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Archive for September 27, 2012

Pokeweed

Pokeweed (Phytolacca americana) has been used by many people for many things over the years.  Native Americans used it to treat cancer, rheumatism, itching, and syphilis. They also ate young pokeweed shoots, which contain very low levels of toxins compared to the rest of the plant (and they boiled them several times).  At one time, juice from the berries was once used to make ink and dye.  Even today it is still used — by the food industry to make red food coloring and by farmers to reduce the swelling of cows’ udders.  Research has shown that pokeweed contains a compound that appears to enhance the immune system.  It has had some anti-cancer and antivirus effects in animals.  Herbalists use Pokeweed for all kinds of ailments, from hemorrhoids to bad breath.  Note: all parts of Pokeweed are poisonous, particularly the roots.