Updated: Oct 26, 2019
Timing is everything with Bloodroot. Here in Michigan, it's one of the first wildflowers of spring and each flower only lasts a few days. I've been looking forward to this moment all winter long. I first saw Bloodroot in the dead heat of summer, it's unique leaf pattern caught my eye. When I first saw it I thought it looked like if Wild Ginger and Mandrake had a baby. Afterwards I went home and studied everything about it I could. It's named after the poisonous bright red sap inside the root, which Native Americans used as a dye for clothing and baskets. They also used it in VERY SMALL amounts medicinally to cure respiratory illnesses. The Algonquin tribes associated Bloodroot with love, and would wear it as a face paint when seeking mate.
In American Folk Magic, Bloodroot is used to stop family trouble, and can help aid sexual pleasure. Not all pieces of Bloodroot are the same color. Those that are pinkish are called "Queens" or "She roots" and those that are dark red or brown are called "Kings" or "He roots". The root can be burned on charcoal to bring about good relations with in-laws-or sewn inside pillows will provide protection if someone is trying to take your husband or wife.
Sanguinarine, a compound present in bloodroot, has been shown to reduce plaque and is added to toothpastes and oral rinses to this day. In the 1920-30's Bloodroot was used in quack medicinary. John Henry Pinkard popularized and created "Pinkard's Sanguinaria Compound". Earlier in 1910 he was charged in court for practicing medicine without a license. He diagnosed and treated patients at sight-without asking any questions, and told all he was a clairvoyant. At the time he was the richest man in Roanoke, VA-and had thousands of patients. "Pinkard's Sanguinaria" was seized by federal officials in 1931 for violating the Food and Drug Act. Pinkard had "misbranded" a shipment headed to New York. He pleaded guilty and was fined $25.00.