Phytolacca decandra/P. americana

Pokeweed, Phytolacca americana

Image I

phytolaque 2-1

Image II

Botanical Name: Phytolacca decandra/P. americana
Common name: Poke Root, Poke Weed (Bone & Mills, 2013, p. 795)
Family: Phytolacceae (Bone & Mills, 2013, p. 796)
Parts used: Berries, leaves, roots(Bone & Mills, 2013, p. 795)

Constituents

  • Tripenoid saponins: Phytolaccosides, esculentosides, phytolaccasaponins
  • Algycone: Phytolaccagenin
  • Sterols

(Bone & Mills, 2013, p. 796)

 

Actions

  • Anti-inflammatory (Bone & Mills, 2013, p. 795)
  • Lymphatic (Bone & Mills, 2013, p. 795)
  • Depurative (Bone & Mills, 2013, p. 795)
  • Immunostimulant (Bone & Mills, 2013, p. 795)
  • Anti-rheumatic (Hoffmann, 2003, p. 572)
  • Anti-catarrhal (Hoffmann, 2003, p. 572)
  • Emetic (Hoffmann, 2003, p. 572)
  • Expectorant (Bone & Mills, 2013, p. 795; Hoffmann, 2003, p. 572)

 

Indications

  • Depurative for skin conditions acting primarily via the lymphatic system (Bone & Mills, 2013, p. 795)
  • Inflammatory conditions of the respiratory and reproductive systems (Bone & Mills, 2013, p. 795)
  • Skin irritation or infection (Bone & Mills, 2013, p. 795)
  • Female reproductive conditions (notably mastitis, mammary abscess and uterine cancer) (Bone & Mills, 2013, p. 795)
  • Infections of the upper respiratory tract (Hoffmann, 2003, p. 572)
  • Lymphatic problems (Hoffmann, 2003, p. 572)
  • Long standing rheumatism and arthritis (Hoffmann, 2003, p. 572)
  • Neurolagia and lumbargo (Hoffmann, 2003, p. 572)
  • Tonsilitis and parotitis (Hoffmann, 2003, p. 572)
  • Mastitis (Hoffmann, 2003, p. 572)
  • Ovaritis (Hoffmann, 2003, p. 572)
  • Enlarged thyroid (Hoffmann, 2003, p. 572)

 

Preparation & Dosage

  • Poultice (Hoffmann, 2003, p. 572)
  • Lotion or ointment (Hoffmann, 2003, p. 572)
  • Decoction: 0.2g of dried root/day
  • Tincture: (1:5) 0.15-0.7mL/day

For use up to 6 months

(Bone & Mills, 2013, p. 795)

 

Cautions

  • Care must be taken as it is a strong herb, powerful emetic and purgative in large doses (Hoffmann, 2003, p. 572)
  • Liquid extracts and fresh herb has the potential to cause poisoning due to presence of high levels of PWM (Bone & Mills, 2013, p. 796)
  • Large doses of liquid extracts have shown to impair liver function in animal studies (Bone & Mills, 2013, p. 796)
  • Saponins may cause irritation of gastric mucus membranes (Bone & Mills, 2013, p. 797)

 

Contradictions

  • Contraindicated in pregnancy and lactation
  • Lymphatic leukaemia
  • Children

(Bone & Mills, 2013, p. 797)

 

Combinations

For lymphatic problems, may be combined with Galium aparine or Iris versicolour (Hoffmann, 1990, p. 225)

 

REFERENCE
Bone, K., & Mills, S. (2013). Principals and Practice of Phytotherapy (2nd ed.). Edinborough: Churchill Livingstone/Elsevier.

Hoffmann, D. (2003). Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine. Rochester Vermont: Healing Arts Press.

Hoffmann, D. (1990). Holistic Herbal. London: Thorsons

Image I: Miranda, K. (2012). American Society of Botanical Artists. Retrieved from: http://www.asba-art.org/member-gallery/kathie-miranda

Image II: IDS. (n.d.). La phytolaque. Retrieved from: http://isaisons.free.fr/phytolaque.htm

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