This section is from the book "Botanic Drugs Their Materia Medica, Pharmacology and Therapeutics", by Thomas S. Blair. Also available from Amazon: Botanic Drugs, Their Materia Medica, Pharmacology and Therapeutics.
Poke Root, Phytolacca decandra, official in Mexico and was official in the U. S. P. VIII. Japanese Poke Root, P. acinosa, var. esculenta, official in Japan.
An emeto-cathartic in doses of 15 minims fluid-extract; alterative in doses of 1 1/2 minims. Large doses are depressing and somewhat narcotic, toxic doses causing paralysis of respiration.
Should never be used in large doses, nor as an emetic. As is often noted, acro-narcotic plants seem to be possessed of alterative properties in small doses. While the vegetable "alteratives" are, few of them, possessed of any definite activity, this, I believe, may not be said of phytolacca root. After large use of it in this connection - admittedly empiric use - I believe it promotes retrograde tissue metamorphosis and acts upon the glandular tissues. This latter influence is readily tested out in mammary inflammation, in which the external application of phytolacca cerate, as well as the internal administration of a fl. made from the fresh root, has demonstrated usefulness. So-called "chronic rheumatism" especially in syphilitic cases or of syphilitic origin, is benefited by the eliminative action of phytolacca.
need alterative treatment. Iodides are often debilitating in these cases, and I have often substituted phytolacca in them. Sometimes in syphilis we seem to come to a standstill, mercury and iodides not availing. Of course it is only as an interval and subsidiary remedy that I have used Phytolacca in these cases; but this drug and stil-lingia impress me as useful in some of these cases, and I speak from a large experience therein.
The dermic lesions of syphilis may not always be met, even with salvarsan, especially when elimination is poor; and I am impressed with a belief that we should not wholly discredit the vegetable alteratives therein. They assuredly cooperate with the iodides. In goiter of non-toxic type it has occasionally benefited cases under my care, but has usually failed; nor has it been of value in acute "sore throat," as is claimed for it. However, in chronic follicular pharyngitis it has benefited some cases. I never saw it accomplish anything at all in obesity.
The combination of phytolacca, stillingia, and the iodides is a useful one in what we used to call "scrofula," as well as in the many indications for an alterative. The mixture can be flavored with compound syrup of sarsaparilla.
Undoubtedly the prestige of phytolacca has been injured by its unwise advocacy in diphtheria, tetanus, primary syphilis, and other infections. Needless to say, it has no place whatever in such serious pathology.
Give a good fl. made from the recent root in doses of 1 to 3 minims. I don't believe preparations of the berries to be worth employing. Homeopathic pharmacies supply a good 25% cerate. Phytolacca should almost invariably be combined with purgative and diuretic eliminants, as by itself it is less effective.