What Is Red Root?

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  • Written By: T. L. Childree
  • Edited By: R. Halprin
  • Last Modified Date: 17 December 2019
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Red root is a flowering green shrub that is indigenous to the North American continent. Native Americans used the root of this plant to treat diseases such as skin cancer and upper respiratory ailments. Present day herbalists use extracts from this plant as a blood coagulant, expectorant, antispasmodic, and astringent. The chemical compounds found in red root are believed to be useful in the treatment of ailments such as sore throat, bronchitis, asthma, and diarrhea. The plant is also believed to be effective in lowering blood pressure.

This plant is sometimes referred to as New Jersey Tea because the leaves were used as a tea substitute during the American Revolution. Red root has a bitter taste and provides a cooling sensation when taken as an infusion. The active chemical compounds contained in this plant include resin, alkaloids, coagulant, and tannins. The medicinal properties of this plant are primarily useful for treating problems in the upper respiratory system. When taken internally, the extract of this plant has also been known to have a sedative effect.


Herbalists recommend the plant be taken internally as a coagulant, antispasmodic, sedative, or expectorant. It is believed that the extracts from this plant can be used to effectively reduce fever, relieve headaches, control coughs, and kill viruses. It has also been credited with shrinking hemorrhoids, stopping nosebleeds, and reducing the size of breast and ovarian cysts. Extracts from the root of this plant have also been used to treat disorders such as Hodgkin's disease, Epstein-Barr syndrome, hepatitis, and mononucleosis. Red root is also believed to be an effective treatment for bronchitis, asthma, sinus congestion, diarrhea, and fatigue.

The medicinal extracts from this plant can also be used for topical applications. Tinctures made from red root are often used as an astringent to control acne and aid in the healing of skin lesions. Some herbalists use the extracts of this plant as a form of mouthwash to help heal infections in the mouth. This mouthwash mixture is also used for sore throat relief and to prevent the build-up of plaque on teeth. This plant’s flowers are sometimes used as a form of soap because of the lather they produce when added to water.

Herbalists sometimes use red root extract in the treatment of high blood pressure. It has also been found to be an effective treatment for enlargement of the spleen and prostate gland as well. In order for this plant extract to be taken internally, it must be steeped in boiling water for 10 to 15 minutes. Topical applications may be applied as a tincture or poultice. This extract is also available in capsule form.


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