Q:

What are the main ingredients in black salve?

A:

Quick Answer

Black salve commonly contains zinc chloride and powdered blood root, an herbal remedy whose active ingredient is a benzyl isoquinolone alkaloid, reports a case study reported by Dermatology Practical & Conceptual and published by the National Institutes of Health. However, recipes vary from brand to brand.

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Full Answer

Black salve is a caustic paste used as a topical cancer treatment, reports Quackwatch. It often contains powdered bloodroot, zinc chloride or both.

Both bloodroot and zinc chloride are strong escharotic agents, states Dermatology Practical & Conceptual. These agents cause cell death, even to healthy tissue. Although black salve is marketed as a cancer treatment, it is indiscriminate in its action, and can corrode healthy cells alongside cancerous ones.

Black salve is listed among 187 fake cancer treatment on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration website. The FDA has condemned the use black salve as a cancer treatment and prosecutes those who market it in the United States. For example, in 2008, it sent a cease-and-desist letter to the manufacturer of Generation's Black Salve.

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