Friday, March 23, 2012


An herbal paste used for removing raised skin lesions is traditionally referred to as a black salve. There are many variations of such lesion eroding (escharotic) pastes but they most always contain bloodroot.

Bloodroot in early spring
Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) buds out of the leaf litter of eastern U.S. forests in early spring. The puzzle-piece shaped leaf unfolds along with the bright white flower to soak up the sun before the emergence of the hardwood canopy. Below each leaf is a red tuber prized for it's escharotic, expectorant, and, once upon a time, erotic effects, the latter as a body paint.

Mayapple in mid-spring
Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum) is another escharotic  for removing warts. Dig the root when it leafs out in mid-spring but be sure to wear gloves because it contains podophyllin, a resin that is why it works but is also severely irritating to normal skin. 

Replant the top

HERBALIST'S NOTE: 1) Help to sustain bloodroot by only digging a few of this declining plant from a large patch and by replanting a growth node from each root taken.


fresh bloodroot - 2-3 roots (substitute or add mayapple root)
fresh violets (Viola odorata) - 5 (optional)
olive oil - 1/4 teaspoon (substitute vitamin E oil)
chapparal essential oil (Larrea tridentata) - 2-3 drops (optional)
mortar and pestle
guaze bandages

Bloodroot paste
1) Dig bloodroot and clean off dirt with a vegetable scrubber and cold water;
2) Coursely chop the roots and place in a small mortar. Alternatively, use double the amount of dried bloodroots;
3) Add olive oil and optional violets or chaparral oil and mash into a paste with the pestle;

 4) Dip the skin lesion into this paste or spoon enough on to lightly cover it. Refrigerate the remaining paste;
5) Cover the lesion with sterile gauze or a bandaid;
6) Reapply black salve twice a day for 1-2 weeks until skin lesion is removed.

DOCTOR'S NOTE: Raised skin lesions with irregular borders, rapid growth, dark coloration, or bleeding should be biopsied to check for melanoma, a rapidly spreading form of skin cancer.

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