- Sanguinaria canadensis L.
- Poppy family
Parts Usually Used
Rootstock collected early in the spring, carefully dried, then ground
Description of Plant(s) and Culture
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.
Found in shaded, rich soils in the northeastern states of the U.S.
Expectorant, alterative, stimulant, diuretic, febrifuge, sedative,
antibacterial, emmenagogue, tonic, emetic in larger doses. An overdose
can be fatal.
Alkaloids including whelidonine, berberine, chelerythrine, sanguinarine
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.
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,
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.
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
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.
Tincture, powdered root Today, components of the root are used in
minute amounts in commercial toothpastes and mouthwashes to fight
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.