Bloodroot sounds like something you’d find in Dracula’s garden 🧛 . But it’s actually a flowering plant that might have some health perks. Here’s the DL.

What’s the deal with bloodroot?

Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) has a long history in herbal medicine. It’s been used to treat:

There’s some anecdotal research to back these claims, but there isn’t much scientific proof.

Poison PSA: If you want to try bloodroot, you have to be very careful with how much you take. It contains a poisonous alkaloid called sanguinarine and can be toxic if consumed in large amounts.

Was this helpful?
bloodrootShare on Pinterest
Liveslow/Getty Images

Bloodroot is a flowering plant found in eastern North America. The root and rootstalk can be used for medicinal purposes.

BTW, bloodroot is also known as:

  • pauson
  • redroot
  • bloodwort
  • tetterwort
  • red puccoon
  • sweet slumber
  • Canada puccoon

Here’s a deep dive into bloodroot’s potential health perks.

Spoiler alert: It might do more harm than good.

Heart health

Remember we mentioned sanguinarine, that toxic chemical? Some folks think it can help reduce blood pressure and prevent plaque from building up in your arteries.

In reality, high doses of bloodroot can lead to possibly deadly cardiac, respiratory, and blood pressure side effects.

Dental health

Bloodroot might help you fight off the Cavity Creeps. A 2012 study found that bloodroot has antibacterial properties that can promote dental and oral health.

But, there’s a reason why S. canadensis isn’t on your average toothpaste ingredient list. In older research, bloodroot has been linked to precancerous lesions called oral leukoplakia when it’s overused.

Skin conditions

Bloodroot is chock-full of antioxidants. Some peeps think this makes it a dope skin care treatment for:

But these claims aren’t backed by science. In fact, science shows that bloodroot can actually harm your skin.

A 2009 study found that excessive topical use of bloodroot can lead to tissue death or injury (cutaneous necrosis). Beware of a product called black salve. It’s an undiluted bloodroot ointment that’s marketed as a cancer treatment.

Black salve might contain corrosive compounds that could lead to permanent disfigurement, according to the Food & Drug Administration (FDA). It can also increase your risk of open wounds and infection.


Some older test tube studies have found bloodroot can trigger cell death in breast, skin, and prostate cancer cells.

But the FDA doesn’t support this use of bloodroot. In fact, they mention that use of salve products containing bloodroot and its ingredients “for serious conditions like skin cancer can result in delayed cancer diagnosis and cancer progression.”

Respiratory illnesses

Bloodroot could have an effect on your muscle contractions. So it might help flush out mucus and phlegm from your airways.

A 2012 review of studies also found that bloodroot may strengthen your heart muscle’s contractions. This might make your respiratory tract and lungs more effective.

There’s no evidence to show bloodroot can treat or prevent respiratory system illnesses in the long term.

Low doses of bloodroot are usually safe to take in the short term as a dietary supplement. But you could experience side effects, including:

Seek medical attention ASAP if you experience any of the following:

If your symptoms worsen, or you develop any of the other side effects listed above, seek medical assistance.

Who shouldn’t take bloodroot?

There’s not enough research to show if bloodroot is safe to take if you’re pregnant. You should also avoid it if you’re nursing.

Bloodroot isn’t safe for kiddos.

You also shouldn’t use it if you have a heart rhythm disorder or hypotension (low blood pressure).

Drug interactions

Talk to your doc before taking bloodroot — especially if you’re currently taking any medications.

Bloodroot might interact with meds that treat high blood pressure. They could also trigger heart rate irregularities in folks who take anti-arrhythmic drugs.

There’s also a chance that bloodroot can inhibit the effects of blood thinners (like warfarin). This might make you bruise and bleed more easily.

You can buy bloodroot at various vitamin shops, health food stores, or online. It comes in powder, capsule, cream, or extract form.

There’s no standard guidelines for taking bloodroot. Always follow the dosage listed on the product label. Once again, talk with your doc before adding bloodroot to your diet or skin care routine.


Herbal products aren’t strictly regulated by the FDA. Some can contain pesticides and other toxins. Opt for brands that have been certified organic by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

You should also look for brands that have been third-party tested for purity and quality.

Was this helpful?

Are you all about that alternative medicine life? Bloodroot isn’t your only option. There are plenty of other remedies that can offer similar benefits with fewer potential side effects.

Heart healthDental healthSkin conditionsCancerRespiratory conditions
coenzyme Q10 supplementsturmeric rootaloe veracloveoregano
omega-3 fatty acidsalfalfa leafturmericcuminrosemary
green teayellow dock rootgreen teagarlic
cinnamon barkvirgin coconut oilginger

Bloodroot has a long history as a natural remedy for a variety of health issues. But there’s little to no evidence to prove it’s legit.

In fact, bloodroot can be toxic if taken in large doses. It could also lead to other dangerous health issues.

Talk to your doc before you add bloodroot to your routine. They can suggest other (and most likely better) remedies to treat what ails ya.

If you do decide to take a bloodroot supplement, stick to the good stuff. Always opt for brands that are third-party tested and contain no harmful chemicals.