Perennial. 6 to 12 inches. Leaves distinctly round-lobed. Flowers white, to 2 inches with 8 to 10 petals, appearing before or with leaves. The roots are vivid red with a characteristic red juice (hence the name Bloodroot Flower
Family: Papaveraceae (Poppy family)
Other Names: Red root, Indian paint, Red puccoon, Tetterwort
Flowers: March – May
Parts Used: Root and rhizome
Habitat: Rich woods. Across Canada to Nova Scotia; south from New England to Florida; west to Eastern Texas; north to Manitoba.
American Indians used root tea for rheumatism, asthma, bronchitis, lung ailments, laryngitis, fevers; also as an emetic. Root juice applied to warts; also used as a dye and a decorative skin stain.
A bachelor of the Ponca tribe would rub a piece of the root as a love charm on the palm of his hand, then scheme to shake hands with the woman he desired to marry. After shaking hands, the girl would be found willing to marry him in 5 to 6 days.
One of the earliest reported uses of bloodroot, or puccoon, as it was then commonly known, was a dye. John Smith reported in 1612 that “Pocones is a small roote that groweth in the mountaines, which being dryed and beate in powder turneth red; and this they use for swellings, aches, annointing their joints, painting their heads and garments . . . and at night where his lodging is appointed, they set a woman fresh painted red with Pocones and oile, to be his bedfellow.”
Constituents: Sanguinarine, Sanguidimerine, Cholerythrine, Protopine, Berberine, Copticine, Red resin
Properties: Antiseptic, antispasmodic, cathartic, diuretic, emetic, emmenagogue, expectorant, febrifuge, sedative, stimulant, and tonic.
It is used when bronchitis, sub-acute or chronic asthma, croup, laryngitis, pharyngitis and deficient capillary (blood) circulation is indicated. It is used as a specific for asthma and bronchitis with feeble peripheral blood circulation.
Bloodroot has been used for many years by American Indians and herbal practitioners as a remedy for skin cancer. The fresh juice from the root, a concentrated tincture, or a salve containing capsicum and fresh juice concentrate has been used.
In some cases, excessive doses of Bloodroot can cause low blood pressure, vertigo, tremors, vomiting, reduced pulse, shock, and coma. Large doses can be poisonous.
Some experts recommend the following doses:
Steep a level teaspoonful of the fresh root into a pint of boiling water for half an hour. Strain. When cold, take a teaspoonful 3 times a day.
As a tincture (1:5 in 60% alcohol), 2 drops three times a day.
As an extract (1:1 in 60% alcohol), 1 drop three times a day.
Warning Warning! Bloodroot is dangerous. It should only be used with
guidance of a trained herbalist or physician.