Pokeweed, Lyme, Arthritis, Mastitis

Pokeweed Project: 11 weeks long ends. I posted the photo above just before boxing them up for storage. There are many uses for Pokeweed (Phytolacca americana) and although it’s  worthy of much praise, I will not indulge as many knowledgeable herbalists have done so more thoroughly than I ever could. I do prefer to share my personal experience, and so what follows here will be my observations during these past 11 weeks.

First, if you missed my posting of when I first began by harvesting some beautiful Poke roots before the soil froze, take a look here. For background information on what my motivations were to make and take these herbal preparations peruse this article Connecting the Dots by Christine McCue.

I met a young woman who had just finished chemotherapy for breast cancer. I can easily identify with anyone who brushed up against death and survived. She was naturally worried that she was completely out of the woods and was making many changes to reinforce her continued recovery. As she was telling me her story my mind swirled through lists of herbs I had read about but in the end I failed to offer anything intelligible. It bothered me that I could not recall what I read and of course, it was about Pokeweed.

So I re-read everything I had collected and researched even more. Then I made Poke root infused coconut oil. Made another batch of Cayenne infused olive oil. I mixed the two in equal amounts, filled a roll-on bottle and applied to bunions on both of my feet. I did this three times each day. Nothing about joints are “normal” to anyone who has Lyme disease. If you have it, then you know. If you don’t, then your solution is custom orthotics and comfy shoes. My feet felt more flexible and less painful within a two weeks. Within a month, the width of my foot dropped a half size. I could comfortably wear shoes I hadn’t been able to for years. After the first two weeks of roll-on use, I began to take Poke fresh root tincture 3 ugtt (microdrops; 4 of which equals one drop) per day, 1 ugtt in the morning, 1 ugtt at dusk and 1 ugtt at bedtime. So although there was some benefit from the roll-on use alone, there was dramatic improvement once sublingual administration of the tincture began.

I had read that Poke root salves, ointments, oils and glycerites should be applied topically over the lymph glands surrounding the affected area.

A dear friend suffered a terrible burn to her breast from boiling water and had been treated medically at the time, complained that some two years later, her breast “never felt right afterward” and that “it feels like there’s something in there” and was always tender with scarring that still looked fresh. She began applying the roll-on Poke/Cayenne oil for two weeks then also began the take sublingual microdoses of Poke root tincture. Her recovery was truly remarkable and one of the enchanting wonders of Pokeweed. Her breast reddened, the nipple swelling twice is diameter and than began to ooze serum through the milk ducts. This was a most dramatic effect. Changing padding  many times a day, her breast seeped fluids for about two weeks. Then the nipple swelling subsided, the seepage stopped and most remarkably, the appearance of her burn scars improved greatly. Thereafter when she massaged her breast she could find no tenderness or hard spots below the surface. Her Poke tincture dose increased every two weeks for eight weeks ending at 1mL twice/day, morning and night. She applied the roll-on over her entire breast and the adjacent area below her armpit on the same side.

As my Poke use increased, I too experienced cysts seeping fluids. First along the inside arch of both feet. Later under the armpits and then behind the knees. These cysts always formed in line with each other as if they followed a subcutaneous vessel. The fluid was clear with a slightly yellow tinge but dried red and was not pus like. If there is a more powerful lymphatic herb I have yet to learn of it. The most dramatic effect for me occurred after two months of use. I was by then applying the Poke/Cayenne roll-on on all the major lymph gland areas, armpits, behind the knees and the groin. Pokeweed effects glands. It seems to be doing cleaning here. I wonder now if I had damaged tissue in my testicles perhaps from previous infections because at this point my nearly sixty year old gonads began to perform like a sixteen year old. Without embarrassing myself more, if this explanation intrigues you, it might be worth investigating with a Naturopath or Herbalist. I suggest you add Copaiba essential oil, topically and orally, to your regimen if you are working below the belt.

Finally the side effects. I noted sinus congestion. Not entirely filled or impacted but more like a bubbling feeling, not unlike the onset of a cold. This was most noticeable upon rising in the morning. Nothing really of much concern there. There was a groggy or spacey feeling at times. The major concern and here consider it a firm warning – Pokeweed is used at very low doses for a very short time because it can damage the kidneys. I noticed a slight tenderness in my lower back and that marked the end of my Pokeweed use. As always, contact me if I can answer any other questions.

Suggested Reading:

Susun Weed on Pokeweed

Corinna Wood on Poke & Lyme Disease

Mountain Medicine by Tommie Bass & Darryl Patton search for notes from my reading of this book on goodreads.com

Burdock’s Anti-aging Effect – Vanity Alert

An interesting research study on 21 different plant extracts, including Burdock, and their effects on elastin and collagen, the two key proteins in connective tissue. Both proteins are critical throughout the body but highly noticeable in skin quality, muscle tone, bone strength and the all important arterial wall. Most people who have gotten this far know that skin condition often indicates liver issues. So it’s wonderful to have beautiful skin but perhaps better to have a healthy liver. Bear in mind that these researchers tested “extracts” of the herbs noted here. That means they were concentrates. So for instance, where “white tea” is noted, this does not refer to a simple cup of “white tea” tea, as an infusion, but rather the solvent extract of the white tea plant. The following excerpt is from a study referenced at the bottom of this post and available on the National Institute of Health’s website at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/
Background
Owing to their roles in tissue remodelling in health and disease, several studies have reported investigations on plant extracts as inhibitors of proteinases and as anti-oxidants.
Methods
The anti-aging and anti-oxidant properties of 23 plant extracts (from 21 plant species) were assessed as anti-elastase and anti-collagenase activities and in selected anti-oxidant assays along with phenolic content.
Results
Anti-elastase activities were observed for nine of the extracts with inhibitory activity in the following order:
white tea (~89%)
cleavers (~58%)
burdock root (~51%)
bladderwrack (~50%)
anise (~32%)
angelica (~32%)
Anti-collagenase activities were exhibited by sixteen plants of which the highest activity
was seen in:
white tea (~87%)
green tea (~47%)
rose tincture (~41%)
lavender (~31%).
Conclusion
From a panel of twenty three plant extracts, some one dozen exhibit high or satisfactory anti-collagenase or anti-elastase activities, with nine having inhibitory activity against both enzymes.
Reference
BMC Complement Altern Med. 2009; 9: 27.    Published online 2009 Aug 4. doi:10.1186/1472-6882-9-27    PMCID: PMC2728709
Anti-collagenase, anti-elastase and anti-oxidant activities of extracts from 21 plants
Tamsyn SA Thring,Pauline Hili, andDeclan P Naughton
School of Life Sciences, Kingston University, London, KT1 2EE, UK
Neal’s Yard Remedies, 15 Neal’s Yard, London, WC2H 9DP, UK
Received 2009 Apr 6; Accepted 2009 Aug 4.    Copyright© 2009 Thring et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

Burdock just prior to root harvest

Burdock seeds

Burdock seeds possess a slight “diffusive” quality, producing a “tingly” sensation on the tongue when chewed or taken as an extract; this indicates that some of its virtues are quickly taken up via the nervous system and put to immediate action.

I have not seen burdock’s true virtue more clearly or beautifully captured than by herbalist Matthew Wood, who wrote:

“On a psychological level, Burdock helps us deal with our worries about the unknown… which lurk in the dark woods beyond our control. It seizes upon deep complex issues, penetrates to the core and brings up old memories and new answers. It gives us faith to move ahead on our path, despite the unknown problems that might snare us on our way. It helps the person who is afraid become more hardy, while it brings the hardy wanderer back to his original path. It restores vigor and momentum.”

Burdock why?

If, after you read Dr Axe’s run down of the many substantial benefits of Burdock you’re not impressed, there’s more personal reasons to consider experimenting with this powerful herb. These are my personal observations and experiences:

  • tastes kinda like roasted potatoes to me
  • it’s a tonic and a medicine, meaning:
    • tonic you can and should take every day for continuous nutritive value and preventative care, especially for digestive health
    • medicine, usually in higher doses in tincture form for brief periods of time when ill
  • prevents many toxic chemicals, particularly metals from causing tissue damage, this is especially important for the liver and/or if you have been over exposed to metals, compounds in Burdock chelate metals
  • I noticed the first, most obvious effect on my skin within the first week and in my scalp and hair during the following week from eczema and it’s good for acne and psoriasis too
  • modulates blood sugar levels and once my digestive system healed, eliminated cravings and thus poor eating habits
  • many Burdock products including fresh root are available in good Asian markets
  • so easy to grow your own and just as good for your garden’s soil as it is for your gut and works in much the same way, deep in the soil as it does – deep in your gut, providing a suitable environment for good bacteria to thrive

Dr. Axe on Burdock

Source: Burdock Root Detoxes Blood, Lymph System + Skin – Dr. Axe

Speaking of Burdock

a handful of fresh Burdock roots

I am surely a Burdock evangelist. Those plants which are now in their second spring go through a selection process right now, still early spring here in New York City, USA. Burdock is a biennial, so it reaches full maturity at the end of it’s second year of growth. Each healthy plant then begins to send up a mighty flower stalk from the center of the plant. All docks grow from a basal whorl – basically a circular arrangement of leaves  growing close to the soil.

So the selection decision is between whether to harvest the root in the spring or wait until autumn and harvest the seed. Both parts are powerful medicines. If the plant is allowed to continue to grow throughout the summer it’s root will be consumed in order to produce flowers and seed. I generally only need one large Burdock plant to go to seed. From that one plant I will harvest all the seed for next year’s planting as well as enough for two pints of Burdock seed tincture.

Most of the Burdock I grow will be harvested for the roots. These are chopped first with pruning shears and then shredded in a blender with a little water and tinctured 1:2 (wt. of root: vol. of menstruum) at 45% ethanol.

vicious 3 bladed Ninja

I’ll get into the details of why Burdock is one of the most important medicinal herbs in another post. Gut and liver health is what I cherish Burdock for so it’s value will depend upon the user. Many herbalists say it’s a “blood purifier” which upsets many medical pros since technically – no it doesn’t. What does purify blood is the liver and Burdock acts upon the liver to support and enhance it’s proper function. It also supports all the beneficial gut bacteria which are the prime agents of good health.