Pokeberry: A Natural Dye that Acts as a Lymph Cleanser

Pokeberry, which grows around my home as a weed, is a natural lymph cleanser. Synthetic dyes are associated with allergy, asthma, bladder cancer and cause genotoxicity. Some synthetic dyes mimic estrogen in the body.

Poke is a beautiful example of a dye that can create gorgeous color, and actually improve your health. This is a radical concept: clothing that heals rather than harms. Heals you, heals factory workers.

Here is the poke berry growing wildly near my home.

Rebecca Burgess, author of Harvesting Color, taught me how to boil the poke to produce a dye. Note that consuming poke in your digestive tract is poisonous – the photo below is a vat of dye, not a smoothie! We came up with a great idea – let’s dye natural, organic cotton bras in poke so that we can have lymph cleansing right up next to our breasts, where we all need lymph cleansing! Who’s in?


  1. claire b cotts on August 19, 2011 at 9:53 pm

    hey sara,

    oddly enough, I was just in tennessee, and shot some video footage of pokeberries and cricket chirping, and told my boyfriend the story of how I almost killed myself as a child eating pokeberries (they are extremely poisonous!)
    The pic you have looks like a smoothie, not a vat of dye, you might want to clarify that 🙂


    • Sara Gottfried MD on August 27, 2011 at 12:24 am

      Good idea! Definitely a dye vat of poke, not a smoothie! No killing allowed. — SG

  2. Sharyn Haynes on September 1, 2011 at 6:33 am

    I want to know how to make poke berry dye,the poke weed in my back yard grows where the horse manure pile was. It is a 9 foot tall jungle .

  3. Birdsong on September 2, 2011 at 10:39 pm

    I wish I could find it here in the Sierras… lovely color and I really like the idea of dyeing my organic cotton bras in it!

  4. Paula on September 12, 2011 at 7:50 pm

    I also made my self sick from poke. Not the berries. The leaves eaten raw! I called the poison control that night!
    I had always eaten the leaves cooked before (as a natural laxative-that was okay) After drinking milk I could vomit and have diarrhea and then I was okay again. But, I haven’t touched the plant again in 20 years.

  5. Down in the Pokeberry Patch | Nature's Cauldron on October 8, 2011 at 12:54 am

    […] Color, I was amazed and surprised since I had never seen a pokeweed bush in my life! Then, Dr. Sara Gottfried mentioned dyeing with Rebecca, and some of the medicinal properties of the plant as lymph cleanser, […]