Have you ever heard of something called ‘black salve’? I want to tell you about my recent encounter with this delightful, dark goo and a personal experience of skin healing …
As an herbalist, I’m keen to peruse the oils, ointments and tinctures on the shelves at any health food store I happen to find myself in. I’d seen this stuff called ‘Black Salve’ before, but never used it. Mostly I’ve made my own medicines from the herbs and weeds I wildcraft near wherever I’m living, but once in awhile I’ll buy something that ‘jumps out’ at me from the shelves.
Wise Woman Tradition
You see, I – and all those trained in the ‘wise woman’ tradition of herbalism – believe that mother nature provides everything we need for our own healing and wholeness right at our doorstep. This is why, for example, I’m more inclined to use burdock and nettle for iron rather than something that grows in the Amazon. Or why I tend to use ‘simple’ tinctures of plants grown in the area where I’m living rather than exotic power herbs from the Himalayas or remote, Chinese outposts.
So when I was visiting my friend in Phuket, I was surprised to see a jar of black salve in her fridge. The ingredients include things like chapparel (from arid, mountain and desert areas) and the key ingredient – bloodroot.
I asked her about it and she said she’s used it to remove skin cancer. What??? I couldn’t believe I’d never heard this. Then again, I’ve spent so much time in the tropics of Asia over the past 8 years, should it surprise me that I’m not totally on top of herbal wisdom?
My friend shared with me that she’d had success removing small bits of skin cancer using black salve, so when I told her that my partner has had a little dry, flakey something-or-another on his face for almost 2 years now, she gave me a little to take home with me. Wow! I’m sure glad she did!
Here’s what happened …
The thing about black salve is that if you apply a bit to an area of your body that isn’t cancerous, nothing will happen. BUT, if you apply it to cancer cells, you’ll find out in about 24-48 hours. Why? Because the skin totally changes. And this is what happened to my man.
We followed the directions and I applied just a tiny smidgen to the spot (after cleaning it with some hydrogen peroxide). I covered it with a bandaid and the next day, it looked bigger, with some puss developing. I cleaned it, applied a little bit more, and re-bandaged it …
By the next morning that little flakey spot had turned into a big pussy wound. It had more than doubled in size and was just beginning to form a scab. My partner could feel it, but it didn’t hurt.
Once again I cleaned it, covered it and left it alone.
Now here’s the thing – in a week’s time, the scab healed over, fell off and what remains is fresh-as-a-baby skin. No more flakey little spot. Nothing.
We had tried everything we could think of (naturally) to remove this thing before: oatmeal compresses, other oils and ointments, excessive sunblock, natural cleansers … The only thing that ever happened was that it got slightly bigger and more flakey. He even went to the doctor, who just told him to monitor it and return if it grew.
Herbal Wisdom in the Hands of Big Pharma
In our society’s healing climate of control by Big-Pharma, we can no longer label natural products with information about how they can serve and heal you. Not unless government approved, Big Pharma agents (oops – I mean ‘scientists’) run the product through a gamut of ‘scientific’ tests.
Now think of the cottage industry herbalists just making and selling their products locally for a small income. What do you think the chances are of them having the time, interest or money to go through such rig-a-marole? Right: slim to none. Thus most of us learn through teachers who are the keepers of ancient wisdom. We learn knowledge passed down generation after generation based on what WORKS.
I Make No Claims (AKA: This is my CYA)
So keeping this in mind, I certainly can’t tell you ‘BLACK SALVE CAN HEAL SKIN CANCER,’ without risking being sued or screwed. But I can tell you this: we believe it worked for us. My friend believes it’s worked for her and a number of people she knows, and when I told my mom this story, she said:”Oh, black salve? I remember that when I was a kid. Old people used it to heal skin problems, and young people to remove pimples.”
You be the Judge
Personally I feel deep gratitude for this unexpected gift in our lives, and a sense of ease knowing that we have an herbal ally for our skin concerns as we age. But we must each make these judgements and decisions ourselves. I neither advocate nor dismiss black salve. It’s up to you to be the judge and decision maker about your skin healing needs.
If you’ve ever worked with black salve before, I’d love to hear from you. Tell me your story in the comments below.