Poke Root

Phytolacca decandra or phytolacca americana, Phytolaccaceae. The dried root is the part of the plant used.

The root should be dug in late autumn or spring. Clean the root and split it lengthwise before drying.

Functions of poke root

Poke root has a wide range of uses and is very powerful so it is used in 1/4 of the normal doses. Poke root:

  • is a remedy for the lymphatic system where it promotes lymphatic drainage and circulation. It cleanses, clears toxins and fights infections. It is recommended for breast lumps and cysts and it:
    • relieves lymphatic congestion,
    • swollen lymph glands,
    • swollen breasts, and
    • mastitis.
  • is primarily used as a remedy for infections in the respiratory system where it is useful in cases of:
    • tonsillitis,
    • laryngitis,
    • swollen glands,
    • glandular fever,
    • mumps,
    • ear infections,
    • catarrh.
  • is recommended for cases of arthritis and rheumatism.
  • will assist in the clearing of skin problems such as acne, boils, psoriasis, eczema and the tendency to infections such as athelete's foot.
  • can be used externally to reduce inflammation and impede infections on the skin

Notes on poke root

  • Never use poke root in pregnancy.
  • Only use the poke root dried and in small doses. In large doses it will cause vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Poke root may be toxic if taken in large doses or for an extended period of time. It would be best not to take this herb unless under the supervision of a health professional.
  • For lymphatic problems poke root can be taken in combination with cleavers.


Decoction: Only small amounts of the herb should be used. Put 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoonful of the dried root in a cup of water, bring to the boil and simmer for 10-15 minutes. This should be drunk three times a day.

Tincture: take 1/2 to 1 ml of the tincture three times per day.


Duke, J. A. 2000, Anti-aging Prescriptions. Rodale.

Hoffmann, D. 2000, The New Holistic Herbal. Element Pub.

McIntyre, A. 1995, The Complete Women's Herbal. Henry Holt Reference Books.

Mills, S. Y. 1989, The A-Z of Modern Herbalism: A Comprehensive Guide to Practical Herbal Therapy. Thorson.




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