Because pokeweed has toxic effects, it should not be used to treat cancer, infections, inflammation, or any other medical condition.
Pokeweed products are extracts from all parts of the plant: leaves, root, and berries. Pokeweed contains chemicals that are known toxins, but several of its other components have shown biological activity in laboratory experiments. For example, pokeweed antiviral protein (PAP) is able to stop replication of viruses such as herpes simplex, influenza and poliovirus in the test tube, while pokeweed anti-fungal protein (PAFP) does the same to fungi. Certain saponins from pokeweed also reduce inflammation in rats. None of these effects have been seen in the human body.
Derived from various parts of the plant, including root, leaf, and berry. Patients use this herb to treat rheumatoid arthritis, infections, and cancer (as part of the Hoxsey herbal tonic).
Pokeweed has not been studied extensively. A few in vitro studies indicate that it has antioxidant and acetylcholinesterase inhibition properties (5). Pokeweed antiviral protein (PAP), an N-glycosidase ribosomal-inactivating protein isolated from the plant, demonstrated antiviral effects against encephalitis infection (6).
Pokeweed causes significant toxicity following oral or topical administration.
Pokeweed mitogens and glycosidic saponins are known toxins that possess mitogenic and irritant properties (1). Pokeweed antiviral protein (PAP) shows broad antiviral activity in vitro. PAP inhibits replication of herpes simplex, influenza and poliovirus, possibly via inactivation of eukaryotic ribosomes (2). Saponin extracts from pokeweed, chiefly phytolaccagenin, exhibit antiinflammatory activity as demonstrated by carrageenan rat paw edema tests. Pokeweed’s histamine and GABA content may have hypotensive effects. PAFP-s, an antifungal peptide extract from pokeweed, displays fungistatic effects against a variety of species in vitro (3).