The weather in the mountains of North Carolina in early spring is quite inconsistent…that is about all I can say for sure. One day it is quite warm. Sunny. Warm. Then, in the blink of an eye…windy…cold…snow. Cold. Snow. The past 3 days have been filled with thunderstorms. Thunder. Lightning. There is nothing like a thunderstorm in the mountains. When the thunder makes its sound…which is amazing if you think about it…the echo then repeats it…louder and louder and on and on. Truly, it is amazing. What would be a quick note elsewhere is a short symphony here. Definitely something to make sure to experience in life. That along with standing out in the storm…right in it.
Just a few days back (on the 9th)………………
It was a perfect time for strange weather…with the Full Pink Moon rising just that night, and while in search of undisturbed Chickweed (for my spring batch of ‘ApotheCarey’s All Healing Salve’) to infuse in oil…under a full moon being the best time to begin that two-week process (of course), I came across the early blooms of the Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis).
Bloodroot’s name comes from the fact that the root exudes a red juice similar to the color of human blood. Other common names are Indian Paint, Tetterwort, Red Puccoon, Red Root, Coon Root, Snakebite, Sweet Slumber. Many native tribes used the juice of the root to decoratively paint their skin for ceremony. A bachelor of the Ponca tribe would use Bloodroot as a love charm by rubbing the root on the palm of his hand, shake hands with the woman he desired to marry, and if the charm was successful, after five or six days she would then be willing to marry him. The juice was also used to dye cloth and baskets. Bloodroot is of the Poppy family and contains Protopine, an alkaloid also found in Opium, thus giving it mild narcotic effects (don’t you remember the wicked witch using Poppies to put Dorothy and co. to “sleep” to delay their arrival at the Emerald Castle?…ahhh, it all makes since now…). Don’t try this at home-you can go so wrong with medicinal herbs, and this herb is in fact listed as poisonous!!!
Sanguinaria canadensis received its latin name from the word sanguine which means: consisting of or relating to blood. Sanguinarine, the predominate alkaloid which is considered poisonous, can cause slight central nervous system depression and narcosis if taken internally. However, it has been found to have an incredible list of medicinal properties such as: antimicrobial, anesthetic and anticancer. It is also an expectorant. It is antispasmodic and is also an emmenagogue (YOU go to herb school and learn what those mean!). This incredible lady plant is not commonly used by herbalists today-likely because of it’s potential toxic side effects. You will however see it used as an escharotic salve for skin and breast cancers. It is also found in mouthrinses and toothpastes as a plague deterrent.
Where I live, this time of year all you need to do to view this plant in bloom is walk into the woodland forest. She is abundant. You can just feel her power. I dare not harvest for she is a tricky plant to know…I simply admire, respect and keep moving.
Ahhh…check us out…absorbing the Vitamin D…during the strange window of sunny weather before one of the storms…kids?…what kids?