The healing power of bloodroot

Bloodroot is a hardy plant. It grows to about 25 centimeters high and during flowering there is one flower at the top of the stem. The plant has a beautiful flower and even the leaves have ornamental value. This plant originally grows on the east coast of North America, from Canada, via the United States to Northern Mexico. Canadian bloodroot, as you might call the plant in Dutch, has various medicinal properties that are used in phytotherapy and homeopathy. NB! This article is written from the personal view of the author and may contain information that is not scientifically substantiated and/or in line with the general view.

Botanical drawing of bloodroot / Source: William Curtis (1746–1799), Wikimedia Commons (Public domain)


  • Traditional use
  • Naming
  • Active substances
  • Bloodroot is good for the lungs
  • The many medicinal activities of bloodroot
  • Bloodroot for oral hygiene
  • Dose and safety
  • Visit a doctor or herbal therapist

Traditional use

The Indians of North America have used bloodroot for a variety of problems for at least centuries. It was used, among other things, to rub on the skin to keep insects away. The dried powder was used as a diaphoretic. In addition, it is a substance that works as an expectorant; it can be used in bronchitis to prevent mucus formation. The plant was also used as an emetic and was used by Indians for rheumatic diseases. Furthermore, it was also a dye; both the skin and pottery are decorated with it by Indians. There are no edible parts on the plant. It was used for a long time for heart problems, but this medicinal use has fallen into disuse in our time. It would help with an increased heart rate and heart weakness.


In Latin, bloodroot is called Sanguinaria canadensis . In Dutch it is also called Canadian bloodroot. Sanguis means ‘blood’. That refers to the orange-red sap that can be obtained from this plant. Canadensis means ‘from Canada’, the place where this plant was found.

Active substances

The root of bloodroot is used for phytotherapeutic purposes. It contains the following active substances: isoquinoline alkaloids, mainly benzophenanthridine, chelerythine, sanguilitine, sanguirubine, protopine, homochelidine, chelirubine and chelilutine. It also contains resins and the organic acids malic and citric acid.

Bloodroot is good for the lungs

Bloodroot has an expectorant or expectorant effect that is mainly used for respiratory diseases. The coughing up of mucus is accelerated, so that there is less chance of a serious infection or a long-term continuation of a disease. Sanguinarine is the main substance that dissolves mucus. In phytotherapy, bloodroot is prescribed for the following indications:

Sanguinaria canadensis or bloodroot / Source: Paul Henjum, Wikimedia Commons (Public domain)

  • emphysema,
  • Bronchiectasis,
  • laryngitis or laryngeal inflammation,
  • Asthma,
  • Croup.

The use of bloodroot as a medicine should only be done on the prescription of a herbal therapist because its high alkaloid content makes it a potentially dangerous herb.

The many medicinal activities of bloodroot

Bloodroot is used as an emetic. You need a higher dose of bloodroot than ipeca root, which is a well-known emetic and medicinal plant. Bloodroot is also a diuretic, menstrual stimulant and diaphoretic. In addition, it promotes poor blood circulation in the capillaries and it is a digestion-stimulating herb. It is used, among other things, for:

  • Poor blood circulation in the capillaries,
  • Digestive disorders.

Bloodroot for oral hygiene

Bloodroot has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antifungal effects. It is mainly used to eliminate oral problems. It is found in toothpastes and mouthwashes. The anti-inflammatory effect can also be applied externally for flaking conditions and warts.

Dose and safety

There are a number of ways to use this medicinal plant.

  • Tincture: 0.5 to 1 ml of the tincture three times a day (1:5 in 60%).
  • Decoction: three times a day, use a teaspoon of dried root in a tea glass and let it simmer for 10 minutes.

No side effects are expected at the doses described above. However, it is recommended not to take any risks and not to use the root itself but standardized preparations prescribed by a doctor. This has to do with a narcotic effect that can come from the root. There is a whole list of possible, serious side effects if too much bloodroot is used. Pregnant women should also not use the preparation. When used externally, a mild irritating effect occasionally occurs.

Visit a doctor or herbal therapist

Much of the information about the medicinal plant mentioned in this article comes from the book Groot Handboek Medicinal Plants by Geert Verhelst. That is a handbook in phytotherapy. However, it is not suitable for self-healing. Anyone who suffers from something should consult a doctor or herbal therapist for a good diagnosis and choice of the best remedies, tailored to your personal situation. The knowledge and science mentioned here is of a purely informative nature.