About C. Forrest McDowell, PhD

I am blessed to be a co-steward for over 30 years of the beautiful 22-acre Cortesia Sanctuary outside Eugene, Oregon, with my partner, Tricia Clark-McDowell. My lifelong interests in wellness care, psychology, nature, music composition & performance, writing, and meditation fuel my celebration for life. My form of service is founded upon the elemental practice of kindness and reverence for life. Of course, to understand the value of deep respect for life, we also have to accept irreverence as part of human nature and to know that it can be very disruptive and destructive to peace, safety, beauty, joy and love.

“Proving”: Overusing an Herbal Remedy or Medication

Sometimes a person may find that, after prolonged use of a medicine or herbal remedy, they experience perhaps some of the very symptoms they are trying to resolve. The case may be that the remedy resolves the issue — let’s say joint stiffness and aching — but upon sustained use the symptoms may appear to return. Why does this happen, and what are the consequences?

herbal remedies

Herbal Medicine

Very few health practitioners understand the actual implications of taking an oral medication or remedy. The body responds with a mighty jolt to a “foreign invader,” sending a cascade of nerve impulses throughout the body’s systems. The body must begin a process of metabolic extraction and assimilation of elemental phytonutrients in the plant, and a process of elimination of toxins and cellular waste as the remedy works with symptoms and causes. But there is a hitch.

“Proving” the Medicine

It is a Pharmacological Law that every natural and pharmaceutical medicine’s primary side effect is also its primary action. This means that the symptoms a remedy will fix, it will also cause, if taken too long.

herbal-remedies quoteThe medical term “Proving” (a central concept in Homeopathy) suggests that the longer you use a medicine, the more the symptoms will begin to appear as a result of the “proving of the medicine,” even if you only took the medicine at a low dosage. This means that an herbal remedy or formula, for example, may be optimal for health restoration of an injury or condition, but eventually a point is reached where optimal correction is complete and you should discontinue the remedy.

The process of “proving” has been used in medicine for hundreds of years. At its core, it is homeopathic, meaning researchers give repeated small (homeopathic) doses to healthy research volunteers who consume the remedy over a period of time. Their thoughts, feelings, dreams and habits are then recorded in what is often termed the “Materia Medica” (from the Latin meaning “collected body of knowledge”) and analyzed. By “proving” a remedy in this way, homeopathic practitioners know that the symptoms that the medicine will cause in a healthy person, it will fix in a sick person with those same symptoms.


Cautions for Overuse

Unfortunately, many people believe if their symptoms are getting worse, then they should take more of their medication, especially if it is an over-the-counter remedy for pain relief, or even an herbal remedy (They may even believe that the remedy does not work anymore). By taking more dosage, many people’s symptoms may go from bad to worse, and their liver especially suffers from increased toxicity.

The reason is that by continuing a remedy beyond the point of it being needed by your body, you go through the optimal correction and out the other side, thereby “proving the remedy or drug.” The resulting “drug-induced” symptoms are the very predictable side effects so familiar in the pharmaceutical world.

We are all humored that most drug commercials and advertisements discuss more of the side effects than actual benefits. For example, the primary side effects of the antidepressants Prozac, Lexapro, Celexa and others are . . . depression, severe depression, and suicidal tendencies! Insomnia medications such as Lunesta, Ambien, and others have increased sleeplessness as a side effect with sustained use. The common pain-reliever, Hydrocodone, has increased pain as a side effect. The anti-seizure medication, Neurotin, and others caution against increased seizures with continued use.

Herbal remedies are not without caution either. For example, although Echinacea is useful for quick flu-relief, it can also cause flu-like symptoms if taken too long. Solomon’ Seal, if taken too long, may tighten connective tissue tensions a little too much past normal, creating short-term stiffness in the finger joints. The homeopathic remedy Rhus Toxicodendron is excellent for joint pain and skin rashes, but can actually cause these if taken too long.

food-as-medicineA little known fact about the Law of Pharmacology is that drug-induced symptoms from proving the drug often remain after discontinuing the drug. People who have been on various types of medications for a long time often experience and suffer from drug-induced symptoms, but due to the fact that these symptoms match their original symptoms, they think their symptoms are from their illness. This is especially true when the medication is only working to suppress the symptoms.

Remember, if you must continue to take a drug or remedy in order to feel good, then it is not reaching the cause of the symptoms. If you can identify and reach the level of cause, then you should be able to discontinue the remedy when the cause has been eliminated. Of course, there are situations where the body has been damaged beyond repair and symptom-suppressing medications are all that are left for the person. True healing never seeks to mask symptoms, since that would defeat the whole point of healing.

herbal-remedies kitchen


Tips for Using ORAL Herbal Remedies

Those people new to herbal remedies often wonder how long they must take the remedy. They wonder if they have to take it a long time to get relief or healing. The short answer is NO. In fact, the benign nature of oral tinctures allows room for experimentation — amount of dose, when to take, and when to take time off. A well-prepared tincture from a reputable and knowledgeable herbalist or company is invaluable and can last a long time in one’s medicine cabinet, being used as needed. Here are some tips for taking an oral remedy such as a tincture:

  • Always obtain a remedy from a reputable herbal remedy supplier. Especially review the integrity of educational information on their website, blog, Facebook or other social media. Obtain customer reviews.
  • Insure that your remedy has all organic ingredients, including the use of distilled or pure water in preparation, if used.
  • Follow the dosage guidelines on the label. These are safe ranges.
  • For increased safety, initially take only ½ of dosage for one week; then gradually increase — this may help the body assimilate the herbs better.
  • Take for 6 days, and then take one day off, increasing to 2 days off when feeling right. The day off allows the body a day of “rest” to flush out toxins and cellular debris from healing. It also prevents the body from becoming dependent upon the remedy.
  • The objective is to gain an intuitive relationship with your remedy: after time knowing when to take and how much to take, and when to rest from use.
  • Always keep your remedy handy for flare-ups or re-injury.
  • Most herbal remedies are very safe; taking a few additional drops to experiment is okay
  • If you experience the same symptoms you are trying to deal with, after prolonged use, simply stop the remedy for a few days or more and begin again with a much smaller dose. Then gradually increase the number of drops over 1-2 weeks to suggested or “intuitive” (i.e. your own sense of amount) doses.


Please visit our website for detailed and fascinating information about the therapeutic use of tinctures, salves, lotions, tea, and sprays: www.solomonsseal.net




Ligament Laxity is Normal for Women. Here’s Why.

It is natural for women to have increased ligamentous laxity and flexibility compared to men. This excessive laxity is the reason there is an increased incidence of patellar subluxations (knee joint issues), ligament sprains, and joint discomfort (especially hips, pelvis and lower back) seen in females, and especially female athletes. Why is this, and what are the implications for musculoskeletal health?Conceptual human pain anatomy

In short, women experience the double whammy of Estrogen and the hormone, Relaxin, the latter of which negatively effects important Collagen integrity at connective tissue and nerve-rich bone surface areas (periosteum). So, what does this mean?

Relaxin is a hormone secreted by females (males also contain a little Relaxin in their sperm with no known researched effects on connective tissues, as with women), the highest levels being during the middle of the luteal phase (ovulation) of the menstrual cycle (days 20-23). During pregnancy, there is an increase in Relaxin to allow the loosening of ligaments so that the baby can pass through the birth canal. Therefore, ligament laxity is normal during pregnancy. However, the baby’s position in the pelvic region during pregnancy, the lax ligaments to allow delivery, and the mother carrying her baby on her hip after the baby is born all contribute to a resultant sacroiliac laxity and lower back pain so common in women.

pregnant stretching

Pregnancy Especially Affects Connective Tissues (Ligaments, Tendons & Joints)

Relaxin’s effects also include the production and remodeling of collagen (a dense fibrous strengthening and binding material that increases the elasticity and relaxation of muscles, tendons, and ligaments around bones and joints). However, Relaxin has a direct negative effect on the strength of collagen. And herein lies the problem, as explained below.

A continuous mass of collagen runs from each bone’s surface, across joints through ligaments and joint capsule to the neighboring bones. Likewise, collagen extends from the periosteum (bone surface) into tendons; extends around and through muscles as the muscular fascia; recollects as another tendon; and inserts on another bone. With such responsibility at hand, it is of concern if a hormone like Relaxin actually decreases the effectiveness of what collagen is supposed to do — to create optimal structural/skeletal tensile strength to support movement and weight! For example, ligament laxity is especially present during pregnancy (and specific days in the menstrual cycle, as mentioned above) when the risk of ankle sprains and ligamentous injuries is highest.

Female pelvic ligaments

Ligaments in Woman’s Pelvic Area

So, where does Estrogen fit into the equation? That’s easy — every articular (joint) cartilage has Estrogen receptors located on it. Estrogen is known to have a direct negative effect on cartilage and ligamentous tissue growth and repair, period, and especially in post-menopausal women.


The net effect of all of this is that the joints of females, even females who have no pain whatsoever, are not normal. They cannot possibly be normal because of all the negative effects of Estrogen and Relaxin as instigators. Because of the double whammy of Estrogen and Relaxin, women have increased ligamentous laxity and flexibility compared to men.

What Are the Implications for Musculoskeletal Health?

It is worth knowing the health cycle of ligaments and cartilage to understand that healing of ligaments, tendons and cartilage is a long slow process. Expectations for rapid healing, especially among women, should be replaced with a good long-term wellness restoration plan. Why?

woman knee injury

Knee Ligament Injuries Are Very Common Among Women

The turnover time (or half-life) of ligaments and cartilage is about one to two years. This means that about half of the cartilage or ligaments is regenerated about every 300 to 700 days. This is a very, very slow rate, given that most of our body recreates itself cell-by-cell within 30-90 days! Furthermore, if optimal remodeling of an injured ligament or tendon does occur, recovery is only about 80% of original! Consequently, our healing expectations need to be realistic given how our body attempts to restore itself from injury or disease.


There’s a basic reason why healing is slower for connective tissues.

Fibroblastic cells, which make the invaluable collagen, and chondrocytes that make cartilage tissue, are stable cells. This means they do not proliferate easily, unlike muscles loaded with red blood cells. The fibroblasts and chondrocytes are located at the fibro-osseous junction. This is where ligaments attach to bone or directly on the outside of the cartilage. This is an extremely nerve-rich area, and is the source of most felt pain and discomfort when injured.

In fact, most pain sensitivity at bone and joint areas is experienced via this hierarchy: the periosteum (outside of bone where ligaments attach and which is very nerve-rich), ligaments, tendons, fascia, and lastly, muscle. A theory is that the previously mentioned fibroblast and chondrocyte cells need to be stimulated to proliferate and aid in repair and remodeling.

ligament-tendon illustrationInjury to tissue stimulates them to some degree. This is the theory behind direct proliferative therapy, or Prolotherapy, where light dextrose-based injections are often given at the fibro-osseous junction. This causes a massive stimulation of fibroblastic and chondrocyte growth, with the net effect being supposed ligament and cartilage growth. For most people Prolotherapy is impractical, expensive, unapproved by the AMA or insurance companies, and the results for relief and health restoration are very mixed (often with a heavy dose of initial pain, discomfort and inflammation after the procedure).

Certain forms of exercise can stimulate cellular growth. Resistance bands, for example, are very effective at superficial and deep muscle, connective tissue, and joint levels. Water aerobics is also very beneficial.

Implications for Use of Herbal & Natural Remedies & Strategies

Movement/exercise plus a generous daily intake of water are invaluable for moving oxygen to cells and body systems, as well as to assist in flushing out cellular debris and toxins via the Lymph system. Movement and generous water are especially important as we age. This is because our tissues naturally become drier as we age. Water deficiency (actually, a significant issue with most people) is one of the major reasons for connective tissue injuries, pain, discomfort and inflammation, and slow recovery.

Movement and water must be part of anyone’s healing protocol because they importantly help transport herbal remedies (either orate or topical) to key body areas.

The nature of herbs for musculoskeletal issues is to work on the cause of a connective tissue or joint injury. They act as catalysts during the inflammation, repair and remodeling phases of an injury. This means they may help to regulate restoration of fluids (as in the synovial and bursae membranes), provide micronutrients to tissues and joints, assist in adjusting of connective tissue tensions during healing, and more. Herbs also have phytonutrients that aid in symptomatic relief, such as pain and inflammation, and can be a very safe and effective replacement for pain medications and aids.

It is important to use herbs that support musculoskeletal health, and to use them in both topical and oral ways for optimal benefits.

AllinOneHealthFor decades, we have specifically focused on a few key herbs that work very well for bone, joint, cartilage and tissue health. One herb, Solomon’s Seal, is especially prized for its diverse effectiveness. We have also added to its effectiveness by combining it with other herbs (like Horsetail, Pleurisy Root, Gravel Root, etc.) to create a synergistic (additive) effectiveness. Our most popular tincture, Formula #6: All-in-One is a very potent, high dosage combination of herbs from our other formulas with renowned effectiveness. So, consider a good oral tincture as part of your healing strategy.

The skin is our largest organ and its absorbent qualities allow it to be a transporting vessel for healing herbs prepared as salves, lotions or transdermal sprays. A deep penetrating topical salve is instant therapy, especially if rubbed in well and/or applying moist heat afterwards (simply a heating pad placed over a slightly damp cloth) for 45 minutes or so.

Our body almost entirely recreates itself cell-by-cell within 30-90 days (more or less!). This should be seen as a kind of “healing window” that we can partake in with a healing protocol. During this window of time there is a lot of cellular birth, death, waste and regeneration that can be greatly assisted by nutrient-rich herbs. The key is BE REGULAR!

Many people wonder why they have not healed sooner than expected. There can be a number of reasons (for example, related to diet, stress, previous injuries, disease, etc.), but a major factor is lack of consistent devotion to a healing strategy within a compressed period of time, like 30-90 days.


Please visit our website: www.solomonsseal.net for detailed information about our therapeutic line of herbal remedies geared specifically for musculoskeletal issues.


(Glick, J. The female knee in athletics. Physician and Sports Medicine. 1973; 1:35-37.;Powers, J. Characteristic features of injuries in the knees of women. Clin. Orthop. Rel. Res. 979; 143:120-124.)

(Lutter, J.M., Lee, V. Exercise in pregnancy. In Pearl AJ, (ed.), The Female Athlete in Human Kinetics. Champaign, IL: 1993; p. 81-86.)

(Rosner, I. Estradiol receptors in articular cartilage. Biochem. Biophys. Res. Commun. 1982; 106:1378-1382.)

Article about the periosteum:





Treating Knee Injuries with Solomon’s Seal

There can be numerous forms of knee injuries that affect joints, tendons, ligaments, bursae and synovial fluids, bones, etc. Pain, inflammation, soreness and tenderness, swelling and heat are usual signs of a knee injury. One of the most common knee injury is that called “Runner’s Knee.” Because treatment and healing can be successfully self-administered, this frequent form of knee discomfort responds well to the use of herbal tinctures, salves, liniments and the like, instead of intervention using prescription medications that can disrupt other body systems. This article will help you to assess your knee discomfort, learn about your knee parts, and determine therapeutic strategies, including the use of Solomon’s Seal. Continue reading


Treating Tennis Elbow (Elbow Tendonitis) with Solomon’s Seal

One of the most common injuries among sports participants and manual laborers is “tennis elbow”, a form of tendonitis associated with elbow pain. With proper care, lifestyle modification, and nonsurgical intervention this painful condition can heal itself. However, the symptoms must be recognized soon for optimal healing. This article discusses the causes and symptoms of tennis elbow, as well as suggested intervention, including the use of the herb Solomon’s Seal in tincture, salve and liniment form.


The exact cause of tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis) is unkown. It is generally thought to be due to small tears of the tendons that attach forearm muscles to the arm bone at the elbow joint. The muscle group involved, the wrist extensors, function to cock the wrist back. Specifically, the extensor carpi radialis brevis is implicated in causing the symptoms of tennis elbow. Continue reading


6 Foods That Are Killing Your Bones!

Did you know that some foods actually leach minerals, such as Calcium, right out of the bone, including cartilage and joint areas? Some foods also block the bone’s ability to regenerate and strengthen itself. The foods you eat should be providing the nutrients to build strong bones — keeping them viable, including their associated cartilage, tendons, ligaments, tendons, bursae, synovial fluid, muscles, nerves, etc. — not sap them or kill them off!

It doesn’t matter what form of wellness intervention you engage in — medications, herbal formulas (tinctures, homeopathics, supplements, and the like), exercise, etc. — certain foods can work against your body’s ability to heal itself. They often leach nutrients out of your body’s systems, or block the body’s ability to store and use them.

If you have issues related to bones, joints, connective tissues, and the like — if these issues show themselves as arthritis, joint pain, osteoarthritis, cartilage degeneration, aching, stiffness, etc. — then you need to look at ways that your diet can aid you, not make things worse! It may be necessary to minimize ingestion of certain foods. Continue reading


Bruises: How to Treat Them — and the Effectiveness of Solomon’s Seal

leg bruiseBruises are usually caused by bumping into, or being hit by something. The result is a release of blood from the tiny capillaries under the skin. The characteristic bluish-black mark on the skin lightens in color and eventually fades as the blood is absorbed by the tissues and carried away. The ability to heal quickly from a bruise is dependent upon both a person’s general health and diet, and the form of therapeutic intervention. These subjects are explored in this article, with special emphasis given to the effectiveness of using Solomon’s Seal in some form — tincture, salve or liniment — and formulated with other helpful herbs. Continue reading


Joint Pain and Injury — How Solomon’s Seal May Help

Joint pain and discomfort is one of the most common health concerns today. Millions of dollars per year are spent on treatment, medications and over-the-counter interventions. There are numerous causes for joint issues — disease, accident, stress-injuries from overexertion, environmental, even nutrition and diet.

Most people have little knowledge about how their joints work, nor do they understand the mechanism behind joint pain and inflammation. This article offers a basic overview of joints, including joint pain and inflammation. It also clarifies how an herb like Solomon’s Seal works to treat joint issues and to optimize their health.

How Joints Work

Imagine your body without joints — remove all joints from toes, ankles, knees, hips, fingers, wrists, elbows, shoulders, and neck. The result is that you would simply be a stiff stick figure that could not bend, rotate, properly walk, run, sit, or function in most human ways. To understand the mystery of joints is really quite simple: a joint is formed when two bones meet. Similarly, the mechanics of joint function is simple: ligaments, tendons, bursae, cartilage and synovium all work together as a system to seamlessly give flexibility. We can call this the joint system. It is this joint system that gives us movement and range of motion.

There are three categories of joints classified by the amount of movement they allow: fibrous joints which allow no movement, cartilaginous joints which allow limited movement (as in spine and ribs), and synovial joints which are free-moving (the most common type of joint in the body).

All joint issues are a result of a breakdown or dysfunction of one or multiple parts of the joint system that prevent basic movement. This article will help you know your joint system, and especially the unique way in which the herb Solomon’s Seal can help with joint issues. Continue reading