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What do Phytolacca berries do?

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Quick Answer

Phytolacca berries are an emetic that cause severe vomiting, although their purgative quality can be reduced with proper cooking. They have been used a folk remedy for rheumatism, although there is no clinical evidence that they are have any effect.

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Full Answer

Phytolacca, commonly called pokeweed, is also a uterine stimulant and may affect a woman's menstrual cycle. Tinctures made from the berries were traditionally used externally to help treat rashes and lice infestations. Researchers have isolated some toxic elements of pokeweed and have studied its antiviral properties. If the berries are eaten raw, they can also cause stomach cramps, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, weakness, low blood pressure, seizures and death.

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