PART USED: Root
POSSIBLE USES: topically for skin issues and mentioned in literature as an anti-cancer agent
In the herbal literature of bygone eras, Blood Root was known as one of the best anticancer herbs, and has reportedly been used safely for generations—with proper care and caution, of course. Blood Root has gained a nasty reputation recently as several naturopaths and sellers of herbal remedies have faced litigation for its use. (Of course, this same thing has happened in the past to herbs as wonderful as Comfrey, Lobelia, and Ma Huang!) Blood Root is, however, a very strong alkaloid containing herb! It should not be taken internally (poisonous in anything but very miniscule quantities, as far as I can tell from what information I could find) and great care and consideration should attend its use even topically! It is mentioned here as much to get the cautions recorded as to provide information about its traditional uses. With all that said, I have used Blood Root topically in a salve with other herbal constituents and would not want to be without it.
Jethro Kloss in Back to Eden gives Blood Root credit for many healing properties. He was working in a different day and age than ours, with many fewer drugs and chemicals for strong herbal alkaloids to react against. While mention is made of studies and research in some herbal books and on herbal websites, I can find no references to these studies and will not give credence to these claims nor advise the use of Blood Root in the ways mentioned. Perhaps, like I did with Lobelia, I will find that I erred on the side of caution too far for too long—but that is OK with me.