Cupping therapy is an ancient form of alternative medicine. Cupping is used in more than 60 countries, its usage dates back to as far as 1,550 B. C. There are different forms of cupping. Cups are applied onto the skin and a suction is created, pulling the skin up, it is meant to increase blood flow to certain areas to the body. Cupping has been characterized as a pseudoscience. There is no good evidence it has any health benefits, there are some risks of harm from fire and wet cupping. Cupping is poorly supported by scientific evidence, with a 2014 review of recent evidence finding that "because of the unreasonable design and poor research quality, the clinical evidence of cupping therapy is low." A 2011 review found that "the effectiveness of cupping is not well-documented for most conditions", that systematic reviews showing efficacy for the treatment of pain "were based on poor quality primary studies." The American Cancer Society notes that "available scientific evidence does not support claims that cupping has any health benefits" and that the treatment carries a small risk of burns.
In their 2008 book Trick or Treatment, Simon Singh and Edzard Ernst write that no evidence exists of any beneficial effects of cupping for any medical condition. Critics of alternative medicine such as Harriet Hall and Mark Crislip have characterized cupping as "pseudoscience nonsense", "a celebrity fad", "gibberish", observed that there is no evidence that cupping works any better than a placebo. Pharmacologist David Colquhoun writes that cupping is "laughable... and utterly implausible." Practicing surgeon David Gorski observes, "...it’s all risk for no benefit. It has no place in modern medicine, or at least shouldn’t." While ineffective, cupping is safe when applied by trained professionals on people who are otherwise healthy. Cupping may result in bruising, pain, and/or skin infection, is not recommended for people with health problems due to side effects. In 2016, the Cambodian Ministry of Health warned that cupping could be a health risk and dangerous for people with high blood pressure or heart problems.
Research suggests that cupping is harmful in people who are thin or obese: According to Jack Raso, cupping results in capillary expansion, excessive fluid accumulation in tissues, the rupture of blood vessels. Cupping therapy adverse events can be divided into local and systemic adverse events; the local adverse events were scar formation, skin infection, abscess formation, pain at the cupping site, systemic adverse events including: anemia, vasovagal attack, insomnia and nausea. Fire cupping can sometimes result in minor to severe burns at the cupping site, may lead to hospitalization and may require skin grafting to repair the injury. Other burns can occur due to carelessness with the flammable substances being used, such as spills and over application; some contraindications for cupping may include: pregnancy, dry or cracked skin, open wounds, or thin blood. While details vary between practitioners and cultures, the practice consists of drawing tissue into a cap placed on the targeted area by creating a partial vacuum – either by the heating and subsequent cooling of the air in the cup, or via a mechanical pump.
The cup is left in place for somewhere between five and fifteen minutes. Cupping therapy types can be classified using four distinct methods of categorisation; the first system of categorisation relates to "technical types" including: dry, wet and flash cupping therapy. The second categorisation relates to "the power of suction related types" including: light and strong cupping therapy; the third categorisation relates to "the method of suction related types" including: fire, manual suction, electrical suction cupping therapy. The fourth categorisation relates to "materials inside cups" including: herbal products, ozone, moxa and magnetic cupping therapy. Further categories of cupping were developed later; the fifth relates to area treated including: facial, female and orthopedic cupping therapy. The sixth relates to "other cupping types" that include aquatic cupping; the cupping procedure involves creating a small area of low air pressure next to the skin. However, there are varieties in the tools used, the methods of creating the low pressure, the procedures followed during the treatment.
The cups can be of various shapes including balls or bells, may range in size from 1 to 3 inches across the opening. Plastic and glass are the most common materials used today, replacing the horn, pottery and bamboo cups used in earlier times; the low air pressure required may be created by heating the cup or the air inside it with an open flame or a bath in hot scented oils placing it against the skin. As the air inside the cup cools, it contracts and draws the skin inside. More vacuum is created with a mechanical suction pump acting through a valve located at the top of the cup. Rubber cups are available that squeeze the air out and adapt to uneven or bony surfaces. In practice, cups are used only on softer tissue that can form a good seal with the edge of the cup, they may be used singly or with many to cover a larger area. They may be placed over an acupuncture needle. Skin may be lubricated. Cupping is not painful. There might be discomfort due to the tight suction created, pulling the skin up.
After a cupping session, the person might see red circle marks on their body. It is a misconception that these red circle
Quackery synonymous with health fraud, is the promotion of fraudulent or ignorant medical practices. A quack is a "fraudulent or ignorant pretender to medical skill" or "a person who pretends, professionally or publicly, to have skill, qualification or credentials they do not possess; the term quack is a clipped form of the archaic term quacksalver, from Dutch: kwakzalver a "hawker of salve". In the Middle Ages the term quack meant "shouting"; the quacksalvers sold their wares on the market shouting in a loud voice. Common elements of general quackery include questionable diagnoses using questionable diagnostic tests, as well as untested or refuted treatments for serious diseases such as cancer. Quackery is described as "health fraud" with the salient characteristic of aggressive promotion. Since it is difficult to distinguish between those who knowingly promote unproven medical therapies and those who are mistaken as to their effectiveness, United States courts have ruled in defamation cases that accusing someone of quackery or calling a practitioner a quack is not equivalent to accusing that person of committing medical fraud.
To be both quackery and fraud, the quack must know they are misrepresenting the benefits and risks of the medical services offered. In addition to the ethical problems of promising benefits that can not reasonably be expected to occur, quackery includes the risk that patients may choose to forego treatments that are more to help them, in favor of ineffective treatments given by the "quack". Stephen Barrett of Quackwatch defines quackery "as the promotion of unsubstantiated methods that lack a scientifically plausible rationale" and more broadly as: "anything involving overpromotion in the field of health." This definition would include questionable ideas as well as questionable products and services, regardless of the sincerity of their promoters. In line with this definition, the word "fraud" would be reserved only for situations in which deliberate deception is involved. Paul Offit has proposed four ways in which alternative medicine "becomes quackery": "...by recommending against conventional therapies that are helpful."
"...by promoting harmful therapies without adequate warning." "...by draining patients' bank accounts..." "...by promoting magical thinking..." Unproven ineffective, sometimes dangerous medicines and treatments have been peddled throughout human history. Theatrical performances were sometimes given to enhance the credibility of purported medicines. Grandiose claims were made for what could be humble materials indeed: for example, in the mid-19th century revalenta arabica was advertised as having extraordinary restorative virtues as an empirical diet for invalids. Where no fraud was intended, quack remedies contained no effective ingredients whatsoever; some remedies contained substances such as opium and honey, which would have given symptomatic relief but had no curative properties. Some would have addictive qualities to entice the buyer to return; the few effective remedies sold by quacks included emetics and diuretics. Some ingredients did have medicinal effects: mercury and arsenic compounds may have helped some infections and infestations.
However, knowledge of appropriate uses and dosages was limited. The science-based medicine community has criticized the infiltration of alternative medicine into mainstream academic medicine and publications, accusing institutions of "diverting research time and other resources from more fruitful lines of investigation in order to pursue a theory that has no basis in biology." R. W. Donnell coined the phrase "quackademic medicine" to describe this attention given to alternative medicine by academia. Referring to the Flexner Report, he said that medical education "needs a good Flexnerian housecleaning."For example, David Gorski criticized Brian M. Berman, founder of the University of Maryland Center for Integrative Medicine, for writing that "There evidence that both real acupuncture and sham acupuncture more effective than no treatment and that acupuncture can be a useful supplement to other forms of conventional therapy for low back pain." He castigated editors and peer reviewers at the New England Journal of Medicine for allowing it to be published, since it recommended deliberately misleading patients in order to achieve a known placebo effect.
With little understanding of the causes and mechanisms of illnesses marketed "cures" referred to as patent medicines, first came to prominence during the 17th and 18th centuries in Britain and the British colonies, including those in North America. Daffy's Elixir and Turlington's Balsam were among the first products that used branding and mass marketing to create and maintain markets. A similar process occurred in other countries of Europe around the same time, for example with the marketing of Eau de Cologne as a cure-all medicine by Johann Maria Farina and his imitators. Patent medicines contained alcohol or opium, while not curing the diseases for which they were sold as a remedy, did make the imbibers feel better and confusedly appreciative of the product; the number of internationally marketed quack medicines
The skeptical movement is a modern social movement based on the idea of scientific skepticism. Scientific skepticism involves the application of skeptical philosophy, critical-thinking skills, knowledge of science and its methods to empirical claims, while remaining agnostic or neutral to non-empirical claims; the movement has the goal of investigating claims made on fringe topics and determining whether they are supported by empirical research and are reproducible, as part of a methodological norm pursuing "the extension of certified knowledge". The process followed is sometimes referred to as skeptical inquiry. Roots of the movement date at least from the 19th century, when people started publicly raising questions regarding the unquestioned acceptance of claims about spiritism, of various widely-held superstitions, of pseudoscience. Publications such as those of the Dutch Vereniging tegen de Kwakzalverij targeted medical quackery. Using as a template the Belgian organization founded in 1949, Comité Para, Americans Paul Kurtz and Marcello Truzzi founded the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal, in Amherst, New York in 1976.
Now known as the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, this organization has inspired others to form similar groups worldwide. Scientific skepticism or rational skepticism, sometimes referred to as skeptical inquiry, is an epistemological position in which one questions the veracity of claims lacking empirical evidence. In practice, the term is most applied to the examination of claims and theories that appear to be beyond mainstream science, rather than to the routine discussions and challenges among scientists. Scientific skepticism is different from philosophical skepticism, which questions humans' ability to claim any knowledge about the nature of the world and how they perceive it. Methodological skepticism, a systematic process of being skeptical about the truth of one's beliefs, is similar but distinct; the New Skepticism described by Paul Kurtz is scientific skepticism. For example, Robert K. Merton asserts that all ideas must be tested and are subject to rigorous, structured community scrutiny.
An important difference to classical skepticism, according to religious history professor Olav Hammer, is that it is not directly aligned with classical pyrrhonian scepticism, which would question all sort of orthodox wisdom, as well as the one established by modern science. According to Hammer, "the intellectual forebears of the modern skeptical movement are rather to be found among the many writers throughout history who have argued against beliefs they did not share."The following are quotations related to scientific skepticism: Briefly stated, a skeptic is one, willing to question any claim to truth, asking for clarity in definition, consistency in logic, adequacy of evidence. The use of skepticism is thus an essential part of objective scientific inquiry and the search for reliable knowledge. What skeptical thinking boils down to is the means to construct, to understand, a reasoned argument and important, to recognize a fallacious or fraudulent argument; the question is not whether we like the conclusion that emerges out of a train of reasoning, but whether the conclusion follows from the premises or starting point and whether that premise is true.
Science is a way of skeptically interrogating the universe with a fine understanding of human fallibility. If we are not able to ask skeptical questions, to interrogate those who tell us that something is true, to be skeptical of those in authority we’re up for grabs for the next charlatan, political or religious, who comes ambling along. Scientific skepticism the practice or project of studying paranormal and pseudoscientific claims through the lens of science and critical scholarship, sharing the results with the public. A skeptic is one who prefers beliefs and conclusions that are reliable and valid to ones that are comforting or convenient, therefore rigorously and applies the methods of science and reason to all empirical claims their own. A skeptic provisionally proportions acceptance of any claim to valid logic and a fair and thorough assessment of available evidence, studies the pitfalls of human reason and the mechanisms of deception so as to avoid being deceived by others or themselves.
Skepticism values method over any particular conclusion. "Skepticism is a provisional approach to claims. It is the application of reason to any and all ideas—no sacred cows allowed. In other words, skepticism is a method, not a position." The true meaning of the word skepticism has nothing to do with disbelief, or negativity. Skepticism is the process of applying reason and critical thinking to determine validity. It's the process of finding a supported conclusion, not the justification of a preconceived conclusion. With regard to the skeptical social movement, Loxton refers to other movements promoting "humanism, rationalism, science education and critical thinking" before, he saw the demand for the new movement—a movement of people called "skeptics" — being based on a lack of interest by the scientific community to address paranormal and fringe science claims. In line with Kendrick Frazier, he describes the movement as a surrogate in that area for institutional science; the movement set up a distinct field of study, provided an organizational structure, while long-standing genre of individual skeptical activities lacked such a community and background.
Skeptical organizations tend to have science education and promotion among
Ear candling called ear coning or thermal-auricular therapy, is an alternative medicine practice claimed to improve general health and well-being by lighting one end of a hollow candle and placing the other end in the ear canal. Medical research has shown that the practice is both dangerous and ineffective and does not help remove earwax or toxicants. Edzard Ernst has published critically on the subject of ear candles, noting, "There is no data to suggest that it is effective for any condition. Furthermore, ear candles have been associated with ear injuries; the inescapable conclusion is. Their use should be discouraged."According to the US Food and Drug Administration, ear candling is sometimes promoted with claims that the practice can "purify the blood" or "cure" cancer, but that Health Canada has determined the candles have no effect on the ear, no health benefit. In October 2007, US FDA issued an alert identifying ear candles as "dangerous to health when used in the dosage or manner, or with the frequency or duration, recommended, or suggested in the labeling thereof"... "since the use of a lit candle in the proximity of a person's face would carry a high risk of causing severe skin/hair burns and middle ear damage."A 2007 paper in the journal Canadian Family Physician concludes: Ear candling appears to be popular and is advertised with claims that could seem scientific to lay people.
However, its claimed mechanism of action has not been verified, no positive clinical effect has been reliably recorded, it is associated with considerable risk. No evidence suggests. On this basis, we believe it can do more harm than good and we recommend that GPs discourage its use. A 2007 paper in American Family Physician said: Ear candling should be avoided. Ear candling is a practice in which a hollow candle is inserted into the external auditory canal and lit, with the patient lying on the opposite ear. In theory, the combination of heat and suction is supposed to remove earwax. However, in one trial, ear candles neither created suction nor removed wax and led to occlusion with candle wax in persons who had clean ear canals. Primary care physicians may see complications from ear candling including candle wax occlusion, local burns, tympanic membrane perforation; the Spokane Ear and Throat Clinic conducted a research study in 1996 which concluded that ear candling does not produce negative pressure and was ineffective in removing wax from the ear canal.
Several studies have shown that ear candles produce the same residue when burnt without ear insertion and that the residue is candle wax and soot. As of 2008, there are at least two cases in which people have set their houses on fire while ear candling, one of which resulted in death. A survey of ENT surgeons found some. Burns were the most common. One end of a cylinder or cone of waxed cloth is lit, the other is placed into the subject's ear; the flame is cut back with scissors and extinguished between five and ten centimeters from the subject. The subject is lying on one side with the candle vertical; the candle can be stuck through a paper plate or aluminium pie tin to protect against any hot wax or ash falling onto the subject. Another way to perform ear candling involves the subject lying face up with the ear candle extending out to the side with a forty-five-degree upward slant. A dish of water is placed next to the subject under the ear candle. Proponents claim that the flame creates negative pressure, drawing wax and debris out of the ear canal, which appears as a dark residue.
An ear candling session lasts up to one hour, during which one or two ear candles may be burned for each ear. In Europe, some ear candles bear the CE mark, though they are self-issued by the manufacturer; this mark indicates that the device is designed and manufactured so as not to compromise the safety of patients, but no independent testing is required as proof. While ear candles are available in the U. S. selling or importing them with medical claims is illegal. This means that one cannot market ear candles as products that "Diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease". In a report, Health Canada states "There is no scientific proof to support claims that ear candling provides medical benefits.... However, there is plenty of proof that ear candling is dangerous." It says that while some people claim to be selling the candles "for entertainment purposes only", the Canadian government maintains that there is no reasonable non-medical use, hence any sale of the devices is illegal in Canada. In a paper published by Edzard Ernst in Journal of Laryngology & Otology, the cost of practicing ear candling according to the recommended frequency of use is estimated.
As each candles costs $3.15 USD, the annual cost of the treatment would amount to $982.00 USD. The author calls the continued practice of the treatment "a triumph of ignorance over science... or a triumph of commercial interests over medical reasoning." Although Biosun, a manufacturer of ear candles, refers to them as "Hopi" ear candles, there is no such treatment within traditional Hopi healing practices. Vanessa Charles, public relations officer for the Hopi Tribal Council, has stated that ear candling "is not and has never been a practice conducted by the Hopi tribe or the Hopi people." The Hopi tribe has asked Biosun, the manufacturer of'Hopi Ear Candles', to stop usin
Magnet therapy, magnetic therapy is a pseudoscientific alternative medicine practice involving a weak static magnetic fields produced by a permanent magnet. It is similar to the alternative medicine practice of electromagnetic therapy, which uses a magnetic field generated by an electrically powered device. Practitioners claim that subjecting certain parts of the body to weak electric or magnetic fields has beneficial health effects; these physical and biological claims are unproven and no effects on health or healing have been established. Although hemoglobin, the blood protein that carries oxygen, is weakly diamagnetic or paramagnetic, the magnets used in magnetic therapy are many orders of magnitude too weak to have any measurable effect on blood flow; this is not to be confused with trans-cranial magnetic stimulation, a scientifically valid form of therapy Magnet therapy involves applying the weak magnetic field of permanent magnets to the body, for purported health benefits. Different effects are assigned to different orientations of the magnet.
Products include jewelry. Application is performed by the patient, it is similar to the alternative medicine practice of electromagnetic therapy, which uses the weak electric or magnetic fields as well, but generated by electrically powered devices. The most common suggested mechanism is that magnets might improve blood flow in underlying tissues; the field surrounding magnet therapy devices is far too weak and falls off with distance far too to appreciably affect hemoglobin, other blood components, muscle tissue, blood vessels, or organs. A 1991 study on humans of static field strengths up to 1 T found no effect on local blood flow. Tissue oxygenation is unaffected; some practitioners claim that the magnets can restore the body's hypothetical "electromagnetic energy balance", but no such balance is medically recognized. In the magnetic fields used in magnetic resonance imaging, which are many times stronger, none of the claimed effects are observed. If the body were meaningfully affected by the weak magnets used in magnet therapy, MRI would be impractical.
Several studies have been conducted in recent years to investigate what role, if any, static magnetic fields may play in health and healing. Unbiased studies of magnetic therapy are problematic, since magnetisation can be detected, for instance, by the attraction forces on ferrous objects. Incomplete or insufficient blinding tends to exaggerate treatment effects where any such effects are small. Health claims regarding longevity and cancer treatment are implausible and unsupported by any research. More mundane health claims, most about anecdotal pain relief lack any credible proposed mechanism and clinical research is not promising; the American Cancer Society states that "available scientific evidence does not support these claims". According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, studies of magnetic jewelry haven't shown demonstrable effects on pain, nerve function, cell growth or blood flow. A 2008 systematic review of magnet therapy for all indications found insufficient evidence to determine whether magnet therapy is effective for pain relief, as did a 2012 review focused on osteoarthritis.
Both reviews reported that small sample sizes, inadequate randomization, difficulty with allocation concealment all tend to bias studies positively and limit the strength of any conclusions. These devices are considered safe in themselves, though there can be significant financial and opportunity costs to magnet therapy when treatment or diagnosis are avoided or delayed; the worldwide magnet therapy industry totals sales of over a billion dollars per year, including $300 million per year in the United States alone. A 2002 U. S. National Science Foundation report on public attitudes and understanding of science noted that magnet therapy is "not at all scientific." A number of vendors make unsupported claims about magnet therapy by using pseudoscientific and new-age language. Such claims are unsupported by the results of clinical studies. Marketing of any therapy as effective treatment for any condition is restricted by law in many jurisdictions unless all such claims are scientifically validated.
In the United States, for example, U. S. Food and Drug Administration regulations prohibit marketing any magnet therapy product using medical claims, as such claims are unfounded. Magnetic Therapy: Can magnets alleviate pain? by Cecil Adams — The Straight Dope Magnetic Therapy: Plausible Attraction? by James D. Livingston — Skeptical Inquirer Magnet therapy in the Skeptic's Dictionary by Robert Todd Carroll Magnet therapy — editorial in the British Medical Journal Magnet Therapy: A Skeptical View by Stephen Barrett — Quackwatch
Christian Science is a set of beliefs and practices belonging to the metaphysical family of new religious movements. It was developed in 19th-century New England by Mary Baker Eddy, who argued in her 1875 book Science and Health that sickness is an illusion that can be corrected by prayer alone; the book became Christian Science's central text, along with the Bible, by 2001 had sold over nine million copies. Eddy and 26 followers were granted a charter in 1879 to found the Church of Christ, in 1894 the Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, was built in Boston, Massachusetts. Christian Science became the fastest growing religion in the United States, with nearly 270,000 members by 1936, a figure that had declined by 1990 to just over 100,000; the church is known for its newspaper, the Christian Science Monitor, which won seven Pulitzer Prizes between 1950 and 2002, for its public Reading Rooms around the world. Eddy described Christian Science as a return to "primitive Christianity and its lost element of healing".
There are key differences between Christian Science theology and that of other branches of Christianity. In particular, adherents subscribe to a radical form of philosophical idealism, believing that reality is purely spiritual and the material world an illusion; this includes the view that disease is a mental error rather than physical disorder, that the sick should be treated not by medicine, but by a form of prayer that seeks to correct the beliefs responsible for the illusion of ill health. The church does not require that Christian Scientists avoid all medical care—adherents use dentists, obstetricians, physicians for broken bones, vaccination when required by law—but maintains that Christian-Science prayer is most effective when not combined with medicine. Between the 1880s and 1990s, the avoidance of medical treatment led to the deaths of several adherents and their children. Parents and others were prosecuted for, in a few cases convicted of, manslaughter or neglect. Several periods of Protestant Christian revival nurtured a proliferation of new religious movements in the United States.
In the latter half of the 19th century these included what came to be known as the metaphysical family: groups such as Christian Science, Divine Science, the Unity School of Christianity and the United Church of Religious Science. From the 1890s the liberal section of the movement became known as New Thought, in part to distinguish it from the more authoritarian Christian Science; the term metaphysical referred to the movement's philosophical idealism, a belief in the primacy of the mental world. Adherents believed that material phenomena were the result of mental states, a view expressed as "life is consciousness" and "God is mind." The supreme cause was referred to as Divine Mind, God, Life, Principle or Father–Mother, reflecting elements of Plato, Berkeley, Hegel and transcendentalism. The metaphysical groups became known as the mind-cure movement because of their strong focus on healing. Medical practice was in its infancy, patients fared better without it; this provided fertile soil for the mind-cure groups, who argued that sickness was an absence of "right thinking" or failure to connect to Divine Mind.
The movement traced its roots in the United States to Phineas Parkhurst Quimby, a New England clockmaker turned mental healer, whose motto was "the truth is the cure." Mary Baker Eddy had been a patient of his, leading to debate about how much of Christian Science was based on his ideas. New Thought and Christian Science differed in that Eddy saw her views as a unique and final revelation. Eddy's idea of malicious animal magnetism marked another distinction, introducing an element of fear, absent from the New Thought literature. Most she dismissed the material world as an illusion, rather than as subordinate to Mind, leading her to reject the use of medicine, or materia medica, making Christian Science the most controversial of the metaphysical groups. Reality for Eddy was purely spiritual. Christian Science leaders place their religion within mainstream Christian teaching, according to J. Gordon Melton, reject any identification with the New Thought movement. Eddy was influenced by her Congregationalist upbringing.
According to the church's tenets, adherents accept "the inspired Word of the Bible as sufficient guide to eternal Life... acknowledge and adore one supreme and infinite God... acknowledge His Son, one Christ. When founding the Church of Christ, Scientist, in April 1879, Eddy wrote that she wanted to "reinstate primitive Christianity and its lost element of healing", she suggested that Christian Science was a kind of second coming and that Science and Health was an inspired text. In 1895, in the Manual of the Mother Church, she ordained the Bible and Science and Health as "Pastor over the Mother Church". Christian Science theology differs in several respects from that of traditional Christianity. Eddy's Science and Health reinterprets key Christian concepts, including the Trinity, divinity of Jesus and resurrection. At the core of Eddy's theology is the view that the spiritual world is the only reality and is good, that the material world, with its evil and death, is an illusion. Eddy saw humanity as an "idea of Mind", "perfect, eternal and reflects the divine", according to Bryan Wilson.
Black salve known by the brand name Cansema, is a dangerous and controversial alternative cancer treatment. The product is classified as an escharotic—a topical paste which burns and destroys skin tissue and leaves behind a thick, black scar called an eschar. Escharotics were used to treat skin lesions in the early 1900s, but have since been replaced by safer and more effective treatments. Escharotics, such as black salves, are advertised by some alternative medicine marketers as treatments for skin cancer with unsubstantiated testimonials and unproven claims of effectiveness; the U. S. Food and Drug Administration has listed Cansema as a "fake cancer cure" and warns consumers to avoid it. Cancer salves were first documented as a form of quackery in a 1955 Time article: "A 37-year-old housewife had a skin condition that proved not to be a cancer. Convinced that it was, she had gone to a backwoods healer. Soon a quarter-sized hole disfigured her nose, opened up the nasal cavity. Duke's plastic surgeons had to build her a new nose."
Although more recent reports document that some alternative medicine practitioners use the internet to market escharotics as purported "cures" for skin cancer, they are not recommended as treatments for skin lesions or skin cancer by medical authorities. The effectiveness of escharotics is unproven, while safer and more effective conventional treatments exist for skin cancers, such as: cryotherapy. Escharotics can cause serious damage to normal skin, their manufacture is unregulated, so the strength and purity of marketed products are unknown and unverified. Numerous reports in the medical literature describe serious consequences of using escharotics in place of standard treatments for skin cancer, ranging from disfigurement to preventable cancer recurrences; the website Quackwatch posted a warning against the use of escharotics in 2008, with a collection of sourced documents compiling issues of patient injury from their use. A more recent study revealed that many individuals who have used black salve were unaware of its potential dangers.
In a 2016 news release titled "Beware of black salve," the American Academy of Dermatology urged patients to consult a dermatologist before using home remedies for skin cancers. Furthermore, individuals increase their risk of further complications or death if they choose to delay conventional medical treatment to attempt treatment with black salve. In 2017, a patient with breast cancer posted photos and updates to a black salve research group as she progressed through her black salve applications. Despite her worsening condition, she believed that the black salve was going to cure her cancer. “And please no comments to see a doctor. I’ve been there; this is my path and I trust in it and my God, healing me”, she wrote. She sought conventional treatment, but died of a prolonged infection some months later, it was reported in 2018. In a similar black salve discussion group, people described the use of black salve on their cats and horses. Over the course of eight months, one member posted photos of the black salve's ongoing effects on her dog's nasal cancer, whilst another documented and questioned its use on her horse.
In 2018 in Australia black salve has been linked to the death of Helen Lawson who decided to use "natural remedies" under the direction of Dennis Wayne Jensen. Jensen advocated covering Lawson's abdomen in black salve claiming it would draw out the ovarian cancer, leaving Lawson with a mass of wounds on her abdomen: “You have never seen anything like what happened to Helen, it is so confronting,” she said. “Literally above her pubic bone, all across her abdomen up to her rib cage, she was raw, mutilated bubbling flesh.”Belinda said that within a few weeks of Helen applying the black salve the wound was so large that surgeons could not have operated if they had wanted to. Lawson died in April 2018. Subsequently, Jensen was issued an interim prohibition order, by the Health Complaints Commissioner, forbidding practicing any health services whilst the death of Lawson is being investigated; this was pursuant to section 90 of the Health Complaints Act 2016 Common ingredients of black salves include zinc chloride and bloodroot, a plant used in herbal medicine.
The extract of bloodroot is called sanguinarine, a quaternary alkaloid which attacks and destroys living tissue and is classified as an escharotic. Other formulations include the four ingredients: Red Clover, Sheep Sorrel, Blood Root, crushed into a paste using mortar and pestle; this is applied sparingly to the affected area, kept covered for 2-3 days. The Therapeutic Goods Administration of Australia is advising consumers against purchasing or using black salve, red salve or cansema products; the TGA has found the Australian Vaccination-Skeptics Network in breach of advertising regulations, in a separate finding the AVN's former president Meryl Dorey together with Leon Pittard of Fair Dinkum Radio were found to be in breach. Cansema is listed by the U. S. Food and Drug Administration as one of 187 fake cancer cures. Cansema continues to be marketed by numerous individuals, as evidenced by recent FDA Warning Letters; the FDA has taken enforcement action against illegal marketing of Cansema as a cancer cure, as in the 2004 arrest and conviction of Greg Caton.
The FDA has taken an active role in the banning of these chemicals for