Phytolacca americana


Names: Pokeweed.

Habitat: N. America

Collection: The root should be unearthed in the late autumn or spring.Clean it and split lengthwise before drying.

Part Used: Root.

Constituents: * Triterpenoid saponins; the phytolaccosides A, B, C, D& E. Based on the

aglycones phytolaccagenin and phytolaccicacid

* Lectins; mixture known as `pokeweed mitogen’, consisting of a series ofglycoproteins

Actions: Anti-rheumatic, stimulant, anti-catarrhal, purgative,emetic.

Indications: Poke Root has a wide range of used and is a valuableaddition to many holistic treatments. It may be seen primarily as a remedy foruse in infection of the upper respiratory tract, removing catarrh and aidingthe cleansing of the lymphatic glands. It may be used for catarrh,tonsillitis, laryngitis, swollen glands, mumps. Itwill be found of value in lymphatic problems elsewhere in the body andespecially for mastitis, where it can be used internally and as apoultice. Poke Root also has a use in rheumatism, especially where it islong standing. Care must be taken with this herb as in large dosage it ispowerfully emetic and purgative. Externally as a lotion or ointment it may beused to rid the skin of scabies and other pests.

Priest & Priest tell us that it is a “stimulating and relaxingalterative: promotes the removal of catabolic wastes and the products of fattydegeneration. Specific for skeletal congestions, and for serous and glandulartissues.” They give the following specific indications: Chronicrheumatism and arthritis, neuralgia and lumbago.Tonsillitis and parotitis, mastitis, ovaritis,orchitis. Enlarged thyroid and lymphatics.

Ellingwood considered its most direct actions in “inflammation ofglandular structures, especially of the lymphatic glands. Pains of a rheumaticcharacter from deficient catabolism are relieved by it. It is directlyindicated in irritation, inflammation and ulceration of mucous membranes inrheumatic subjects, sanious ulcers, scabies, tinea capitis, psoriasis and allskin diseases. It is especially valuable in the squamous variety of skindiseases” In addition he recommends it for the following patholgies:inflammations of the throat, forms of diphtheria, goitre, adenitis,mastitis, glandular and skin disorders, syphilitic disorders, varicoseulcers, psoriasis, dermal abscesses, fissures, boils, carbuncles. Membranousand spasmodic croup.

CAUTION: In large doses Poke Root is a powerful emetic and purgative.

Combinations: For lymphatic problems it may be used with Cleavers orBlue Flag.

Preparations & Dosage: Decoction: only small amounts of this herbshould be used. Put l/4 teaspoonful of the root in a cup of water, bring to aboil and simmer gently for l0-l5 minutes. This should be drunk three times aday. Tincture: take l/4 ml of the tincture three times a day.

© David L. Hoffman, M.N.I.M.H.

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Written by David L. Hoffmann BSc Hons MNIMH

Explore Wellness in 2021