Disclaimer: Consult with a doctor before deciding on a treatment plan for cancer or any other disease.

Black salve is a controversial anti-cancer paste/plaster that can be used topically (on the skin) to cure certain conditions. It contains several ingredients, among them, bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis).


Black Salve – Adverse Effects

What makes black salve controversial is that sometimes patients can experience serious side effects from using it, such as blackening of the skin, burns, and open wounds and though it works sometimes, research has not demonstrated that the potential costs of using black salve outweigh the potential benefits [1][2].



Black salve is one of a group of topical pastes known as escharotics that contains the ingredients bloodroot and zinc chloride along with various other ingredients that vary depending on the recipe. Both bloodroot and zinc chloride are escharotics and sometimes they are used together by dermatologists to treat skin cancer, but bloodroot’s safety and effectiveness is still being researched. Whether it works or not has not been proven though there have been some reports that it works to treat some growths and skin conditions. Zinc chloride alone is a powerful escharotic that is used to treat recurrent ulcers and bone spurs [1].


Escharotics are naturally occurring, corrosive substances that can cause more health problems than they solve when it comes to cancer. These substances produce a dry scab called an eschar on the skin and they kill healthy cells as well as cancer cells when applied to an area of the body. Some practitioners apply the black salve directly to skin cancers that are visible on the outside of the body. Other practitioners will apply black salve to the skin overlying areas where there are tumors inside the body. The idea is that the black salve will “draw out” toxins and the body will be detoxified. Unfortunately, in both cases, black salve can turn the skin black and/or cause severe burns or open wounds to develop. Black salve can also allow cancer cells to continue to spread and progress. Research has yet to prove that black salve reliably kills cancer cells. Even if patients apply black salve directly to cancer cells, there are reports of the cancer cells surviving the application and metastasizing to other areas of the body after the application [1][2].  


Conditions Treated Using Black Salve

The conditions most commonly treated by Black Salve are:


  • Basal cell carcinoma
  • Squamous cell carcinoma
  • Cervical dysplasia


Patients are advised to visit a naturopath who has a lot of experience working with black salve rather than attempting to use this product on their own as an at-home treatment [1].


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[1] Dr. Axe (2018). Black Salve: Is This Controversial Cancer Treatment Safe? Retrieved June 6, 2018 from https://draxe.com/black-salve/


[2] Hall, H. (2015). Escharotic Treatment for Cervical Dysplasia: A New Incarnation of Black Salve? Retrieved June 6, 2018 from https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/escharotic-treatment-for-cervical-dysplasia-a-new-incarnation-of-black-salve/