Sanguinaria canadensis, or bloodroot, is a flowering plant native to the eastern United States and Canada. When the
plant is cut, the root and developing rootstalk leak a red fluid, which gives the plant its name. Herbalists commonly gather the
root and rhizome for use in medications throughout the fall. Native Americans have commonly utilized bloodroot to induce vomiting to help the body remove toxic chemicals and pollutants. Alternative medicine professionals claim that it can treat a wide range of medical ailments. The plant is most commonly used as a mucoactive agent and for antimicrobial effects in respiratory problems as well as a debriding agent in oral health conditions.

Bloodroot has been widely used in native America to treat a different medical ailments, including sore throats, congestion,
respiratory problems, haemorrhoids, irregular menstruation, and wound infections.


Numerous alkaloids can be found in the red pigment of bloodroot, concentrated in the rhizome of the plant. The
therapeutic benefits of the plant are due to these substances. Sanguinarine is the alkaloid in bloodroot that has been studied
the most. The mechanism by which bloodroot and its derivatives fight disease is unknown. Over the years, it has been
used in a variety of ways.

Bloodroot was traditionally crushed, combined with other ingredients, and applied as a paste. It can also be powdered
and inhaled or dried and taken as a tea. It’s now available as a supplement or in skin care products as an extract.


Common uses of bloodroot are :
1. As an anti inflammatory substance to treat rheumatism.
2. Topical treatment for various skin conditions like eczema, ringworm, acne, skin ulcerations, baldness, even skin cancer.
3. Used in respiratory infections like asthma, bronchitis, whooping cough to relieve the respiratory muscles and help in clearance of mucous from the tissues.
4. To treat diphtheria, pneumonia, tuberculosis, and nasal polyps due to its antibacterial properties.

Bloodroot supplements

Potential health benefits of bloodroot

Dental health : In the early 1980s, bloodroot was introduced to oral health products as an active
antibacterial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory agent. Bloodroot has been demonstrated in a few trials to reduce
dental plaque, treat gingivitis, and protect the gums from injury. Bloodroot toothpaste and mouthwash were
thought to work best when used together. Bloodroot, on the other hand, was taken off the market in North America
in 2001 after research connected it to the development of precancerous lesions known as leukoplakia. It hasn’t
surfaced in the global market since then.

Beneficial for skin conditions : Bloodroot-based skin care products asserted to have a variety of therapeutic
properties, including cleaning or curing eczema, acne, psoriasis, moles, warts, skin tags, and unhealthy skin cells, as well as disinfecting cuts. It has been used in treating skin cancer. However, no clinical trials have been conducted to support its efficacy or safety for these topical applications. Furthermore, despite the fact that bloodroot components are thought to
have powerful antioxidant and antibacterial properties, improper use has been linked to the development of scars
and contact dermatitis. Hence, excessive use should be avoided.

Improve respiratory health : Flu, common colds, sinus infections, and lung infections may be treated with
bloodroot. It is known to function as an expectorant, clearing the phlegm and mucus that is trapped in the airways of respiratory tract. S. canadensis may potentially have inotropic effects, meaning it enhances the contraction of the heart muscle, as per some research. It’s possible that this may improve oxygen delivery to the tissues.

Improve cardiovascular health : Bloodroot, according to practitioners of alternative medicine, has beneficial effects
on patients with cardiovascular disease. Bloodroot has a substance called sanguinarine that is supposed to lower blood pressure while also decreasing plaque accumulation, which can lead to atherosclerosis. Clinical investigations that look into these claims usually come up short. High doses have been linked to heart problems such arrhythmia and, in some cases, coma. Excessive use can also result in hypo-tension.

Effects on cancer : In test tube research, berberine, a chemical component found in bloodroot, has showed promise in inducing apoptosis (programmed cell death) in prostate, breast, and skin cancer cells. Apoptosis is a natural biological process that occurs when older cells die and are replaced by younger ones. The lack of apoptosis in cancer cells permits tumours to proliferate uncontrolled. As impressive as this discovery may appear, numerous chemicals have been shown to cause apoptosis
in a test tube, but only a few have been shown to do so in animals or humans without producing toxicity or harm.

Since the 17th century, black salve, a strong mixture of bloodroot and zinc chloride, has been used to cure skin
cancer. It should, however, be avoided because no clinical research have shown that it is beneficial. In fact , it has the
potential to be pretty harmful. However, via different molecular pathways, sanguinarine, the primary alkaloid in bloodroot, may trigger cell death and decrease cancer progression, according to animal and test-tube research.
Protopine, another bloodroot alkaloid, has also been shown to inhibit the spread of breast cancer cells in test
tube studies. These investigations, however, do not provide sufficient data for any human uses. People should avoid any items that contain sanguinarine, according to health experts.

Side effects :

When taken as a short-term dietary supplement, bloodroot is generally safe, though some people may experience stomach upset. Bloodroot can produce skin irritation, such as redness, itching, and swelling, when applied topically. Bloodroot isn’t meant to be used for a long time. When taken in excess, the chemical sanguinarine is a strong poison that can cause considerable toxicity.

The following are signs and symptoms of sanguinarine

  1. Dizziness
  2. Vision related problems
  3. Vomiting
  4. Nausea
  5. Bradycardia (slow heartbeat
  6. Fainting
  7. Diarrhea

Bloodroot and skin cancer :

Sanguinarine Toxicity, Uses, Side Effects and Health Benefits

Black salve is made up of zinc chloride and bloodroot. It is thought to be a treatment for skin cancer. However, it’s a very
dangerous alternative therapy for skin cancer. The use of this therapy is not supported by scientific evidence. The Food and
Drug Administration (FDA) has even issued an urgent warning against using it. The sale of this ointment as a cancer therapy is
prohibited. Some individuals use this ointment to kill cancerous skin cells by applying it on malignant tumors and moles. There
is, however, no proof that black salve is beneficial in the treatment of any cancer or other skin problem. The use of black
salve can have significant and unpleasant consequences. According to the FDA, using black salve can cause lifelong deformity, cell death (necrosis), and infections. According to FDA guidelines, black salve is not an approved skin cancer therapy. As this alternative approach is ineffective, doctors cannot prescribe this treatment legally. Black salve should not be used to treat skin cancer, moles,
warts, or other skin problems. It is not only ineffective in curing the illness, but it can also cause pain and other serious side effects.