Bloodroot in a Jar from the early 1900’s

Bloodroot jar

The Medicine

Bloodroot flower
Bloodroot flower

Bloodroot, or Sanguinaria canadensis, is a member of the poppy family sometimes used for medicinal purposes.  Its rhizomes (underground stems) contain a red latex, which is how the plant gets its name.  According to, Native Americans first used the latex as a dye and for treating ulcers and skin conditions.  Additionally, people drank the juice for coughs and sore throats, and at higher dosages to induce vomiting.  Later into the 19th century, people used the latex as a topical salve for getting rid of polyps and warts.  However, due to its caustic nature, this use leads to skin damage and scarring.


Bloodroot has shown to have antibacterial properties in the mouth, as well as against Helicobacter pylori, and cholera.  Previously manufacturers used bloodroot in toothpaste and mouthwash to fight gum disease and plaque, but more recently it was linked to toxic effects and oral cancer.  Despite that, the drug has shown potential for use in cancer treatment and therapy, but has not made it to clinical trials yet.

Bloodroot flowers Sanguinaria canadensis
Sanguinaria canadensis


The Bottle Jos Middleby Jr Inc logo on bottle

The jar was produced by Jos. Middleby Jr. Inc., who, per reports from the Maine Agricultural Experiment Station and the State Board of Health of New Hampshire, appears to have been a canned fruit and jelly manufacturer in the early 1900’s.  An annual report from the County Commissioners of Hillsborough County in 1916, lists the company as handling bakery supplies.  According to, the MID(B)DLE logo on the bottom was first used in 1916 and became a registered trademark in 1950.  I’m not sure what the “11” on the bottom means though.

Based on this information, I suppose that bloodroot storage was probably not the bottle’s original purpose, and that Richard’s pharmacy repurposed the jar for the drug.  I couldn’t find much information on Richard’s Pharmacy in Winooski, Vermont, and I highly doubt they still exist.  I did find an article in the Burlington Free Press that mentions Oliva Richard as owning one of two French pharmacies in Winooski.  Also, a page from a 1918 edition of this paper references the pharmacy, but  I am not able to access the full page without entering my credit card number.  According to, Winooski Block is on the National Registry of Historic Places.  The building is pictured on their website here.

If any readers have anymore information on any of this, I would love to hear from you!

Label Richard's Pharmacy Winooski Block Vermont

Bottle Lid Jos Middleby Jr Inc Boston Mass

MID(B)DLE logo on bottom of bottle

Jos. Middleby building Boston Mass
Photo of Jos. Middleby, Inc. building in Boston from


Added March 31, 2017

So I decided to sign up for the 1-week trial at and found a couple of fun ads for Richard’s Pharmacy from the Burlington Free Press in 1918:

Richard's Pharmacy Ad, Burlington Free Press 1918

Richard's Pharmacy Ad, Burlington Free Press 1918


And an article from the same paper in 1906, that mentions bloodroot as one of the ingredients in “Dr. Pierce’s Golden Medical Discovery” which “bears the badge of honesty”…

Burlington Free Press 1906