Black Salve

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Black salve (a.k.a. bloodroot salve) is very controversial herbal ointment that was used in the 18th and 19th centuries to chemically burn off tumors from the top layers of skin. Today, there are anecdotal stories of people using it to naturally "draw out" cancer cells through the skin or ingesting a small amount to aid in healing internal cancers. However, there have never been any scientific studies or controlled clinical trials to prove these claims.  

Proponents of black salve say the benefits include: (i) killing cancerous cells without damaging healthy ones, (ii) potential anticancer and antimicrobial capabilities, (iii) no scarring once the area is healed, (iv) may stimulate the growth of normal tissue, and (v) low price.


However, others warn of the risks, including: (i) skin burns, (ii) temporary open wounds, (iii) temporary skin blackening, scarring and discoloration, and (iv) poisonous when taken internally.


Below are some of the resources available (both for and against black salve) if you are interested in learning more.

As with any type of full wellness support, it is extremely important to fully research and form your own opinion on utilizing black salve in partnership with a qualified healthcare professional. 

In Support Of...

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Cautions Against...

American Academy of Dermatology

Written by Alex Snyder; Medically reviewed by Christina Chun, MPH

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There is very limited scientific research on black salve. Below are links to some of the studies that have been done to date.

Published in the European Journal of Pharmacology

In this 2013 study, sanguinarine (bloodroot) "showed a remarkably rapid killing activity against human melanoma cells."

A case study of a woman who opted to use black salve in combination with vitamin and herbal supplements to treat cervical cancer cells caused by the HPV virus. The woman showed significant improvement for the five years following just 10 black salve treatments. 

Published by The Institute of Pharmacy and Molecular Biotechnology at Heidelberg University

In vitro study showing that sanguinarine (bloodroot) is just as, if not more, efficient at overcoming multi-drug antibiotic-resistant pathogens as the antibiotic vancomycin. 

Placebo-controlled, double-blind study showing that sanguinarine (bloodroot) does not have a significant effect on gingivitis.

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Additional Resources

Website includes detailed information on using black salve, testimonials and product suggestions.

A DVD providing (i) a warning about Aldara, which is legally prescribed as a cancer salve and (ii) information on black salve, which is illegal to prescribe as a cancer treatment. The video includes testimonials from people who have used black salve to reclaim their health after begin diagnosed with various forms of cancer. It also provides detailed instructions on how to make black salve yourself.

Closed group for discussion of Bloodroot Salve and Bloodroot Capsules. This group is managed by ZenithHerbal, who makes and sells bloodroot products. Therefore, they restrict any discussion of other bloodroot products and suppliers.

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