Bloodroot and Skin Cancer (Warning: Some Graphic Links)

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Bloodroot and Skin Cancer (Warning: Some Graphic Links)

Post by rogerwimmer » Mon Oct 04, 2010 3:42 pm

Doc: My dad went to a dermatologist and she said he probably has a basal cell carcinoma on his back. She wanted to do a biopsy to make an accurate diagnosis, but my dad refused and left her office. About a week ago, my dad met someone who said he could get rid of the cancer by using Bloodroot. I have done a little checking around the Internet and it doesn't look like something my dad should try. I know your wife is a dermatologist, so I thought I would write to you to get a second opinion from her...if possible. - Phil

Phil: Before I get to your question, I want to include a few comments:

1. I'm sure you noticed immediately that I edited your one-page question to just one paragraph. I don't think the other explanatory information is necessary for me to answer your question. In addition, I know there is no way for any reader to identify your dad, but I don't think he would want the information you included to be made public. I hope you agree with my decision.

2. I don't need to ask my wife this because we have talked about it before and I know her opinion. However, I want to add that I'm not a medical doctor and you should not interpret anything I say as a medical opinion.

3. When I started this column in January 2000, I said I would try to answer questions about anything. While I have answered thousands of questions about a variety of topics, this is the first time I'm going to post a question and answer about Bloodroot, a plant native to eastern North America.

4. A person who doesn't know anything about the Bloodroot plant might wonder why I included, "Warning: Graphic" in the title of this question. It's a plant...what could be so graphic? Well, that's actually correct, and there is nothing "graphic" about the Bloodroot plant itself. In fact, it's a neat looking plant that looks a lot like a daisy.

The "graphic" part becomes relevant because some people believe that a paste made from the Bloodroot plant has the ability to cure cancer and a variety of other physical maladies. The problem is that the result of the application of Bloodroot paste (also referred to as "black paste" because that's the color of it) to human flesh is always the same—the paste causes a very disgusting mutilation of skin tissue. The photos of the tissue mutilation are graphic and some of the links I have included have some very disgusting photos. If you can't handle tissue mutilation photos, then don't click on the links below that warn of graphic photos.

OK, with that pleasant introduction, let's go to your question . . .

From my introductory comments, I think you already know the answer to your question about your dad's interest in using Bloodroot. But I'd like to first comment on your dad's refusal to have the dermatologist perform a biopsy on the problem area.

Your dad's dermatologist wanted to do a biopsy so she could be absolutely sure what was on his skin. There are about 30,000 unique human skin problems. That is not an exaggeration. That's how many things can affect our skin. Gag me with a beaker. While dermatologists usually have a good idea of what a specific skin problem is, they will always perform a biopsy so the skin tissue can be analyzed under a microscope to get an exact diagnosis. Your dad should not have refused the dermatologist's recommendation for a biopsy. Smack him for that.

Instead of me reinventing the information wheel, I'm going to provide a few links for you. This information should be enough to convince your dad (or anyone else reading this) not to try Bloodroot on his basal cell carcinoma or any other skin condition. Repeat: ANY skin condition.

First, read this about the Bloodroot plant.

Now read this article by Dr. Stephen Barrett, who writes a column called Quackwatch. Graphic photos included in this article.

Here is another article about the dangers of using Bloodroot (no photos included).

Here is the column by the genius who promoted the use of Bloodroot for skin cancer and other problems. However, he has changed his approach. Look at the last line of his homepage (no photos included).

If you want additional information about this topic, click here.

If your dad wants further visual evidence of the damage that Bloodroot paste can cause, have him look at some of the photos in this search (Warning: Some photos are very graphic.)

Finally, the use of Bloodroot paste to cure anything is an unfortunate and dangerous legend/myth. I don't know of any legitimate medical doctor (a person with an M.D. degree, not any of the other pseudo doctors, such as a "Naturopathic Doctor") who would use Bloodroot paste on a patient. Tell your dad not to do it.


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Roger Wimmer is owner of Wimmer Research and senior author of Mass Media Research: An Introduction, 10th Edition.

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