Harvesting and Using Bloodroot for Health Benefits

What You'll Need

For centuries, bloodroot has been used by Native Americans for medicinal and decorative purposes. One of the most common uses of bloodroot is to help with bronchial problems and throat infections. Another common use is the treatment of skin cancer, ringworm and warts.


Bloodroot is toxic. The juice contains an opium-like alloy that irritates human membranes. If you ingest too much, you could die, and even a small quantity will induce vomiting. The juice is also slightly caustic. Using a highly concentrated amount on your skin may cause scarring.

While the FDA does not approve the use bloodroot, it does recognize that there are health benefits. Bloodroot is being studied for several medicinal uses, and the FDA has approved the use of bloodroot for oral health. You should only use bloodroot under the supervision of a physician.

If you choose to use bloodroot, you need to cultivate and harvest your own plants. Bloodroot is an endangered plant, but you ccan grow your own from a root cutting or from seed. Do not use bloodroot if you are pregnant or nursing.

Step 1: Harvest

You will need to wear gloves during the harvest and storage of this plant. Wait to harvest when the flower is in bloom. The flowers are 6 to 7 inches tall with 8 to 12 petals and a yellow center. Dig up the roots of the plant—they are thick, tender tubes filled with red juice. Remove some of the root of the plant with your shears. You will also want to collect some of the leaves.

Step 2: Store

Once you have harvested the bloodroot, you need to store it. The easiest way to do this is to dry it. Gather the roots and leaves together. Bind them and hang them to dry in a warm, dry place.

Step 3: Oral Health

To use the bloodroot for oral health, boil water and pour it over fresh leaves. Dip your toothbrush in the liquid and brush your teeth.

If you have a throat infection, use this same concentration and gargle the liquid. Do not swallow or you will vomit. If you get too much in your system, you may die.

Step 4: Paste

A bloodroot paste applied to the skin may help alleviate skin cancer, warts and ringworm. This paste should not be a high concentration, or it may cause scarring and potentially alter your brain chemistry. It was used in Native American ceremonies to help young brides relax.

Step 5: Drink

Steep a very small amount of bloodroot in boiling water for 10 minutes. This drink is often used for general health purposes and should be ingested 3 times a day. Always use this method with extreme caution, under the supervision of a physician.