This is a blog about the pursuits of Naturalist Alan Russo to incorporate all things Natural, especially Plants, into his daily life. Living close to Nature has always been a passion of mine and I try, with natures help, to live a Healthy lifestyle for myself and for the Earth.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Poke as Medicine


 I have written about Poke before and it's many varied uses. From food to dye, Poke is an incredibly useful plant.
 One thing I haven't written about before is Poke as Medicine. There are a couple of reasons for this. As you know, especially if you have been reading this Blog, is that Poke is toxic and the root is the most toxic part of the plant. Even when using the leaves as food, there is a specific process and the toxins are boiled out of the plant.Well, the Root is the part used as Medicine and it is used raw! The other reason is that I am not an herbalist. I write from experience and there is always a chance that the plant can be misused by someone. Using Poke as Medicine is not like other plants I have written about that are used as Medicine. You can't mess up using, lets say, Plantain on a scrape or Echinacia for a cold. But Poke on the other hand should not be used by anyone other than a trained Herbalist because of it's potential Toxicity. Remember, these are MY Ethnobotanical Pursuits, not advice in any way. Please be responsible.
  The best time to gather the Roots is when the plant has died back in the Fall or before it starts to come up again in the Spring. The roots of some older poke plants can be quite large and the chance of getting the whole root is slim to none. As you can see in the photo above, all three are broken at the main tap root. That's OK though, as the root left in the ground will most likely produce another plant so you don't have to worry about loosing your Spring supply of food. The other thing is that you only need a small quantity as the dosage of the medicine is very small and a little will go along way.
Top of the Root where next Springs plants will sprout from
 Even though the Root is huge it is quite succulent and cuts easily with a knife. I usually make a Tincture of my Poke so this is the procedure I will discuss.
Beautiful pure white roots
  It is extremely easy to make a Tincture. Basically all I do is cut the Root into as small a pieces as I can, put those pieces in a jar and cover them with Vodka. Let them stay together for a minimum of six weeks than I strain the root from the tincture, toss the root into the compost pile, label the Tincture, store away from sunlight and  place it where no one who shouldn't can reach it. I actually put a skull and crossbones on mine just to be sure.
Tincture in the making

  I cannot talk about things like dosage etc. as I have no qualifications to do so, remember this is for a trained Herbalist only.
 Many Herbals talk about the uses of Poke as Medicine and Poke is used for various conditions in various ways. Personally I only use it after having a cold as it is said that Poke Root is one of the best lymphatic cleansers in the Herbal world.

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