“Black lie affair” (Miracle salve)


There are a number of bogus cancer cures being marketed, but black salve is the only one that will sand your face off while you succumb to the disease.

Black salve is defined as an escharotic, which are topical pastes that burn skin tissue and leave a thick, black scar. Other than in sadomasochistic sessions, there would seem no reason to apply this.

The salve is best known in skeptic circles for the victims whose noses melted off after it was applied. Even in less severe cases, permanent scarring and skin damage has resulted. Its strength and purity is unknown, which highlights one of the problems with alternative medicine treatments. It’s possible that some alt-med products might have curative properties. But their active ingredient has yet to be identified, isolated, and its ideal dose determined and included in a pill, syrup, or cream. Perhaps sandalwood is effective at mitigating poison oak, but this needs to be tested according to the Scientific Method and in double blind studies, not passed around as holy writ in Tweets and in booths at paranormal fairs. Just citing anecdotes is inadequate and may cause someone to bypass a legitimate treatment.

With black salve, there is the additional danger of its potential to cause substantial harm. It is illegal to advertise black salve as a cancer cure, and there has been action taken against those who did so. This included Greg Caton, who was also charged with being a felon in possession of a weapon, and he was sentenced to 33 months. Part of this sentence was served on probation, so he took advantage of this to move to Ecuador, where he continued to market black salve as a cancer cure. When he was deported to the U.S. to serve the remainder of his sentence, Mike Adams at Natural News called this an FDA kidnapping. In reality, it was an arrest by Ecuadoran law enforcement with assistance from Interpol.

Adams endorses black salve and every other quack cure, and does so legally because he is not selling the products. It is repugnant but legal for Adams to declare, “Black salve has eliminated cancers in many people,” and then post links to other websites selling it. He even claims that swallowing a pea-sized portion of black salve for 20 days will forever banish the cancer.

The alleged mechanism for this miracle is that the salve’s corrosive agents will draw out the disease. If a tumor were limited to superficial layers of skin, it might be possible to burn it off with a corrosive salve. However, the product could also scorch the surrounding healthy tissue and result in unnecessary scarring. For superficial cancers, the cure rate with standard treatment is nearly 100 percent and there is usually no damage to nearby tissue. I had skin cancer on my face removed this way and was hoping for a scar so as to look tougher, but was confounded by modern medical efficiency.

There is no support for the claim that escharotics can draw out cancers from underneath the skin and even if they could, it wouldn’t impact cancers that had spread to other regions. In genuine skin cancer treatment, a surgeon removes the affected area, then a pathologist determines if the entire tumor has been removed. One will not receive this level of care from someone hawking black salve.

Enough about what black salve can’t do. For what it can do, we look to the book Natural Causes, which documented users whose noses or other appendages evaporated after use. This included Ruth Conrad, whose naturopath had her apply the slave to her nose because she feared a bump on it might be cancerous. She soon developed red streaks on her face, which her naturopath said was good since it looked like a crab, and Cancer is a crab in astrology. Slap on some more, he told her, and by the end of the week her nose had been replaced by a three-inch mass of thick, misshapen scars. It was the most offensive blackface since 19th Century minstrels.  

In the wake of such spectacular failure, the likes of Adams will sometimes point out that chemotherapy can cause red scarring. But this is a false equivalency. We know how chemotherapy works and scarring can be an unfortunate, unsightly byproduct of a technique that has saved many. By contrast, black salve doesn’t work and has cured no one. Proponents of black salve never perform biopsies before, during, or after treatment. They conduct no long-term follow-ups, without which there is no way to determine efficiency or ultimate success. They do not make develop a hypothesis, make predictions on that hypothesis, experiment, analyze, or submit for peer review. Rather, they make baseless assertions like this one from Adams: “Black salve is powerful and safe and much better than any conventional treatment.”

He would have you believe this is the work of a wizard, and I’m being literal. He wrote, “Black salve is a magical cancer cure.” Never you mind about double-blind testing or long-term studies, Frodo, it’s magic.

But we cannot access this magic because it’s being squashed by the FDA. Adams, in fact, rejects all positions and statements from the FDA except for warnings on vaccine inserts.

He insists the reason black salve is being suppressed is because it is a natural herb. Yet half of medicines have a plant base, so pharmaceutical companies, government regulators, and doctors are not against considering treatments and cures derived from nature. For example, there has been research done on the potential medical value of primrose oil for eczema, cinnamon for blood sugar control, and clove oil for tooth pain. All of these have had mixed results and have yet to be confirmed as legitimate medicine. But they have been considered and studied, not hushed up and repressed.

I have backed up my belief with action, receiving traditional care for my skin cancer. Should Adams be hit with the same, I would hope for his sake that he would decline the black salve and only lose face in the figurative sense.

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