In folk medicine, pokeweed leaves have been used for rheumatism, arthritis, emesis (vomiting) and purging. Unsubstantiated reports describe the toxicity of pokeweed root and berries, which may be due to the saponin content of the plant.
One derivative of pokeweed, pokeweed antiviral protein (PAP) from the spring leaves of Phytolacca Americana, shows promising therapeutic effects. Interest in PAP is growing due to its use as a potential anti-HIV agent. However, the clinical use of native PAP is limited due to inherent difficulties in obtaining sufficient quantities of homogeneously pure active PAP without batch-to-batch variation from its natural resource.
The United Kingdom allows pokeweed in medicinal products where toxic constituents are absent and the product adheres to mandated limits. Ongoing research is investigating the use of pokeweed for the flu, HSV-1, and polio.
American nightshade, American spinach, bear's grape, branching phytolacca, cancer jalap, chongras, coakum, coakum-chorngras, cokan, crowberry, endod, fitolaca, garget, hierba carmine, inkberry, jalap, kermesbeere, mitogenic lectins, monodesmosidic serjanic acid saponin, monodesmosidic spergulagenic acid saponin, PAP, phytolacain (G, R) Phytolacca acinosa, Phytolacca acinosa Esculenta, Phytolacca americana, phytolacca berry, Phytolacca decandra, Phytolacca dioica, Phytolacca dodecandra (Endod), Phytolacca icosandra, Phytolacca octandra, Phytolacca rigida, Phytolaccaceae (family), phytolaccagenin, phytolaccatoxin, phytolaccosides, pigeonberry, pocan, poke, poke root, poke salad, pokeberry, pokeweed antiviral protein (PAP), pokeweed berry, proteinaceous mitogens, raisin d'amérique, red-ink plant, red plant, red weed, resin, saponin glycosides, scoke, skoke, tannin, teinturiére, TXU-PAP, Virginian poke.
These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.