Phytolacca decandra

Poke - Phytolacca decandra (in the Phytolaccaceae or Pokeweed family)

Part used: Root mostly, berries without seeds .

Taste/smell: Acrid.

Tendencies: Cooling.

Dosage: 1:1 fresh strength liquid extract: 1-10 drops 1-3 times per day.

Mental picture and specific indications: Poke is specific for a congested lymphatic system with hard, swollen lymph nodes. There is a tendency to be large, flabby, slow moving, tired and often an indifference to life or social etiquette. If accompanied by a high fever, the glands may be swollen and painful, the skin may be dry with purple coloration in stagnant areas and a fast pulse. Poke has an affinity for red swollen inflamed tissue of the throat, mammary glands and testicles.

Use: (a) Lymphagogoue, (b) Alterative, (c) Anti-inflammatory, (d) Emetic, (e) Cathartic, (f) Antifungal.

Poke promotes removal of catabolic wastes. It is indicated for tonsillitis, mastitis, mumps, orchitis, boils, stomatitis, eczema and psoriasis. The berries are used for rheumatic complaints and arthritis. Externally, the fresh root is used as a fresh poultice and the infused oil is used for mastitis and swollen lymph nodes in general. It contains saponins, called phytolaccosides, which yield the aglycones, phytolaccogenin and phytolaccagenic acid and protein lectins that are mitogenic for both B-cells and T-cells.

Contraindications: Direct contact with the fresh plant may cause external skin irritation and can be toxic when used internally in excessive doses. An overdose can cause nausea, vomiting, oral and gastric irritation, cramps, slowed respiration, drowsiness, tingling over the whole body, weakness, sweating, tetanic convulsions and reduced blood pressure and pulse. Death is possible due to respiratory paralysis. Poke should only be used under the guidance of a qualified health care practitioner. It is contraindicated in pregnancy.

Copyright 1999 by Sharol Tilgner, N.D. (ISBN 1-881517-02-0) - all rights reserved.