Phytolacca americana

Phytolacca decandra, also known as poke or poke weed, has dark purple, flat, flowering berries. Phytolacca grows wild in soil with where ground has been disturbed, such as, construction sites and around homes or abandoned landscapes. The entire plant has medicinal properties. The berries are used to make juices, the leaves can be mashed into poultices, and the root, which is the most diverse portion of the plant, can be used to make teas, tonics and tinctures.


According to ABC Homeopathy, Phytolacca decandra is used to treat glandular swelling, which creates heat and irritation. Common glandular conditions include swollen tonsils, tonsillitis, ulcerated and sore throat, chest and breast inflammation, burning and painful areas of the skin, lymph node swelling or soreness. Mastitis in breastfeeding mothers and sties or other eye related inflammations are also common glandular conditions that can be treated using Phytolacca decandra. In addition, poke weed has a powerful effect on fibrous tissues, muscles and scar tissue.


Poke weed can be used to treat various types of pain, including shooting pains in the right shoulder, specifically when followed by a stiffness and difficulty raising the arm, weakness and dull pain in the kidney region, lower back pain and stiffness associated with wet weather. Shocking pains throughout the body are also relieved with the use of Phytolacca decandra.


According to Herbal Transitions, poke weed promotes removal of catabolic wastes from the body. This means certain skin conditions that are caused by internal infection, such as boils, can be treated with this herb. Common conditions such as eczema and psoriasis, as well as arthritis can be remedied by taking approximately one to 10 drops of the extract one to three times daily.

Mental and Emotional

Poke weed is often used as a homeopathic remedy for the severely depressed. Specifically, this herb has been used to treat depressive behaviors, such as a lack of interest in social activities or enthusiasm for life in general.


Phytolacca leaves can cause skin irritation from long-term exposure to the plant. Poultices should never be left on the skin for extended periods of time. In addition Herbal Transitions reports that excessive amounts of the extract will cause nausea, vomiting, oral and gastric irritation, drowsiness, weakness and reduced blood pressure. Women who are pregnant or nursing should not use poke weed.

If you want to learn more about the natural properties of plants, like rosemary, go here.