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Black Salve: Does it Really Cure Cancer?

Black Salve: Does it Really Cure Cancer?

Today we take a closer look at black salve, topical pastes which manufacturers claim will cure skin cancer by drawing out or neutralizing cancer cells.

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About Black Salve

Black salves are topical ointments that supposedly treat a number of conditions related to the skin. One of the major claims attributed to black salve is that it is an effective alternative medicinal treatment for skin cancer. Allegedly, black salve has the ability to eradicate cancer cells and pull tumors out of the skin.

According to the American Cancer Society, the historical use of cancer salves goes back hundreds of years and may even stem back to ancient Egyptian times. Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, salves were a prevailing treatment for various exterior cancers.

Currently, various black salve recipes are available from manufacturers that sell the product via the internet, mail order, and/or phone.

Additional Names for Black Salve…

The following is a list of additional names/brands of black salve:

  • Black & yellow salve
  • Bloodroot
  • Botanical salve
  • Drawing salve
  • Escharotic therapy
  • Escharotics
  • Cansema
  • Curaderm
  • Red salve
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Black Salve Warnings

Many black salves are corrosive poultices that will kill any body tissues they come in contact with. There have been various reports of people who experienced serious scarring and required reconstructive surgery due to their use of black salve. Following are a number of official warnings and news stories about black salve:

U.S. Food and Drug Administration – Although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not typically regulate usage of black salves, they also do not approve of them and have listed many as “fake cancer cures” since 2004.

The New York Times – 2005 article describing how the FDA had shutdown several unlicensed dealers of cancer pastes. This is a fairly objective story that presents the viewpoints of believers as well as skeptics.

Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration – The Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) announced a public warning about black salve in spring of 2012. The following is a quote from the alert:

“The TGA strongly advises consumers and patients against purchasing or using black or red salves. Both black and red salves are corrosive and essentially burn off layers of the skin and surrounding normal tissue. They can destroy large parts of the skin and underlying tissue, and leave significant scarring.”

Australian Health Department – In early 2013, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) issued a news story with warnings on black salve from the Australian Health Department.

The Daily Mail – British news story from early 2014 about a 55-year-old Australian man who used black salve for four months in an attempt to self-treat his skin cancer. The man reportedly sought medical treatment after developing a hole in his head that was an inch wide.

Black Salve and Science

While some makers of black salve claim there are scientific studies proving that their products treat cancer, these studies (if they exist) have not been submitted to peer-reviewed science journals. There is currently no real scientific evidence that black salve is an effective cure for cancer. On the contrary, a 2014 review of the scientific literature on black salve includes the following statement, “Patients should be educated about the lack of objective evidence supporting the clinical efficacy of black salve as a skin cancer treatment, as well as the possible cosmetic defects resulting from tissue necrosis…”

The FDA requires authentic scientific evidence in order for merchants to make “cancer cure” claims about their products. Since this evidence does not exist, some black salve dealers tell customers that they are being suppressed by the FDA.

Bottom Line

Black salves are corrosive topical pastes that can supposedly cure cancer. Despite these allegations, no scientific proof exists which confirms these claims.  In fact, there have been several official statements warning people that black salves can be dangerous. Numerous news articles have also reported that some users of black salve were forced to seek medical attention due to severe lesions caused by the unapproved treatment.

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