Bloodroot Paste

Jeannie Randall
Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) in bloom
Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) in bloom

Bloodroot paste is derived from the flowering herb sanguinara canidensis. The herb contains sap that is rich in alkaloids, which provide the medicinal qualities. The entire plant, including the root, can be harvested for the alkaloid rich sap. Bloodroot paste has been used for centuries for its medicinal qualities as a treatment for certain skin conditions, but it has strong alkaloid and escharotic properties and should be used with care to prevent toxicity.

Warts and Skin Tags

According to WebMD, bloodroot contains anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory chemicals. Bloodroot can be used topically to aid in the removal of dead tissue.

Bloodroot pastes are effective for treatment of warts and skin tags. Products will vary in potency and manufacturer directions should be followed closely for best results. Bloodroot pastes should be used externally only and placed only on the area you are trying to treat.

Dental Use

Bloodroot has been approved by the FDA as an additive to toothpaste. Bloodroot is used to prevent plaque buildup on the teeth. Alpha Omega Labs offers an herbal toothpaste featuring bloodroot for about $10.

Bloodroot should never be ingested as it contains a high concentration of alkaloids that can be toxic if taken internally.

Sore Throat/Respiratory Ailments

Native American cultures often used the sap from blood root to create a tea that was used to treat:

  • Respiratory ailments
  • Sore throat
  • Asthma
  • Fever
  • Joint pain

According to WebMD, there is insufficient evidence to support the use of bloodroot for any of these ailments. Caution should be exercised if ingesting bloodroot as the high alkaloid content could cause significant, unpredictable side effects.

Does Bloodroot Paste Treat Cancer?

Although bloodroot has been used as a treatment for skin cancer by some naturopathic healers, there is little research to back up the effectiveness. One study published in the December 2002 Archives of Dermatology followed four patients who had self-treated with blood root for malignant melanomas.

  • One patient thought to have cured the cancer showed residual tumor upon biopsy.
  • A second patient did remove the cancer, but was left with severe scarring.
  • A third patient did cure the cancer for a while, but the cancer recurred after several years and required surgical removal.
  • The researchers lost touch of a fourth patient and were unable to follow up.

More research is needed to determine the effectiveness of blood root as a cancer treatment. Bloodroot has not been approved by the FDA as an effective or safe treatment for any cancers.

Where to Purchase

You can make homemade bloodroot paste or purchase commercially manufactured salves.

  • Luckyvitamin.com offers a salve containing a mixture of bloodroot and other herbs for around $15. This product received a 50% satisfaction rating from consumers who tried it.
  • Zooscape.com offers a bloodroot powder for around $15.

Possible Side Effects

Caution should be used with bloodroot paste. There have been many reports of improper use of bloodroot resulting in severe complications. Bloodroot can be poisonous if ingested in large amounts. The escharotic properties of the agents added to the paste can cause skin irritation or damage if used improperly.

In the October, 2010 edition of the Journal of Complementary Medicine, the authors discuss two patients who self-medicated with bloodroot salves and experienced life threatening complications as a result. Additional side effects include:

  • Rash
  • Low blood pressure
  • Glaucoma
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Drowsiness
  • Intestinal irritation if taken internally

Use Caution

As with any herbal remedy, it is best to consult with a primary care provider before using. Bloodroot may be effective at treating minor skin blemishes, such as warts. It may have some benefit as a dental supplement. Any product should be used according to manufacturer's instructions.

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Bloodroot Paste