8 Incredible Benefits of Red Trillium

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

The most important health benefits of red trillium include its ability to balance hormones, protect the immune system, relieve respiratory problems, prevent certain cancers, ease childbirth, cure gastrointestinal issues, prevent spasms, soothe inflammation and bruises, and detoxify the body.

What is Red Trillium?

Red trillium is a flowering plant known for its many medicinal properties. Depending on where you are in the world, you may know this plant by other names, including wake robin, Beth root, birthroot, or even Stinking Benjamin. The scientific name of this herbaceous perennial, however, is Trillium erectum. [1]

The physical appearance of the plant is quite striking, as it has a large, thick stalk with a red or white flower at the top, above broad three-pointed leaves.

The smell of the plant is also quite unusual, and can only be compared to rotting meat, hence some of its other colloquial names.

Extreme close-up of a red trillium flower on the stalk with another blurred flower in the background.

Red trillium flower. Photo Credit: Shutterstock


  • The underground rhizome and the leaves of this plant can be used for a wide range of medicinal purposes.
  • The leaves can be used in salads, and have a peculiar taste likened to a sunflower, or they can be cooked as a pot vegetable, like spinach or kale.
  • The root, whether fresh or dry, can be boiled or powdered and the resulting mixture can be consumed to get a more concentrated form of the plant’s nutrients. [2]
  • The leaves or the root can be mixed into various topical concoctions as well, which can be applied directly to the skin for additional benefits.

Health Benefits of Red Trillium

Now, let’s take a more detailed look at all the health benefits of Red trillium.

Respiratory Distress

Red trillium has long been used to relieve respiratory distress, specifically because it acts as an expectorant, helping to remove phlegm or mucus from the respiratory tracts. This can help to speed up the healing process of colds and also protect the immune system against the pathogens that often thrive in mucus. [3]


This powerful herb is known to be an emmenagogue, meaning that it stimulates menstruation. For women who suffer from particularly painful menstrual cramps or symptoms, red trillium can be a wonderful remedy to soothe the body and prevent spasms and cramps. [4]

Immune Booster

This plant also has certain antiseptic qualities, which is useful when used as a topical solution. In that case, red trillium can be made into a paste, either through crushed leaves, or boiled/dried root, and then spread directly on an affected area. For a wound or abrasion, it can help to prevent any infection from developing. It similarly clears out our gastrointestinal system of dangerous parasites and bacteria that can make us ill. [5]

Anticancer Potential

Although the research is still very new in this particular area, early results show that red trillium can have an effect on tumor growth and metastasis, making this an invaluable alternative remedy for people suffering from various forms of cancer. [6]

Japanese researchers have also found in a study that some underground parts of red trillium show cytotoxic activity against human leukemia cells. [7]

Be sure to discuss the possible use of red trillium with a doctor before combining this approach with any other formal treatments.

Easing the Birthing Process

While this plant can be slightly dangerous for pregnant women early in their term, as it can induce menstruation, it is very effective for stimulating childbirth, which is why it has the secondary common name of “birthroot”. If you are struggling through exceptionally painful labor, ret trillium can help to stimulate childbirth and ease the process by providing natural pain relief. [8]

Inflammation and Bruises

Topical application of a paste or salve made with red trillium to the affected area can quickly reduce inflammation and heal the bruises. By stimulating blood flow to the area, it can induce more rapid healing, while removing the pain and severity of the wounds due to its various antioxidant and analgesic properties.

Stomach Issues

One of the earliest uses of red trillium was to cure stomach upset and diarrhea. To this day, this remains a popular use of the herb, and while dysentery isn’t nearly as common as it was when this herb first came to popularity, those suffering from IBS and other gastrointestinal issues can still derive a lot of relief from this surprisingly powerful herb. [9]

Word of Caution: As mentioned above, pregnant women should refrain from using red trillium, as it can induce premature labor. Also, some people with sensitive skin can develop a rash when topically using red trillium. Always consult a medical professional before adding a herbal remedy to your regimen, and be sure to closely monitor your body for any unexpected side effects.

DMCA.com Protection Status
About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

Rate this article
Average rating 3.4 out of 5.0 based on 20 user(s).