Many people who visit this site do so because
of Dr. Andrew Weil's mention of bloodroot as a treatment for
cancer. I have hundreds of letters from people inquiring about
bloodroot, and I hope that most people will be spurred to read
my book before using
bloodroot for self-treatment.
||Photograph of bloodroot. This
plant is indigenous to the Eastern region of the United
States and Canada. It was used by Native Americans for
treatment of cancer as well as moles and warts.
Bloodroot as Native American Medicine
The medicinal uses of bloodroot were learned
from Native Americans living in the region of Lake Superior
. . . as well as the Cherokee further to the south although
the Cherokee tended on the whole to prefer goldenseal.
Both plants were called puccoon, red puccoon and yellow puccoon.
Both are strong herbs with significant alkaloids that have
been shown to be extremely effective in treating a wide range
|Bloodroot was prized for its
root sap, an interesting exudate that remarkably resembles
blood. The roots, usually used fresh, are made into washes,
poultices, snuffs, dental powders, and escharotic salves,
called red salve by Hoxsey,
fixative paste by Dr. Frederic Mohs, black salve by some
lay practitioners and Compound X or Indian Mud by others.
Bloodroot as Sacred Medicine
I love bloodroot. After Kurt
Lerner took the photographs, the root, which was grown in my
garden in Santa Fe, New Mexico, was made into a poultice. I
have the greatest reverence for this plant, but it is not like
any other herb I know. I am deliberately saying this in an
Bloodroot is a shy plant. It grows in the shade, away from
the noise and traffic of civilization. It likes moisture
and seclusion. It flowers briefly and then even its leaves
yellow and disappear. It is not like some members of the
plant kingdom that are more overt, showy, and grabby for
If you break the root, a sap pours forth that looks like blood.
It even coagulates like blood. I channeled something on this
and was given a wealth of information, mainly suggesting that
people who are ready for an initiation of the spirit in which
they surrender themselves to the purposes of their own souls
and to God can be saved by this plant. Others should seek cures
for their conditions in other ways.
Bloodroot from a Clinical
That's the metaphysical side. There is also
a clinical side. Bloodroot is a systemic treatment. In all
my years with herbs, I have never seen any herb absorbed
so fast into the blood stream as bloodroot. Some people become
nauseous after rubbing just a little tincture of bloodroot
on the arches of their feet.
Bloodroot has been researched and determined
to be a potent anticancer agent. Besides the laboratory tests,
tens of thousands of people have been treated by lay practitioners
as well as medical doctors for at least the last 150 years.
Of these, roughly 80% experienced remission of malignancy
and longer life expectancies than people with similar conditions
who chose different treatments.
Still, it is always a matter of individual
choice, and for the 20% whose conditions were not ameliorated
by bloodroot, it has to be said that the treatment is challenging
and these people have every right to ask whether their efforts
were warranted. Moreover, we never know before trying who
will respond in the desired way and who will have to turn
to some other treatment for relief.
has significant anti-infective properties, so much so that
it has been used in gangrenous situations in lieu of amputation.
It has also traditionally been used on warts, fungoid tumors,
nasal polyps, and periodontal infections, gingivitis, and
plaque. With cancer, it has been shown to be most effective
with carcinomas and sarcomas.
In my estimation, not enough is known about
cancer. Even when a quite significant mass is analyzed, rarely
is more than 20% of the mass determined to be cancerous,
and in some cases, only a few atypical cells are found. The
rest of the tumor may consist of infectious material, parasites,
metabolic residuals, and other matter that is seldom described
by pathologists. We have no way of knowing how bloodroot
affects the terrain in
which the malignancies are harbored.
My guess, and it is only a guess, is that
many types of morbid conditions are highly reactive to bloodroot,
this whether bloodroot is used internally or externally.
My suspicion is that infection is just as reactive to bloodroot
as cancer is. When bloodroot is applied externally to a morbid
area, the treatment site often becomes very inflamed and
immunologically active almost immediately. When taken internally,
many people begin to experience eruptions on the skin within
hours or days, suggesting that bloodroot is a powerful mobilizer
of diseased matter.
When there is no real definition of the
treatment site, i.e., when no one really knows how extensive
the malignancy or infection is, it is virtually impossible
to anticipate the size or nature of the reaction to bloodroot.
When bloodroot is mixed with zinc chlorideas it usually
isreactions can be violent and unpredictable. Elsewhere
on this site, I speculate about
how and why this happens. I suspect it is because the morbidity
is extensive, i.e., not as localized as the tumorous mass
Where there is infection, toxicity, acidity,
and various other conditions in the vicinity of the tumor,
responses to bloodroot applications can take place in minutes
and affect much more tissue than the actual site where
the paste is applied. Then, depending on the product used
and the skill of the person using the product, inflammation,
pain, and ultimately scarring can be more than some people
expect. It is for such reasons that I feel that most people
should be treated by experts, people with experience in
this particular treatment modality.
Since reactions to bloodroot can be painful
and highly inflammatory, it seems to me that those opting
for this treatment need to be well-informed, prepared, resolute,
and decisive. To me, it has never seemed like an option to
start this treatment and quit though I know people who have
started and then turned to surgery as well as those who interrupted
the treatment for some weeks or months and later resumed
it. The fact that they lived suggests that the treatment
is not as dangerous as it looks, but it is also not for the
faint of heart. I personally believe that those using bloodroot
preparations are well-advised to destroy the entire tumor
as quickly as possible since I feel that inflammation and
irritation of the tumor can conceivably aggravate tumor growth.
Over the years, quite a number of people
have asked me to help them after starting with a product
without adequate prior preparation. Once in a while, someone
was so persuasive that I tried to troubleshoot the issues
that arose. However, what I want to say unequivocally is
that this is a classic situation of, "if I were you,
I wouldn't start here." By the time people learn this,
it is too late to start differently.
Janis (not her real name) was one of the
people who contacted me after misusing a popular escharotic.
You can read her letter on the bulletin
board page. Her issue was scarring. I believe that the
amount of post-escharotic scarring is directly related to
infection and toxicity, some of which is probably systemic.
After several months on various anti-scarring products, Janis
made only nominal improvement.
Another person who asked quite a few questions
but was determined to follow the instructions that came with
the product rather than listening to my suggestions was an
MD who wound up with surgery. I recounted her
story also. I saw her once after more than four months
of determined effort that involved an unfamiliar process.
Two others who also discovered my work
after applying a bloodroot paste also ended up with surgery.
I want to report these incidents because the reality is that
most people who use the products are doing so not only for
the first time in their lives but also at the most critical
time. The fact that the process is not advisable in certain
situations and apt to fail is not really a basis for not
trying, merely for setting some objective standards by which
to measure whether or not sufficient progress is being made
to warrant putting off surgery. . . which is, in fact the
usual alternative to escharotics.
Whether further perseverance or greater
skill in the use of the products would have served any
of those whose efforts failed is really not for me to say.
I respect the possibilities of this treatment and would,
in fact, choose it for myself if I were the one with cancer,
but the difference between my making such a decision and
someone else making it is the depth of my understanding
of the method and its potential versus that of a lay person
buying a product from a web site that provides little or
no information or guidance on the correct use of its products.
Ironically, the one concern that doctors
express, risk of infection, is the smallest worry of those
experienced with this product. The treatment sites are sometimes
infected prior to use of the escharotic. We know this because
of the discoloration, odor, ulceration, exudations, and so
forth that are often visible. However, I know of no situations
in which someone became infected because of the use of escharotics.
An immunologist explained this to me:
The inflammation that follows use of
bloodroot is an immunological response that protects the
open area from infection.
Now that the book is
out, I no longer troubleshoot complications that occur as
a result of misadventures with escharotics . . . except to
the extent that I sometimes feel to comment on the bulletin
board, a relatively recent addition to this site. I have
gone on record with adequate warnings, explained my personal
preferences in my book, provided instructions and formulae
in the book, and urged people to think through what they
are doing before taking steps that might be regretted. I
believe in the treatment, but not probably for the same reasons
as patients. I do not have a need to believe in it because
my life depends on the choices I make. I have a need to be
true to myself, my philosophy of healing, and my faith in
the goodness of Nature.
This said, I cannot even begin to emphasize
the importance of the supportive measures. For me, external
use of bloodroot pastes is a last resort, not the first line
of assault in cancer treatment. Were I in the position of
needing to treat a lump in my body, I would use the internal
tonics for some months and then perhaps a goldenseal salve
on the lump. I feel I know enough to make such a decision
for myself; and many who have read my book also
feel well enough informed to understand the ramifications
of their choices. It is definitely possible to use bloodroot
or some other escharotic or enucleating product successfully,
but my sense is that those who succeeded without proper understanding
and preparation were lucky because the process usually requires
more skill than is present when first starting on this hugely
interesting and often dramatic treatment.
Mal Crow on Bloodroot