This plant is inedible and should not be ingested. It contains sanguinarine, a substance that is toxic when ingested in large doses. At one time, dried bloodroot was used to treat respiratory ailments (asthma, bronchitis, whooping cough, etc.), to promote menstruation and as an aphrodisiac. The powdered rhizome promotes sneezing and was used at one time to treat nasal polyps. The Iroquois infused bloodroot rhizomes to prepare drops for treating earaches. The rhizome was also used in powdered, infusion or dye form to treat skin problems, including chronic eczema. The acidic juice is a skin irritant.
Amerindians used the red latex from the plant as a dye for their faces and clothing.