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Pokeweed (Phytolacca americana)

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phytolacca_americana

 

American Pokeweed (Phytolacca americana) is a large herbaceous perennial plant growing up to 10 feet (3 meters) in height native to eastern North America. It is also known as American nightshade, cancer jalap, coakum, garget, inkberry, pigeon berry, pocan bush, poke root, pokeweed, redweed, scoke, red ink plant and chui xu shang lu (in Chinese medicine). Parts of this plant are highly toxic to livestock and humans, and it is considered a major pest by farmers. Nonetheless, some parts can be used as food, medicine or poison. The plant has a large white taproot, green or red stems, and large, simple leaves. White flowers are followed by purple to almost black berries, which are a good food source for songbirds such as Northern Cardinal, Brown Thrasher, and Northern Mockingbird.

 

Modern pharmacological uses

 

Physiologically, phytolacca acts upon the skin, the glandular structures, especially those of the buccal cavity, throat, sexual system, and very markedly upon the mammary glands. It further acts upon the fibrous and serous tissues, and mucous membranes of the digestive and urinary tracts. Phytolacca is alterative, anodyne, anti-inflammatory,antiviral, anti-cancer, expectorant, emetic, cathartic, narcotic, hypnotic,insecticide and purgative.[8][9]

 

Anti-cancer: The anticancer effects appear to work primarily based upon anti-tumor and anti-inflammatory properties, along with immune stimulant functions. Additional support for fighting cancer may come from antiplasmodial or cytotoxic fractions of the phytolacca toxin. And, although it has not been confirmed as a cause or factor of cancers, the antimicrobial, antiviral and antithelmetic properties of certain constituents might also play a part in anticancer activity. Further there are aromatase inhibitors and antioxidant properties that may affect cancer. Anti-cancer, antileukemic or anti-tumor constituents include: ascorbic acid, astragalin, beta carotene, caryophylline, isoquercitin, oleanolic acid, riboflavin, tannin and thiamine. Of the constituents known to fight cancer, oleanolic acid appears to be the most significant with its anticarcinomic; anticomplement, antihepatotoxic; antiinflammatory, antileukemic; antileukotriene, antinephritic, antioxidant, antiperoxidant , antiPGE2, antiplasmodial, antisarcomic; antiseptic, antiTGFbeta, antitumor (Breast, Colon, Kidney, Lung, Pancreas); antiviral, aromataseinhibitor; cancer-preventive; hepatoprotective; immunomodulator;leucocytogenic; NF-kB-Inhibitor; phagocytotic; and prostaglandin-synthesisinhibitor properties [13][14]

 

Anti-inflammatory constituents include saponins in poke root and triterpenes in the berries: alpha spinasterol, ascorbic acid, calcium oxalate, caryophylline, isoquercitin, jialigonic acid, and oleanolic acid. [13]

 

Immune stimulant constituents include astragalin, ascorbic acid, beta carotene, phosphorus and oleanolic acid. [13]

 

Anti-AIDS: Pokeweed antiviral protein (a Single Chain Ribosome Inactivating Protein or SCRIP) is being considered as a potent inhibitor of human immunodeficiency for AIDS There are also well-known three different pokeweed antiviral protein (PAP)isoforms from leaves of Phytolacca Americana (PAP-I from spring leaves, PAPII from early summer leaves, and PAP-III from late summer leaves) that cause concentration-dependent depurination of genomic HIV-1 RNA.[1][15]

 

Antiviral: PAP, oleanolic acid, ascorbic acid, tannin, mitogen. [13]

 

In addition: Betanin and oleanolic acid are antiperoxidative and the vitamins plus caryophylline and oleanolic acid are antioxidant. Astragalin, isoquercitin and caryophylline are aldose-reductase-inhibitors. [13]

 

Kingdom: Plantae

Division: Magnoliophyta

Class: Magnoliopsida

Order: Caryophyllales

Family: Phytolaccaceae

Genus: Phytolacca

Species: P. americana

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Taken on September 22, 2009