The dangerous delusions around use of ‘black salve’

By Alison Campbell 20/01/2016

Black salve. A slightly ominous name, but to some people it seems to be the best thing since sliced bread.

A colleague has just pointed me at a discussion (on FB, where else?) around the use of ‘black salve’ to heal a self-diagnosed melanoma. (That bit’s important – the person concerned never saw a doctor & never had a biopsy, but nonetheless is describing a ‘cure’.)

Sadly, a lot of commenters were weighing in on how wonderful this ‘treatment’ was & how it does a great job of ‘drawing out’ the cancer, and the original discussant made this 100% incorrect claim (which I am quoting here as the page is a public one, open to anyone to view and to comment):

Black Salve only kills the cancer cells. If you put it on a spot thet is not cancerous…it doesn’t do anything.

This is a repeated claim: that the salve will not damage healthy tissue. Yet a bit later they say:

I overdid it on the Black Salve… piled it on… overall it [the ‘cancer’] turned out to be much larger than I had anticipated.

So the large ensuing wound (& it’s a nasty one) was entirely cancer, in their view.

This is what Medsafe has to say about black salve:

Black salve and related products are promoted as an alternative to conventional medicine for treating skin problems including skin cancer. These products work by ‘burning away’ (destroying) the skin (both healthy and potentially diseased) to form a thick black scab which eventually falls off. There is no scientific evidence that black salve and similar products are effective at treating disease/skin conditions.

In other words, the user had burned away both healthy and possibly diseased tissue, creating a large open wound. (If you really want to see what this would look like, google ‘black salve’ and click on images – but only if you have a strong stomach as the images are nauseating. And I do have a strong stomach, and was nauseated1.)

Now, this stuff is actively promoted as a ‘natural’ treatment that is ever so much better2 than the ‘cutting, poisoning and burning’ used by the surgery and radio- & chemotherapy of science-based medicine. The irony, it burns (no pun intended): remember that we’re talking about uncontrolled use of something that delivers 3rd-degree chemical burns, which indiscriminately destroy healthy and unhealthy cells alike (here’s Medsafe again):

Use of Sanguinarine [the active ingredient] leads to the indiscriminate death of normal and cancerous cells and results in extensive tissue necrosis with possible secondary necrotising vasculitis.

On being challenged on their promotion of this highly dubious therapy, the original poster answered that

I did my research and I feel you are not crediting others with doing theirs.

Some responses attempted to show that using this potion – and advising others to use it – is unlikely to cure much (especially something like the claimed melanoma) and highly likely to do harm.

Where has anyone discredited people’s research? I’m sorry you think that. What concerns me is people promoting their methods and processes to other people who may be so scared and vulnerable about going to a medical person that they embark on inappropriate treatments … Well-meaning people would be better off advising [that they] go to a trained medical person.

But to no avail:

There are others out there that have used this method. Their you tubes were what gave me faith that it would work.

Youtube videos = research?! [Incredulous squeak!]

Black salve has years of use, positive results, and its [sic] only the pharma trolls that go out and make it look fake/scary/dangerous.

That one has surely avoided looking at the images, which in many cases are posted by bloodroot users. And then the echo chamber starts, with others thanking the original poster for

having the courage to go beyond and outside of the conventional method of treatment. Fear stops many from stepping outside of what ‘the doctor’ often prescribes. You have now left footprints for others to follow.

I can only hope that the spot this person ‘treated’ was neither melanoma nor metastatic, because then they may have struck it lucky, albeit by going through weeks of pain & discomfort from an escharotic wound (be warned that there is a rather graphically-unpleasant image at that link).

I also hope that others aren’t influenced by this to avoid medical care and try this ‘all-natural’ remedy instead; the endpoints may not be as pleasant.


1 I was even more nauseated when I got to the commenter who was advising that swallowing capsules of bloodroot – remember, this is a highly caustic burning agent – to treat internal cancers.

2 And I’m sure that it must be ever so cheap, if not free, given the way Big Pharma is so often dissed for making money through its drugs… (/snark)

Those who would like to read more about the harm that this ‘treatment’ can do should have a look at this article on Respectful Insolence. It includes links to images that I’m also not going to directly share here as some of them are quite literally stomach-churning in their effect.