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Family: Papaveraceace
Botanical name: Sanguinaria canadensis L.
English name: Bloodroot
Urdu name: Arq ud daam
Part used: Dried root and rhizomes
Chemical constituents:
Sanguinarine (Main constituent)
(ii) Berberine
(iii) Coptisine
(iv) Oxysanguinarine/Narceine
(v) Protopine
(vi) Resin
(vii) Sanguidaridine
(viii) Sanguidimerine
(ix) Sanguilutine
(x) Sanguirubine
(xi) Chelerythrine
(xii) Chelidonine
Solubility shows that what particular group may be present in the chemical constituents or nature of
the chemical constituents based upon like dissolve like

Soluble in methanol
Soluble in ether
Insoluble in water
Soluble in benzene

Sanguinarine, Chelerythrine, Berberine and Chelidonine are used as anti-inflammatory

against many inflammatory diseases like Gastritis, Laryngitis, pharyngitis and etc.
Chelerythrine is an antibacterial for Staphylococcus aureus
Sanguinarine is used as anti-cancer. It was mainly used for treatment of breast tumors
Berberine is used as antiarrhythmic
Coptisine is used as anti-depressant
Narceine is used as psychoactive drug

Protopine and Narceine is used as analgesic

Narceine is used to induce vomiting to expel any toxic substance that is swallowed
Sanguinarine is used anti-bacterial for Helicobacter pylori
When the extract is used in mouth rinses or toothpaste in a specified dose, it prevents and
cures plaque due to anti-bacterial action of Chelerythrine and Sanguinarine
The extract is used as blood purifier
Coptisine is used as heart protective agent
Protopine is used as smooth muscle relaxant

Mechanism of Action:
Berberine treat arrhythmia by inhibiting potassium channels which increases the cardiac
action potential duration
Sanguinarine, Chelerythrine, Berberine and Chelidonine inhibits pro inflammatory cytokines
and prostaglandins which induce inflammation
Coptisine block the enzyme Mono amine oxidase A, which degrades the neurotransmitter
serotonin and keeps the brain functions normal, to avoid degradation of neurotransmitter to
keep brain function normally.
Narceine and Protopine acts on CNS receptors for pain to relieve analgesia
When Narceine is administered, the immune system in response to a narcotic release
histamine. High level of histamine causes psychoactivation.
Narceine causes inflammation of GIT due to which vomiting occurs
Berberine and Sanguinarine inhibit the bacterial growth by inhibiting the ribosomes forming
protein and thus treat the gingivitis and gastritis
Sanguinarine causes cell death by inducing release of autolytic enzymes which start to
destroy the cell. At low doses, it causes apoptosis and treats the cancer
As Sanguinarine has wide range of effects like anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial etc., thus the
extract is used as blood purifier
Coptisine inhibit the inducing of release of autolytic enzymes of cardiac muscles to prevent
apoptosis, thus act as a cardiac protective agent
Protopine inhibit the intracellular Ca+2 release, allows the smooth muscles to remain relax
and thus it acts as smooth muscle relaxant

Side Effects:
It causes localized tissue damage
When taken orally and swallowed, it cause vomiting
Sanguinarine inhibits the platelet aggregation
It may cause relaxation of smooth muscle


Toxicity may be caused when taken in large doses and cause nausea, vomiting, CNS
sedation, low blood pressure, shock, comma, itching and irritation of mucosa and eventually
When taken orally in the form of paste , it may cause mouth cancer
If taken during pregnancy, high levels of histamine causes inflammation to fetus which may
prove fatal.
The chemical constituents may be secreted in milk and may cause toxicity to the child which
is on breast feeding
At higher concentration of Sanguinarine, it may cause necrosis and causes cancer

Blood root is commercially available in most health stores in dried powdered roots, fluid
extracts and in tincture form.
Blood root Tea: Boil 1 tea spoon of rhizome to a cup of water for 20 minutes. Drink 3 times
Blood root Tincture: 1-2 ml of tincture. 3 times a day
10-20 drops of the extract may be mixed in 6ml of water
For gingivitis treatment, oral rinses may contain 300 micrograms of Sanguinaria extract
For gingivitis, use twice a day up to six months
For periodontal disease, oral rinses may contain 0.1% Sanguinaria extract
For periodontal disease, must use daily up to six weeks to reduce plaque formation
For children, there is no proven safe or effective dose for bloodroot

The use of Sanguinaria canadensis may be avoided during pregnancy and breast feeding
The large doses must not be taken
Must not be taken orally in the form of paste
Its use must be avoided if suffering from diarrhea
It must not be used undiluted
Its use must be avoided if the suffering from antral gastritis or jejunitis
Caution is advised when taking bloodroot with any agent with similar effects due to having

increased side effects.

Blood root effect glaucoma treatment, don't use if you have glaucoma unless health care
professional monitor your eye.
Patients using tobacco should use blood root cautiously because sanguinarine may cause
leukoplakia and lesions.
Blood root can be used on skin but is unsafe when taken by mouth during pregnancy because
it stimulate menstruation and there is risk of abortion.
It is unsafe when taken by mouth during breast feeding beacause the content harmful for the
child are diffused into milk

Drug Interactions:

Sanguinarine, a morphine-like alkaloid which may cause sedation, faintness, vertigo and
possibly impaired decision making and increase response time. These effects may be
pronounced when blood root is used with agents that act similarly.

Blood root may cause tissue damage when applied topically which may cause other topical
medications used at the same time to be absorbed systemically resulting in unwanted side


Textbook of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry by E. Edwin Jerald

Textbook of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry by Biren Shah
A Reference Guide To Medicinal Plants by J.K Crellin
Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants by Andrew Chevallier
Fundamentals of Pharmacognosy and Phytotherapy by Michael Heinrich
Pharmacognosy, Phytochemistry, Medicinal Plants by Bruneton Jean