Bloodroot

What other names is Bloodroot known by?

Blood Root, Bloodwort, Coon Root, Indian Plant, Indian Red Paint, Pauson, Red Indian Paint, Red Puccoon, Red Root, Sang-Dragon, Sang de Dragon, Sanguinaire, Sanguinaire du Canada, Sanguinaria, Sanguinaria canadensis, Snakebite, Sweet Slumber, Tetterwort.

What is Bloodroot?

Bloodroot is a plant. People use the underground stem (rhizome) to make medicine.

Bloodroot is used to cause vomiting, empty the bowels, and reduce tooth pain. It is also used to treat croup, hoarseness (laryngitis), sore throat (pharyngitis), poor circulation in the surface blood vessels, nasal polyps, achy joints and muscles (rheumatism), warts, and fever.

Some people apply bloodroot directly to the skin around wounds to remove dead tissue and promote healing. During the mid-1800s, bloodroot extracts were applied to the skin as part of the Fell Technique for treatment of breast tumors.

In dentistry, bloodroot is used on the teeth to reduce the build-up of plaque. Plaque is a film of saliva, mucus, bacteria, and food particles that can promote gum disease.

Possibly Effective for...

  • Dental plaque. Brushing teeth with a specific toothpaste containing bloodroot and zinc chloride (Viadent Original, Vipont Pharmaceuticals) or using a similar toothpaste containing bloodroot, zinc chloride, and fluoride (Viadent Fluoride toothpaste, Vipont Pharmaceuticals) along with a using mouth rinse containing bloodroot and zinc (Viadent Oral Rinse, Vipont Pharmaceuticals) seems to reduce dental plaque. Also, rinsing with bloodroot mouthwash after a professional tooth cleaning seems to slow the regrowth of dental plaque. In addition, using a bloodroot toothpaste (Viadent toothpaste, Viadent Inc.) and rinsing with bloodroot mouthwash (Viadent Oral Rinse, Viadent Inc.) seems to prevent plaque development in teenagers wearing orthodontic devices.
  • Swelling of the gums (gingivitis). Although some conflicting results exist, most research shows that brushing with a toothpaste containing bloodroot and zinc chloride (Viadent Original, Vipont Pharmaceuticals) or using a similar toothpaste containing bloodroot, zinc chloride, and fluoride (Viadent Fluoride toothpaste, Vipont Pharmaceuticals) along with a mouth rinse containing bloodroot and zinc (Viadent Oral Rinse, Vipont Pharmaceuticals) reduces gingivitis. Also, rinsing with bloodroot mouthwash (Viadent Oral Rinse) after a professional tooth cleaning seems to slow the development of gingivitis.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • A serious dental infection (periodontitis). Early research shows that using toothpaste and a mouth rinse containing bloodroot extract and zinc chloride for 2 weeks following usual periodontitis treatment reduces gum swelling and bleeding, but not dental plaque, in people with periodontitis.
  • Coughs.
  • Spasms.
  • Emptying the bowels.
  • Causing vomiting.
  • Wound cleaning.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of bloodroot for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

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How does Bloodroot work?

Bloodroot contains chemicals that might help fight bacteria, inflammation, and plaque.

Are there safety concerns?

Bloodroot is POSSIBLY SAFE for most people when taken by mouth, short-term. Side effects include nausea, vomiting, drowsiness, and grogginess. Also, skin contact with the fresh plant can cause a rash. Don't let bloodroot get into your eyes because it can cause irritation.

Long-term use by mouth in high amounts is POSSIBLY UNSAFE. At high doses it can cause low blood pressure, shock, coma, and an eye disease called glaucoma. Also, bloodroot is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when used as a toothpaste and mouthwash. It may increase the risk of developing white patches on the inside of the mouth.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Bloodroot is LIKELY UNSAFE when taken by mouth during pregnancy and POSSIBLY UNSAFE when taken by mouth while breast-feeding.

Stomach or intestinal problems such as infections, Crohn's disease, or other inflammatory conditions: Bloodroot can irritate the digestive tract. Don't use it if you have any of these conditions.

An eye disease called glaucoma: Bloodroot might affect glaucoma treatment. If you have glaucoma, don't use bloodroot unless a healthcare professional recommends it and monitors your eye health.

Dosing considerations for Bloodroot.

The appropriate dose of bloodroot depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for bloodroot. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.

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Last Editorial Review: 3/29/2011

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