Bloodroot Benefits and Side Effects
December 07, 2011
Sanguinarine and its potential health benefits
Sanguinarine is a plant alkaloid present in the root of Sanguinaria canadensis and Poppy fumaria species. It is a
cationic molecule which converts from an iminium ion form at pH less than 6 to an alkanolamine form at pH greater
than 7. Sanguinarine and a few other alkaloids constitute the active ingredients of most sanguinaria extracts.
Sanguinarine has been shown to possess antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. [5,7]
Sanguinarine has been used as an antiseptic mouth rinse and a toothpaste additive to reduce dental plaque and
gingival inflammation. Sanguinarine is found to inhibit platelet aggregation induced by arachidonic acid, collagen,
U46619 and sub-threshold concentration of thrombin. It also activates adenylate cyclase, inhibits platelet Ca(2+)
mobilization, TXB(2) production as well as suppresses COX-1 enzyme activity. Thus, researchers believe that
sanguinarine may have benefits for cardiovascular diseases related to platelet aggregation. 
Researchers from University of Wisconsin have shown that sanguinarine possesses strong antiproliferative and
proapoptotic properties against human epidermoid carcinoma A431 cells, immortalized human HaCaT keratinocytes,
androgen-unresponsive human prostate carcinoma DU145 cells and human prostate carcinoma LNCaP cells. [5,7]
They found that sanguinarine (as little as 0.1-2 micromol/L) treatment of LNCaP and DU145 cells for 24 hours
resulted in dose-dependent (1) inhibition of cell growth, (2) arrest of cells in G0-G1 phase of the cell cycle, and (3)
induction of apoptosis. 
Immunoblot analysis showed that sanguinarine treatment of both LNCaP and DU145 cells resulted in significant (1)
induction of cyclin kinase inhibitors p21/WAF1 and p27/KIP1; (2) down-regulation of cyclin E, D1, and D2; and (3)
down-regulation of cyclin-dependent kinase 2, 4, and 6. 
Researchers from Chonbuk National University Hospital, Korea, found that sanguinarine markedly suppressed VEGF-
induced endothelial cell migration, sprouting, and survival in vitro in a dose-dependent manner at nanomolar
concentrations. Furthermore, sanguinarine potently suppressed blood vessel formation in vivo in mouse Matrigel
plugs and the chorioallantoic membrane of chick embryos. Thus, this test-tube study suggests that sanguinarine has
anti-cancer effects, and its mode of action may involve the blocking of VEGF-induced Akt activation. 
Sanguinarine and sanguinaria extracts show anti-microbic effects.
Sanguinarine has broad antimicrobial activity as well as antiinflammatory properties. In vitro studies indicate that the
anti-plaque action of bloodroot is due to its ability to inhibit bacterial adherence to newly formed pellicle, its retention
in plaque being 10-100 times its saliva concentration, and due to its antimicrobic properties. Long term use of
sanguinaria-containing toothpaste and oral rinse products does not predispose users to detrimental shifts in oral
flora. Electron microscopic studies of bacteria exposed to sanguinarine demonstrate that bacteria aggregate and
become morphologically irregular. 
The rhizomes of Bloodroot are used traditionally for the treatment of gastrointestinal ailments. The rhizome extracts,
as well as a methanol extract of S. canadensis suspension-cell cultures inhibited the growth of H. pylori in vitro. It
contained protopine, sanguinarine and chelerythrine. This may partially explain its benefits on gastric upset.
Some people suggest to use bloodroot to remove skin tags and mole. Studies are needed to under how it works and
the benefits and side effects of this method.
Bloodroot has been used for skin cancer treatment for years. The use of escharotic or caustic pastes to treat skin
cancer is based on the centuries-old observation that selected minerals and plant extracts may be used to destroy
certain skin lesions. Zinc chloride and Sanguinaria canadensis (bloodroot) are 2 agents that are used as part of the
Mohs chemosurgery fixed-tissue technique. Researchers from University of Vermont College of Medicine reviewed
the history of escharotic use for skin disease and they commented that unregulared use of these herbal applications
may lead to serious consequences such as scarring and "left-over" of some residual cancer cells. 
Side Effects of Bloodroot
Dose of Bloodroot is usually less than one ml for oral-intake. Long term use or overdosage of Bloodroot may cause
side effects such as nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, diarrhea, visual changes, paralysis, fainting, and collapse. [1-3]
1. British Herbal Medicine Association Scientific Committee. British Herbal Pharmacopoeia. West Yorks, UK: British Herbal Medicine Association, 1983. 2.
McGuffin M, Hobbs C, Upton R, Goldberg A (eds). American Herbal Products AssociationÂ’s Botanical Safety Handbook. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1997.
3. Felter HW, Lloyd JU. KingÂ’s American Dispensatory 18th ed. Sandy, OR: Eclectic Medical Publications, 1898, reprinted 1983. Jeng JH, et al,
Antiplatelet effect of sanguinarine is correlated to calcium mobilization, thromboxane and cAMP production.Atherosclerosis. 2006 Jun 22. Adhami VM,
et al, Sanguinarine causes cell cycle blockade and apoptosis of human prostate carcinoma cells via modulation of cyclin kinase inhibitor-cyclin-cyclin-
dependent kinase machinery.Mol Cancer Ther. 2004 Aug;3(8):933-40.  Eun JP, Koh GY.Suppression of angiogenesis by the plant alkaloid, sanguinarine.
Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2004 Apr 30;317(2):618-24.  Adhami VM, Activation of prodeath Bcl-2 family proteins and mitochondrial apoptosis
pathway by sanguinarine in immortalized human HaCaT keratinocytes.Clin Cancer Res. 2003 Aug 1;9(8):3176-82.  Godowski KC.Antimicrobial action of
sanguinarine.J Clin Dent. 1989 Spring;1(4):96-101.  Newton SM, et al,The evaluation of forty-three plant species for in vitro antimycobacterial activities;
isolation of active constituents from Psoralea corylifolia and Sanguinaria canadensis. J Ethnopharmacol. 2002 Jan;79(1):57-67.  McDaniel S, Goldman
GD.Consequences of using escharotic agents as primary treatment for nonmelanoma skin cancer.Arch Dermatol. 2002 Dec;138(12):1593-6.  Mahady GB,
et al, In vitro susceptibility of Helicobacter pylori to isoquinoline alkaloids from Sanguinaria canadensis and Hydrastis canadensis. Phytother Res. 2003 Mar;
Bloodroot, a perennial, herbaceous flowering plant, can be found in North America and in India. Bloodroot is a variable species growing about 35 cm
tall. Its flowers appear over clasping leaves while blooming. Its rhizomes and root contain an orange-red latex. Native American used it for skin paint.
Bloodroot is believed to benefit sore throats, gingivitis (periodontal disease), cough. Its principal active ingredient is sanguinarine (an alkaloid). 
Bloodroot is one of many plants whose seeds are spread by ants. Bloodroot produces morphine-like benzylisoquinoline alkaloids, primarily the toxin
sanguinarine. Sanguinarine kills animal cells by blocking the action of Na+/K+-ATPase transmembrane proteins. As a result, applying bloodroot to
the skin may destroy tissue and lead to the formation of a large scab, called an eschar. The FDA has approved the inclusion of sanguinarine in
toothpastes as an antibacterial or anti-plaque agent. However, it may cause leukoplakia, a premalignant oral lesion. [Wikipedia.org]
Different people may experience different side effects and benefits of a product. You are encouraged
to report adverse side effects to FDA, its website is www.fda.gov., or report the adverse side effects to
the manufacturer, you should be able to find the contact information on the label.
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