Solomon’s Seal: Beyond Sprained Ankles 42


Solomon’s Seal is a favorite herb around here. We love it for any kind of sporty injury: sprained ankles, pulled muscles, you name it. The reason we like it so much is that Solomon’s Seal helps connective tissues heal. When you pull a muscle, maybe you think in terms of muscle pain, but it’s not just the muscle that has to heal: there are tendons connecting the muscles to bones, and beyond that the fascia, which is like a web of connective tissues that hold all of your muscles in place throughout your body. These are where Solomon’s Seal shines: ensuring that fluid balance is correct in these areas, making sure nutrients are getting where they’re going, allows these tissues to heal from their pulled-out-of-shape state back to their this-is-where-i-belong state.

Solomon's seal J04c1106 by James Austin, on flickr

Solomon’s Seal has some other great actions, but I want to focus on this one for the moment: this idea that connective tissue that has been stretched out of shape, or has been “atrophied” out of shape, can be nourished back into its shape by balancing the fluids that feed it. Jim McDonald uses the example of stretched leather: if you stretch leather that is old and dry, you damage the leather, and it will be very difficult for the leather to return to its original shape. But if the leather was well cared for, oiled and supple, it can be stretched and will come back to its shape reasonably well.

Solomon seal rhizome by Jason Hollinger, on flickr

For any sports injury, you can see where this is a vital function. But there’s another place in the body where connective tissue is at play: it’s what holds your organs in! Let’s say you’re a woman with Uterine Prolapse – Solomon’s Seal is for you! Why? Prolapse is all about connective tissue health. Uterine Prolapse is not caused by pregnancy, it’s not a normal part of aging: it’s a result of poor structural alignment. We sit for so much of our lives that the backs of our legs shorten. This leads to poor standing posture, because the legs aren’t as strong as they need to be to hold us up properly, and because the shortened leg muscles pull the pelvis out of alignment. All of our organs are held in place by connective tissue that is attached to muscles and bone, and when the muscles and bones are out of alignment, they pull the connective tissue that holds the organs in – eventually stretching them beyond the point where they can maintain integrity. That lack of integrity is prolapse.

So obviously, a big part of dealing with prolapse is to get your body aligned properly, but Solomon’s Seal can help drastically decrease healing time by improving the flow of fluids into those stretched out connective tissues.


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42 thoughts on “Solomon’s Seal: Beyond Sprained Ankles

  • Ann

    Hi, thanks for this post – do you have more information on how it actually works in improving the flow of the fluids? Also, if you don’t have solomon seal growing (or it’s winter in Vermont!) where do you recommend finding some? Thanks, Ann

    • katja Post author

      Hi, Ann!

      We don’t really understand how it works, which is true for many plants! Here’s what Jim McDonald has to say about it:
      So how does it work? Long years ago, I believed that the gooey mucilage in the roots finds its way to the enflamed tissues and coats and lubricates them, which reduces friction and irritation and soothes the tissues themselves. But this certainly can’t be, as it wasn’t long before I Iearned that a.) mucilages aren’t extracted by alcohol very well, and the dosage of tincture is far too small for it to be working on a physical level and b.) mucilages don’t get into the blood stream and thus into joints. Matthew Wood speculated that Solomon’s Seal might stimulate the body to produce cortisone, and my current belief is that it acts on the synovial glands, improving the production or quality of synovial fluid in some way and thus lubrication in the joints. Often you can clearly perceive a notable lessening of friction in the joint shortly after a dose is taken. On a few instances I’ve seen this friction cease entirely for a short period after the dose. But who knows exactly what’s going on; what is clear is that it works, and if that’s the case, understanding why isn’t entirely necessary (though it can be nice). In regards to the aforementioned use of helping tendons/ligaments tighten or loosen as needed, I think this has to do with its moistening effect. Dry tissues loose their pliability; they’re “stiff”… think of an old dried out piece of leather. It doesn’t want to stretch, but if you do stretch it, it doesn’t want to go back to its original shape. But, moisten that leather and its pliability is restored. It can stretch out or tighten back to its natural length.

      So the key indication for its use is inflammation associated with dryness. Maybe the dryness causes the inflammation, or maybe vice verse… it doesn’t seem to matter. Solomon’s Seal seems to moisten connective tissues and lubricate joints, and in so doing ease attendant inflammation.

      In our own experience, we have found the “restoring connective tissue” aspect to be true both with dryness and without – I’m not certain dryness is absolutely requisite. Here are some examples that come to mind: in the case of a sprained ankle, there’s no particular dryness there (though the sprained ankles in question were in people who were constitutionally dry, now that i think about it). Also in the case of overtight fascia (throughout the body) we’ve used both dry constitutions and reasonably neutral. I’ve used it for a rotator cuff injury in a person with damp constitution. We use it to help folks develop flexibility (emotional/psychological) regardless of constitution. Although I didn’t mention any respiratory aspect in my article, we’ve also seen it used regularly for tightness in the chest related to asthma: here I think this has a good deal to do with the pulmonary fascia, frankly. That case was a damp individual in the extreme. I have not tried Solomon’s in someone with Rheumatoid Arthritis – that would be a good test, though!

      That’s probably not the clear-cut answer you would have liked, but perhaps it will be helpful anyway!
      As for getting some, try http://www.mountainroseherbs.com – they stock it dried and it’s very good quality. It’d be nicer to make it fresh, but like you say, winter in Vermont (or, in our case, Boston)!

  • Leelou

    I just want to put this here for reading for anyone that may be thinking about wildcrafting this herb, please learn to do so in a manner that doesn’t kill the plant!
    http://www.herbcraft.org/solseal.html
    I’m also wondering if anyone knows of a good place around here (Boston area) to buy cost-effective but also effective salve and or tincture. I am starting my own, however, I’d like to start using it asap for my work-related sports injuries, and don’t have the time to wait for my salves and tinctures to mature! Can someone direct me to a good local source? Thank you so much!

  • Ann

    Hi Katja, I just saw your response to my question- thanks so much! One more question, have you found that it works as well when used topically, as a liniment (am using for my 7 year old who is not a big fan of herbs as tinctures…)?

    • katja Post author

      Hi, Ann!

      Oh, yes, that’s our preferred way to use Solomon’s Seal – as a liniment. Often we will use drop doses internally along with it, maybe just two or three drops, but a liniment is totally a great way to work with this plant!

      warmly,
      katja

  • Karin

    I have tendon and ligament problems in my foot for the past 7 months – nothing structural bonewise – healthy – how about the salve – I see you mention the liniment – do you find it works better than the salve,I suppose you would take the tincture internally..anything else?

    • ryn

      Karin,

      taking the tincture internally while applying a liniment topically seems to get the best results. that liniment might contain solomon’s seal tincture as the primary ingredient, with st john’s wort oil, meadowsweet tincture, and wintergreen oil as supporters. i have had good results just using the tincture topically, though, when i didn’t have a whole liniment around.

      be well,
      ryn

  • Karin Patrick

    Ryn,

    Thank you – I just bought some Solomon’s Seal tincture and limiment. I can hardly wait to recive in the mail and start using it. Thank you for the other plant names.
    Karin

    • katja Post author

      Hi, David!

      Solomon’s seal would definitely be part of my plans for that kind of injury, but it’s not going to do the job all alone. You’re also going to need to do some physical therapy (I recommend http://www.alignedandwell.com – there’s a lot of information there and you can find a practitioner as well), probably chance some of your movement/sitting/standing habits, and if you wear heeled shoes, I’d make a transition to barefoot shoes instead, such as Vibram Five Fingers.

      For the herbal part of the protocol, I’d use it externally several times a day, and I’d probably add some other herbs in there as well to help it penetrate, and to work on the nerve tissue and other parts of the knee. I would probably also come up with a tea so that we could be getting you some help internally as well.

      I hope that’s helpful! If you’re not local to Boston, feel free to drop us a line and let us know where you are; I can see if there might be an herbalist near you!

      warmly,
      katja

  • Sarah

    Hello,

    I have been looking up herbs that might be useful for prolapsed uterus and I was thrilled to find your article as Solomon’s seal root has been on my mind for months in many different ways. This plant is clearly speaking to me! I am going to be seen by a Gynecologist for prolapsed uterus and bladder and have recently been diagnosed as having loose ligaments. There is a stand of solomon’s seal that I discovered this summer and which I visit often but I have hesitated to wild harvest it, intending rather to learn from the plant through the seasons. I have however used it for knee pain, to great success. I’m wondering now if this is my ally for my uterine prolapse and if so in which way would I use it? intra-vaginally? Or perhaps a tea or tincture? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Blessings

    • ryn

      Sarah,

      i would recommend using solomon’s seal in tincture form. this way, you can get a lot of use out of a small amount of plant matter.

      taking it orally should be sufficient, and generally small doses (6-12 drops) are enough.

    • ryn

      star,

      comfrey is a general-purpose wound healer, as it speeds cellular proliferation wherever applied. solomon’s seal is more specific for connective tissue injuries, and while it seems to have some wound-healing effects, i think that’s primarily due to improving the quality of the fluids in the joints, rather than a direct increase in cell growth.

      be well,
      ryn

  • Susan

    I am so interested in the Solomons Seal. I have bad disc problems in my neck and low (sacral) area. Will tincture help or do you recommend linament

    • ryn

      Susan,

      i would use both! working from both outside and inside seems to get the best results. you might also combine the solomon’s seal with mullein root for disc troubles.

      be well,
      ryn

  • Ross

    What a great article! thank you so much for the info!
    I’m a therapeutic bodyworker and have a client with excessively restricted fascia throughout their entire body (especially around joints) manual fascial release works, but you can only do so much per session. In your reply to Ann (first reply above) you mentioned working with this same condition. I was wondering how the solomon’s seal was administered – whether tincture, tea, salve, oil – how much at a time, how often, etc. and what sorts of results were achieved. i really hope to hear back. this could be a godsend for this person! thanks in advance!

    • ryn

      Ross,

      in that case we’d use tincture, and start with small doses – 6-9 drops, 3-5 times a day. we did see an improvement in the issue; this was in combination with regular bodywork and some changes in basic movement habits – more walking, less sitting, a few particular stretches for the areas they had trouble with.

      be well,
      ryn

  • Susa

    I have had Repetition Strain Injury for 30 years. Have taken Solomon’s Seal for 2 days and already notice a difference! What other herbs should I combine it with? Should I use a liniment as well? or a cream with Solomon’s Seal and what other herbs?

    • ryn

      Susa,

      i’d recommend adding some st john’s wort or damiana to the solomon’s seal, as they’ll help with nerve healing. a small touch of cayenne wouldn’t hurt either. i prefer a liniment to a cream for this sort of problem. good luck!

  • Roxanne

    Where can i buy Solomon Seal liniment ? I tried calling all of the retail and health product stores. No one has heard of it.

    Rm

    • ryn

      Elaine,

      i haven’t used it that way myself, but were i to, i would chew small pieces of the dried root. that ought to keep the saliva flowing.

      you might also include it in a cold infusion blend with marshmallow or elm – demulcents like this are our standard go-to herbs for dry mouth.

  • betts

    Hi, I’ve had De Quervain’s syndrome since late spring. I’m undergoing iontophoresis with dexamethasone (cortisone), but progress is gradual. I have had to stop baking as I cannot lift pans or stir batters. Can I still use solomon’s seal even though I’m getting cortisone treatments? What is the best course of ss treatment for DQ? I wear a brace to help with pain and use Topricin ointment, which gives me temporary relief. I would love to heal from this syndrome. Any help would be most appreciated. Thanks you.

    • ryn

      betts,

      from what i understand about DQ, i’d use solomon’s seal both internally and topically – tincture in drop-doses, several times a day by mouth, along with a liniment rubbed into the affected areas. it won’t have any interactions with cortisone treatments.

      it may be difficult for you as a baker, but i’d be remiss if i didn’t bring up food intolerances here. DQ seems to be related to rheumatoid arthritis in some cases, and that indicates an autoimmune component exacerbated by food intolerance. a 40-day strict elimination of gluten and dairy is worth trying, and dietary changes of one kind or another are probably going to be necessary for full resolution. solomon’s seal can do a lot, but in those kinds of problems it’s only going to be palliative until the underlying irritant is removed.

  • eric

    I have taken the cartilage and connective tissue supplement for 2 weeks now and its doing really good at dropping my inflammation down 85%, its been 5 years of swelling in my knee, nothing else I tried seem to work, other than some Enzyme supplements that give some reduction with inflammation, I really like this product. Two questions, Is it better to take it at least 15 before meals? And does taking it early like that get carried through the body better vs. than Just taking it on a empty stomach and not eating for couple hours later? I work as a Lab Tech so I should know the answer but just a little confused when taking the Tinctures, but this is the best by far.

  • Stephanie

    any issues with S.S. and AutoImmune disease? I have polychondritis in my trachea and other cartilage and it was suggested True (and False) S.S. could be helpful. Just don’t want to make things worse if it is immuno-stimulating.

  • jill

    Hello,

    Enjoying reading up on this and these posts. Are you aware of any benefits to those of us who have Ehlers-Danlos (genetic connective tissue disorder). I am very affected by this disorder, multiple joints, laxity throughout the spine, recovering from serious sacroiliac fusion over a yr ago and looking at future surgeries. Eat gluten-free, nutrient-dense, whol foods, take lots of supps including Vit C, probiotic anf fish oil. Thanks kindly. Jill

  • Ginger Albers

    I have enjoyed reading these Q and A’s. I was researching rotator cuff tears both surgically and naturally and found you. What I have found does not bode well for me, I have a full thickness partial tear to anterior fibres supraspinatus tendon with retraction of 16mm, mild thickening sub-acromial bursa which is causing impingment, this injury is old but getting worse, I have been a very active, strong person, but at 52 years on and a lot of hardship and heartbreak in my life it has taken its toll, I’m not so strong and fit anymore, and this long standing problem has undermined my best efforts to get my life on track and as fate would have it it has now got worse.The feedback on the forums indicates a very poor recovery with an immense amount of pain, 12 monthes or more recovery and if things don’t go quite right the surgeon doesn’t want to know you. I know it would be in my best interests to find a sports physio pre and post op according to the forums and doctors sites I’ve been on but the cost is going to be prohibitive,I have been so down in the dumps for so long because every attempt I make to try and change things comes to naught. I have my 16 yo daughter living with me and we both are living with my mother for the last 18 monthes due to marriage breakup 3 years ago and we can’t afford to pay rent.Boy have I rambled on, please forgive, but do you think that s/seal combo would help set up a better surgery scenario or perhaps it could heal the tear altogether[ this is doubtful] again I’m sorry for going on but I hope you will give me some help. I’m from Australia by the way, God bless and keep you all and thanks for posting such good info.

    • George Peters

      Hi, sorry you have been through so much Sh**. I know the feeling! I am confused by your use of language a little. You can’t have a ‘full thickness partial tear’. You either have a partial tear or a full thickness tear (rupture) not both. Some partial tears have been shown to heal but usually in an acute setting.

      You can definitely achieve symptomatic relief from a partial tear (even chronic) but that is probably the best you can hope for without surgery. If it is a full rupture then surgery would need to been done within 3 weeks of injury for optimal results. Obviously in your setting this is not possible so a secondary tendon graft (usually from the achilles tendon) would have to be performed (still a good prognosis these days).

      I wo

  • anadi swann

    Can you enlighten me on how to make a solomon seal tincture for tendons tissues muscles and rebuilding the nervous system. What are the amounts of herb and alcohol to make a Quart jar of solomon seal or combination of. Thank-you!!!! Many Blessing Anadi

  • Tania

    Hello Ryn,
    I have a genetic connective tissue syndrome called Ehler’s Danlos. Would Solomon’s seal help? If so, should it be taken in tincture form?