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Bloodroot

(Sanguinaria canadensis)

Other Names:

Bloodwort, Redroot

Range:

Family:

Papaveraceae The Poppy Family

Identifying characteristics:

Growth Type:

Herbaceous, perennial flowering plant native to Eastern North America.

Height:

Typically growing up to 1 - 2 feet tall

Leaves:

A single multi-lobed leaf approximately 5 - 10 inches across grows on a single stem.

Stem/Trunk:

Herbaceous stem

Root:

The plant grows from a branched rhizome that is orange-red in color, giving the plant its name of bloodroot. Over the years, the rhizome becomes so prolific that it forms large colonies of plants.

Flower:

Season:

March to May

Appearance:

8 - 12 petaled flowers typically appear before the leaf has had a chance to unfurl.

Seed/Fruit:

A seed pod approximately 1 - 2 inches long grows from the pollinated flower, and ripens before the leaf goes dormant around mid summer.

Miscellaneous characteristics:

N/A

Habitat:

A true forest plant that is rarely found in disturbed soils, bloodroot grows in rich moist or dry woods and thickets. It can also be found growing along streams or in flood plains.

Parts Used:

Root/Rhizome

Uses:

Wild Food Uses:

None known.

The following text is meant for informational purposes only. It is not meant to diagnose or treat any illness or injury. Always consult with a physician or other qualified medical care provider concerning the diagnosis and treatment of any illness or injury.

Medicinal Uses:

Sanguinaria canadensis contains toxic opiate-like Benzylisoquinoline alkaloids. With the primary toxin being Sanguinarine. Sanguinarine has been shown to kill animal cells by blocking transmembrane proteins.

 

Bloodroot is nothing to play with. The following was taken from Wikipedia; "In 2005, "folk healer" Dan Raber (of Georgia, United States) was arrested and charged with causing severe bodily harm and practicing medicine without a license for dispensing bloodroot paste to nine women with various ailments including breast cancer, causing severe disfiguring destruction of their skin and underlying tissue (as well as failing to successfully excise their tumors). Lois March, M.D. of Cordele, Georgia, was also charged as an accomplice and had her medical license permanently revoked for her role in assisting Raber's unlicensed treatment by prescribing massive amounts of opiate pain medication to his customers in order to allow them to continue their bloodroot treatment despite the severe burning pain and disfigurement it caused."

 

Now with the above cautions, bloodroot has historically been used in very small doses to treat bronchial problems and infections. bloodroot paste has also been used to treat skin cancers, as well as to remove warts and tumors. A fluid extract has also been used as an effective treatment for ringworm.

 

Ongoing research into Sanguinarine is yielding some very promising results. Another important constituent of Bloodroot, Berberine, is showing promise in fighting brain tumors and many other cancers. We need to look past the initial idea that a plant is toxic, and identify which properties may offer medicinal value, and find a way to use them in an effective manner.

Medicinal Actions:

Anesthetic, Anti-Inflammatory, Antineoplastic, Antipyretic, Discutient, Emetic, Emmenagogue, Expectorant, Diuretic, Febrifuge, Pectoral, Sedative, Stimulant, Tonic

Plant photos courtesy of Jennifer Anderson @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database

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Revised: 05/11/16 Living Afield