Holistic or Hole-istic? – Naturopathic Medicine was Never Meant to do This!
In the Australian Media this week, Medical Reporter Julia Medew writes: A 55-year-old man recently presented to a Brisbane hospital with a black hole in his temple after applying an unproven alternative medicine known as “black salve” to a lesion on his face, which he believed was cancerous. I discussed this media piece and so called remedy in my last segment of Navigating the Cancer Maze on Voice America today.
Writing in the Medical Journal of Australia, doctors from the Princess Alexandra Hospital said the man had been applying the unlicensed product, which is sold online as an alternative skin cancer treatment, to his face for four months.
The doctors, Natalie Ong, Eric Sham and Brandon Adams, said black salve preparations often contained an alkaloid derived from bloodroot and zinc chloride which could both eat away at tissue, leading to significant scarring and disfigurement. “In the absence of a biopsy, some patients may commence alternative treatment before attaining a diagnosis of skin cancer, and a very real risk of recurrence and metastasis (cancer spreading) remains….
Having worked with cancer patients for most of my naturopathic life; I am well aware of the nature of cancer and the inherent dangers in applying Black Salve to human or animal tissues. Far too many times I have seen first hand the destruction caused by this so called natural remedy.
( Folks there is nothing natural about zinc chloride which is often compounded with Bloodroot to create the paste – that is recommended to be applied to many different types of skin lesions). Zinc Chloride is an escharotic and tissue fixative; not to messed with! It is claimed by proponents that “the cancer salve made from zinc Chloride and Bloodroot is safe and effective, and has never harmed anyone, in thousands of years of use”.
The photograph above is just one small example of the damage I have seen from applying this paste. Cancer patients have used it on breast tumors, all kinds of skin tumors malignant and benign. One client used it on her genital area for an SCC ( squamous cell carcinoma)! The erosion and pain was horrendous. My own patient records with photographs of tissue damage are vile viewing. Many melanoma patients are delaying treatment due to this remedy and their belief in it to “cure cancer”. Professor Dr Alexander Herzog, Germany keeps a photo album of the black salve disasters he has to try to repair when it all goes belly-up for patients. Gaping holes in breast tissue, some large enough to insert a fist are displayed page after page…and then there is the mother who applied the Black Salve paste to a melanoma located on her son’s skull. She used the paste for 6 months – you could see his brain through the hole! Professor Herzog says he cant understand why cancer patients are using this paste.
The whole history of Moh’s chemo-surgery – margin controlled microscopic surgery using zinc Chloride – an interesting read.
What is about this preparation that gives it allure? Is it the mystique of purported native American history? Is it the supposed safety level that is claimed? Is it because a former Hollywood movie star has promoted it? Is it because we hate science and love cottage medicines?
The allure has even defied logic as many of Naturopathic friends, not only cancer patients believed in the salve to the extent that the paste “got it all” only to die from their metastatic melanoma and squamous cell carcinomas. Why is it that even bringing science and logic to this preparation will generate hate mail?
Personally I am tired of attending Black Salve funerals. I am glad it is banned in Australia however you can find it all around the internet still and even in the back end under the counter of some health food stores! My best advice – DON’T GO THERE! First and foremost – Find out what you are dealing with before embarking upon any treatment and please realize that this can be a sinister remedy with associated complications that make chemotherapy side effects look like a walk in the park!
In 2012, the Therapeutic Goods Administration warned people to avoid black salve, which is also known as red salve, Cansema, or Bloodroot.
More coming soon about discussions from today’s Navigating the Cancer Maze on Voice America- please visit again……
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