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Solomon's Seal

  • Polygonatum multiflorum L.
  • Polygonatum biflorum L.
  • Polygonatum officinale L.
  • Polygonatum commutatum
  • Liliaceae
  • Lily family

Common Names

herbsHe shou wu (Chinese name)
herbsMahmeda (Sanskrit name)
herbsMeda (Sanskrit name)
herbsYu-zhu (Chinese name)

Parts Usually Used

Root, rhizome

Description of Plant(s) and Culture

Solomon's seal is a perennial plant; the thick, horizontal, scarred rootstock produces 1 or 2 erect stems, 1-3 feet high, whose lower half is naked and upper half leafy. The alternate, elliptic to ovate leaves are green with a whitish bloom underneath. 2 to 5 or more greenish-white, bell-shaped flowers hang from the leaf axils from April to August. The fruit is a blue or blue-black berry.

Another variety: Other species of Solomon's seal have similar properties. A European variety (P. odoratum) contains a substance that lowers the level of blood sugar. This variety has long been used in the Orient for diabetes and is included in many tea mixtures designed to lower blood sugar.

Where Found

Grows in rich woods and thickets in eastern North America, Europe, and Asia. Connecticut to Florida; Texas, Nebraska to Michigan.

Medicinal Properties

Antispasmodic, antibacterial, aphrodisiac, astringent, demulcent, emetic, expectorant, hemostatic, nutritive tonic

Biochemical Information

Convallarin, aspargin, gum, sugar, starch, pectin

Legends, Myths and Stories

Solomon's seal was so called probably from starlike markings on the rootstock, supposedly reminding us of the Star of David.

Another herb (Smilacina amplexicaulis) is known as Solomon's seal. Paiute name "Shapui"; Shoshone name "Roy"; The tea from roots for female trouble and internal pains.

Solomon's seal is reported to take away, in 1 or 2 nights, bruises, black eyes, burning heat of wounds, etc. Also, it will strengthen gums and fasten loosened teeth.


Mainly for external problems. Makes a good poultice for bruises, inflammations, piles, sores, and wounds and a good wash for skin problems, acne, freckles, and blemishes. Has been used as a wash to relieve poison-ivy. Native Americans made a tea of the rootstock to take for women's complaints, indigestion, general debility, infertility, diabetes, consumption, dry cough, dehydration, malnutrition, broken bones, promote sound sleep, treat coughs, menopause, laxative, lung ailments, and general internal pains. The fresh root was poulticed, or root tea used externally as a wash, for cuts, bruises, sores, carbuncles, rheumatism, arthritis, and skin irritations.

In Western herbalism it is said to be given to promote healing of broken bones. In Ayurveda it is a kidney tonic and thought to build reproductive secretions. In modern China it is an important herb in treating cardiac diseases, and is thought to be a strong heart tonic.

Formulas or Dosages

Tea: steep 1 oz. of the cut herb in 1 cup of hot water.

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