Named for the crimson extract made from its root, bloodroot not only looks forbidding but is potentially toxic and can cause severe side effects if ingested in excess. For this reason, herbalists prescribe the root of this perennial plant primarily as an external remedy to relieve eczema, venereal blisters, rashes and other skin disorders. Only rarely is the bitter herb taken internally, and that is when herbalists recommend it for respiratory disorders such as bronchitis. Bloodroot is a major ingredient in many mouthwashes and toothpastes because of its ability to kill the bacteria that can lead to gingivitis (gum disease) and the buildup of plaque. Its key components are the antibacterial isoquinoline alkaloids.
Over the counter:
Bloodroot is available as tincture and dried root; it is also an ingredient in several commercial dental products.
Tea: 1 oz. bloodroot boiled in 1 cup water for 15 to 20 minutes.
Combinations: Blended with horehound and elecampane to relieve congestion. Mixed with red sage and a pinch of cayenne to treat pharyngitis (irritation of the throat).