American Nightshade, American Spinach, Baie de Phytolaque d'Amérique, Bear's Grape, Branching Phytolacca, Cancer Jalap, Chongras, Coakum, Coakum-Chorngras, Cokan, Crowberry, Épinard de Cayenne, Épinard des Indes, Faux Vin, Fitolaca, Garget, Herbe à la Laque, Hierba Carmin, Inkberry, Jalap, Kermesbeere, Laque, Phytolacca Berry, Phytolacca americana, Phytolacca decandra, Phytolaque Américaine, Phytolaque à Baies, Phytolaque Commun, Phytolaque d'Amérique, Pigeonberry, Pocan, Poke, Pokeweed berry, Pokeweed root, Raisin d'Amérique, Red-Ink Plant, Red Plant, Red Weed, Scoke, Skoke, Teinturier, Teinturière, Vigne de Judée, Virginian Poke.


Overview Information

Pokeweed is a plant. The berry, root, and leaves are used as medicine.

Despite serious safety concerns, people use pokeweed for achy muscles and joints (rheumatism), swelling of the nose, throat, and chest, swollen and tender breasts (mastitis), skin infections, and many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these uses.

In foods, pokeweed berry is used as red food coloring and as a wine coloring agent.

In manufacturing, pokeweed berry is used to make ink and dye.

How does it work?

There isn't enough information available to know how pokeweed works.


Uses & Effectiveness?

Insufficient Evidence for

More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of pokeweed for these uses.

Side Effects

Side Effects & Safety

When taken by mouth: Pokeweed is LIKELY UNSAFE. All parts of the pokeweed plant, especially the root, are poisonous. Severe poisoning has been reported from drinking tea brewed from pokeweed root and pokeweed leaves. Poisoning also has resulted from drinking pokeberry wine and eating pokeberry pancakes. Eating just 10 berries can be toxic to an adult. Green berries seem to be more poisonous than mature, red berries.

Pokeweed can cause nausea, vomiting, cramping, stomach pain, diarrhea, low blood pressure, difficulty controlling urination (incontinence), thirst, and other serious side effects.

When applied to the skin: Pokeweed is LIKELY UNSAFE. Don't touch pokeweed with your bare hands. Chemicals in the plant can pass through the skin and affect the blood. If you must handle pokeweed, use protective gloves.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

It's LIKELY UNSAFE for anyone to use pokeweed. But pokeweed is especially dangerous for people with the following conditions:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Pokeweed is LIKELY UNSAFE to take by mouth or apply to the skin. Pokeweed berry might cause the uterus to contract and cause a miscarriage. Breast-feeding women should also avoid pokeweed.

Children: Pokeweed is UNSAFE for children. Even one berry can be poisonous to a child.



We currently have no information for POKEWEED Interactions.



The appropriate dose of pokeweed depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for pokeweed. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.

View References


  • Baalawy, S. S. Laboratory evaluation of the molluscicidal potency of a butanol extract of Phytolacca dodecandra (endod) berries. Bull World Health Organ 1972;47(3):422-425. View abstract.
  • Cho, S. Y., Sim, J. S., Kang, S. S., Jeong, C. S., Linhardt, R. J., and Kim, Y. S. Enhancement of heparin and heparin disaccharide absorption by the Phytolacca americana saponins. Arch Pharm Res 2003;26(12):1102-1108. View abstract.
  • Erko, B., Abebe, F., Berhe, N., Medhin, G., Gebre-Michael, T., Gemetchu, T., and Gundersen, S. G. Control of Schistosoma mansoni by the soapberry Endod (Phytolacca dodecandra) in Wollo, northeastern Ethiopia: post-intervention prevalence. East Afr.Med J 2002;79(4):198-201. View abstract.
  • Goll, P. H., Lemma, A., Duncan, J., and Mazengia, B. Control of schistosomiasis in Adwa, Ethiopia, using the plant molluscicide endod (Phytolacca dodecandra). Tropenmed.Parasitol. 1983;34(3):177-183. View abstract.
  • Hamilton, R. J., Shih, R. D., and Hoffman, R. S. Mobitz type I heart block after pokeweed ingestion. Vet.Hum Toxicol. 1995;37(1):66-67. View abstract.
  • Hostettmann, K. On the use of plants and plant-derived compounds for the control of schistosomiasis. Naturwissenschaften 1984;71(5):247-251. View abstract.
  • Kino, M., Yamaguchi, K., Umekawa, H., and Funatsu, G. Purification and characterization of three mitogenic lectins from the roots of pokeweed (Phytolacca americana). Biosci.Biotechnol.Biochem. 1995;59(4):683-688. View abstract.
  • Lemma, A. Laboratory and field evaluation of the molluscicidal properties of Phytolacca dodecandra. Bull World Health Organ 1970;42(4):597-612. View abstract.
  • Rau, E. Treatment of acute tonsillitis with a fixed-combination herbal preparation. Adv.Ther. 2000;17(4):197-203. View abstract.
  • Barker BE, Farnes P, LaMarche PH. Haematological effects of pokeweed. Lancet 1967;1:437.
  • Bentley KE, Berryman KR, Hopper M, et al. Eleven microsatellites in an emerging invader, Phytolacca americana (Phytolaccaceae), from its native and introduced ranges. Appl Plant Sci. 2015;3(3). pii: apps.1500002. View abstract.
  • Furbee B, Wermuth M. Life-threatening plant poisoning. Crit Care Clin 1997;13:849-88. View abstract.
  • Jaeckle KA, Freemon FR. Pokeweed poisoning. South Med J 1981;74:639-40. View abstract.
  • Kell SO, Rosenberg SA, Conlon TJ, Spyker DA. A peek at poke: mitogenicity and epidemiology. Vet Hum Toxicol 1982;24:36.
  • Lewis WH, Smith PR. Poke root herbal tea poisoning. JAMA 1979;242:2759-60.
  • Roberge R, Brader E, Martin ML, et al. The root of evil-pokeweed intoxication. Ann Emerg Med 1986;15:470-3.
  • Wiesenauer, M. Comparison of solid and liquid forms of homeopathic remedies for tonsillitis. Adv Ther 1998;15(6):362-371. View abstract.

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CONDITIONS OF USE AND IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This information is meant to supplement, not replace advice from your doctor or healthcare provider and is not meant to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not fit your specific health circumstances. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified health care provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor or health care professional before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your health care plan or treatment and to determine what course of therapy is right for you.

This copyrighted material is provided by Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Consumer Version. Information from this source is evidence-based and objective, and without commercial influence. For professional medical information on natural medicines, see Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Professional Version.
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