Observance Of Black Salve Use
This article chronicles the use of a black salve on a squamous cell cancer of the skin. I want to point out that I did not treat this person. It is not legal for me to treat someone for skin cancer, or any type of cancer. Nor is it legal for you, unless you are licensed as a dermatologist, or oncologist, or other professional that the licensing bodies allow to do so. No one else is allowed to treat someone for cancer in the United States.
Background On The Person And The Skin Cancer That Was Removed
The person chronicled in this article is someone I know that had the option of using surgery, or using black salve. His dermatologist was unable to perform the surgery, due to extenuating circumstances with the person's health, and he had been referred to a plastic surgeon who was thought to be more adept than the dermatologist at removing skin cancers. The plastic surgeon told him a large chunk of the skin, muscles, and other tissue would be removed, and a graft from another part of his body would be used to cover the area. This individual had extensive pitting edema in his lower leg where the cancer was growing (from another co-existing illness), and there was concern about the affect of the surgery on his already compromised lower leg. Therefore, this individual decided to use a black salve and leave surgery as a last resort option. A new black salve was ordered off the internet, however he had a 25 year old dried up black salve that he decided to use in the mean time. The old salve is all he ended up using. He applied it 3 times and then it was a matter of letting the process take place. He probably only needed to apply it twice, but he got over zealous and applied it 3 times which caused him quite a bit of pain that might have been somewhat alleviated had he applied it 2 times. He allowed me to photograph the process as it took place so I could share it with other people. Even though many people use black salves on basal cell carcinomas and other skin cancers, there is little documentation. I used a black salve on what appeared to be a basal cell carcinoma on my nose years ago, but never thought to document it. I have also watched other people use black salve on basal cell carcinomas without documenting it. This kind person allows us to follow the progression as it took place. His case was more complicated by the extensive edema in his lower leg, and the healing undoubtedly took longer due to the edema.
I have decided to put the photos on this page, one after another with a date in the order they were taken. I want you to be able to get an idea of the time period, as well as what the escharotic process and healing looks like. There are a couple photos that I guessed at the date and I might be a couple days off from the actual date.
What Is Black Salve
Black salves are escharotics. An escharotic is a substance that eats away tissue. Escharotics have been historically used to remove cancerous or other abnormal tissue. This is a photo of the 25 year old salve that was rehydrated slightly and applied.
Black Salves Are Not All The Same
The word black salve is used for any dark colored escharotic salve. Many of them contain zinc chloride and Bloodroot - Sanguinaria canadensis. Some contain Chaparral - Larrea tridentata and other herbs. This means that some salves may be stronger or weaker than others. There is no continuity from one herbalist's salve to the next generally, although there are some similarities. The particular salve he used was a mix of Sanguinaria powder, Aconite tincture, Clove essential oil and Zinc chloride. It was from an old eclectic physician formula that was handed down in a family.
Black Salve, Healing Salve And Their Use
Although escharotics will irritate skin around the area it is applied to, and there is concern about it eating away non-cancerous tissue, people often report that although surrounding tissue is irritated, that the tissue around the cancer was not harmed much, and a well circumscribed, and clean wound is left after the escharotic is finished. I should add that a healing salve is usually used to protect the noncancerous skin and people are careful where they apply it, so this could be part of the reason it is said to generally be non-harmful to the noncancersous skin. Practitioners have used escharotics to remove external skin cancers mostly, and traditionally some of them were even used to remove deeper tumors that had become visible to the eye.
Many years ago I spoke to a woman who had her eclectic physician, and father treat her for breast cancer with an herbal escharotic. This was early in her life, it had been 30 years or more since her earlier experience with the escharotic. Although, you may run into people who have done this, I would caution people against doing this. This woman had breast cancer again, and decided to use it once more, but could not remember how it had been used previously. She slathered it all over her breast as a thick paste. This caused terrible burning, and pain. She washed it off, but the pain was so great and constant, that she called her oncologist who gave her a lecture, and scheduled emergency surgery for her. I tell you this as a warning. In the first instance her father had applied the salve in a manner that was apparently safe, and worked well, but in this second procedure she applied it without knowing how to safely apply the product. Applying it on a larger area, and as a thick paste caused her terrible pain and distress. Most people using the various black salves are applying them to small skin cancers, that are topical only and not much paste is applied to the area.
Escharotics are best left to those who have been trained to use them. Untrained use can cause damage to skin and permanent scarring. There is also concern about the escharotic eating into blood vessels that are feeding the tumor, and causing bleeding. Additionally, remember it is illegal for anyone other than an oncologist (or a dermatologist for skin cancer) to treat a person with cancer in the United States.
The Process In This Specific Situation
This individual started by putting a layer of healing salve of Calendula around the cancer to protect the healthy skin. The healing salve was not put on the cancer itself. It was only applied around the cancer. Next, he applied a small dab of black salve to the entire area of the cancer.
Twenty-four hours later I took the first photo that you see below on March 22nd. At this point the crust around the lesion had fallen off. (Sorry I did not get the photo before he applied the salve on the first day.) He applied a second round of healing salve and black salve to the lesion on the 2nd day and then again on the third day. So in all, the salve was applied three times, one day after the next. This was probably excessive and it was quite painful for him.
Some people only apply it once and that is enough. I think he probably needed two applications as his lesion was larger than some I have seen it used on, but he thought since the salve was old (It was 25 years old to be exact.) that more was better.
The Photos Below
I did not get a photo prior to his first application. He said it originally had a crust over it. The first application removed the crust, showing us the naked lesion below in the first photo. The second photo is 5 days after the three applications ended. Note that I have take two photos on a couple days. This allows you to see the lesion with a lot of debris and serous fluid around it, as well as a photo after the lesion was cleaned up. Most photos are taken after he cleaned the area up and therefore most days have only one photo. A piece of the lesion fell out on April 12th, and on April 16th all of the lesion fell out finally. Then it began to fill in with tissue as the area healed. As you look at these photos, remember that this person has extensive edema in his leg. This means his leg has less blood and lymph flow to the area, and it is harder for him to remove wastes as the lesion is broken down. It is also harder to heal this area, since nutrients are not as available as in comparison with a non-edematous leg.
On April 21st you will note an unusual inflammatory reaction that was a reaction to a bandaid he had placed over the area.
Seven months later as I write this article, he continues to watch the area and has seen his dermatologist a couple times since the last photo. At this point, nothing has regrown and he is happy he did not get the surgery which would have taken longer to heal and removed a large chunk of tissue including muscle from his leg as well as graft tissue that would have been needed from another part of his body.
The downside is that there is no way for him to know if he has removed the entire cancer or not. It appeared so, but the only way to really know the cancer is completely gone, is if he had used the mohs surgery that was suggested by the surgeon. In this type of surgery, they keep taking slices of skin around the cancerous area and the skin slices are examined microscopically for any cancerous cells remaining until the slices show a complete lack of cancer cells. With black salve, the down side is that you have only macroscopic examination and can't be sure if every cancer cell is gone.
There is no long-term research on the use of black salves for skin cancer and the little bit of data you can find on the internet is hard to come by. Without research, or at least people sharing their use of it with others, we will never begin to form a base of knowledge that might lead us to some educated answers or perhaps get a researcher interested. This is my effort to add to the knowledge we have surrounding black salve use.
You might like to read this write up of black salve written in the "Australian Journal of General Practice". This article will give you a good idea of all the possible negative outcomes that might take place from using black salve. Just realize it is a one sided story, but one you should know exists. Also realize that they have some historical data written up incorrectly.