Monday, March 29, 2010

Blood Root in bloom and in apothecary

A wise one once said, " You have to know and understand what kills if you are to know and understand what heals." These are some of the truest words that I as an herbalist have learned.

I am not going to tell you every thing about Blood root in this article. I just want to peek your curiosity.

Blood Root
Sanguinaria canadensis
family: Papaveraceae
Folk/Geographic names: King root, Indian paint, red puccoon, tetterwort, and red root among others.

I was out in the yard and found my Blood root in bloom! It's one of my favorite woodland spring flowers and medicinal herbs.

Before it completely enchants you though , you should know there are some dangers lurking in all that beauty and healing uses......

Blood Root has no Culinary properties and should not be used in foods!

In the wrong hands and in the wrong dose , it will kill some one! One of Blood Roots properties is that it is an emetic, in other words it induces nausea and vomiting.
It is cathartic which means it can and will cause horrific diarrhea which can end in the deadly outcome of rapid dehydration.
It has stimulant effects on both the circulatory system as well as the Uterine system, which is why it should NEVER be handled by Pregnant woman , OR LACTATING/ NURSING Mothers for that matter as it can pass through the milk to the baby and have horrifically tragic results....yes the baby could die!
It will also cause nose bleeds when working with the dry powder. It is a highly toxic herb which should only be used by a well trained practitioner.

If I have scared you , I am not sorry.


Because for all it's beauty and very helpful healing properties, it is like any medication and nothing to take chances with.

Example: It was used pharmaceutically to produce Viadent oral health care products produced by Colgate-Palmolive ( If you have ever used Viadent products or are planning to , I recommend reading this article first : . It was a well known ethnobotanist with the U.S Department of Agriculture , Dr. James Duke, who's research was vital to the use of Blood Root in the production of these Viadent products. He may have understood the risks ... but seriously underestimated them. As the article I have link to above also states, it was found that the products containing blood root caused a higher rate of oral premalignant cancerous lesions.... aka Leukoplakia.

Even if you are going to grow and work with it for non-medicinal uses you should know and abide by it's dangers.

Blood Root has been reported to be prescribed for warts, polyps of the nasal cavity, topically for skin infections and inflammations, rheumatism, arthritis , gout inflammations , sever stomach and digestive track infections,fevers, as well as (and still is by some homeopathic practitioners) used when a strong expectorant action was needed in respiratory infections.

Among it's other uses you will find :
historically used as Native American body paint
mosquito repellent
Love drawing spells and enchantments
For Protection magick
In cleanings and purifications
and more

I love how sweet it looks with the leaves still folded about it's tiny flower stem as though protecting it from the elements. Those leaves will eventually reach up to about 8 inches across when the flower fades, and sure a beautiful contrast to the full leaves of wild ginger and large heart shaped leaves of blue violets in the summer garden bed border.
Just growing it in the medicinal garden bed will cause no harm.. but you need to be careful if you plan to dig it up and move it about . Handel it with gloves , preferably no porous ones, to help protect your self form any volatile reaction you may have from the juices of the roots and to protect it from bacteria on your hands.

Well now.
There is so much more out there to learn about Blood root. I hope your curiosity is peeked even though this may seam a bit of a negative review for the plant. I truly do love my Blood root Plants and I respect it for all it's uses.

Blissful and Safe Blessings
Ma Fey

If you so choose to try blood root for any of the suggested uses, know you do so at your own risk. You and only you are responsible for your actions and for the results of your actions! Not I nor any one associated with this blog.

Enough said.

Or as Sean Connery said in the movie The Untouchables, " So Endeth the Lesson".

( I LOVE that Movie and that line!!!)


  1. So beautiful, although I won't be eating it any time soon... :p

  2. Great post!
    You have quite a few plants. I purchased a plant at a local plant sale last year to start a patch.

  3. such beauty with such power.... thanks for the info

  4. You are rekindling my interest in medicinal herbs. Spring is almost here in the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia. The trees are in bloom and the weather is getting much warmer. The sky here is a light blue compared to the deep blue of the mountains that surround our little valley. It is time for me to get the herbs going. Your posts are inspirational and informative. Thank you for caring enough to teach those of us who know a little but not as much as you~