Solomon’s Seal Rhizome (Huang Jing)
What is Solomon’s Seal Rhizome (Huang Jing)?
Solomon’s Seal Rhizome (huang jing, 黄精) refers to the roots of Solomon’s Seal, also known as Polygonatum odoratum. Solomon’s Seal is a perennial herb that belongs to the lily family. Native to East Asia and found throughout China, especially in the Henan, Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Fujian provinces, this plant is mentioned in many ancient texts.
While Solomon’s Seal Rhizome was never mentioned in the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) classic Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing (神农本草经), it was featured in many Taoist alchemical texts, such as the writings of Ge Hong, Tao Hongjing and Sun Simiao. Back in the ancient times, Taoists believed that long-term consumption of this herb can contribute to immortality. This is because Huang Jing was linked to the concept of yang qi, giving it the nickname of tai yang cao (Sun Herb). The Song dynasty literatus Zhu Qi once exclaimed in a poem that “the Sun Herb: nothing more potent in the scrolls of the immortals for keeping old age at bay”.
In the West, Solomon’s Seal Rhizome was first mentioned by Dioscorides and Pliny back in the 1st century, and became a valued substance in both European and Native American medical practices. Today, the plant’s rhizome is harvested in the Spring and Autumn, dried and sliced for medicinal usage. It can be used unprepared or steamed, and is often steamed with other items such as wine and black beans.
In TCM, Huang Jing falls under the category of ‘Tonic herbs for Qi Deficiency’. Such herbs can address patterns of Deficiency by replenishing one’s ‘Four Treasures’ (qi, yin, yang, Blood). Neutral in nature, this herb does not affect the yin-yang balance in one’s body. Sweet in taste, Huang Jing can slow down acute reactions, detoxify the body and has a tonic effect on the body by replenishing qi and blood. In particular, the herb targets the Kidneys, the Lungs and the Spleen.
Functions and Benefits of Solomon’s Seal Rhizome (Huang Jing)
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) shows that Solomon’s Seal Rhizome has the following health benefits.
Solomon’s Seal Rhizome can nourish Lung-yin and tonify Lung-qi. This herb can thus disperse phlegm, address syndromes of chronic cough caused by Yin Deficiency with Dryness in Lung, difficulty in spitting, dry cough without phlegm or with little sticky phlegm, Dryness in nose, dry and itching throat.
Solomon’s Seal Rhizome can tonify the Spleen and stomach to address syndromes of Spleen and Stomach Deficiency. The herb can thus relieve symptoms such as fatigue, poor appetite, weak pulse caused by Deficiency of Spleen and stomach-qi, Dryness in mouth, tasteless eating and red tongue with little coating due to stomach-yin and Fluid Deficiency.
Solomon’s Seal Rhizome can nourish Kidneys and supplement essence to address syndromes of Kidney Deficiency and essence insufficiency. For soreness and limpness of lumbar and feet, dizziness, tinnitus, dry eyes, the early whitening of beard and hair due to Kidney essence insufficiency, Solomon’s Seal Rhizome can be used singly or combined with other yin-nourishing or Kidney-tonifying herbs. The herb can also be indicated for diabetes caused by Yin Deficiency.
Modern studies have shown that Solomon’s Seal Rhizome contains allantoin, which gives it anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. People can use Solomon’s Seal Rhizome to ease heartburn, ulceration and eating disorders caused by inflammation. The herb can act as an astringent to soothe damaged tissues. Solomon’s Seal Rhizome can also promote skin health as it can reduce skin problems such as pimples, bruises and rashes. The herb is also believed to protect the skin from Sun damage.
The allantoin in Solomon’s Seal Rhizome also exudes a calming and soothing effect, making it a mild sedative. The herb can soothe feelings of discomfort such as anxiety, nervousness, anger, frustration and distress. It may also induce sleep and relaxation to battle insomnia.
Solomon’s Seal Rhizome is also believed to improve the body’s ability to produce synovial fluid, which repairs joint problems and prevents bone diseases such as rheumatism and arthritis. The herb can also enhance the healing of broken and damaged bones. Some use the extracts of Solomon’s Seal Rhizome to mix with wine for people with broken bones to consume.
Solomon’s Seal Rhizome can prevent muscle and ligament problems, as well as the tearing of tendons and cartilage. Some athletes and sports enthusiasts consume the herb in tincture form before practice or competition to improve their flexibility, power and muscle coordination.
There is also evidence that suggests Solomon’s Seal Rhizome contains flavonoids that reduce the risks of heart diseases, as well as the ability to regulate blood pressure. It may thus promote cardiovascular wellness. Rich in glucose, the herb can also act as an anti-diabetic, which makes it an effective tool to control the blood sugar levels in the body.
Solomon’s Seal Rhizome may act as an expectorant and demulcent, which prevents respiratory ailments such as asthma attacks. It may remove Lung congestion, loosen phlegm or mucus and relieve throat irritation, coughs and colds. Solomon’s Seal Rhizome may also enhance the immune system and act as an antiseptic and antibiotic to reduce pain and sepsis. The herb can promote quick healing of wounds and prevent sepsis.
Since ancient times, Solomon’s Seal Rhizome has been used to improve male and female reproductive health. The herb can invigorate, stimulate and strengthen reproductive organs to improve fertility and overall productive health. For women, Solomon’s Seal Rhizome can also promote uterus health and relieve problems such as irregular menstruation, menstrual cramps and vaginal dryness.
How to Use Solomon’s Seal Rhizome (Huang Jing)
The recommended daily dosage of Solomon’s Seal Rhizome is 10 – 15g, when boiled in water and drunk as a decoction. If fresh Solomon’s Seal Rhizome is being used, some healthcare practitioners recommend a larger dose of 30 – 60g.
Both fresh and dried Solomon’s Seal Rhizome can be found at most Asian markets and herbal shops. Some herbal stores also sell Solomon’s Seal Rhizome extract, tea and decoctions.
Today, Solomon’s Seal Rhizome is also used as a qi tonic by soaking it in wine or stewed with chicken. While many tonics may more or less affect one’s appetite, Solomon’s Seal Rhizome is relatively mild in nature, and thus will not impact your appetite.
Cautions and Side Effects of Solomon’s Seal Rhizome (Huang Jing)
Solomon’s Seal Rhizome should not be used by individuals who are experiencing excessive Dampness caused by Spleen Deficiency, internal Damp-Heat, diarrhea caused by Cold, coughs with profuse amounts of phlegm, poor digestion and fullness in abdomen with vomiting caused by Qi Stagnation.
As some studies have suggested that Solomon’s Seal Rhizome may reduce blood pressure levels, if you are taking blood pressure medications, do use this herb with caution. Some other side effects associated with the long-term consumption of Solomon’s Seal Rhizome include stomach issues, nausea and diarrhea.
We strongly encourage you to consult your healthcare provider before deciding to add Solomon’s Seal Rhizome to your healthcare routine.
Here is a summary for Solomon’s Seal Rhizome (Huang Jing):
- Herb name (Chinese): 黄精
- Herb name (Pin Yin): huáng jīng
- Herb name (English): Solomon’s Seal Rhizome
- Herb name (Botanical): Rhizoma Polygonati
- Origin of species: Polygonatum kingianum Coll. et Hemsl.; Polygonatum sibiricum Red.; Polygonatum cyrtonema Hua
- Part(s) of herb used: Rhizome
- Geo-specific habitat(s): Hebei, Inner Mongolia, Shaanxi, Yunnan, Guizhou, Guangxi, Hunan
- Taste(s) & Properties: Sweet; Neutral; Administrates the Spleen, Lung and Kidney Meridians
- Actions: Helps to improve gastrointestinal functions; Helps to relieve chronic dry coughs, or coughs with little phlegm; Relieves symptoms relating to constant thirst due to internal heat; Strengthen the kidney function to aid in anti-aging effects
Deng, Y., He, K., Ye, X., Chen, X., Huang, J., Li, X., … & Li, P. (2012). Saponin rich fractions from Polygonatum odoratum (Mill.) Druce with more potential hypoglycemic effects. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 141(1), 228-233.[Accessed on 21st December 2022]
Share this article on