Introduction of Shang Lu:Pokeberry Root or Radix Phytolaccae.

TCM Herbalism:Medicinals and Classifications. ✵The article gives records of the herb Pokeberry Root, its English name, Latin name, property and flavor, its botanical source two plant species, ①.Phytolacca acinosa Roxb., ②.Phytolacca americana L., with a detailed introduction to the botanical features of these two plant species, the growth characteristics, and ecological environment of these two plant species, the features of the herb Pokeberry Root, its pharmacological actions, medicinal efficacy, and administration guide.

Radix Phytolaccae(Pokeberry Root).

pale brownish dried herb slices of Radix Phytolaccae Pin Yin Name: Shānɡ Lù.
 English Name: Pokeberry Root.
 Latin Name: Radix Phytolaccae.
 Property and flavor: cold, bitter, toxic.

 Brief introduction: The herb Radix Phytolaccae is the dried root of Phytolacca acinosa Roxb.or Phytolacca americana L., used as a diuretic and hydragogue for treating edema and ascites, also used externally for treating boils and sores. The herb is commonly known as Radix Phytolaccae, Pokeberry Root, Shānɡ Lù.

 Botanical source: Herbal classic book defined the herb Radix Phytolaccae (Pokeberry Root) as the dried root of the species (1). Phytolacca acinosa Roxb., or (2). Phytolacca americana L. They are plants of the Phytolacca L. genus, the Phytolaecaceae family (pokeweed family) of the Centrospermae order. These 2 commonly used species are introduced:

(1).Phytolacca acinosa Roxb.

 a colorful drawing of Phytolacca acinosa Roxb.,root,red stems and green leaves,and purple fruit spikes. Botanical description: Phytolacca acinosa Roxb is also known as Phytolacca esculenta van Houtt.(P. esculenta van Houtt.), commonly known as Shānɡ Lù. A perennial herb, the plant grows up to 0.5~1.5 meters tall, the whole plant is smooth and glabrous. The root is hypertrophic and stout, conical, and succulent, the cortex is primrose yellow (pale yellow) and has elongated lenticels, and many lateral roots. Stem is green or prunus (violet red), many-branched. Simple leaves are alternate, stipitate(petiolate), base of petiole is slightly flat and broad; Leaf-blade is thinly chartaceous (papery), ovate-elliptic, or elliptic, 12~15 cm long, 5~8 cm wide, apex is sharp-pointed or acuminate, base is cuneate, attenuate, entire.

 plants of Phytolacca acinosa Roxb. grow in field with purple fruit berry spikes Racemes are apical or lateral on stems, upright; 5 tepals (perianth lobes), white at the initial stage and gradually turn faint red (rose color); 8~10 stamens; 8~10 carpels, separate, but close to each other.

 Berry fruit is oblate, has a persistent calyx, and turns deep reddish purple or black when it is mature. Seeds are reniform and black. Its flowering period and fruiting period are from May to October.

 fruit berris of Phytolacca acinosa Roxb in spike Ecological environment: The plant grows in an open forest on roadsides or is planted in outdoor gardens. It often grows widely at the foot of the mountain, in the forest, along the road, and in fields near houses. The plant is mainly distributed in the southwest to the north area of China, it is also distributed to other areas of East Asia and South Asia.

 Growth characteristics: The plant Phytolacca acinosa prefers a warm and moist climate, resistant to coldness. The suitable growth temperature is about 14~30 °C (Celsius, or 57.2~86 degrees Fahrenheit). The above-ground part withers in autumn and winter, while the underground succulent root can withstand the low temperature of -15 °C (Celsius, or 5 degrees Fahrenheit). The plant has wide adaptability to the soil, whether it is sandy soil or red loam, whether the soil is fertile or barren, and can grow luxuriant foliage. It is appropriate to choose fields with deep soil layers, loose and fertile, humus-rich sandy loam with good drainage for cultivation. Low-lying land and heavy clay are not suitable for cultivation.

 Characters of herbs: The root is conical, with many branches. The surface is taupe brown (grayish-brown) or sallow (grayish-yellow), with obvious transverse lenticels and longitudinal grooves. Most of the commodities are cross-cutting slices or longitudinal-cutting slices, or blocks. The cross-cutting slice is irregularly circular, the edge is wizzled, 2~8 cm in diameter, and 2~6 mm thick, the cross-section is pale yellow or yellowish-white, and multiple uneven concentric ring patterns. The longitudinal cutting slice is an irregular rectangle, curved or curled, 10~14 cm long, and 1~5 cm wide. The surface is uneven, and the wooden part has many raised longitudinal stripes. The texture of the herb is firm and hard, not easily broken. The herb has a slight odor, it tastes sweet and mild, benumbing after chewing for a while. The herb of a better grade has large slices or blocks, white color.

 Pharmacological actions: ①.significant expectorant effect; ②.antitussive effect; ③.diuretic effect; ④.inhibitory effect on Shigella dysenteriae, influenza bacillus, Diplococcus pneumoniae, and some dermatophytes; ⑤.immune-enhancing; ⑥.anti-inflammatory; ⑦.anti-tumor effects.

 Medicinal efficacy: Hydragogue and detumescence (reduce swelling), alleviate water retention, free urine and stool, detoxification, and eliminating stagnation. It is indicated for edema and swelling fullness, constipation, and urinary obstruction, beriberi, pharyngitis (sore throat), carbuncles, malignant sore, abdominal mass, hypochondrium or an abdominal mass, scrofula, carbuncles swelling and sore poison, etc.

 Administration of Radix Phytolaccae (Shānɡ Lù): 
Reference: Administration Guide of Radix Phytolaccae (Shānɡ Lù)
TCM Books: ①.Internally:3~9 grams.Externally:mashed the fresh herb,or prepare to finely ground herb powder,smear and apply stick; ②.Internally:water decoction, 1.5~3 qian (about 4.5~9 grams), or prepare to powder.Externally:mashed the herb and apply stick; ③.Internally:water decoction, 3~10 grams,or prepared to powder.Externally:proper amount,mashed and apply stick.
 Contraindications, Precautions and Adverse Reactions: should forbidden using the herb Radix Phytolaccae during pregnancy.

(2).Phytolacca americana L.

 fruiting plants of Phytolacca americana L grow in a cluster with small fruit spikes Botanical description: Phytolacca americana L is also known as Phytolacca decandra L.(P.decandra L.), commonly known as Chuí Xù Shānɡ Lù, Měi Zhōu Shānɡ Lù (means America Phytolacca). A perennial herb, the plant grows up to 1~2 meters tall. Roots are stout, hypertrophic, and obconical. Stem is upright, terete (cylindrical), and sometimes prunus (purplish red).

 Leaf blades are elliptic-ovate or ovate-lanceolate, 9~18 cm long, 5~10 cm wide, the apex is sharp-pointed, the base is cuneate; Petioles are 1~4 cm long.

 two fruit spikes of Phytolacca americana L. hanging on stems Racemes are apical or lateral, 5~20 cm long; Pedicels (flower stalks) are 6~8 mm long; Flowers are white, slightly reddish, about 6 mm in diameter; 5 tepals (perianth lobes), stamens, carpels, and styles are usually 10, carpels connate.

 Infructescences are pendulous; Berries are oblate, and turn atropurpureus (purple black) when they are mature; Seeds are reniform circular, about 3 mm in diameter. Its flowering period is from June to August, the fruiting period is from August to October.

 plants of Phytolacca americana L with many unmature green fruit spikes grow in sunny field Ecological environment: The plant grows in open forests, on the roadside, in wasteland, and in damp places near houses. The plant was native to the North America continent, it was introduced to cultivation after 1960 and grows throughout China, and it is mainly distributed in the middle and lower Yangtze River area, the middle reaches of the Yellow River, the Zhujiang River area, and north areas of China.

 Characters of herbs: The shape of the herb is similar to the root of Phytolacca acinosa Roxb. The herb of a better grade has large slices or blocks, white color.

 Medicinal efficacy: The root has emetic action, and is indicated for edema, leukorrhea, and rheumatism; the seed has diuretic action; the leaves have an antipyretic effect, and are used to treat beriberi. Externally the herb is indicated for nameless sores or boils, dermatozoonosis, etc.



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  • 1.Introduction of Shang Lu:Pokeberry Root or Radix Phytolaccae.

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