A couple of weeks back, the May issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology published new research regarding the dangers of one very sinister home remedy known as “black salve.”
And, if you didn’t pay attention, there’s now a very strong example circulating around of a woman who found out the hard way.
If you haven’t heard of black salve, the term refers to a “family of substances containing the corrosive ingredients zinc chloride and sanguinarine, which can severely damage skin.” According to the Journal, people apply these ointments to suspected skin cancers under the very wrong assumption that it’s a fast, easy and “natural” way to remove them—but, black salve can destroy the top layer of skin while leaving cancer behind in the deeper layers, where the disease may continue to grow. Even the FDA has listed it as a “fake cancer treatment” and is currently trying to ban it.
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“There is a misperception that black salve ‘draws the cancer out,’ when, in fact, it just indiscriminately damages anything it touches,” says dermatologist Mark J. Eliason, MD, 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.”
Case in point: Now one woman is sharing her story via a video on the World’s Greatest Medical YouTube channel. She applied the salve to her forehead and nose and within a few days the salve “ate away” at her skin and green scabbing occurred. Fast-forward to a few days later and the damage got worse, eventually destroying the skin tissue and leaving a hole in her nose. Her account: “Understandably, as you can imagine, I am sickened and freaked out by my personal revelation—that the salve went completely through my nose down to my nasal passages.”
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“Putting this salve on your skin is like throwing acid on your face,” explains Montclair, NJ, dermatologist Jeanine Downie, MD. “It dissolves your normal healthy cells and may also burn some of your cancer cells. It will not treat the cancer and does not target the cancer! It is neither safe nor approved. I would not recommend it to my worst enemy.”
The bottom line: Don’t try it. “No one should use this, not under any circumstances,” she adds. “I wish the young lady in the video good luck, I hope that she trusts her doctors from this day forward with the rest of her medical conditions.” But Dr. Downie does say it could have been worse. “She could have had a much more serious infection and required a nasal prosthesis.”