The idea of a home remedy that can cure skin cancer may sound appealing, but dermatologists will tell you it’s too good to be true. According to new research published in the May issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, the vast majority of patients who use the home remedy black salve do so without talking to a dermatologist first — and as a result, many are unaware of how harmful it can be.
The term “black salve” refers to a family of substances containing the corrosive ingredients zinc chloride and sanguinarine, which can severely damage the skin. Some patients apply these products to suspected skin cancers because they think it’s an easy way to remove them; however, black salve can destroy the top layer of skin while leaving cancer behind in the deeper layers, where the disease may continue to grow.
“There is a misperception that black salve ‘draws the cancer out,’ when, in fact, it just indiscriminately damages anything it touches,” says board-certified dermatologist Mark J. Eliason, MD, FAAD, a member of the University of Utah team that conducted the research. “One of the reasons black salve treatment is so dangerous is that many users have no idea how harmful it can be.”
In interviewing black salve users for their research, the Utah team found that 74 percent of those users were unaware of the potential side effects — which include infection, extensive scarring and disfigurement — before they applied the substance to their skin. In addition to these side effects, black salve use may delay the diagnosis and treatment of skin cancer, giving the disease the opportunity to spread and become harder to remove — even life-threatening.
While manufacturers and distributors of black salve market their products as “easy and natural” treatments, there is no solid research supporting the safety and efficacy of black salve use, says board-certified dermatologist Sarah D. Cipriano, MD, MPH, who headed the research team. Moreover, she says, these products are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, which included black salve on its list of “187 Fake Cancer ‘Cures’ Consumers Should Avoid.”
“Although black salve is labeled as a natural product, it is not a safe one,” Dr. Cipriano says. “Relying on word-of-mouth, marketing testimonials and Internet searches is dangerous when it comes to your health.”
The vast majority of the black salve users interviewed by the Utah researchers said they learned about the home remedy from a family member or friend; only 30 percent of those interviewed consulted a dermatologist before using black salve. When asked why they opted to use a home remedy instead of receiving treatment from a doctor, some of those interviewed indicated they wanted to avoid surgery, while others simply said it was convenient. Some users also indicated that they didn’t feel comfortable discussing black salve with their doctor.
“If you see something on your skin that looks suspicious or is different from other spots on your skin, it’s important to see a board-certified dermatologist for the proper diagnosis and treatment,” Dr. Eliason says. “When skin cancer is not treated promptly or properly, the effects can be devastating.”
Dr. Cipriano has seen those effects firsthand. Early in her residency, she met a patient undergoing surgery for an aggressive skin cancer that eventually claimed his life. While he could have survived with early detection and treatment, he had delayed seeking medical care, opting instead to use black salve.
“I’ve worked with many patients who have experienced the harmful side effects of black salve use,” Dr. Cipriano says. “We hope our research will raise awareness about the potential dangers of these products, which far outweigh the supposed benefits. We encourage patients to consult with a dermatologist or other health care provider before considering a home remedy like black salve.”
8 thoughts on “Skin cancer: Dermatologists say beware of ‘black salve’”
Heavenly Father! The use of that method requires professional support and pre care, monitoring and above all top notch wound care! It is literally a chemical surgery and the results will be the calibre of the surgeon. How do they know it is a cancer that can be treated like that with the prospect of results like you hear about? Do they know the difference in lyphoma? It’s hard to imagine doing this on one’s own without comprehension – but I can imagine how much pain and risk of lethal sepsis they endured. Removing the smallest localized blot is quite painful and in all those pictures it is obvious that the pts were not present screened, informed, some I’m sure had malnutrition or smoked during treatment at a time when pretty healthy new tissue growth and minimizing sclerotic tissues are the primary goals. To me it is obvious that not enough correct information is available to people considering various chemical excisions. Poor things. There are indeed powerful things in the earth, but the more powerful, the more considerations typically come along. An RN could evaluate and perform/manage a chemical procedure like that, but I’m less confident going much below that. Biological medicine requires more. It is not a streamlined system like allopathy has become. It’s methods may be a different way out, but that does not imply an easier way. Be careful with yourself. Be brave and bold….with education and backup.
…actuallllllly….properly made bloodroot salves (for still moslty unknown reasons) deteriorate the outer membrane of cancer cells, allowing ones own body to “see” it, and attack it. That’s all it does.
The horrific pictures you see isn’t damaged skin as a result of burning or eating of flesh…its 100% the body killing the invaders. That’s it. And to correct a key point made in this article….there is ZERO chance of infection.
Pretty freaking amazing if you ask me….
This comment section is dangerous. Please don’t listen to these fakers and don’t spend your money on bogus treatments. Please, cancer is a very serious thing and you should always check with your doctor.
They say that knowledge is power. This ridiculous article shows lack of knowledge. Hard to tell where to start – is it the false assertions or the dumb conclusions?
I see, a dermatologist lacks knowledge. Let’s see your citations, Hugh. Or, use the black salve and we’ll wait while the Darwin principle takes effect.
The headliner gives this article away. Whoever wrote it doesn’t even know what homeopathy is. Blacksalve us NOT homepathy. Lost me at the title.
I have the website for you, Becca; http://www.howdoeshomeopathywork.com/