Pokeberry Health Benefits

| Modified: Dec 11, 2020
Add New Post
Pokeberry Health Benefits on Earth Clinic.

Pokeberry has long been used as a natural remedy for arthritis, mumps, and other skin conditions. Earth Clinic readers report using pokeberries to treat arthritis, gout, joint pains and scabies.

Although pokeweed is considered poisonous and unsafe, the berry and root from the pokeweed have been used as medicine for hundreds of years to treat rheumatoid arthritis, tonsillitis, laryngitis, swollen lymph glands, mastitis (swollen and tender breasts), skin infections like scabies, ringworm. It has also been used for edema (fluid retention), skin cancer, menstrual cramping, and syphilis.

Pokeweed berry is frequently used as a red food coloring and also as a red wine coloring agent.

About Pokeberries

It is also known as red ink, inkberry, crowberry, Phytolacca Americana, cancer root, cancer jalap, American nightshade, coakum, chongras, crowberry, and garget pigeonberry, scoke, red ink plant, Poke is an herbaceous plant with berry-like fruit. It is native to the Eastern United States, where it proliferates in damp soils.

Small, dark purple fruit develop on the stems of the plant, maturing from August through November.

Pokeberry should not be consumed raw as it is highly toxic. The cooked berries are safe to make pies. The juice extracted from the Pokeberries is used to enhance the color of wine.

Health Benefits of Pokeberries

The roots of pokeberry plants are anti-inflammatory, expectorant, narcotic, hypnotic, cathartic, and purgative.

Historically, the root has been used to treat chronic skin conditions like acne, hemorrhoids, diabetic skin ulcers, and boils. Poke is also used for swollen glands, chronic sinusitis, bronchitis, and inflammatory diseases.

Additional health conditions that are treated with pokeberries include:

  • North American Indians drank tea made from the berries to treat arthritis.
  • Early colonists used pokeberry sap to heal skin lesions.
  • In the Appalachian Mountains, dried pokeberry fruits are applied to wounds to speed healing.

Nutritional Value of Pokeberries

One cup (160 grams) of pokeberry shoots raw contains the following:

  • 217 mg Vitamin C
  • 696 µg Vitamin A
  • 0.528 mg Vitamin B2
  • 2.72 mg Iron
  • 0.669 mg Manganese
  • 0.251 mg Copper
  • 0.234 mg Vitamin B6
  • 1.92 mg Vitamin B3
  • 0.128 mg Vitamin B1
  • 70 mg Phosphorus

Pokeberry Side Effects

It has been reported that all parts of the pokeweed plant are poisonous. Poisoning has been reported from drinking tea brewed from pokeweed root and leaves.

Poisoning also has resulted from drinking pokeberry wine and eating pokeberry pancakes. Eating just ten berries can be toxic to an adult. Green pokeberries are thought to be more poisonous than the fully mature red berries.

Side effects from pokeweed can include the following:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Cramping
  • Stomach Pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Low Blood Pressure
  • Incontinence
  • Thirst

Avoid pokeweed if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Children should also not take pokeberry.

Continue reading below to learn how Earth Clinic readers have used Pokeberries to treat various conditions. Do you eat pokeberries or pokeroot? Please send us your feedback!


Posted by Robert Henry (Ten Mile, Tn) on 02/26/2015
5 out of 5 stars

HI U GOOD PEOPLE DOING, , , , , , , , are you familiar with the term scouring? It means to scrub the surface . Have you not wondered why Cedar trees mostly grow on a fence row? It is because the birds eat the Cedar berries, sit on the fence and poop the the seeds out. The seed now has been scoured by the birds digestive system and ready to sprout. Walla.. a new Cedar tree emerges.

I do this with sandpaper on my garden melon seeds. They sprout PDQ. That's the way nature works. You got to break the hull.

I tell you this because lots of folks in my neighborhood eat Poke Berries to help their arthritis. Poke berries are supposed to be poisonous, but only if you eat crush the seed. Birds love these berries. One guy I know freezes them and eats them all year long for his health problem. He just poops the seeds out as the birds do.




Replied by Robert Henry
Ten Mile, Tn


HI U GOOD FOLKS DOIN,,,,,, me and Mama have written about this plant over the years. It is a plant that grows wild in the South and the leaves are used to clean you out every spring. The berries will solve your arthritis problems. So's you get the message, a song was written that I think you will enjoy.




Posted by Jane MNT (Fairfax) on 12/04/2020
5 out of 5 stars

I cooked pokeberry 3 times leaves and drained 3 times as guidance of the book CANCER MÉDECINE FROM NATURE by ROGER BLOOM . POKEBERRY is one of main ingredients to treat cancer of HARRY HOXSEY formula.

I ate boiling leaves with soy sauce or made soup with tofu. It was delicious without spending a penny. I enjoyed picking them at the park, courthouse, mountain ....wherever I spotted them growing wild on .....

Collembola Infestations

Posted by Robert (Buford, Ga) on 07/24/2009

Joyce, Will poke greens kill collembola, and how to?

EC: Interesting thread on collembola infestations here: http://www.biology-online.org/biology-forum/about3318.html

Replied by Joyce
Joelton, Tn
512 posts

Hello Robert from Buford, Ga.,

I didn't have the answer to your question on poke greens (leaves & shoots), but went looking up some of the chemicals found in the pokeweed and their activities. So I will let you make your own decision on the part of the plant to use, after reading the following:

anthocyanin (93,000 parts per million) in fruit (pokeberries) is a pesticide

caryophyllene found in fruit is insectifuge, larvacide (your collembola have a larval stage), antileishmaniac, antistapholococcal, antistreptococcal, fungicide, candidicide, mosquitocide, pesticide

isopquercetrin found in the leaf is insecticide, pesticide

oleonolic acid found in the root is antimalarial, piscicide (kills fish)

tannin found in root is anthelmintic, pesticide

All of the above chemicals have other actions also but I was specifically researching this for your infestation. when you have plenty of time just type research on pokeweed in your search window and have fun reading about this wonderful weed.

I question whether you would get much pesticide part from the eating the leaves since it must be parboiled (and a lot of your chemicals are going to go in the water you drain out, before you finish cooking it. Plus, if you eat a lot of poke greens you are going to find that it is a excellent laxative.

I have never taken any poke root preparation, but remember reading in Earth Clinic, where someone else wrote in recommending a poke root extract & told how to make it and take it. The poke preparation I wrote about for scabies was to boil the root in water & applying to the body after it cools down. I haven't tried this either, but I have a niece who attests that it worked very well to solve her problem with scabies.

I personally took and still take pokeberries for arthritis pain problems and found it works well for that and that they weren't poisonous, as I had been told. For this I just put 20 to 25 poke berries in my mouth and washed them down with water 4 times a day. I later started extracting them in alcohol (they last for years this way versus several months when dehydrated) and usually take from 1/2 to l tsp. full 4 times a day. To figure a dosage for a child, put the child's weight in pounds over l50 (average wt. for adult) & reduce to lowest fraction. This will give you the percentage of adult dose that child should have. A 75 lb. child would get 1/2 the adult dose. When looking up the chemicals, it seemed that the berry would probably have more of the chemicals you are looking for than the leaves would.

Hope you find this helpful and if it works for you be sure and let us know. From what I read in EC, there are a lot of people looking for solutions for Morgellon's.

Has anybody else wondered where all these strange diseases are originating lately. Dear old HIV, then the flesh eating organism (now called necrotizing fascitis, when mentioned at all), now we have Morgellon's, West Nile disease mosquitos, and the latest is that dear old swine flu (for which it looks like taking the shots to prevent it is worse than having it) from what has been published on it.

Frozen Ankle Pain

Posted by Robert Henry (Ten Mile, Tn) on 10/23/2016
5 out of 5 stars

Just got off the phone with the old mechanic that works on my farm equipment. Last year, he had a log roll over his ankle. His Orthopedic doctor told him that his ankle needed to be fused. He hesitated and a Redneck friend told him that Poke Berry Extract would eliminate his pain. It did. He ran out of the potion and his pain came back. He got back on the extract and his pain again went away.

I will get the rest of this story as I have written about poke berry extract helping arthritis in the past. This is a wild plant that grows all over the South.

Dang, I may even start growing it at our little farm.


Replied by Mama To Many

Dear Robert Henry,

Would you know the dose of poke that your friend took? My understanding is that the tincture is to be used by the DROP, not the dropperful.

Funny you should mention poke. I have my first batch of poke root tincture brewing right now. I have tons of poke growing around. I use to think of it is a nuisance, but now I look at it with respect. I see it along the dirt roads near my house and it makes me ponder all the healing that is free all around. (But one should not collect poke from roadsides.)

~Mama to Many~

Replied by Robert Henry
Ten Mile, Tn

HI U MAMA,,,,,,, just got in from dropping off a repair for our mechanic. He showed me the poke berry brew that he keeps in the frig. He takes a swig every morning. No measurement, just a swig. I asked him to get the formula, but you know how country folks are about keeping secrets. He did say it tastes like wine. I made mine from vodka.

Nothing I'm doing is relieving my back pain so I may try this.

Caution all not to crush the seeds.

Birds and critters eat poke berries and pass them out to form a new plant. It is called scouring and that is the reason fence rows are grown up with cedar, hedge, etc. That is also how the Lord multiplies the pawpaw, dogwood and persimmon trees throughout the forest.

If man would leave nature alone, the planet would do just fine. Next post is about how chem trails are affecting us all. Unbelievable.


Gout and Joint Pains

Posted by Joyce (Tn.) on 01/08/2017
5 out of 5 stars


Pick your pokeberries (poke sallet) next fall. Great for all joint pains. My brother had a bad attack of gout and hobbling with a walker. Said doctor told him he would have to live with it because he had nothing else to try. Picked him a bag of ripe pokeberries and carried to him. Had a little trouble in talking him into eating asparagus also, because he said the doctor told him it was bad for the gout. My reply was it was bad for the gout but it was good for him. Two days later with about 15 to 20 pokeberries 4 times per day and plenty of asparagus, he was walking without limping, without pain and without the walker.

When you have a bumper crop of pokeberries, just dehydrate the excess that you can't use while fresh and ripe. For those who want to get more sophisticated and make a pokeberry tincture or extract, just google "how do I make a herbal extract or tincture. Basic rule of thumb is two most common diluents is alcohol and vinegar. Fresh herb is equal parts of herb to diluent. Using dehydrated herb use ratio of 2 parts diluent to one part dehydrated herb.

Replied by Hisjewel
America, New York

Hi Joyce for Tn, Its so good to hear from you. I so enjoy reading your cures. One I have taken on is Vitamin B complex for heart arrhythmia, yes and of cause getting rid of the unbleached flour. HisJewel

Replied by Hisjewel
America, New York

Correction: That should be taking B complex and stop using bleached flour has helped to eliminate heart palpitations. HisJewel

Replied by Janet

Joyce...maybe I have missed your recent posts. Always love to read them. Your poke berries intrigue me. Janet

Replied by Ss
South Usa

Hi Joyce, great hearing from you again.

I just wanted to add to this, I had very bad big toe pain that I am sure was gout. I tried many things some helped, but it would always come back, I change shoes and it helped some, but what help the most and eliminated for me was jumping on a mini rebounder. It has not bothered me since. Rebounding is great and everyone should check into some you tubes on this.

Replied by Andy

M.S.M. - Methyl sulfony methane is a totally natural substance that is the best remedy for Gout, arthritis, joint pain and also great for hair, nails and mild detox from toxins. It is also alkalizing which is great for prevention for cancer.

Replied by Deb
Vancouver, B.d.

I definitely find asparagus to aggravate my gout. It is also listed on most websites as one of the few vegetables that contribute to uric acid. So, I don't think it is necessary to complicate your cure by adding asparagus.

Replied by Robert Henry
Ten Mile, Tn

JOYCE, where have you been girl. I have missed you for several years. I just hope you are back posting. The old timers are all about gone. I'm only half smart, but know the folks that have been down the dusty trails. You are one of them and you really can help these young folks.

Sorry that I missed this post when it came out.

I wish you well.


How to Make Pokeberry Extract

Posted by Joyce (Joelton, Tn) on 07/25/2008 512 posts
5 out of 5 stars

Response to Sandra

"To Joyce from Joelton,Tn. Gout: What is the method used with Pokeweed for Gout? Do you make a paste and wrap the foot, or do you ingest them? Please advise? What are the exact measurements for this herb?"

I started doing this by putting berries in l gallon jug and using enough Vodka to just cover the berries. Put tight lid on and let set a week or two, moving jug around a little every two to three days. After that, just strain off the liquid and store in brown or green bottles. Beer bottles work fine for storage. (You can also use your potato masher (or whatever you have) to kind of sqush those pokeberries before straining the liquid off.

For those of you who are interested in doing your own herbs, when using fresh herbs your ratio is l:l. If using dehydrated herbs the ratio is l part herb to 2 parts diluent.

I can't remember where I read it, but I do recall reading that you shouldn't treat children under l2 with poke, because it hastened the setting of the long bones (arms & legs). There might be something to this because my family ate a lot of poke sallet and many of us have normal size bodies but short arms and legs. I might also add that most references recommend parboiling through 3 waters before ingesting, but my family (and others that I know who ate their share of it) only parboiled through one water (water discarded) before proceeding to finish cooking it and eating it.

Replied by Denise

Please reconsider keeping this posting on your site. Pokeweed is known to be toxic- all parts of the plant. The toxins can cause a myriad of health problems, including paralysis and death. It is believed that no amount of boiling and discarding the water will remove all its toxins.

There are too many safe alternatives, to even suggest this to anyone!

Thank you for your consideration,

Replied by Joyce
Joelton, Tn
512 posts


I have been eating poke sallet as far back as I can remember with the only adverse effect being diarrhea for a couple of trips to the bathroom if you ate a large amount of it and that was only parboiling it x 1. I have never had any adverse effects from taking the poke berries nor has any of the other people that are taking them and we all had good results with improvement with the joint pain.

If you researched pokeweed you would learn that Vanderbilt and many other hospitals have done a lot of research on them. As I may have mentioned before, while working on my Nurse Practitioner MS degree at Vandy (1978), our physiology instructor shared a little pearl of wisdom with us which was: "We don't know why but from a little research project we have going on here now, pokeberries throws the body into gear to fight". From her little pearl of wisdom, I assume they were ingesting the pokeberries in the study.

If you looked the plant up, one thing she would learn is that poke berries are very rich in Vitamin C, along with a bunch of other chemicals with different reactions. I think that several of us have been taking them for 40+ years and are still living are proof that they aren't all that poisonous. On the other hand, I suspect that Vioxx evolved from some of those research studies on pokeweed, and we all know what happens when you isolate one property of the plant, and make a synthetic version so it can be patented. When the fail-safes included in the plant are removed, so is the safety. I think most people know what happened to the ones taking Vioxx. I am still in much better health at age 75 after 40 + years of taking pokeberries than most of those poor souls who only took Vioxx for a few years. I believe I have a little more experience with this plant than most and I know several friends and family members who have been taking them almost as long as I have.

P.S. There are some things that I won't recommend such as Jimson Weed (also known as deadly nightshade) because they are poison. I remember reading in the paper 10+ years ago about some farmer getting the bright idea of grafting his tomatoes onto jimson weeds *same family) to increase their resistance to pests, etc. & increase yield. Three or 4 of the family died after eating the tomatoes and several others came close to it. I know that one is dangerous, because it is where atropine came from initially.

I recently had someone tell me that johnson grass was poisonous. I told him that I had never heard that before but I was sure it wasn't because I had chewed on one of its roots (actually tasted sweet) just to see what it tastes like. I have also read that it is edible (if we ever get that hungry).

Replied by Denise
Sparks, NV

re: Joyce's response about Pokeweed

Thanks for your informative reply. I'd always heard the pokeweed was poisonous and that was the only information I ever came across in researching it.

As luck would have it, I had to go out and get something for my husband's sore throat this weekend. I came across Boiron's homeopathic remedies; in looking through them, I located the 'sore throat radiating to the ears' remedy. It's main ingredient: Phytolacca decandra, commonly known as POKEWEED!!

Needless to say, I was amazed!

So I did research more, and while Iowa State U's recommendation is to eradicate it everywhere it comes up, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the American Cancer Society actually acknowledges that while it can be toxic, pokeweed when used properly, has incredible healing powers for a wide array of ailments.

Live and learn.

Internal Use of Pokeberries

Posted by Mama To Many (Tn) on 03/25/2017
5 out of 5 stars

I have used pokeberries internally. I harvested the fresh berries and froze them. Then take 1 a day and swallow like a pill so you don't crush the seed.

I made a pokeberry tincture last fall just to have on hand. I have taken a drop at a time in water.

I haven't noticed anything yea or nay yet with the pokeberries. But I mostly forget to take them and don't really have anything I am trying to treat. I just like to try things out on myself to understand them better. I have used a drop of tincture or whole berry daily for at least a couple of weeks at a time and it hasn't killed me yet.

The dose makes the poison. Poke is toxic if used incorrectly, but that is the same with nearly everything. You can die from drinking too much water all at once!

~Mama to Many~

Replied by Robert Henry
Ten Mile, Tn
5 out of 5 stars

MAMA,,,,,,,, the guy in my area takes 8 berries a day to treat his arthritis. I have no clue, as I do Borax to avoid it. I do the extract as a precaution.



Posted by Sarah (Georgia) on 10/29/2018
5 out of 5 stars

Poke root tincture will get rid of mites on people. I found this out when I got mites. This instantly works, start out with one drop in a cup of water in a day and build up to three to five drops a day until the mites are gone. Only use drops, not dropfuls. Poke root can be dangerous if not used properly! Mine came back a couple of times and I just started the tincture again, I always started with these drops and that worked for me. Peace at last!!

Poke Herb Photos

Posted by Mama To Many (Tennessee) on 08/07/2017
5 out of 5 stars

Here is a close up of pokeweed.

Poke is tall now in TN; some plants are 6 feet tall!

This picture shows the bright magenta berry stem. Most of these berries have been picked clean by the birds. They will digest all but the seeds and then pass the seeds along for new poke plants next spring. The seed is the most dangerous part.

The green berries are not ripe. The deep purple berries are ripe. Some people will swallow a berry a day and let the seed pass through (the seed is the most toxic part, other than the root.) The berry a day is for arthritis.

Poke root tincture is used by some for Lyme disease, a DROP at a time. (Not a dropperful.)
Poke root oil is used for breast tumors.

In the spring the leaves used to be boiled in three changes of water for a "tonic" food. If the plant is taller than a foot, the plants are too old to harvest the leaves, so they say.

Poke berries make a fun homemade ink for children, with supervision of course.

Poke is a perfect example of "the dose makes the poison." Poke is classified as poisonous, but when used carefully by those who know what they are doing it can be a great benefit.

~Mama to Many~

Replied by Dave
Fountain Inn, Sc
5 out of 5 stars

Hey there Mama to Many;

You didn't mention in your medicinal review of Polk, that you can EAT it....it is so good. Young leaves as you describe, cooked like you would spinach. Yum. With cornbread of course. (NOT older leaves which apparently begin to turn toxic. Once I nibbled on an older leaf...just a bare taste, and got a bit nauseous.)

Replied by Robert Henry
Ten Mile , Tn
5 out of 5 stars

DAVE,,,,,,,,, poke sallet is what our ancestors cleaned out with. Poke sallet in the fall and sassafras roots in the spring. You have to boil and pour off the water several times least you spend the day in the John. Usually the poke greens were mixed with scrambled eggs. We have poke at our lake home but the berries are still green and have not started to turn. I would guess that Mama's picture was from last fall. Birds, raccoons and opossums gorge on the berries. They swallow the seed but do not crush it and they scour it out to start a new plant. Same thing happens to poison ivy berries and it the reason it is so hard to control. It looks as if they had already hit this bush. I do appreciate the pictures, as wild herbs and plants are not my forte.


Replied by Mama To Many

Dear Robert Henry,

Believe it or not, I took that picture yesterday! I am surprised that though we are in the same state our growing conditions are a bit different here, at least this year.

I found out today that free ranging chickens can help with the poisonous snake population. My kids and their friends are building a fort today. One of the friends noticed a very large worm in one of our chicken's mouths. Upon further inspection, they realized it was a small copperhead. The chicken ate its head off. (Sorry to be graphic.) These are older chickens. They don't lay many eggs but they are sure earning their keep in pest control. They are also entertaining.

~Mama to Many~

Replied by Dave
Fountain Inn, Sc

To Robert Henry re Polk;

That's not how I've eaten it. With a young leaf you do just like any other green. If a little older to be safe, I'd do as you say. I've eaten young Polk many times without multiple boiling and pour off. The trick is .... the leaves must be YOUNG. With no sign of stalk turning color to that reddish tint which evidences an older plant.

Replied by Robert Henry
Ten Mile, Tn

Dave,,,,,, thank u, my Dad told me that and that's what I' be always done. Live & learn. --ORH---

Replied by Robert Henry
Ten Mile , Tn

HI U BUZZARDS DOIN,,,,,,,,, wow, have I been messin my mess kit lately or what? Dave had to set me straight on Poke Sallet. Guess my ancestors picked the wrong leaves. I just did what they said. I also flubbed up on the laundry detergent. I know what Clorox and Purex used to be. What does that tell us? We are all human and are not infallible. I thought I was going to be smart in 4 years or so, but now may have to set a new goal. I missed 65,75 and thought I'd make 85, but now that is in doubt.

Took a bushel of tomatoes to church Sunday and folks loaded up. We offered them apples and pears at our little farm this Saturday. Got a feeling that few will show up 'cause they have to pick um. Hope they prove me wrong.

Reminds me of an ole tale about a traveler who came to a cross road and there was a fella from Ten Mile lying in the shade of a tree. The traveler ask which way to Knoxville and the fella raised his leg and pointed his toe to the right fork. The traveler said, " if you can do a lazier stunt than than that, I'll give you a half dollar". The local said, " put it in my pocket". That about sums it up about folks this day and time. " PUT IT IN MY POCKET".

My Tractor Driver thought that when we retired, we would just coast out. She is finally convinced that we would have been dead a long time ago if we had done that. You have to have a reason to keep on keeping on. We do what we do because if it were not Kim Jong-un, it would be somebody else, so we are getting prepared.


Pokeberry Side Effects

Posted by Peach Fit (Midwest) on 03/25/2017
1 out of 5 stars

POKEBERRIES ARE POISONOUS. Honestly, this post seems like trolling, as recommending asparagus for gout is also contraindicated. But pokeberries are POISONOUS. DO NOT EAT.

"Poke sallet" or salad is made from the leaves and even those have to be cooked thoroughly and drained to be consumed.


Replied by Robert Henry
Ten Mile, Tn
5 out of 5 stars

PEACH FIT,,,,,,,, you sir, have not been far enough around the watermelon. Lots of animals and birds eat Poke Berries . You just can't crush and eat the seed. Animals eat the seed whole and scour them out and that is the way the plant is propagated. I don't eat the berries, but I cook them and make an extract that I take to avoid arthritis. A local freezes them and eats them whole all year 'round.

What shows that you are a novice on the subject is that the leaves have to be cooked several times and the water poured off. Other-wise you will spend the day on the potty. Guess you don't know that folks eat them with scrambled eggs.

I'm roughing you up because of your all knowing tone. Most on EC are pretty smart folk and don't need to be talked down to.



Posted by Robert Henry (Ten Mile, Tn) on 04/28/2016

HI U CITY SLICKERS DOING,,,,,,,,,,, at the farm today and saw lots of Poke Weeds bursting forth with fresh tender leaves. The pore Southern folks know that spring is when their Momma fed them Poke Salad to clean out the bad stuff their innards had accumulated over the winter.

I am not an expert on the subject and will ask Mama to Many to send ya'll to school on this wild plant. I'll bet she has a recipe that will have you fit as a fiddle in no time.

Lots of folks will tell you that the Poke Berries are poisonous, but only if you eat crush the seeds. A local freezes the berries and eats them year round for his Arthritis.

Years ago they even wrote a song called Poke Salad Annie and if this does not have you patting your foot, then you too far gone for EC 's brightest to help you.


ATS,,,,, ======ORH=======

Replied by Mama To Many

Dear Robert Henry,

Yes, sir, I have noticed the poke leaves coming up. For years I would dread the sight of poke as it is such a hearty weed and difficult to get rid of. I was not aware of a tradition to eat the fresh leaves but I will have to look in to that. Fascinating.

But in recent years, I look at poke differently; more with a respect. I see a tenacious plant that is a strong natural medicine. Last fall I harvested a bunch of the berries and put them in my freezer. I purposed to take one a day. You are supposed to swallow one berry a day, whole, like a pill. That way you don't crush the seed, which is the most toxic part, and the seed passes on through. I probably did it a couple of weeks and then forgot about those berries. I got on to something else. But I didn't die! :) My kids were kind of horrified since I had told them for years not to eat poke because it was dangerous! And it is, if used improperly.

I really want to make some Poke Root tincture You are supposed to harvest the root in the fall. Then you can make a tincture of it. A dose of Poke is ONE DROP! Not a dropperful. Apparently it can be used for some cancers. Also for arthritis and mastitis.

So, last September I would drive along country roads and see the poke along side the roads - thousands of poke berries that most think are just a nuisance. Right there. A cancer treatment. Free. (Not that you should collect herbs from roadsides....)

Hopefully I will get some poke tincture made in the fall and have some stories to tell next year. But the root is hard to get out and to get through to it I would be in knee high brush...I didn't want to deal with poison ivy, ticks or snakes.... (who knows...maybe poke is good for snake bites - we have seen a couple of copperheads so far this spring...I am always pondering what remedies might be best for snake bites.)

~Mama to Many~


Posted by Sarah (Monrovia, Ca) on 10/20/2008
4 out of 5 stars

This is a wonderful site, I got scabies from a patient who were treated twice with Elemite, I began to have scabies break out after 3 weeks. The whole family memebers applied Elemite all over from head to toe, but the scabies were not killed. I have more break out. I tried neem oil, tea tree oil,oregano oil, nothing worked. Then I tried Poke root, only adult used this potent herbs, I let my children use turmeric and neem powder paste which is safer for children. It seem that I got a very resistant type, I splashed the decoction all over and instantly, dead bodies of scabies popped out all over me. It was itchy badly, but I wanted to kill the mite so bad and left it on my body for a couple of hours. I thought I will be free from scabies after this treatment, but I still itch the next day. a few days later I have break out again. Then I tried poke root for the 2nd, 3rd and 4th time. I began to have many bruises on my legs. Now I only itch on my ear lobe. So I decided to stop use poke and see what will happen to me. I also desperately wash all clothes and linens with hot water. Many many loads a day. I'm praying for a cure from this! If anyone have a better solution, please post on this site!

Posted by Patty (Houston, TX) on 10/07/2008

I think I have scabies...after having what i thought was a rash for a couple of weeks, my son came over and laid across my bed for a while and he called the next day saying he was itching too...well, i had thought I had it because it felt like bites of different intensity, etc..i had gone to my doctor and she said I didn't have scabies because I didn't have the rash...well I have them..and I've tried permethrin (got her to give me a prescription anyway), no help (my son used it and his are gone),(he's grown and gone) have tried tea tree oil, it soothes but doesn't eradicate them, have done the washes, and daily changes of sheets, towels, all other clothing..washes, etc..and last night tried the peroxide and borax soak..I am still itching today..will try the above again (peroxide, etc) but have ordered some enzymes and meat tenderizer and will try that...also will try the poke remedy..but does anyone know if the boiled concoction can be boiled and refrigerated for use later...i don't have a continuous supply..is there any danger with poke and should it be rinsed off and can it be used daily? also, does anyone know if they can "live" in the mattress? Also I have lots of carpet..I think I have infested my surroundings...Help someone ! ! How does this happen to someone who bathes daily and sometimes twice...???

Replied by Joyce
Joelton, Tn
512 posts
5 out of 5 stars

Hello Patty from Houston, I don't think there would be any problem with refrigeration of the water from the boiled poke root, but have you considered boiling enough for one day or two and dehydrating or freezing the rest of the root until you need it. Pokeweed should be growing rampant in Texas, the same as here. But be prepared to dig, because those roots can get pretty big. I would just bathe with for one day, and if the itching stopped, hold off to see if it started again.If it does repeat the bathing again (wiping off with drippy wash cloth). I just tried to call my brother to see how many times his daughter had to bath with the pokeroot boiled in water since he didn't mention her using it more than once, but alas my phone is not working now. You probably shouldn't use it continuously for more than 2 or three days.

You should also boil clothing and bed linens to get rid of scabies.

I just looked up scabies in "Cuz Jim's" The Green Pharmacy and he suggests that one can find skin care products containing neem at some health food stores. He says to just mix in several teaspoons of turmeric and apply it to the affected areas daily. He gives this advice because an Indian researcher treated 8l4 people with scabies using a paste made from 4 parts neem leaves and one part turmeric roots, having the infested patients rub it all over themselves daily. 98% of them were improved within 3 to 5 days and were completely cured within 2 weeks.

Another suggestion he has is to boil the skins of a half dozen yellow onions in a quart of water for l5 to 30 minutes to extract the quercetin which has soothing powers against scabies and other skin problems.

Another suggestion is boiling green hulls (from black walnuts) in a cup of water until the water is half evaporated and apply to affected areas. A more heavy concentration can be obtained by covering the hulls with water, bring to a boil and simmer until half the water is evaporated. Apply liberally to the skin, daily applications should be safe, but hope you don't mind being brownskinned for awhile.]

Replied by Renate
Jacksonville, Florida

Scabies can live off of the body for 48 to 72 hours. A big reason reason why people get re-infestations is failure to properly clean the mattress (wish someone would have said that a year ago...) You spend a significant part of you day in bed so that is where they thrive outside of the body. The best thing to do, in my opinion, is get a steam cleaner and steam that puppy everyday before putting on new sheets. Make sure you give it time to dry because you don't want to grow mold in your mattress. If you have to take your clothes to the laundry mat like I do (sadly that makes everything that much harder) make sure you keep a "quarantine" bag for dirty laundry and never,never wear anything twice without washing it. Another good tip is if you have a job where you have to wear a uniform like me (go Kmart yay) and you don't have a uniform for everyday of the week, iron the clothes before you put them back on again. High heat kills them instantly. And another thing that I never once thought of to clean everyday is shoes. Especially if you wear them everyday. And lastly, never think that one treatment will cure them if you haven't already noticed. Scabies lay eggs!!! 1-3 eggs per day!!!

Never let anyone tell you that you are dirty because you have scabies. They don't come from dirty people or go to only dirty people. Anyone can get them. Think of it this way... Head lice, for instance, goes to the person with the cleanest hair. Same with scabies... those damn creatures...

Replied by Les
San Diego

Go to a tanning booth. The ultra violet light kills them and eggs immediately. Just don't stay in too long.

Posted by Chris (Monteagle, Tn. USA) on 10/02/2008
5 out of 5 stars

YES, YES, YES!!! This round, I've only been battling scabies for about three weeks. Three full body Pyrithrin treatments, borax and peroxide soak and several Oregano oil and Tea Tree treatments, nothing was working (I actually think they liked the Oregano oil)
I had scabies once before about ten tears ago, and a single treatment with Pyrithrin cream did the trick. I'm certain that if its the same species of scabies they have developed a resistance to the toxin(but not me, it was making me sick).

I live in the Tennessee mountains where theres lots of Poke Salad, one treatment as prescribed above and boy, could I tell a difference. They seem to be almost completely gone, and man, did it itch for about five minutes...I could tell them little boogers was hatin' life. I'm sure I'll have to do it a couple more times, thats all right its free!. I spent close to a hundred bucks in less than three weeks without results, when God provided the cure for free right out my back door So, do it.... Man am I happy. Thank you.

Posted by Susan (Charleston, WV) on 07/20/2008
5 out of 5 stars

Pokeberries for Scabies:

I had them once and lucky for me, read in the paper the same day what to do to get rid of them.

I dug up the roots of Poke Greens that is plentiful in my area.

I boiled the roots for 5 minutes. Just 3 or 4 small sprigs of roots is enough in a small pot.

Got in the shower and after it was cool enough, splashed the Poke tea all over me and Scabies popped out all over me. Itches like crazy but left it on as long as I could stand it about 3 minutes.

Then greased myself with crisco all over and the itching stopped. I waited about ten minutes and washed off the crisco and never had another scabie. It worked for me. But it's not easy going through it because of the itching.


EC: More about Poke's medicinal uses here: http://www.redmoonherbs.com/articles/poke-medicinal-use.php

Photo of Polk Greens: http://www.bloggingwv.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/06/polk4.jpg

Replied by Susan
Charleston, WV

Remember to wash all your bed linens after your Poke Green Roots treatment, because once you get back in the same bed you will get them again. Wash anything, clothes you came in contact with before you do the treatment. I got them from someone who laid a coat on my bed. Also spray your doorknobs and spigots, whatever you touch, with some kind of disinfect, even wipe over your telephone, glasses, keyboard and mouse, because they're there and you'll get them again. Wear plastic gloves while you're cleaning areas and picking up clothing you've worn. I only had to do it once. Susan

Replied by Susan
Charleston, WV

I would never use the poke green treatment on a child or a pet. It worked for me, an adult. Susan

Replied by Vera
New York, New York

What exactly is the Poke Green Treatment, and how do I go about treating myself with it for scabies? This website is awesome!

Replied by Joyce
Joelton, Tn
512 posts
5 out of 5 stars

Hello Vera from NY, Poke greens have always been called poke sallet around here in the south. At the time we were catching scabies in my youth we didn't know about boiling poke root in water and then bathing with the water would kill them, so I have no personal knowledge of this. However, when a niece got the problem a couple of years ago and asked her father what to do to get rid of them, he asked me what to do because they had no money to go to the doctor. When I informed him that pokeweed root boiled in water, and then bathing in the water was said to kill them, he proceeded to dig one up and present it to her to boil in water to bathe in. I don't know how much they put in the water but knowing my brother, I am sure that he got a big old pokeweed root to give her to boil. He laughed as he told me about the results later. She said she felt like she was on fire when she put it on but it sure did work to kill the scabies. If you want to research on this plant, put in pokeweed for the common name, or you'll have trouble finding it. Pokeweed grows back from the same roots in the spring and some of those roots get pretty darned big and difficult to dig out, so my advice is to look for one that looks like it just came up from seeds this year, which it will soon be poking up from the earth. If you get a big root I would hesitate to boil the whole thing to bathe in since it would be very strong.

The letter from Susan from Charleston telling how she used it sounds logical, but I think I would prefer to use something besides Crisco for soothing after the bathing, maybe olive or coconut oil instead. Lots of luck. We have been having a lot of head lice going around down here the last few years and if they make an appearance in this family again, we are likely to boil some poke root and mix in some borax for shampoo to see if they don't succumb quickly as the scabies did. Lots of luck and be sure to cool that water down before bathing with it.

Replied by Shan
Reno, Nv, Usa

Hi Joyce,

I have just in the past day relized I have scabies. I'm interested in your polk soak recipe to use. Sad thing is, I'm in Nevada...no polk out here. Is there someplace I can buy the root? Please reply, I'm desperate.

Replied by Kathleen
Glenwood, Nova Scotia

We have sheep and sometimes you need the from-the- bottle remedies. Apparently, I cannot provide the actual chemical name here, but if you look up scabies at Wikipedia, you'll see some photos, and you'll probably see the name of the remedy that clears this up fast. I'd suggest you go to a feed store [for farm animals] or a sheep farmer, and buy some. It is usually administered sub-cu to sheep, but on a dog, or a human, 1/2 cc, twice a day, mixed with a little mineral oil, or a little, um, ..liquid horse liniment [comes in an yellow/orange plastic bottle*] and rubbed on the affected area,will clear up the problem -pronto. Ask the farmer or the feed dealer for the injectible product [it begins with the letter, 'I'] that is, it is usually administered by injection, under the skin, in a regular worming program, for ruminants. *come to think of it, this 'liquid horse liniment' might make the 'I' meds. even more effective, since the active ingredient is potassium iodide. Stings like the dickens, though, on any sort of open-type sore. I only saw this problem once, some years back, when we were seeing other problems, associated with widespread use of defoliants, locally, to manage clearcut areas. [very attractive sounding, isn't it? -you can't imagine..] Had this remedy not worked, -and FAST- I can tell you it's one you'll want to high-tail it to a doctor, to get fixed. Hope this helps! -By the way, we are, and have been for many years, COMPLETELY Earth Clinic 'types', and I'm so grateful for this wonderful site. Best wishes to all -

Replied by Joyce
Joelton, Tn
512 posts

Hello Shan from Reno,

Sorry I can't help you with a source for buying poke sallet (pokeweed) root but you might inquire at a natural resource place in your locality. Before giving up on it growing wild there, type pokeweed or poke sallet in a search window and see if you can pull up a picture of it & go hiking. It is a very easy plant to identify if you know what it looks like. It is growing all over here. Shame you aren't a neighbor because I'd even let you borrow my shovel to dig one up from my yard.