Monday, September 29, 2008

Remove Moles with Bloodroot

Bloodroot for Skin Conditions

Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) paste is a folk remedy used by native North Americans that has been documented as effective for removing moles, warts, and skin tags. When I say 'documented' I mean there is a lot of anecdotal evidence that the plant removes these conditions, but I didn't see peer-reviewed studies regarding the effectiveness, safety, or permanence of the treatment. That seems fairly typical for folk remedies, in part because there is no way to standardize the treatment.

The sap from the plant resembles blood. The dried root produces a paste that is gritty and reddish. Bloodroot contains a high level of chemicals called alkaloids. Examples of alkaloids you may be familiar with include caffeine from coffee and salicylic acid from willow bark (precursor of aspirin). While some alkaloids are healthful, some are extremely toxic.

Removing Moles with Bloodroot

After reading about bloodroot, I decided to try it out for myself in a very uncontrolled experiment. Basically, the treatment for moles is to cover the affected area with a damp paste or poultice of bloodroot (sometimes other ingredients are found in commercial preparations), cover the mole/wart/skin tag with a bandage, and let nature take its course. I read the speed of the treatment could be increased by exfoliating the skin with a pumice stone or by scratching it with a sterile needle.

I chose three moles, including two that were raised, and tried it out. The preparation is pretty unattractive, drying to a dark reddish brown, so if you plan to address a skin condition on your face, be aware of this. For two of the moles, I felt a mild burning sensation after applying the poultice. It wasn't unbearable or distracting. After a day, the moles had formed scabs. There was redness in the region surrounding two of the moles as well. For one test area, a scab formed over the entire area that had contacted the poultice, not just the mole.

I read some people think the treatment should be discontinued and the skin allowed to heal as soon as a scab has formed. Others recommend applying the poultice for another day or longer. Several sources say it may take up to 30 days for a mole to be removed. I took the minimalist route and discontinued applying bloodroot as soon as a scab had formed. In my case, two of the moles basically fell off after 48 hours. Both healed with a lightened area around the area where the mole had been. One mole returned, the other did not. The third mole did not form a scab after a day, and I had discontinued treatment to see how the other two would end up.

Does Bloodroot Work?

I think there is some trial-and-error involved in the bloodroot treatment, but I also think it may be a viable alternative to cryotherapy or other surgical techniques to remove a skin condition. In my opinion, it's definitely worth trying, both because it's relatively inexpensive and because you may successfully remove the condition without scarring. On the other hand, I would advise anyone considering trying bloodroot to expect burning and irritation, to realize there is a risk of infection with any treatment (surgical or non-invasive), and that scar formation is a possibility (again, with any treatment), plus there may be reactions to the substances in the plant, including an allergic reaction.