Secrets of Solomon’s Seal
The first secret you can discover for yourselves. If you check around your local health food stores and apothecaries, odds are you won’t find it. That was my experience traveling to several cities in Arkansas looking for Solomon’s Seal to help heal my spinal injury. Since I could barely walk, locating it in the woods was out of the question. Please share your own search results with us in the comment’s section.
When I lived on Hurricane Creek I kept a patch just outside the door for emergencies, like those that cripple us. So why is it so hard to find commercially (other than online)? Folks don’t know about it, and are not asking for it!
Now that I’ve given a class on this amazing plant at FireOmEarth & Flora Roja, it’s been added to their apothecary. A few leading herbalists, like Mathew Wood and Jim McDonald, esteem it as much as I. We recognize this as one of the most dependable plants for healing damage to the musculoskeletal system.
Solomon’s Seal, Polygonatum spp., gripped my curiosity years ago when I read that in ancient times the Taoist monks sought it out as a spring tonic food to restore them after barren winters. Their vitality was restored by eating the spring shoots of this perennial member of the Asparagus family, Asparagaceae. Secret #2, most of your Materia Medica will have it classified as belonging to the Lily family, Liliaceae, but in 2009 it was relocated. The taste of the young shoot is compared to asparagus but that’s not enough of a reason to switch it. The latest botanical classification system, APG III, is based on genetic similarities.
I don’t advocate eating the shoot. It diminishes the development of a robust rhizome (also a good food), why not wait for the jackpot? Besides, we can harvest the root without killing the plant (secret #3). I learned this from Jim McDonald. The rhizome, just beneath the soil, grows in a fairly straight, lumpy, line with the stem growing at the “front”. Feel under the ground, around the stem to locate the rhizome’s front and back. The front part has a bud to grow next year’s stem. The back is what you can cut and harvest, leaving the stem portion and its frontal bud to keep growing year after year. Be sure to tamp moist earth back around the plant. The rhizome’s are best taken in the fall.
(Secret #4) Do you have a shady part of your garden where you’d like to grow beautiful ornamental food? This plant is not only nutritious and medicinal but beautiful, fragrant, perennial, relatively disease and pest free. It’s the perfect solution for shady garden woes. Don’t be overly concerned about which species to select since they all seem to have similar properties. Polygonatum multiflora is the European species. The most common American species is Polygonatum biflorum. (Be careful not to confuse with Polygonum, a completely different plant genus)
Now then, let’s move on to some of its healing virtues. As usual with medicinal plants, there are too many to remember so I suggest you just aim to remember these two key areas: Musculoskeletal (secret #5) and Yin Deficiency (Secret #6)