Bloodroot: Cancer Cure or Hoax?
- Eliot Kaplan, DVM -
If you do a search on the Internet under the word "bloodroot" you can find a list of companies which manufacture escharotic or caustic pastes which are used to treat skin cancers in people. Zinc chloride and Sanguinaria Canadensis (bloodroot) are two agents that are combined to make a paste which literally burns and kills tissue on application.
These products are marketed as herbal supplements and used by people to treat skin cancer. Some pet owners have wondered about using it on their pets to treat cancers on them as well. In people, it has been shown that these pastes effectively kill tissue. However, their ability to kill and cure malignant cancers has been shown to be deficient. The pastes will kill part of the cancers, but part of the cancers will often survive and eventually spread to surrounding areas. In addition, the escharotic agents will not prevent the cancers from spreading to other parts of the body such as the lymph nodes.
Something else that must be considered is that after the tissue that the paste is applied to dies, the pet will be left with an open wound that will have to heal by granulation. This is probably not a problem if it was a small growth, but in the case of a sizeable growth, the pet owners may be left with a mess on their hands. And keep in mind, after the paste is put on the tumor, the pet must not lick it.
I believe that it is probably worth trying the paste if the growth is not aggressive and fairly small (0.5cm. or less in size). However, in this situation, surgical excision would be just as effective if not more so and the healing process would be quicker. Chemical burns can be fairly slow to heal and scarring has been a problem in some human patients.
Eliot Kaplan, DVM
Tri Lake Animal Hospital
Phone: (250) 766-3236
Toll Free: 1-866-766-3236
Fax: (250) 766-3237