The bright red rhizome is used to make tinctures and preparations such as salves and ointments for external use. The herb is strongly acrid and can burn the skin or mucous membranes when the fresh herb or its preparations are used. After drying, it loses some of this effect. Bloodroot is commonly used in antiseptic mouthwashes and is sometimes recommended by dentists and oral hygienists to help fight plaque and reduce the incidence of tooth decay and gum disease. Scientific studies have supported this use. The herb is also a popular cancer-fighting remedy for external application. Under the supervision of a qualified herbalist, the tincture and strong bloodroot salve are used for breast cancer, skin cancers, and to remove warts and other growths.