The Medicinal Herb Info site was created to help educate visitors about the often forgotten wisdom of the old ways of treating illnesses. Many of today's drugs and medicines were originally derived from natural ingredients, combinations of plants and other items found in nature.

We are not suggesting that you ignore the help of trained medical professionals, simply that you have additional options available for treating illnesses. Often the most effective treatment involves a responsible blend of both modern and traditional treatments.

We wish you peace and health!

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Bloodroot

Scientific Names

Bloodroot, mature plant

  • Sanguinaria canadensis L.
  • Papaveraceae
  • Poppy family

Common Names

  • Indian paint
  • Indian plant
  • Indian red paint
  • Pauson
  • Red paint root
  • Red puccoon
  • Red root
  • Sanguinaria
  • Tetterwort

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Parts Usually Used

Rootstock collected early in the spring, carefully dried, then ground into powder.
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Bloodroot leaves

Description of Plant(s) and Culture

Bloodroot is a small perennial plant, about 6 inches high. The finger-thick rootstock contains a toxic red juice when fresh; when dried it is yellow inside and brown outside. The leaves are basal, each coming from a bud on the rootstock; they are cordate or reniform in shape, palmately veined and lobed. The naked single flower stem is shorter than the footstalk of a leaf and bears a white flower with 8 to 12 petals arranged in 2 or more whorls. Early spring blooming, North American poisonous wildflower of the poppy family. Blooms March to June, before its leaves appear and usually before the leaves on the trees emerge. Difficult to find in its woodland home.

May be propagated by seed or division.

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Where Found

Found in shaded, rich soils in the northeastern states of the U.S.
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Medicinal Properties

Expectorant, alterative, stimulant, diuretic, febrifuge, sedative, antibacterial, emmenagogue, tonic, emetic in larger doses. An overdose can be fatal.
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Biochemical Information

Alkaloids including whelidonine, berberine, chelerythrine, sanguinarine
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Bloodroot flowers

Legends, Myths and Stories

Bloodroot was used by the American Indians as a body paint and as a dye. A bachelor of the Ponca tribe would rub a piece of the root as a love charm on the palm of his hand, then scheme to shake hands with the woman he desired to marry. After shaking hands, the girl would be found willing to marry him in 5-6 days.

One Indian folk medicine guide recommended a tincture made by filling a pint bottle half-full with finely mashed root and adding equal parts of alcohol and wart until full. The recommended dosage ranged from 1-7 drops every 3-4 hours.

A recommended ointment was made by mixing an ounce of the powdered root in 3 oz. of lard, bringing the mixture to a boil, simmering briefly, then straining.
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Uses

Internally: expectorant for acute and chronic respiratory tract affections, sinus congestion, stimulates the digestion, laryngitis, sore throat, asthma with cold thick phlegm, and croup. Most effective for pneumonia are 1 to 2 drop doses repeated frequently throughout the day. It combines well with cherry bark, eucalyptus, and honey in a syrup. A syrup may also be made with garlic and bloodroot tincture

Externally: The tincture is directly applied externally for the treatment of fungus, eczema, cancers, tumors, and other skin disorders . It is a good remedy for athlete’s foot and rashes. An ointment of bloodroot alone or in combination with other herbs is directly applied to venereal sores, tinea capitis, eczema, ringworm, scabies, and warts.

Can be used for the following ailments: adenoid infections, nasal polyps, syphilitic troubles, piles (use strong tea as an enema), typhoid fever, catarrh, scarlatina, jaundice, dyspepsia, whooping cough and rheumatism.

Small doses stimulate the digestive organs and heart. Large doses act as a sedative and narcotic. When the condition is not easily overcome, combine with equal parts of goldenseal.

Experimentally, the alkaloid sanguinarine has shown antiseptic, anesthetic, and anticancer activity.
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Formulas or Dosages

As a stimulant, expectorant, or alterative use; 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. of the powdered root or 1/2 to 1 gm. in decoction; tincture, 5 to 20
drops.

In a dose of 1/20 grain (a grain is 0.002083 ounces), bloodroot is a gastric and intestinal stimulant. A dose of 1/12 grain, it is an expectorant. Doses any larger will produce emetic (vomiting) effects. 8 grains given to a patient resulted in nausea after 15 minutes. 40 minutes later complaints of headache, nausea much more violent; 60 minutes later, the patient vomited twice. The cautions surrounding care in doses is clear.

The drug is usually administered in several-drop dosages of a tincture.
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How Sold

Tincture, powdered root Today, components of the root are used in minute amounts in commercial toothpastes and mouthwashes to fight plaque.
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Warning

Bloodroot is a powerful herb. Some reports of nibbling the root has caused tunnel vision. Do Not Ingest.

Do not use without medical supervision. An overdose can be fatal.
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Resource Links

LiveStrong.com: Bloodroot Therapy

LiveStrong.com: Bloodroot Paste for Moles

LiveStrong.com: Bloodroot Application for Moles

Drugs.com: Bloodroot

Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center: Bloodroot

PubMed.gov: Histopathologic Findings and Diagnostic Difficulties Posed With Use Of Escharotic Agents For Treatment Of Skin Lesions: A Case Report and Review of the Literature

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Bibliography

Buy It! Back to Eden, by Jethro Kloss; Back to Eden Publishing Co., Loma Linda, CA 92354, Original copyright 1939, revised edition 1994

Buy It! The Complete Medicinal Herbal, by Penelope Ody, Dorling Kindersley, Inc, 232 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016, First American Edition, copyright 1993

Buy It! Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants, by Steven Foster and James A. Duke., Houghton Mifflin Company, 215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10000

Buy It! The Herb Book, by John Lust, Bantam Books, 666 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY. copyright 1974.

Buy It! Planetary Herbology, by Michael Tierra, C.A., N.D., O.M.D., Lotus Press, PO Box 325, Twin Lakes. WI 53181., Copyright 1988, published 1992

Buy It! How Indians Use Wild Plants for Food, Medicine & Crafts, by Frances Densmore, Dover Publications, Inc., 180 Varick Street, New York, NY 10014, first printed by the United States Government Printing Office, Washington, in 1928, this Dover edition 1974

Buy It! American Folk Medicine, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, 1973

Buy It! Indian Herbalogy of North America, by Alma R. Hutchens, Shambala Publications, Inc., Horticultural Hall, 300 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, 1973

Buy It! The Rodale Herb Book: How to Use, Grow, and Buy Nature’s Miracle Plants (An Organic gardening and farming book), edited by William H. Hylton, Rodale Press, Inc. Emmaus, PA, 18049., 1974

Buy It! Webster’s New World Dictionary, Third College Edition, Victoria Neufeldt, Editor in Chief, New World Dictionaries: A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 15 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10023

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