What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

Pokeroot Usage

Written by FoundHealth.

What Is Pokeroot Used for Today?

Pokeroot itself is not sold in the United States. However, substances found in pokeroot have shown promise for drug development. One of these, “pokeroot antiviral protein,” has shown potential as a treatment for HIV and other viral infections. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Note, however, that these findings on one ingredient of pokeroot do not indicate that the whole herb is useful for HIV infection.

Another substance in pokeroot, “pokeweed mitogen,” forces cells to divide, a property that has led to a great deal of scientific investigation. 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 These mitogenic effects are potentially quite dangerous, and are more an argument against the use of pokeroot than for it.

Other pokeroot constituents have shown potential anti-inflammatory, diuretic, and blood pressure–lowering effects. 16


  1. Picard D, Kao CC, Hudak KA. Pokeweed antiviral protein inhibits brome mosaic virus replication in plant cells. J Biol Chem. 280(20):20069-75.
  2. Uckun FM, Rustamova L, Vassilev AO, Tibbles HE, Petkevich AS. CNS activity of Pokeweed anti-viral protein (PAP) in mice infected with lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV). BMC Infect Dis. 5(1):9.
  3. Parikh BA, Baykal U, Di R, Tumer NE. Evidence for retro-translocation of pokeweed antiviral protein from endoplasmic reticulum into cytosol and separation of its activity on ribosomes from its activity on capped RNA. Biochemistry. 44(7):2478-90.
  4. D'Cruz OJ, Waurzyniak B, Uckun FM. Mucosal toxicity studies of a gel formulation of native pokeweed antiviral protein. Toxicol Pathol. 32(2):212-21.
  5. D'Cruz OJ, Waurzyniakt B, Uckun FM. A 13-week subchronic intravaginal toxicity study of pokeweed antiviral protein in mice. Phytomedicine. 11(4):342-51.
  6. Parikh BA, Tumer NE. Antiviral activity of ribosome inactivating proteins in medicine. Mini Rev Med Chem. 4(5):523-43.
  7. Hudak KA, Bauman JD, Tumer NE. Pokeweed antiviral protein binds to the cap structure of eukaryotic mRNA and depurinates the mRNA downstream of the cap. RNA. 8(9):1148-59.
  8. Parikh BA, Coetzer C, Tumer NE. Pokeweed antiviral protein regulates the stability of its own mRNA by a mechanism that requires depurination but can be separated from depurination of the alpha-sarcin/ricin loop of rRNA. J Biol Chem. 277(44):41428-37.
  9. Yamaguchi K, Uechi M, Katakura Y, Oda T, Ishiguro M. Mitogenic properties of pokeweed lectin-D isoforms on human peripheral blood lymphocytes: non-mitogen PL-D1 and mitogen PL-D2. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 68(7):1591-3.
  10. Yan S, Marguet D, Dobers J, Reutter W, Fan H. Deficiency of CD26 results in a change of cytokine and immunoglobulin secretion after stimulation by pokeweed mitogen. Eur J Immunol. 33(6):1519-27.
  11. Barabás E, Kemény B, González R, Várkonyi V, Nagy K, Horváth A. A comparison of the lymphoproliferative capacity of pokeweed mitogen (PWM) and phytohaemagglutinin (PHA) in CCR-5 wild-type and heterozygous HIV-infected and uninfected subjects. Int J STD AIDS. 13(10):691-7.
  12. Wang S, Panter KE, Evans RC, Bunch TD. The effects of pokeweed mitogen (PWM) and phytohemagglutinin (PHA) on bovine oocyte maturation and embryo development in vitro. Anim Reprod Sci. 67(3-4):215-20.
  13. Wimer BM, Mann PL. Mitogen immunotherapy for HIV infections exemplified by phytohemagglutinin and pokeweed mitogen. Cancer Biother Radiopharm. 15(6):629-44.
  14. Wimer BM, Mann PL. Apparent pokeweed mitogen cure of metastatic gum melanoma in an older dog. Cancer Biother Radiopharm. 15(2):201-5.
  15. Sjöberg O, Kurnick J. Conditions for induction of specific and polyclonal antibody production by Cowan 1 bacteria and by pokeweed mitogen. Scand J Immunol. 11(1):47-51.
  16. Newall CA, Anderson LA, Phillipson JD. Herbal Medicines: A Guide for Health-Care Professionals. London: The Pharmaceutical Press. 1996:215–217.


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