The bloodroot plant, scientifically named Sanguinaria canadensis, is a flower native to the eastern United States and Canada. It belongs to the Papaveraceae (poppy) family and is also known by other names, such as bloodroot, canada puccoon, and redroot. In particular, it stands out for its applications in traditional medicine.
According to a review published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, Native Americans have used the rhizomes of this plant to treat a wide variety of diseases. However, the evidence on its properties is limited and, on the contrary, possible clinical toxicities have been observed. Do you want to know more about it? Here we tell you more about its properties.
Uses and benefits of the bloodroot plant
Both the rhizome and the roots of the bloodroot plant contain a red liquid that concentrates alkaloid and antioxidant compounds. Of these, sanguinarine has become the most researched alkaloid. In fact, much of the pharmacological effects of the plant are attributed to it. What is it for?
1. Dental health
In the 1980s, the bloodroot plant was used as an antimicrobial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory agent in dental health products. In particular, it is said to decrease the presence of dental plaque and the risk of gingivitis.
In relation to this, a study published in Phytotherapy Research determined that toothpaste and mouthwashes infused with Sanguinaria canadensis have antibacterial qualities that help protect oral health when used simultaneously. However, the results regarding these effects are contradictory.
In fact, bloodroot oral products have been discontinued in North America since 2001, after studies associated their use with an increased risk of precancerous lesions (oral leukoplakia).
2. Skin health
In traditional medicine, bloodroot is used as an ally to combat skin problems such as acne, psoriasis, warts and blemishes. Even today there are products derived from the plant that claim to provide these and other dermal benefits. But is it effective for these purposes?
The truth is that there are no clinical studies to support its effectiveness against these conditions. On the contrary, as detailed in a publication in Dermatitis, its excessive or improper application can cause tissue destruction, contact dermatitis and keloid formation.
3. Heart health
Sanguinarine, the main active compound in bloodroot, appears to have anti-aggregant effects that decrease the accumulation of plaque in the arteries and the risk of cardiac events. On the other hand, it is believed to exert a positive inotropic effect, helping the heart to pump enough blood with fewer beats.
Despite this, studies are insufficient to consider this plant as a therapeutic agent for heart health. On the contrary, it is noted that its use in high doses can cause a serious situation of hypotension.
4. Respiratory health
Many of bloodroot applications have to do with respiratory health. In ancient times, it was a popular remedy for fighting the flu, cold, sinus infections, and lung infections. Despite this, nowadays there is no solid evidence that demonstrates its effectiveness in this type of conditions.
Bloodroot plant risks and side effects
The bloodroot plant is considered safe for most healthy adults, as long as it is consumed as a short-term dietary supplement, properly processed. Even so, there are those who experience digestive discomfort after taking the plant in these presentations.
Its topical application is related to side effects such as irritation, redness and swelling of the skin. In addition, its excessive or prolonged consumption can lead to the following reactions:
- Dizziness and fainting.
- Blurred vision or glaucoma.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Low blood pressure.
- Dilated pupils.
Given the lack of evidence on its safety, the bloodroot plant should not be used in conditions such as pregnancy or lactation. Nor should it be used in children or patients with diagnosed chronic conditions.
On the other hand, it must be considered that it may have interactions with medications to lower blood pressure, anti-coagulants and anti-arrhythmics.
Dosage and presentations
Right now, bloodroot is available in herbal stores and online pharmacies as a supplement in capsules, powder, and extracts. It is also possible to find its dried roots to make teas or decoctions.
However, there is no specific rule for its safe intake. In general, it is suggested not to exceed doses of more than 5 micrograms of sanguinarine.
What is there to remember about the bloodroot plant?
Bloodroot plant dietary supplements are distributed as allies to improve health. Although its medicinal applications are quite old, clinical studies have not been able to verify its effectiveness. Contrary to this, it has been determined that its improper or excessive use can cause serious consequences.
Therefore, it is essential to use this plant in moderation, according to the manufacturer’s instructions. In addition, if you have a previously diagnosed disease, it is best to consult your doctor before using any derivative of this plant.