Referring to the plant by its Indian name, puccoon, Capt. John Smith in 1612 recalled his experience with bloodroot in Jamestown, Virginia, noting: "this they use for swellings, aches, annointing their joints, paint...
Referring to the plant by its Indian name, puccoon, Capt. John Smith in 1612 recalled his experience with bloodroot in Jamestown, Virginia, noting: "this they use for swellings, aches, annointing their joints, painting their heads and garments." But that, Smith confessed, was not all they painted. He added, "they set a woman fresh painted red" to be a bedfellow of one of the colonists. Such was the Indians' fascination with bloodroot juice.
The properties of this native plant, the settlers discovered, were more for health than decorative. As they learned from the Indians (who used the blood-red juice to help support sore throats and immunity issues and an infusion of the rhizome for joint pain), bloodroot is a powerful herb. Both the powdered rhizome and the juice from it are extremely caustic, chemically capable of corroding and destroying tissue. Therefore bloodroot came to be prescribed as supportive for immunity, growths , and nose polyps. Folk healers also recommended bloodroot as an emetic (to induce vomiting), as an expectorant for coughs, as a laxative, and even as a stimulant for the digestive organs.
Research indicates that the red juice in the rhizome is an escharotic, a caustic substance that produces a mass of dead tissue after application. Bloodroot's effectiveness in specifically supporting disinfecting and for skin irritations is probable, but has not been proved, nor has its use as an expectorant (since the plant may be toxic when taken internally).
General Herb Information
Habitat: Wet banks, fields, woods.
Range: Native to North America from Quebec south to Florida and Texas and west to Kansas. Bloodroot is an endangered or threatened species in some states.
Identification: A low-growing perennial, bloodroot has an orange-red rhizome (underground stem) from which solitary blooms emerge. Each bloom is enveloped in a single leaf that enlarges after flowering and is pale green and lobed. White flowers (March-May) usually have eight petals.
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Take 1 capsule, 3 times daily, with meals.
Do not use during pregnancy or lactation. Do not use for prolonged periods of time. If irritation occurs, discontinue use immediately.
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