Over the past years, I have heard a lot said about using Red root (Ceanothus americanus) medicinally from both my mentor, Margi Flint, and Matthew Wood. I have tried finding it near my home, but haven't run across it as of yet. I had given up looking for it locally, and instead ordered some dried root from Mountain Rose Herbs. I use red root in both a water extract (decoction) and in an alcohol extract (tincture).
I used a 1:5 (50A:50W) formula for the tincture, or one part of the herb in grams to 5 parts of the menstrum (alcohol to water mix). If you want an easy way to do it, just fill the mason jar halfway with the root and then fill the jar with 100 proof vodka (This already contains 50% alcohol and 50% water). Make sure this isn't flavored vodka! I then cap the jar, label it with the name of the herb and the date prepared, and then shake it daily. I keep mine on the kitchen counter out of direct sunlight and extreme temperatures. Immediately, you are rewarded with the menstrum turning the most beautiful vibrant red color.
Shake this daily for one month, and then you can strain and bottle the tincture for a time needed for years to come. I have heard other herbalists using a cold infusion of red root by leaving the root soak overnight in cold water, but I usually want the medicine or need the actions sooner than that. This is where the tincture works great for convenience, but I also make a decoction of the roots which can be utilized if someone wants to avoid alcohol. Place the roots in cold water and let it sit for a few hours. Bring this to a boil, and then simmer for 20 minutes. Strain and then you can sip at your leisure. The decoction is not as tasty as the tincture to me, and is quite a bit more drying. To me, the decoction smells like bacon and tastes like smokey metal, but the tincture has a sweet floral taste.
Red root is considered warming and drying, but will have a cooling effect in the digestive tract. It is a very good alterative moving stagnation and congestion of the lymph system. Many of today's diseases start with a congested lymph system. The spleen and the immune system are affected because of that. Red root can be used alone, or with other alteratives. It also helps with circulation by keeping the blood from coagulating. I use red root also as a digestive aid. It cools inflammation, is carminative (expels or reduces flatulence), and helps in repairing the gut. Of course, this herb will not repair the gut on its own, but it will with other lifestyle changes/supplements added with it. Red root is used whenever there is fluid lost. Excessive sweating, diarrhea, urination, or bleeding come to my mind. I do not believe large doses are needed with this herb to benefit our body. I like to use no more than 10 drops up to three times daily depending on the need. I will always start lower such as 3-5 drops twice a day and then move upwards. There have been others who have used this herb as an expectorant or respiratory aid, but I have not used it this way. I have other favorite herbs for that. This herb is contraindicated with acute inflammation or if taking blood thinning medications and should not be taken during pregnancy or while nursing.
Now that we talked about how the body is helped physically, let's talk about the emotional benefits of red root and how it can help spiritually as well. This herb helps to remove blockages in the heart chakra while helping to open it up further to new experiences. It removes old anger/hurt that is keeping this chakra from being balanced and opened more fully. By removing this old anger/hurt, the person can move forward towards their life path and allow forgiveness to enter. This brings more peace and happiness to the individual. A more specific indication is for the individual experiencing much pain from past relationships and also those with long-standing grief. Long-standing grief refers to having a hard time letting the deep paralyzing pain of losing a loved one go. This person is paralyzed with fear of being alone the rest of their life, or letting anyone else take the place of their loved one in their heart after many years. With red root, the color red means more love and passion in your life. It can help the individual realize they aren't replacing that old relationship or loved one because they are never truly gone from the heart. They are just making more room for more love, friendship, and compassion. There is room to love for eternity, and red root helps the individual realize it by removing the fear and the pain. You can use the flower essence or get the same benefits emotionally by taking only 1-2 drops a day of the tincture.