Poison or miracle medicine? A series of studies finds pokeberry seeds might be the most powerful antivirals on the planet
The infamously poisonous pokeweed plant contains a broad-spectrum antiviral protein capable of stopping even the most difficult-to-treat viruses in their tracks.
A series of studies have shown it “effectively inhibits” HIV, herpes, influenza and polio viruses, as well as all sorts of plant viruses plaguing agricultural crops.
Pokeweed antiviral protein first became known for its ability to inhibit the transmission of cucumber mosaic virus in 1973.
Soon after, scientists discovered the protein was effective against seven other common plant viruses and many mammalian viruses as well.
A 1974 study found extracts from pokeweed leaves prohibited monkeys from contracting the influenza virus.
A 1977 study found that “treatment of poliovirus with the antiviral protein isolated from pokeweed resulted in as much as 96% inhibition of subsequent release of the infectious virus.”
A 1980 study found that the protein prohibited the multiplication of the herpes simplex virus
“We believe that PAP may have some clinical significance as a wide-spectrum antiviral agent because it is a natural product, is readily purified, and is reported to produce no cytotoxic effects,” the authors wrote.
The protein used in the studies is found in the seeds of the berries and in the leaves of the plant.
It bears repeating that all parts of the plant are by conventional wisdom very toxic, especially the roots and next the berries.
The young shoots and leaves have been used in Southern “poke salad” recipes since time immemorial, but are boiled and strained (twice sometimes) before eaten.
Eating too much of the plant at once can reportedly result in death.
Because it’s a purgative, it can also result in vomiting and diarrhea.
UPDATE: The author of this article has eaten up to 3 pokeberries a day for three summers now with no ill effects (other than what you’d expect on a detoxing cleanse) and many positive effects including helping me get through periods of sickness (detoxing) faster and clearing up my skin.