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This image of bloodroot comes from Jacob Bigelow’s American medical botany written in 1817. 
This book is available in the John R. Martin Rare Book Room in Hardin Library for the Health Sciences.  

Bloodroot (Sanguinaria Canadensis)

Sanguinaria canadensis, native to eastern North America, is a herbaceous perennial and, with its white flowers, one of the first plants to cover woodland areas in the spring (Croaker, King, Pyne, Anoopkumar-Dukie, & Liu, 2016). Native Americans used bloodroot in blood tonification and purification, wound healing and pain and fever relief (Borchers, Keen, Stern, & Gershwin, 2000). Today it is used as an antiplaque additive in toothpaste and mouthwash (Wang & Warshaw, 2012).

Historical Use

Historical information on the use of bloodroot can be found in William Barton’s Vegetable materia medica written in 1818. In large doses, this plant is used as a purgative (laxative) and as an emetic to induce vomiting. In smaller doses it is used as a stimulant, an expectorant (medicine to treat coughs) and a diaphoretic (induce perspiration). The root of this plant when used as an emetic has been found to dislodge worms from the stomach.

Latest Research:


Borchers, A. T., Keen, C. L., Stern, J. S., & Gershwin, M. E. (2000). Inflammation and Native American medicine: the role of botanicals. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 72(2), 339-347. Retrieved from

Croaker, A., King, G. J., Pyne, J. H., Anoopkumar-Dukie, S., & Liu, L. (2016). Sanguinaria canadensis: Traditional Medicine, Phytochemical Composition, Biological Activities and Current Uses. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 17(9). doi:10.3390/ijms17091414

Wang, M. Z., & Warshaw, E. M. (2012). Bloodroot. Dermatitis, 23(6), 281-283. doi:10.1097/DER.0b013e318273a4dd

Other Resources

Natural Medicines record for Bloodroot.(available only to UI affiliates