liveonearth (liveonearth) wrote,
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liveonearth

Herbs: Phytolacca (Poke Root)


FAMILY: Phytolaccacaea (phyton = plant, lacca = crimson lake)
--two species common in N. America: americana (stronger dt mitogen & antiviral) and decandra
COMMON NAME: Poke root
GENERAL: perennial growing 5-8 feet tall, alternate oblong leaves, flowers in racemes, roots white and succulent with distinctive cross section, common invasive weed in central and SE US, I grew up with this one, always knew the berries are poisonous but we used them to paint our faces as children-->be savages. The constitution of the US was written with poke berry ink on hemp paper.


PART USED: root, best fresh ground in oil, irritating!, pungent/acrid taste, burning/numbing sensation on tongue with fresh root, use gloves when processing, avoid inhalation when grinding dry root. Leaves can be eaten if you boil them a long time and change the water.

MEDICINAL ACTIONS (root):
--alterative
--anticatarrhal
--lymphagogue
--antirheumatic
--emetic, purgative
--fungicide, parasiticide
--antiviral, antibacterial

CONSTITUENTS:
--alkaloids: phytolaccine, phytocaccanin
--triterpenoid saponins: sapogenin (soapy, bitter, also in fenugreek seeds)
--poke weed antiviral protein (PAP): in leaves and sees of P. americana
--poke weed mitogen (PWM): a lectin found in P. americana
--phytolaccic acid, resins, tannins
--in young shoot only: beta carotene, Fe, Vit C, Ca

INDICATIONS**see homeopathic notes below:
--for upper lymphatics esp breast
--lymphatic alterative
--rheumatic joints
--recurring infx esp sinusitis, bronchitis, tonsilitis
--chronic skin conditions
--breast lumps, mastitis

HOMEOPATHIC:
--indications similar to herbal
--proven by Hale and Burt, early US
--"much of its action comes to light through the homeopathic provings" because it is so toxic
--described as "vegetable mercury" because of syphilitic relationship
--bones, glands, throat
--pallid mucous membranes with ulcertaion
--sore mouth with small blisters
--sore lips, blanched, with separation of epidermis
--hard, painful enlarged lymph glands esp cervical
--mastitis
--orchitis, parotitis, apthae, sore mammaries with impaired resp
--faucial, tonsilar, or pharyngeal ulcertaion
--secretions of mouth give white glaze to mouth sfcs (used for dyptheria)
--cough or resp difficulty
--worse: cold, damp, on R side
--pain @ insertions of tendons, bones
--"pokiness" tired, fatigue
--heavy set, slow, large breasts
--old, tired, worn out, indifferent, depressed glandular fx
--chilly and cold or hot and red
--worn out nursing mothers, flabby obese teens, elderly

DOSING:
--decoction of fresh root: 1 tsp/cup, 1 cup TID
--powdered root: .3g TIC
--tincture of fresh root: 1:10, 45% Etoh, sig .2-.6 TID, 10ml/week MAX
--poultice: caution, can cause blistering
--homeopathic: probably best as this plant is generally irritating/toxic

TOXICITY:
--effects include: vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, stomach cramps, dizziness, hypotension, decreased resp, headaches
--use gloves or mask when working with the plant
--avoid inhalation
Tags: constitution, herbs, homeopathy, immunology, monograph, the south
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