Information on Poke Root

Latin NamePhytolacca americana
Other NamesPokeberry
Part UsedRoot, berries
Herb FormsTincture, oil, homeopathic tablet, bulk herb.
AffectsImmune system, Integumentary system, Lymphatic system
CautionsActs as a purgative and emetic. The tincture can cause nausea and vomiting (slow-acting) in susceptible individuals when more than 15 drops are used. It should not be used long-term (more than several weeks) or for people with immune suppression or auto
Botanical InfoA strong-smelling herb from the Pokeweed family growing to twelve feet high with four-to-twelve inch oblong leaves and sprays of pink flowers, and later, dark purple berries.
DescriptionPoke root is a lymphatic cleanser and is used for swollen glands, tonsillitis, mumps, and strep throat. It is applied as an oil (poke oil) to sore breasts or swollen lymph nodes. Poke root is traditionally used in Chinese medicine for water retention, sore throat, and abscesses.
Poke oil and tincture are often-used remedies for various cancers, especially cancer of the breast, but it is best to work with a qualified herbalist or health-care practitioner when using poke for this purpose--or to be safe, for any purpose.
The oil is made by grinding up fresh poke root (it can easily be cultivated in the garden, but wear gloves when handling the fresh root pulp) in olive oil and infusing for 2 weeks, then pressing and filtering. Bottle the oil for future use, and store in a cool place. The tincture and oil lose their potency after 6 months or a year.

Poke Root has a taste of BITTER, ACRID and a temperature of COLD.


Tincture10-15 drops 3-4 x daily

Ailments Treated by Poke Root

AilmentTreatment SupportApplication
Glandular swellingslymphatic cleansertincture or oil externally
Tonsils, infected--acutelymphatic cleansertincture
Breasts, sorelymphatic cleanseroil or tincture externally
Cancerantitumor, immune stimulanttincture


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McGuffin, M. et al. 1997. Botanical Safety Handbook. Boca Raton: CRC Press.
Felter, H.W. and J.U. Lloyd. 1983. (1898). King's Dispensatory. Portland, OR: Eclectic Medical Publications.
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Ellingwood, F. 1983. American Materia Medica, Therapeutics and Pharmacognosy. Portland, OR: Eclectic Medical Publications.