Bloodroot - Sanguinaria canadensis (in the Papaveraceae or Poppy family)
Part used: Root.
Taste/smell: Harsh, bitter, acrid.
Tendencies: Drying and cooling in small amounts, warming and stimulating in larger amounts.
Dosage: Decoction: 1/8 teaspoon dry root per cup of water; or 1:1.1 fresh plant liquid extract: 1-2 drops 1 - 4 times per day in a little water. Do not use more than 1-2 drops every 2-4 hours in acute phase, then 1-2 drops per day after the acute phase.
Use: (a) Antispasmodic, (b) Expectorant, (c) Topical antineoplastic, (d) Stimulates digestion and the heart in small doses, (e) Depresses digestion and the heart in larger doses, (f) Diaphoretic, (g) Diuretic, (h) Choleretic, (I) Heart sedative.
Bloodroot chiefly affects the mucous membranes, and is specifically used with burning, itching mucous membranes of the respiratory tract. Small doses of 1-2 drops are useful in periodic headaches during climacteric, especially headaches starting in the occiput and spreading over the right side of the head to the eyes, with bulging blood vessels in the temples. It is most commonly used in sub-acute or chronic respiratory illnesses where there is no active inflammation as seen in bronchitis, laryngitis, nasal catarrh and after pneumonia where debility persists. Studies show the constituent, sanguinarine, helps reduce and limit the deposition of dental plaque.
Contraindications: It is contraindicated in pregnancy due to the emmenagogue effect and uterine stimulating activity of the alkaloids, berberine, protopine and chelerythrine, as reported in animal studies. Over-dosage can cause nausea and vomiting, hepatitis, vertigo, visual disturbances and prostration. Do not use this herb unless under the guidance of a trained health care practitioner. The fresh root is more dangerous than the dry root. Do not use more than 1-2 drops every 2-4 hours in acute phase, then 1-2 drops per day after the acute phase.