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Bloodroot

SCIENTIFIC NAME(S): Sanguinaria canadensis L. Family: Papaveraceae (poppies)

COMMON NAME(S):Bloodroot, red pucoon, red root, coon root, paucon, sweet slumber, tetterwort, snakebite, Indian paint

History

Bloodroot was used by eastern American Indian tribes as a red dye and in the treatment of ulcers, skin conditions, and as a blood purifier. All of these medicinal uses apparently de­rive from the appearance of the blood­red latex exuded from the fresh root. The juice was also used for coughs and sore throats, with the bitter taste masked by placing the juice on a lump of maple sugar that was then sucked. Higher oral doses were observed to have expectorant and emetic properties. The root entered 19th century medicine as a caustic topical treatment for skin cancers, polyps, and warts. In 1983 an extract of bloodroot was marketed in toothpaste and mouthwashes for prevention of gum disease and plaque.

Botany :- Bloodroot is an early spring wildflower that grows in woodlands of the eastern United States and Canada. Its single white flower emerges from the ground folded within a grey-green leaf and the delicate petals rapidly detach as the seed pod matures. The stout rhizome yields a bright red latex when cut, giving the plant its common name. The root and rhizome are collected in the fall for medicinal use.

Uses of Bloodroot

Bloodroot was used historically as a treatment for skin cancers, polyps, and warts, although there are no clinical trials to support these uses. It was marketed in the early 1980s in toothpastes and mouthwashes for the prevention of gum disease and plaque; however, more recent studies have found it inferior to drugs such as doxycycline and chlorhexidine.

Side Effects of Bloodroot

Recent studies have found a strong correlation between the use of sanguinarine dental products and oral leukoplakia, a possible precursor to oral cancer. Bloodroot is contraindicated during pregnancy.

Dosage

Decoction: Put 1 teaspoonful of the rhizome in a cup of cold water, bring to the boil and leave to infuse for l0 minutes. This should be drunk three times a day.

Tincture: Take 1-2 ml of the tincture three times a day.

Combinations : Blood root is excellent when used in combination with Horehound and Elecampane for congestive complaints. In pharyngitis it combines well with Red Sage and a pinch of Cayenne.

Toxicology

Long-term use or overdose of bloodroot can also cause stomach pain, diarrhea, visual changes, paralysis, fainting, and collapse. Long-term oral intake of sanguinarine-contaminated cooking oils has been linked in India to glaucoma, edema, heart disease , miscarriage, and diarrhea. The sanguinarine in these cases came from plants other than bloodroot. Nevertheless, bloodroot should not be used long term. The plant is unsafe for use in children and should not be used by pregnant or lactating women.

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