- Bloodroot; Red root
- Indian paint
- Coonroot; Puccoon
For Patients & Caregivers
How It Works
Bloodroot has not been shown to treat cancer in humans.
Bloodroot is a perennial flowering herb native to eastern North America. It has been used for inflammation, cough, infections, as an antiplaque agent, and for cancer treatment. Sanguinarine, a compound present in bloodroot, was shown to have antimicrobial activity and to inhibit growth of new blood vessels. Use of bloodroot for skin lesions may result in serious harm. Other side effects of bloodroot include dizziness, vertigo, nausea, and vomiting.
- Cancer Extracts of bloodroot have been studied in the laboratory and in animals for their anticancer effects. Traditional use of bloodroot for cancer is associated with serious adverse effects.
- Cough There is not enough scientific evidence to support this use.
- Inflammation This use is not backed by any studies.
- Infection This use is not backed by any studies.
For Healthcare Professionals
Bloodroot is a perennial flowering plant native to eastern North America. It is thought to have antiseptic, diuretic, and emetic properties and has been used for inflammation, cough, infections, as an anti-plaque agent, and for cancer treatment. Bloodroot is also an ingredient in black salve, which is promoted as an alternative cancer treatment.
The major constituent of bloodroot is sanguinarine, an alkaloid that exhibits antimicrobial (8), tumoricidal (22) (23), anticancer (25) (27), antiangiogenic (4) (5) (9) and antimicrotubule (21) properties. However, its efficacy has not been tested in humans.
Topical use of bloodroot for skin cancer can lead to severe adverse effects including disfigurement (15) (24) (26) (28) (29) (30). The use of sanguinarine as an oral antiplaque agent has been linked to leukoplakia (10) (14).
Mechanism of Action
Laboratory studies suggest sanguinarine, a benzophenanthrine alkaloid, has potential antineoplastic properties, as it intercalates with DNA at guanine-cytosine-rich sequences (17). Sanguinarine also inhibits transcription factor NFkB (6) and tubulin protein formation (21), activates pro-apoptotic Bcl-2 family proteins (2), and induces apoptosis (3) perhaps via increased activation of caspases 3 and 9 (27).
Sanguinarine exhibits antiplatelet effects, reduces platelet thromboxane production, and suppresses cyclooxygenase-1 (13). Bloodroot can inhibit the action of sodium-potassium ATPase and also prolong ventricular refractory period (18) (19).