Sanguinaria canadensis

Herbs gallery - Bloodroot

Common names

  • Bloodroot
  • Indian Paint
  • Indian Plant
  • Indian Red Paint
  • Loodroot
  • Pauson
  • Red Paint Root
  • Red Puccoon
  • Sanguinaria

Bloodroot (botanical name, Sanguinaria canadensis) was initially also known as puccoon. It is a wildflower found growing in the eastern regions of North America during early spring. The instantly recognizable orange-red sap exuded by this herbaceous plant was earlier employed by the Native Americans to stain their skin for war dances as well as various ceremonial rituals.

The sap was also used to dye fabric. Bloodroot is a member of the poppy family and is related to opium poppy, which yields significant medicines, such as opium, morphine, heroin and codeine.

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The rhizome of bloodroot grows the leaves and flowering stem during the early part of March or in April. In the initial stages, the leaves of the herb are covered around the flower bud, but afterward, they begin to open up as the flower, which has resemblance to daisy, begins to develop on top of the leaves.

The flowering stems of bloodroot are about 8 inches to 16 inches tall and each bears a solitary flower which is nearly 2 inches across. Each flower of bloodroot may possess as many as six to about 12 white petals which encircle the several golden color stamens.

An important article was published in the Folk Medicine Journal's 1994 edition regarding various anti-cancer salves that are highly effective, but definitely extremely unconventional in comparison to the usual medications. Among these, 'The Black Salve', which contains bloodroot as its primary ingredient, was said to be very famous.

You may prepare a salve in several dissimilar ways. For instance, wear your gloves and grate or grind two ounces of freshly obtained bloodroot rhizome and subsequently, add the herb to one to one-and-a-half cup of olive oil in a stainless steel container. Simmer the liquid for about an hour on very low temperature just sufficient enough for the liquid to create bubbles, but not any smoke. Cover the container with a lid while the cooking process is on.

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While you have cooked the bloodroot rhizome, take another container and gradually thaw approximately 3/4 ounce of beeswax on low temperature. When the beeswax has melted, add it to the substances of the first stainless steel pot and keep stirring the blend with a wooden spoon all the time to ensure that all the things blend well.

Subsequently, add a few tablespoons of zinc chloride and keep stirring the substances. Some time later add one to two teaspoons of tincture of benzoin or gum benzoin or pine tar, as adding any of these would help to preserve the salve.

Added variants of this 'Black Salve' can also be prepared in other ways. One formula includes adding a teaspoon of powdered goldenseal root or, alternately, the same amount of gotu kola herb. When you are preparing the salve by this method, you need to lessen the zinc chloride solution by one-fourth.

In addition, you may substitute olive oil with mutton or goose fats and this too will give excellent results. For that matter, you may even employ Crisco if you have any difficulty in finding any of the other ingredients.

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When the salve is prepared, it should be poured into uncontaminated, empty jars that came with baby food and sealed using their lids and kept in a cool, dry place until they are required. To treat tumors, take a small amount of the salve topically to the skin area where the tumor is. Remember to wear a glove while applying the salve.

When applied on the affected area, the salve will cause acute skin irritation and even produce some sort of a scab (coating or covering) on the area. Ensure that the skin is clean and dry when you are applying the salve. Occasionally, repeated applications of the salve may be required, but this is not the usual case.

Normally, applying the salve once is sufficient and it should be allowed to remain on the skin area for a week or may be a little longer. When the reaction of the salve lessens or when the size of the affected area becomes smaller, it is an indication that the therapy with bloodroot salve has been effective.

In case the scab formed on the affected area following the application of the salve become manhandled or taken off before it is time and there is some bleeding at the spot, just dust the affected area with some turmeric powder or kelp. It is advisable that you always keep the skin area being treated covered using a thin layer of gauze kept in place by using any good adhesive tape.

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At the same time, it is essential that you cleanse the area adjoining the skin part that is being treated using a damp cloth, but ensure that no water comes in contact with the bloodroot salve or else the efficacy of the salve would be diminished.

In order to put off lasting scarring when the dressing of the salve has be taken out, you need to massage a little aloe vera gel or slippery elm paste onto the skin area that was treated. In order to prepare a paste, simply mix some powdered bark of slippery elm with a little water and olive oil prior to applying it on the skin. Alternately, you may bathe the affected skin area often with any herbal tea prepared with chamomile, yarrow or red clover flowers.

Early settlers discovered the attributes of bloodroot, an herb native to North America, to be more therapeutic compared to ornamental. Gradually, these settlers came to know from the native Indians, who employed the red sap (juice) of the herb to treat aching throats and cancer and an infusion prepared with the rhizome for curing rheumatism, that bloodroot is a potent herb.

It may be noted that the red juice or sap of bloodroot as well as its rhizome in powdered form are very caustic and able to corrode as well as destroy tissues chemically. Hence, bloodroot was prescribed in the form of a remedy for fungal growths, for instance nose polyps and ringworm, destroying tissues as well as surface cancers.

Traditional herbal medicine practitioners also prescribe bloodroot in the form of an emetic (a medication that promotes vomiting); as an expectorant to treat bronchitis; in the form of a purgative and also as a tonic for the digestive organs.

Parts used



In the modern herbal medicine, bloodroot is primarily used in the form of an expectorant, which encourages coughing as well as cleansing the accumulated mucus in the respiratory tract. In addition, this herb is also prescribed for treating chronic bronchitis and, since this herb possesses antispasmodic actions, it is also used to treat asthma and whooping cough.

You may also use bloodroot in the form of a gargle to treat sore throats or as a rinse or lotion for healing viral and fungal skin infections, for instance, warts and athlete's foot. When pulverized into a powdered form, bloodroot may also be taken in the form of a sniff to cure nasal polyps.

Extracts obtained from bloodroot have been extensively used as an ingredient in toothpastes with a view to combat infection of the gums, such as gingivitis, as well as to lessen the formation of plaque. In fact, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have approved the use of bloodroot in toothpastes for the reasons mentioned here.

As mentioned before, bloodroot is an effective herb to heal skin disorders through external applications. Salve prepared with bloodroot or a paste of the herb is employed to cure an assortment of skin complaints, warts, inflammations, skin tags and even tumors. In addition, the essential oil yielded by the herb has been found to be very effectual in curing skin lesions and tags.

As far as herbal medicine is concerned, the extracts obtained from bloodroot are employed in smallest doses to cure bronchial infections as well as aching throats. For long, people have been using bloodroot extract, bloodroot tea and bloodroot tinctures to treat bleeding lungs, common cold, pneumonia, emphysema (exceptional extension of air spaces in the lungs), whooping cough and sinus congestions.

When cut open, the blood or sap of the bloodroot rhizome was earlier employed in the form of a dye. In addition, the Native American tribes also used this sap from the bloodroot rhizome in the form of an herbal medication to treat a number of medical conditions. It may be noted that whenever any part of the bloodroot plant, particularly its rhizome, is broken, it exudes a reddish sap - perhaps giving the herb its common name 'bloodroot'.

Other medical uses

Habitat and cultivation

Bloodroot is a flowering herbaceous plant that is indigenous to the north-eastern regions of North America and is found growing on a vast expanse extending from Nova Scotia in Canada towards south to Florida in the United States. Generally, bloodroot is grown as a garden plant and its rhizome, which possesses therapeutic properties, is dug up during summer or autumn.


Chemical analysis of the bloodroot has revealed that this herbaceous plant encloses a number of useful compounds, for instance isoquinqline alkaloids, remarkably sanguinarine (about 1 per cent) and several others, counting berberine. It may be noted that sanguinarine is a potent expectorant, which also possesses antiseptic as well as local anesthetic attributes.

Usual dosage

For medicinal purposes, bloodroot may be used in different forms, such as decoction and tincture.

Decoction: To prepare a decoction with bloodroot, add one teaspoonful of the herb's rhizome to a cup of cold water and boil the solution. When the solution reaches the boiling point, allow the rhizome to infuse for about 10 minutes and then strain the liquid. This bloodroot decoction should be taken internally thrice every day.

Tincture: Bloodroot tincture should be taken in dosage of 2 ml to 4 ml thrice every day.

Side effects and cautions

By tradition, people employed bloodroot to promote menstruation and, hence, this herb should never be used during pregnancy as it may encourage menstruation causing harm to the fetus. In addition, bloodroot should also be avoided by nursing mothers as there is insufficient evidence on whether the herb passes on to breast milk and harms the infant.


From Maggie - Aug-03-2017
At the beginning of spring you can find bloodroot plants in the forests. It is a very common herb that grows in the wild in North America. You can buy dried rhizome of the herb in the health store. I always use bloodroot to make a decoction to treat the skin problems that I have been fighting for a long time. Great herb for many types of skin issues.
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