Poke Root Tincture

Poke root tincture

Poke root tincture is hard to find on the market, I think because of its potential toxicity.   I’m just getting to the end of a 1 oz bottle I bought more than 10 years ago at Red Moon Herbs. That’s how long it lasts, since it is taken in very small doses for very specific reasons.  So, now I am stocking my own apothecary with this potent medicine.

Internal Uses

Used wisely, Poke Root can not be beat as a remedy for lingering colds, flu, sinusitis, and other upper respiratory infections. It kicks the immune system into high gear.  It “pokes” the lymphatic system, and can quickly clear stagnant and swollen lymph glands.

I don’t use this remedy as my first go-to with colds/flu/sinusitis, lymph, as it is not for everyday, casual use. I only tend to reach for it when nagging symptoms linger on and on, and just won’t clear up. That annoying post nasal drip, the cough, the chest congestion, that have continued long past the end of the original illness.

Poke is also used by those with cancer. I don’t have experience with that, but Susun Weed has more information in her book, Breast Cancer? Breast Health! the Wise Woman Way.

Dosage: Poke Tincture is used in very small drop doses to avoid gastrointestinal distress and “spaciness” that can result from taking too much. So start your dosage very low, about 1-2 drops, and  then increase by 1 or 2 more drops if it seems needed.  It can be taken 1-2 times a day until things begin to shift and clear up, and then discontinue it.  Don’t take this remedy for longer than you need to, because it can stress the kidneys with prolonged use.  Larger doses are used when treating cancer, but you should work with an experienced herbalist for that.  Do not use for children or during pregnancy.  If you start taking it and nothing is happening with your symptoms by the second day, discontinue as this may not be the right remedy for you.

Topical Uses

The tincture diluted in a little water can also instantly stop the itch and inflammation of a Poison Ivy rash.  I put a little poke tincture in a small container, add some water, and then swab onto the rash. Immediate relief!  I repeat every time the rash begins to itch and hurt again.  Used like this the rash will clear up completely fairly quickly.

I have also added poke root tincture to a salve I made for psoriasis with really good results.  It really helped to clear up the itch and inflammation, and the other ingredients in the salve helped heal the skin tissues.  You could also use an infused oil instead of the tincture in a salve blend. When I made my salve, all I had was tincture!  And it worked beautifully.  The tincture and the oil seem to have similar properties when used topically.

Of course, a salve or topical application of Poke Root is not a cure for psoriasis — it is merely a remedy for symptom relief.  To cure psoriasis you need to work with the whole person and their entire system, with nourishing and tonifying herbs,  to heal from the inside out.  I have done much of this internal healing on myself and I rarely have outbreaks of psoriasis anymore!

Poke Root

Making Tincture

Find a healthy Poke bush. You probably want to choose a smallish bush, as the roots can become massive the older they get.  It will be easier to dig if you can find a younger, smaller bush. Ask if you can use its medicine.  Poke is prolific and it likes to help!  You’ll feel the answer.   Be sure to thank Poke for the sacrifice.

Then dig up the root. If there are ripe berries on the bush, you can also gather them to dry and use for rheumatism and arthritis!  I always soak my root in a sink full of water and then scrub the dirt off.  I’ve heard that you shouldn’t do it this way, but it seems fine. I think others may let the dirt dry and then brush it off instead. In any case, clean the dirt off the root, then chop it up into very small pieces.  You’ll need a large, well-sharpened knife.  It isn’t always easy to chop, so be prepared to use some muscle.

Then fill a jar with the fresh chopped root and pour 100 proof alcohol over it to fill the jar.  Be sure to label the jar with the contents and the date. Cap it tightly and let brew for six weeks in a dark cool place.  Shake the jar whenever you think about it.  At the end of six weeks, decant by pouring through a strainer into a clean jar — keep the alcohol tincture and compost the poke root.  Be sure the finished tincture is also labeled properly, including some indication to use only in small doses.

Have you used Poke Root before?  What have been your experiences?

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