Herbal Supplements
Stinky but Helpful Beth Root

Biological Description

Beth Root botanical name is Trillium erectum from the Liliaceae family, genus Trillium. Common names, better known by many of us, include Beth Root, Birthroot, Indian Shamrock, Wake-robin, Stinking Benjamin, and so on. Some of them can be explained, as Birthroot – a name given in the accordance with the use of the plant, Wake-robin – a name revealing the fact that the plant blooms in early spring when robins are around; while some other names origins remain unclear.

Trillium erectum belongs to the genus of 17 species, the majority of which have medicinal properties. Species “erectum” is not an exclusion. Since ancient times it was used to treat various health disorders.  

Some people, however, can be astonished to discover that this tiny and tender perennial plant may enclose power to heal and return wellbeing. Indeed, Birthroot grows to a height of only 10-15 inches, having an erect stem and only three leaves situated opposite each other. They are green, broad, and almost rhomboid with distinct veins, visible even on the flowers petals.

Birthroot is in bloom in April – June, each plant producing a single hermaphrodite flower with three red, yellow, or whitish petals and three persistent green sepals. Species with red flowers have unpleasant smell, white flowers are almost odourless. A flower is situated on the thin peduncle sprouting from the axil of the leaves.

The perennial root of the plant is oblong and fleshy, but quite small, yellowish to reddish brown in colour with spongy appearance. It has distinct flavour and bitter and acrid taste causing the increased flow of saliva. Animals are not used to feed on the plant and its root.


Wake-robin is native to North America, found most often in the central or western states of the USA. It grows well in the shady places, in the rich and damp soil. This herb can tolerate sun only if soil remains always damp. Still, deep shade is best for it. At the same time, Beth Root is very hardy concerning temperatures range, being able to tolerate cold very well.

Parts Used

Dried root is used medicinally most often, though leaves and even smelly flowers may be collected to prepare herbal remedies as well, or young sprouts can be eaten fresh in salads.


Trillium tincture, liquid extract, and bulk herb for preparing infusions, poultices, decoctions and teas, are available on the market.


Beth Root is best known for its anti-hemorrhagic properties. It also works as an effective antiseptic, uterine tonic, emmenagogue, expectorant and astringent.

Scientists defined that Trillium contains significant amounts of steroidal saponins (trillin and trillarin in particular), tannins, resin, fixed oil and some amount of volatile oil along with much starch. Plant’s steroidal saponins have hormonal effect on the body regulating the imbalances in this system. These compounds are sometimes called natural precursors of female sex hormones, thus they are capable of eliminating problems in this field.

Although the most valuable and well-proven action of Trillium is to stop bleeding, its antiseptic properties are not less important as infection is a kind of danger often present in cases of bleeding. This action also ensures herb’s use in the topical remedies against skin infections as well.

Working as astringent, Birthroot does not cause dryness, but is strong enough to reduce excessive discharges.

Health Benefits

Having been used by Native Americans for hundreds of years to treat different health conditions, Beth Root is an endangered species in some states nowadays. Practitioners of the traditional medicine treated bleeding of different origins with Trillium erectum preparations. Most often, uterus haemorrhages following childbirth were eliminated with them. Other female conditions treated included menorrhagia (excessive menstruation) and metrorrhagia (uterus bleeding). Blood loss via urinary tract was also prevented with Trillium erectum.

This herb facilitates labor and induces menstruation. It is helpful against vaginal yeast infections and excessive uterine discharge.

Roots of the plant boiled in milk are said to stop diarrhea and treat dysentery. The remedies may also stop gastrointestinal bleeding and pulmonary hemorrhage, but the latter is less often treated with them, although coughs and bronchitis are not rarely eliminated with Beth Root.

Topical remedies or just plant’s leaves may be applied to the skin affected by various conditions, for example, wounds, boils, sunburns, snake bites, acne and irritation. Headache is also known to be treated the same way.  

2016-03-16 17:45:58
Wow!that's great!! But does it work?
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