Pokeweed (Phytolacca Octandra)
Pokeweed (Phytolacca Octandra)

Pokeweed (Phytolacca Octandra)

Pokeweed, commonly called American nightshade or Phytolacca Octandra, is used in the treatment of several diseases. Though the berries of this plant are poisonous in nature, when prepared in a specific way and consumed, it can provide several health benefits. Pokeweed can be used as a natural weight loss remedy. It can also be used for other purposes such as preventing fluid retention and infections. It is commonly used for the treatment of fungal infections, tonsillitis, and rheumatoid arthritis. It offers a safe alternative treatment for some forms of cancer.


Pokeweed possesses anti-obesity properties. It can allow a person to reduce weight in a safe and effective manner. It can regularize the metabolism of fats and help to maintain a healthy weight. It can also prevent weakness, which is common symptom experienced by the obese patients when they are on a low-calorie diet. Pokeweed also possesses antimicrobial properties, which are beneficial in the treatment of fungal and bacterial infections. It can support apoptosis, a mechanism that results in the death of cancer cells.


Pokeweed contains several bioactive compounds such as phytolaccin, caryophyllene, phytolacanin, and isobetanine. It also contains betanine that hydrolyses to form iso-betanidine and betanidine. It offers a potent natural source of a glycoprotein called prebetanine. These compounds are known to possess phyto-therapeutic properties, which can produce a favorable influence on the overall functioning of the body. It can improve the digestion, and absorption of food, thus lowering the food intake. It can also prevent weariness and stupor.


  • Obesity
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Melanoma


The usual recommended dose of Pokeweed is 1 or 2 tablets to be taken 3 times a day. It should be taken continuously over a longer duration to archive the desired results. The dose may be lowered to 1 tablet per day once satisfactory improvement in the health has been achieved.


Pokeweed is beneficial for the overweight or obese patients to restore the normal metabolism while increasing energy and burning more fats.


Pokeweed is used as a natural remedy for managing obesity. Pokeweed contains triterpene saponins such as Pokeweedsaponins N-1 (1) to N-5 (5). These compounds have been isolated from the roots of this plant. These saponins can improve the metabolic processes of the body and increase the utilization of excess fats deposited in different parts. It can eliminate the stored fats and help to reduce abdominal obesity. (1)

Saponins in Pokeweed also help to keep the cholesterol levels in control. It can prevent atherosclerosis caused due to the higher levels of cholesterol and triglycerides. This can help to prevent the risk of complications commonly associated with obesity such as heart attacks, diabetes, stroke, and hypertension.

Pokeweed can also regulate the hunger pattern. This can lead to a remarkable reduction in the calorie intake, which can result in a faster weight loss. It can increase the fat burning processes of the body thus promoting the calorie utilization by the body.

The 2-way mechanisms of Pokeweed, which involves reducing the calorie intake by controlling appetite, and increasing the calorie utilization by promoting the metabolic rate, can help a person to lose considerable weight in a shorter duration.

Pokeweed also produces a powerful effect on the osseous and fibrous tissues of the body. These actions play a role in the management of obesity and related complications.

Pokeweed can help an obese person to stick to a low-calorie diet for longer by preventing weakness and fatigue. It can maintain the energy levels by stimulating fat burning and ensuring the body receives an uninterrupted supply of energy and nutrients. It can prevent sluggishness and weariness and help in weight reduction from undesirable areas like the belly, back, thighs, and upper arms.

Joint disorders

Pokeweed is used to obtain relief from the joint pains caused due to rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and lumbar spondylosis.

Rheumatism is a term used to refer to the conditions that cause chronic, intermittent pain in the joints and connective tissues. It is an immunological disorder that occurs when the joint tissues are attacked by the body’s own immune cells resulting in their destruction. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of Pokeweed prevent the damage caused due to the abnormal immune system and reduces the symptoms associated with rheumatoid arthritis.

It also produces an analgesic action and reduces pain. It can help in the treatment of joint diseases mainly through its action in reducing pain and inflammation in the joints. Esculentic acid, a pentacyclic triterpenoid compound present in Pokeweed, is responsible for producing an anti-inflammatory effect and protecting the joints against damage. This helps to prevent or slow down the progress of rheumatoid arthritis. (2)

Additionally, the detoxifying effect of Pokeweed helps to eliminate harmful toxic substances accumulated in the body and thus, minimizes their negative effect on the joint tissues. It produces a diuretic effect to promote the removal of toxins while preventing excessive water retention. These properties of Pokeweed are beneficial for the patients suffering from joint diseases. It can relieve the joint pains, restricted movements, and swelling and enhance their quality of life.

Skin cancer

Oleanolic acid present in Pokeweed has been found to be beneficial in the management of melanoma, a type of skin cancer. It can induce apoptosis of the abnormal cancer cells in the skin and prevent the spread of melanoma. (3)


There is no known side effects of Pokeweed when it is used based on the indications and in the recommended doses. Children should not be administered this medication. Pregnant and lactating mothers can use this medicine only after consulting a physician. Patients suffering from lactose intolerance may develop frequent loose motions due to the use of Pokeweed.

Check Also

Bacopa Monnieri (Brahmi)

Brahmi (Bacopa Monnieri)

Brahmi is a well-known Ayurvedic herb. It is an Indian aquatic herb.  It is a …