the body). It is used in China to balance dryness (dry cough, dry throat, diabetes) and build yin. It is said to restore color to the hair, build marrow and increase semen (all signs that Solomon’s Seal builds Kidney yin/Jing)

Signatures: Herbalist Matthew Wood talks about Solomon’s seal as “Wolf Medicine”. Wolf medicines have a right angle in the way that they grow, and we see this in the horizontal growth of the rhizome that grows perpendicular to the vertical shoots. Wolf medicines act on the tendons, ligaments, joints and gallbladder. They are indicated when we need to make a sharp turn in our life, to make a radical change, but lack the ‘gall’ to do it.
Another signature is how the white, knobby rhizomes resemble bones and joints (especially finger bones).


  • Decoction: 1 tsp dried rhizome per 8 oz water, simmered for 10-15 minutes, then steeped for another 45-50 minutes. Drink 4 oz 3 x per day. Decoction may also be applied topically as a compress
  • Tincture: fresh root 1:3, 95% alcohol; dried root 1:5, 50% alcohol; 5 drops to 3 ml 3 x a day. Tincture may also be applied topically as a liniment
  • Salve: oil extract (1:4). Applied topically
  • Poultice: fresh root can be mashed and applied topically for bruises, hemorrhoids and inflammations


  • Solomon’s seal does contain trace amounts of cardiac glycosides, and may potentiate the effects of cardioactive medications
  • Large doses may cause gastric upset
  • Berries are toxic

Works Consulted;

  • Maude Grieves, A Modern Herbal
  • Michael Tierra, East West School of Planetary Herbology Natural Medicinal Herbs
  • Robyn McKenzie, Solomon’s Seal- Eclectic School of Herbal Medicine
  • Matthew Wood, Herbalist Matthew Wood gives an in-depth discussion of the Doctrine of Signatures

*** This information is for educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the FDA and is not intended to treat, cure or prevent any disease ***

Find Solomon’s Seal in our Achy Joints Salve