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March 2, 2021

Popular salve no balm for skin cancer: SCU study

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SCU’s Andy Croaker with a pot of the ‘black salve’. Some samples have proven highly toxic and others completely inactive.
Photo Leigh Jensen/Southern Cross University

Is black salve, the much-feted skin cancer cream, a miracle cure or a horror story? New research from Southern Cross University (SCU) proves the latter in the first international study to quantitatively assess its dangerous ingredients.

The sale of black salve is illegal in Australia so the SCU research team analysed 13 black salve products purchased from different online sellers around the world.

Lead author and PhD candidate Andy Croaker GP, who is a medical practitioner, said the findings published in the Journal of Herbal Medicine showed that black salve products were dangerous.

Like acid

‘It’s similar to playing a game of Russian roulette with the majority of black salves tested posing a significant risk of harm to patients.’

Some black salves contained very high concentrations of compounds likely to kill any tissue they came in contact with, putting patients at risk of significant scarring and deformity.

‘One salve contained a compound at a concentration over 900 times that needed to kill normal skin cells; its clinical use would be similar to applying a strong acid to the skin,’ said Mr Croaker.

‘Other black salves had undetectable levels of cytotoxic compounds meaning they would not react to cancer tissue giving patients a false sense of security that their skin lesion was not cancer. This could delay skin cancer diagnosis which for some skin cancers could put patients’ lives at risk.’

No cure

Mr Croaker, who works at the Sawtell Medical Centre, cautioned against people self-administering black salve.

‘DIY may be okay for renovating a house, but DIY skin lesion diagnosis and treatment is foolish. This year I’ve seen at least a dozen persisting skin cancers that have failed to be cured by black salve,’ he said.

‘Some of the patients had to go to Brisbane and Sydney for extensive surgery to remove their cancer.

‘There has been very little research conducted into black salves, the companies selling and making money from these products do not seem interested in properly assessing their safety.’

Promoted an alternative skin cancer therapy, black salve contains both herbal and chemical constituents.

Heavy metals

‘For the first time, in our paper, black salves have also been assessed for heavy metal contamination. We found one salve contained high lead levels posing a further health risk to patients,’ said co-author Dr Lei (Ben) Liu from the Southern Cross Plant Science research centre.

‘Online sellers of black salve tell people it’s a safe, effective and natural skin cancer treatment. Our study finally gives doctors information about what is in black salve so they can further advise their patients why it isn’t safe.’

‘There has never been a controlled clinical trial conducted in black salve’s 160-year history of clinical use. By contrast, skin cancer excision has been evaluated in multiple trials with highly effective outcomes.’

The research team said further assessment of black salve was urgently required.

Southern Cross University will be establishing a new National Centre for Naturopathic Research to engage in evidence-based naturopathic medicine higher education and research. The Centre is expected to open in 2019.


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  1. In my opinion based on unreliable evidence and hardly a proper scientific evaluation of Black Salve… I have made and used black salve on many skin cancers over many years after becoming sick of surgeons chopping away at my flesh without knowing what they are doing. During this time I have documented with image, video, and biopsy and proven to myself that it is in fact extremely effective in eradicating BCC and Squama. It won’t necessarily cure in one application and often requires several applications.
    The samples gathered from various places do NOT mean it’s not effective, it only means the formulation and quality are dubious. I have offered and I continue to offer myself as a guinea pig, as a test case – however, not one of the doctors I have spoken with is willing.
    Vaccines, by the way, are NOT a safe medicine and if you read the disclaimers on vaccine labels no sensible person would have one and still, the medical, pharmaceutical industry pushes their (not scientifically trialed vaccines) with impunity and immunity from prosecution protected by a woefully ill-informed and ignorant government

    • Well said Chris. Just because the samples they tested were bad, they shouldn’t make such statements. My family has successfully used Black Salve on many occasions and are 100% believers.

      If they hadn’t stopped reputable suppliers in Australia from making a quality product and supplying to those who believe, they wouldn’t need to test these poor substitutes.

  2. There are 2 alchemists in Byron shire who make up black salve or cancema cream bloodroot paste.
    Before we had to get it from a woman in tabulam who was able to get it in from the USA.
    I have used cancema cream successfully 3 times on facial skin cancers.
    My ex partner has used it successfully probably 50 times on skin cancers successfully.
    It works.

  3. Black Salve is in my opinion a marvellous healing concoction. I just spent time in Ghana in a remote village and witnessed a similar home-made salve being applied to women to cure breast cancers …
    Of course there TGA are attempting to shut down all the wonder drugs based on natural ingredients, because they know it works and is a threat to their fading plutocratic controls. Black salve was successfully used locally here by many vets to heal horses leg cancers and it always worked. As you guessed, the TGA banned it for use on animals …. The onus is really on the public to start making it themselves and letting their friends know that it genuine works.

  4. I’ve used this for 7 – 8 years with great success.
    Left no scaring and works wonders as it has on many friends who have used it as well.
    My horse had a large tumor 3″ in diameter and the cost of laser removal was prohibitive.
    I put it on the cancer and all came out and now healed up. All good
    I would use it monthly on any BCC or skin cancers.
    I still get regular check ups eacxh 6 – 12 monthsP

  5. How the hell is this quote:

    ‘One salve contained a compound at a concentration over 900 times that needed to kill normal skin cells; its clinical use would be similar to applying a strong acid to the skin’

    …then used to justify how the TGA are against a ‘wonder drug based on natural ingredients’????

    Its not a conspiracy – its called science! The TGA are trying to reduce the risk from products which cause harm or which make unsubstantiated claims.

    If you want to be informed – read :



    …still tempted to try this ‘miracle healing’?

  6. Yep. Black Salve works. The above study obviously found bogus varieties. Been using it for 20 years. If you put it on skin with no skin cancer then it does nothing.

  7. The TGA has outlawed black salve in Australia. It also receives 100% of its funding from the therapeutic goods industry, most of which comes from the pharmaceutical sector.

  8. Let’s be clear. This was not a study into the efficacy of Black Salve. That fact is exposed by the statement ‘There has never been a controlled clinical trial conducted in black salve’s 160-year history of clinical use.’ Your headline “Popular Salve No Balm For Skin Cancer: SCU Study.” is therefore a lie, fake news if you will.

    This was in fact some type of investigation into the ingredients contained within of a range of salves available on the market. Having used only two varieties of Black Salve over the past 8 eight years, both of which contained the same ingredients, I do think it is important for users to know which ingredients to look for and which suppliers to trust.

    For anyone like me, who watched their parent mutilated by conventional skin cancer treatments (liquid nitrogen, excision, skin grafts – all ineffective in the long term) or have read first hand accounts of the consequences of using topical chemotherapy (Aldara etc), finding Black Salve has been an absolute gift.

    I have applied it to my face about 40 times now and like every other user, I have experienced, not the ravages of a flesh dissolving acid but a salve that results in either selective tissue death or no reaction at all.

    Whenever an organisation wants to do an actual trial of the salve and not a bogus one, as this was, advertise for participants…you will be overwhelmed with volunteers.

  9. I have seen black salve cause enormous cosmetic harm to patients who self-treat, when a simple excision would have removed their basal or squamous cell carcinoma. It is often regretted by patients A simple Google search should alert anybody to the dangers of black salve. Don’t risk it.

  10. The article doesn’t list the people who had their noses removed or large areas excised because surgeons didn’t get all the cancers out, but patients who used BS after surgeries had more cancers fall out and the tissue repair themselves. Do your own research. As for doctors professionalism I witnessed surgeons, Gp’s, oncologists and specialists of all persuasions tell my late wife repeatedly her rapidfly swelling stomach after bowel cancer surgery was “only a hernia” until she was rushed into hospital and a 5kg tumor was removed. When the cancer metasticised all they would offer was more radiation for the pain and chemo, which didn’t work from day one.. If i had known about BS, cannabis oil, and or gumby gumby pills taken for internal cancers she may still be with us but she relied on the professionals and when they walked away palliative care was her only option.

  11. My dad Paul Fred was diagnosed with colon cancer. He has undergone radiation and chemotherapy, Since radiation therapy was completed about 9 months ago the colon cancer have not gone. I was making research online on any possible solution that could help my dad and I came across how cannabis oil have helped a lot of people around the world to cure any kind of cancer. I was so happy and relief when I saw this and I knew there was hope for my dad to live. I contacted Medicinal Marijuana Resources via E-mail [email protected] to get the high quality cannabis oil for treatment and prescription on how to use the cannabis oil for treatment of lung cancer. My dad started using the cannabis oil for treatment as directed by Medicinal Marijuana Resources expert team. As I am posting this comment, my dad colon cancer is completely cured and gone and he is healthy and living fine.


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