Poke or pokeweed is a native of the U.S. and grows abundantly throughout the states. The young shoots and leaves are much used as food early in the spring boiled like spinach.
The leaves, berries and the root are used in medicine; the BERRIES and the ROOT are official. The root should be dug up late in November. It abounds most in the active principle of the plant, but the berries are milder in action. As its virtues diminish by keeping, a new supply should be procured every year. The leaves should be gathered when the footstalks begin to redden, just previous to the ripening of the berries. The berries should be collected when perfectly ripe.
The berries have little odor, but the taste is slightly sweetish and at first mild, but followed by a sense of acrimony. The active matter is imparted to boiling water and alcohol.
The berries are a relaxing and stimulating alterative influencing the mucous, serous, and glandular structures.
Cook the berries till they burst and pour off the juice without straining. Then cover the berries again with water and cook thoroughly. Now strain off all the juice and boil down to the consistency of a thick syrup and add the first juice poured off. Bottle for use.
It can be made into a tincture with 30% alcohol. This is excellent for rheumatism.
In the treatment of scrofula, it relieves the glandular system of its impurities and cleanses the blood current, increases the flow of saliva, urine, or perspiration, and frees the alvine canal.
In acute and chronic rheumatism, use the following: 1 oz. poke berries, % oz. each of ehx. wood betony and black cohosh.
The dried root is considered of little value. The root in its green state is quite acrid and irritating to the mucous membrane, frequently causing a persistent vomiting. A similar result will follow if the green root is bruised and placed upon the surface of an excoriated or ulcerated part.
The better way to use poke is to cut the green root fine, cover with boiling water and allow to boil 2 or 3 min. This preparation may be taken in doses of 11. to 1 T. with but little, if any, nausea experienced. 2 oz. of alcohol to the pint may be added to keep this preparation. The cooking largely dissipates the nauseating tendency so that much more of it can be taken than of the green root. But only cook 2 or 3 min., it is then a better nervine, alterative, and laxative.
In small doses, it acts as an alterative and has been highly recommended and successfully used in the treatment of chronic rheumatism. It is useful in those forms of rheumatism which attack the synovial membranes (membranes secreting fluid and lining joints) and the ligamentous (tissues holding organs in place) structures. Like many alteratives, it is somewhat slow in action, persistence and time must be given for its influence to manifest.
Poke root is one of the most powerful alteratives. Because it manifests quite a powerful influence upon the glandular structures, it has been largely used in the treatment of hard, enlarged, and swollen glands. It is reliable in skin diseases, used both internally and externally.
Poke root is considered a valuable remedy in dyspepsia, also in treatment of ulcers, ringworm, scabies, grandular conjunctivitis, and dysmenorrhea.
The roasted root forms a good poultice for inflamed surfaces. It quickly reduces excessive suppuration.
A strong infusion of the leaves and roots has been recommended in piles.
An ointment prepared by mixing 1 dr. of the powdered root or leaves with an oz. of lard has been used in psora, any of the various contagious skin diseases, fungus infection of the scalp and hair caused by several species of ringworm, and some other forms of cutaneous diseases. It occasions, at first, a sense of heat and smarting in the part to which it is applied.
An extract is made by evaporating the expressed juice of the recent leaves and has been used for the same purpose.
The FE poke root is a good alterant and, if taken internally-for some time with external applications of the bruised green root, it will relieve many a bony and cartilaginous swelling, including bunions. It is claimed that it will avert white swelling’.
The Fl. X relieves neuralgia, sciatica, lumbago, and rheumatism.
The Fl. X may be used internally and locally in hot fomentation or poultice. Poke influences all the deep structures when inflamed and all the serous structures. It is a good poultice in case of felon.
The simple infusion is made of 1 T. root, leaves, or berries, cut small steeped in 1 pint boiling water. Take 1 t. as required. The dose of the powdered root, as an emetic, is from 10 to 30 grs., as an alterative from 1 to 5 gr.
The following is a good formula for the compound poke liniment: Fl. X green poke rt. 3 oz., pulv. borax. 1 dr., oil of sassafras 1 dr., oil of bay (laurel) 1/2 dr. Mix well together, then add a thick mucilage of gum tragacanth sufficient to make 6 oz. Shake well. Apply to parts affected 4 or 5 times daily. Use plenty of friction or kneading in the case of enlargements.