Phytolacca Decandra, also known as poke or poke weed, grows wild where the ground has been disturbed.It has has dark purple, flattened berries and all parts of pokeweed are toxic including the raw above ground leaves which sprout in the early spring.
The most poisonous parts are found in high concentrations in the rootstock and less in the mature leaves and stems, and least in the fruits. The young leaves, if collected before become a red color, are edible if boiled for 5 minutes, rinsed, and reboiled.
The berries are toxic when raw but if cooked the juice is edible but the the seeds remain toxic after cooking.
The entire plant has medicinal properties:
- The berries are used to make juices
- the leaves can be mashed into poultices
- the root, which is the most diverse portion of the plant, can be used to make teas, tonics and tinctures.
Poke weed like many other poisonous plants is often used as a homeopathic remedy. It is usually indicated for the severely depressed. This herb has also been prescribed to treat antisocial behaviors such as a lack of desire for social interaction and complete disregard for normal life functions and social etiquette. These behaviors are often associated with a general lack of interest in life.
According to ABC Homeopathy, Phytolacca Decandra is also used to treat glandular swelling with heat and inflammation. Poke weed has a powerful effect on fibrous tissues, muscles and scar tissue. Swelling is a key indication of poke with glandular conditions including swollen tonsils, tonsillitis, ulcerated and sore throat, chest and breast inflammation, burning and painful areas of the skin, lymph node swelling or soreness. Poke is specific for a congested lymphatic system with hard, swollen lymph nodes.
It is often included as part of a weight reduction regime because it works well on people who have a tendency to be large, flabby, slow moving, tired and often an indifference to life or social etiquette. Another reason Phytolacca Decandra is also indicated for weight loss in that is has a profound effect on promoting the removal of catabolic wastes from within the body. This improvement in elimination improves overall health but it also means certain skin conditions that are caused by internal infection, such as boils, can be treated with this herb. many common conditions such as eczema and psoriasis can be remedied by taking approximately one to 10 drops of the extract one to three times daily.
Phytolacca Decandra is often used to to treat different types of pain, including shooting pains in the right shoulder, specifically when followed by a stiffness and difficulty raising the arm, weakness and dull pain in the kidney region, lower back pain and stiffness associated with wet weather. Shocking pains throughout the body are also relieved with the use of Phytolacca Decandra.
Phytolacca Decandra has been shown to cure tonsillitis. There is a sensation of lump in the throat. Pain at the root of the tongue, pain shoots from throat into ears on swallowing. There is irresistible desire to swallow with severe burning pain. Cannot swallow even water. Pains flies like electric shocks, shifting in nature.
Phytolacca Decandra has shown very good reults in helping rheumatism especially of right shoulder. Stiffness in arm with inability to raise arm. Pains flying like electric shocks, shooting, lancinating from one place to another. Also pain under the side of thighs. Sharp cutting pains in hips, legs drawn up. Cannot touch the floor.
In terms of side effects Phytolacca leaves can cause skin irritation with long-term exposure to the plant. Poultices should never be left on the skin for extended periods of time. In addition Herbal Transitions report that excessive amounts of the extract will lead to nausea, vomiting, oral and gastric irritation, drowsiness, weakness and reduced blood pressure. Women who are pregnant or nursing should not use poke weed.