Sewanee Herbarium » Project Center » Medicinal Plants » Bloodroot

Sanguinaria canadensis Bloodroot
Papaveraceae (Poppy Family)

Other Names: Indian paint, Tetterwort, Red puccoon, Paucon, Red root, Coon root, Snakebite, Sweet slumber, Tumeric, White puccoon, Puccoon

Description: Perennial; 6-12 in. Juice is red/orange. Leaves distinctly round-lobed. Flowers white, to 2 in. with 8-10 petals.

Where Found: Rich humus woods. NS to FL., e. TX to ME.

Status: Native

Medicinal Part: Root

Preparation: Fresh root, Root tea, Root juice

Uses: The fresh root in minute doses was used as an appetite stimulant and in larger doses as an arterial sedative. American Indians used root tea for rheumatism, asthma, bronchitis, lung ailments, laryngitis, fevers, and also as an emetic. The root juice is escharotic (a substance that kills tissue) so it is used to remove warts, ringworm, polyps, fungal growths, tumors, and other skin diseases.

Constituents and Effects: Sanguinarine: antiseptic, anesthetic, antibacterial, and anticancer activity. It is used commercially in toothpastes and mouthwashes as a plaque inhibiting agent. Berberine: This alkaloid has shown promise in fighting brain tumors and other cancers.