Pokeroot - The Herb

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Pokeroot - Uses, Benefits, Properties, Description, Effects and Details of Pokeroot explanation and other information*

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Common Name/s: Other Name/s: Botanical  name/s:
Pokeroot, Pokeweed, Phytolacca root Phytolacca berry, Pigeon berry, Red ink plant, Poke berry, Virginian poke, Bear's grape. Phytolacca Decandra, Phytolacca Americana

General description and domicile:
Pokeroot is a perennial plant that can be found growing in moist ground all over North America. It is an attractive small shrub with dark purple stems and oval leaves. Small white flowers appear in August  and the fruit ripens to deep purple clustered berries.
The root is large and fleshy, mostly harvested in autumn.
Although native to North America this plant is grown in Europe, North Africa and Mediterranean countries.
As it is narcotic overdosing can lead to respiratory failure due to paralysis of the nervous system. This is preceded by vomiting, cathartic diarrhea and convulsions.

Part used and extraction:

Root and berries.
 

Remedy preparation:
Tincture, lotion, dried root, infusion and liquid extract.
 

History:
Pokeroot is regarded as one of the most significant medicinal herbs native to North America and has a long history as an important medicine of the Native Americans who used it for a variety of illnesses including rheumatism, inflammation, skin conditions and constipation.
 

Used for treatment of:
Rheumatism

Inflammation

The phytolaccosides are powerfully anti-inflammatory which accounts for this herb's reputation for inflammatory conditions and diseases. 

The lectins in pokeweed have been researched for their reputed antitumor properties. Although there has been little definite proof tests have indicated that there is some evidence that it may be true.

Properties:
Slow emetic - there are better herbs for this purpose.
Narcotic
Anti-rheumatic
Alterative
Cathartic
Anti-inflammatory

Constituents:

Phytolaccosides:

As the name implies these are triterpenoid saponins found in Phytolacca Decandra, the pokeweed. They are powerfully anti-inflammatory and laboratory tests indicate that they may have anti-tumor effects too. They are also antiviral and antifungal.

Triterpenoid Saponins: A glycoside with triterpenoid aglycone structures.

Saponins: Wound healing, anti-scarring. Saponins occur as glycosides with aglycone structures that are steroidal or terpenoid. Saponins can cause the destruction of red blood cells if injected causing anaemia or worse. Ingested saponins are poorly absorbed in the digestive system reducing the risk of poisoning but care must be taken on dosage as Saponins are mucus membrane irritants.

Many herbs containing saponins have been identified as "adaptogens" also referred to as harmony remedies (see: The Root of being: Ginseng and the Pharmacology of Harmony - Stephen Fulder 1980). Instead of being purely remedial herbs these adaptogens improves and energizes vitality and resistance thereby keeping ailments at bay. It is claimed that these adaptogens can improve mental functions like learning speed, awareness and alertness as well as help with emotional and intellectual stress. As a tonic they will also reduce the risk of infections by stimulating the immune system.

Saponins are also expectorant, anti-inflammatory, hepaprotective, combats cholesterol build up and antifungal.

 

Alkaloids Typical alkaloids are alkaline organic vegetable substances containing one or more nitrogen atoms. This nitrogen base is capable of combining with acids to form crystalline salts. Most alkaloids are derived from amino acids while a few are derived from isoprene units. Alkaloids are white or colourless solids containing oxygen (oxygen free alkaloids are few and far between and then can only exist as liquids) Most alkaloids are not water soluble, extraction is normally by tincture.
Alkaloids are found in about one quarter of all flowering plants. Thousands of alkaloids have been identified from a large number of plants where the alkaloid can be present in virtually every part of the plant or just a specific part like rhizome, leaf or seed.
Alkaloids generally have profound physiological impact on the human body and nervous system effects are predominant.
Many alkaloids are used as extracted and refined compounds derived from the actual plants or synthesised compounds in pharmaceutical drugs.
Several Alkaloids are banned in many countries because of the extreme impact on the nervous system (strychnine for instance is a deadly poison in very small doses) and the habit forming nature of some of the alkaloid compounds.

Lignans: Lignans occur in a variety of plants and cannot be classified in terms of properties as a group. Some are antiviral and antimicrobial while others are antioxidant and anti-tumour. The latter are currently being researched as there is some indication that they may have a positive cardiovascular effect.

Polyphenols - Flavonoids: Affecting the cardiovascular system flavonoids protect against environmental stress and pollution. Based on studies a correlation was found with improved cardiovascular function. A similar study found the same trend in respect of strokes. general effects of flavenoids: antioxidant, antiviral, anti-inflammatory and anti-hypertensive while specific actions are membrane strengthening and antioxidant.

Flavonoids: Flavonoids occur (as white and yellow plant pigments found almost as commonly as chlorophyll) as Glycosides or in a free state. In plants it is essential for protecting plant tissue from UV radiation and acts as antioxidants. As pigments it is also responsible for Autumn colors in leaves and yellow/red pigmentation in flowers.

Laboratory experiments have been conducted on the beneficiary effect of Flavonoids on the heart and circulatory system. Flavonoids are also used to mitigate stress, especially environmental stress. Flavonoids are often used for their antioxidant effect against free radicals. There are also strong indications that they have antiviral, anti-inflammatory and anti-hypertensive properties but dosage has not been determined which will obviously have a profound effect on their efficacy as a component of this herb.

Quercetin:
A Flavonoid

Flavonoids: Flavonoids occur (as white and yellow plant pigments found almost as commonly as chlorophyll) as Glycosides or in a free state. In plants it is essential for protecting plant tissue from UV radiation and acts as antioxidants. As pigments it is also responsible for Autumn colors in leaves and yellow/red pigmentation in flowers.

Laboratory experiments have been conducted on the beneficiary effect of Flavonoids on the heart and circulatory system. Flavonoids are also used to mitigate stress, especially environmental stress. Flavonoids are often used for their antioxidant effect against free radicals. There are also strong indications that they have antiviral, anti-inflammatory and anti-hypertensive properties but dosage has not been determined which will obviously have a profound effect on their efficacy as a component of this herb.

Lectins:

Lectins are polypeptides. They have a high molecular weight and large complex structures.They  have a cytotoxic effect, they stimulate B and T lymphocytes to mature and divide.
Lectins are found in most legumes but is destroyed by processing (cooking).

Polypeptide: In some laboratory tests there seem to be indications that polypeptide causes mild contractions of the uterus, which may indicate that it will assist menstrual problems and during child birth but it also means that pregnant mothers or people that are trying to fall pregnant should only use this substance under the supervision of their doctor.

 

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* Statements made have not been evaluated by American Food and Drug Authority or similar board or authority of any other country.
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