Description: A perennial herb of up to 3 m in height, bearing soft fleshy leaves, small greenish-white flowers and elongated clusters of dark purple berries. The plant was previously known as P. decandra. Also used traditionally are shang-lu, P. acinosa, from East Asia and soapberry or endod, P. dodecandra, from Africa.
Origin: North America; sometimes a weed of disturbed places, especially in the Mediterranean region.
Parts Used: Berries (Phytolaccae americanae fructus) and roots (Phytolaccae americariae radix).
Therapeutic Category: Traditional health (anti-inflammatory).
Uses and Properties: Roots or berries are considered to be anti-rheumatic, emetic, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-catarrhal, purgative, immune stimulant and lymphatic system stimulant. Externally it is applied to help support inflammatory complaints and skin ailments. In homoeopathy, pokeweed is popular for helping support joint pain, mastitis, sore throat and tonsillitis. In parts of Africa, the berries of P. dodecandra, whose saponins are molluscicidal, are used as a cheap and effective measure to help control bilharzias (caused by Schistosoma species).
Preparation and Dosage: A dose of 60 - 100 mg of powdered root has been recommended, but use should be supervised by a health care professional.
Active Ingredients: Fruits contain coloured alkaloids (betacyanins) of the betalain type, such as betanidine, betanine, phytolaccine and others (formerly used to colour weak red wines). The presence of saponins in all plant parts is well known, represented by various phytolaccosides and several different triterpenoid aglycones (e.g. phytolaccagenin, or oleanolic acid and phytolaccagenic acid in the case of P. dodecandra. Furthermore, a lectin (pokeweed mitogen, PWM), an antiviral protein (pokeweed antiviral protein, PAP) and neolignans (isoamericanin A and others) are present in the roots.
Health Effects: Saponins, lignans and lectins are probably responsible for the observed anti-inflammatory, hypotensive, diuretic, molluscidal, spermicidal and abortive effects. The lectins and saponins are quite toxic, especially when applied by injection. The health properties need to be evaluated by clinical studies.
Status: Traditional health; formerly Pharm.
User Group Forum
Share your questions and information with the ZooScape community!
Be the first to post!
Stir 1/4 of a teaspoon into a glass of water and consume 3 times daily, with meals.
End of More Photographs - Poke Root (Pokeweed) Powder
* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Products are intended to support general well being and are not intended to treat, diagnose, mitigate, prevent, or cure any condition or disease. If conditions persist, please seek advice from your medical doctor. Information provided at ZooScape.com relies partly on Traditional Uses. The essence of the current American rule on Traditional Uses is, as stated by FTC, "Claims based on historical or traditional use should be substantiated by confirming scientific evidence, or should be presented in such a way that consumers understand that the sole basis for the claim is a history of use of the product for a particular purpose."