Poke Root - History, Information and Methods of Use

Poke root has been widely used across the world for treating rheumatic problems and is also famous for its purgative and emetic properties. It has a history of being used to treat various skin problems.

The botanical name of pokeroot is Phytolacca decandra-americana. It is also known by several other names like pokeweed, branching phytolacca, cancer-root, crowberry, garget, inkberry, jalap, pigeon berry, poke berry, red weed, red-ink plant, and Virginian poke.

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A note about Poke Root - History, Information and Methods of Use

Herbs are God and nature's gifts to us. While the use of herbs and herb remedies has brought excellent results for many people, do note that their health benefits may be limited when they are used in isolation. However, when combined with some basic dietary and lifestyle good health habits, such as a full body detox and a proper understanding and application of nutrition, the impact on one's health will be greatly magnified.

In natural health and healing, we believe that the body has the ability to heal itself of any disease, even supposedly incurable diseases. We also believe in holistic health and healing, as we realize that different parts of the human body are highly interlinked, often beyond Man’s understanding. It is thus a good idea to apply these fundamental health steps no matter how remote or unrelated a health condition may seem.

Recorded history indicates that Native Americans used pokeweed to drive away evil spirits that possessed people because pokeweed had the ability to cleanse the body by causing vomiting and diarrhea.

Traditionally and currently, poke root works extremely effectively in treating lymphatic-system-related conditions and acts as a lymphatic decongestant.

Pokeweed can be cultivated easily in various types of soils and will grow in full sun or little sunlight. This plant has a thick and broad stalk which is tall and can grow up to 10 feet or more. The branches of the pokeweed herb start changing its color to red or purple as the fruits or berries ripen and the plant grows old.

The root of poke weed is a tap root which is conical in shape. The berries are dark purple in color and these berries contain a red-crimson juice.

It is advisable to collect the edible shoot of poke weed during spring and the conical roots during fall. It can be dried and stored for later use.

Pokeweed berries are less poisonous when compared to other parts of the pokeweed plant.

It is said that birds are immune to the poison and toxins of pokeweed herbs.

Method of Use and Routes of Administration

The roots, seeds, and leaves of pokeroot are used extensively in various natural health remedies.

Pokeroot preparations are available in the form of lotions, creams, poultices, powders, poke root oil, salves, poke root tincture, and decoctions. It can be used both externally and internally depending upon the condition of the patient.

Pokeroot poultices are generally used to treat inflammation of the joints, ulcers, and hemorrhoids.

Pokeroot lotions when mixed with water make pokeroot tincture, which is very effective in treating lymphatic disorders.

Pokeroot powder can be taken internally in very small doses of about 50 to 250 mg to treat lymphatic conditions like mastitis, rheumatism etc.

Pokeroot extracts are also useful in treating various skin ailments like eczema, skin rashes, infections, and scabies.

Poke root oil can also be prepared and used for treating lumps and growths in the human body. Pokeroot can be infused in olive oil to make pokeroot oil and this can be used for external application purposes and in treating skin growths. Also, by melting some beeswax into pokeroot oil, it can be converted into a salve and again, this too can be used to treat skin growths externally.

Poke Recipe - Salad

Another very interesting feature about the pokeroot herb is that it is a very popular variety of salad. A poke recipe for salad is as described below:


  • 1 1/2 lb. Poke Leaves & Stalks
  • 5 Thick Slices Salt Bacon
  • 1/2 t. Salt
  • 6-8 Eggs
  • Select tender young poke greens; include some tender stalks, not over 6 inches long.

    Cut stalks like you would celery. Clean well, rinsing several times. Parboil and discard water. Add fresh water and one slice of bacon. Cook until tender. Fry rest of bacon until crisp and set aside. Add greens, salt and eggs to drippings, cook over low heat for 20 minutes.

    Poke (Root or Weed) Pages | Poke Root - History, Information and Methods of Use | Health Benefits of Pokeroot | Poke Weed Research and Studies | Pokeweed Side Effects, Caution and Contraindications

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