This section of the book is from "The Complete Herbalist" by Dr. O. Phelps Brown. Also available from Amazon: The Complete Herbalist: The People Their Own Physicians By The Use Of Nature's Remedies.
COMMON NAMES. Pigeon-berry, Garget, Scoke, Coakum, etc.
MEDICINAL PARTS. The root, leaves, and berries.
Description. -- This indigenous plant has a perennial root of large size, frequently exceeding a man's leg in diameter, fleshy, fibrous, easily cut or broken, and covered with a thin brownish bark. The stems are annual, about an inch in diameter, round, smooth, when young green, and grow from five to nine feet in height. The leaves are scattered, petiolate, smooth on both sides, and about five inches long and three broad. The flowers are numerous, small, and greenish-white in color; and the berries are round, dark purple, and in long clusters.
History. -- This plant is common in many parts of the country, growing in dry fields, hillsides, and roadsides, and flowering in July and August. It is also found in Europe and northern parts of Africa. The leaves should be gathered just previous to the ripening of the berries. The berries are collected when fully matured. Phytolaccin is its active principle.
Properties and Uses. -- Poke is emetic, cathartic, alterative, and slightly narcotic. The root excites the whole glandular system, and is very useful in syphilitic, scrofulous, rheumatic, and cutaneous diseases. It is an excellent remedy for the removal of mercurio syphilitic affections. Very few, if any, of the alteratives have superior power to Poke, if it is properly gathered and prepared for medicinal use. It is an ingredient in my "Blood Purifier," which will be found fully described on page 469.