Native American Medicine:
||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.
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 of conditions.
|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 intimate way.
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
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.
||Bloodroot 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. 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 itself.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Copyright by Ingrid Naiman
A Botanical Approach to Treatment