Phytolacca americana (generic name)

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Safety

DISCLAIMER: Many complementary techniques are practiced by healthcare professionals with formal training, in accordance with the standards of national organizations. However, this is not universally the case, and adverse effects are possible. Due to limited research, in some cases only limited safety information is available.

Allergies

Avoid in individuals with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to pokeweed or its constituents.

Side Effects and Warnings

All parts of the pokeweed plant are considered toxic. Pokeweed antiviral protein (PAP) appears to have fewer side effects, which include transient elevation of the liver enzyme alanine aminotransferase. Use PAP cautiously in patients with liver disorders. Use PAP cautiously and only under the guidance of a medical professional for HIV. Dosing and efficacy are unclear based on currently available literature.

When taken by mouth, all parts of the pokeweed plant may cause nausea, vomiting, cramping, abdominal pain, diarrhea, hypotension (low blood pressure), blood abnormalities, burning sensations in the mouth and throat, weakness, bloody emesis (vomiting), bloody diarrhea, salivation, respiratory failure, difficulty breathing, tachycardia (fast heart rate), Mobitz type I heart block, transient blindness, urinary incontinence, spasm, convulsion, severe thirst, somnolence (sleepiness/drowsiness), or death.

Protective gloves should be used to handle the plant because when the root comes in contact with broken skin or is ingested, pokeweed may cause changes in the blood. Use pokeweed cooked leaves cautiously in adult patients, as only cooked early spring leaves are considered nontoxic.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Pokeweed is not recommended in pregnant or breastfeeding women due to a lack of available scientific evidence. The berry may have uterine stimulant and abortifacient (abortion inducing) effects.

Interactions

Interactions with Drugs

Pokeroot may lower blood pressure and thus increase the action of antihypertensive herbs and supplements. Patients taking blood pressure lowering herbs should consult with a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist.

Pokeweed root may have anti-inflammatory effects, and therefore may interact additively with anti-inflammatory drugs.

Pokeweed may have antiviral effects, and therefore may interact with antiviral medications.

Pokeweed may cause Mobitz type I heart block, and may therefore interact with cardiac glycosides, such as digoxin or digitoxin.

Theoretically, pokeweed may have diuretic activity, and may interact additively with other diuretics. Caution is advised.

Phytolaccosides from Phytolacca americana may increase the intestinal absorption of hydrophilic drugs, or heparin, having difficulty crossing the intestinal epithelium. Consult with a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist, for a full list of interactions.

Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements

Pokeroot may lower blood pressure and thus increase the action of antihypertensive herbs and supplements. Patients taking blood pressure lowering herbs should consult with a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist.

Pokeweed root may have anti-inflammatory effects, and therefore may interact additively with herbs and supplements with anti-inflammatory effects.

Pokeweed may have antiviral effects, and therefore may interact with antiviral herbs.

Pokeweed may cause Mobitz type I heart block, and may therefore interact with cardiac glycoside herbs, such as foxglove.

Theoretically, pokeweed may have diuretic activity, and may interact additively with other diuretics. Caution is advised.

Phytolaccosides from Phytolacca americana may increase the intestinal absorption of hydrophilic herbs having difficulty crossing the intestinal epithelium. Consult with a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist, for a full list of interactions.

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