Botanical Name: Euphorbia peplus. Radium weed…also known as petty spurge, milkweed or cancer weed. This annual garden weed is common throughout Australia. It has branched stems and alternate oval leaves. The small, yellow flowers are inconspicuous and grow out the middle of the leaves.
When I was taking a Herbal Medicine class twenty years ago I was introduced to Radium Weed. One of the other students had a wart and our teacher demonstrated the technique of harvesting and treating the wart with Radium Weed. By the end of the 9-week course, the wart had festered, scabbed and was completely gone. I learned that, if used appropriately and carefully, Radium Weed could be an extremely useful treatment.
It has long been used successfully as a traditional remedy for common skin lesions…one that has been passed down through generations. Radium Weed has been used for the treatment of warts, corns and skin cancers. The milky sap can be applied to warts and sunspots for 2-4 days. Just a drop of the sap (no more) is all that is needed on the area to be treated. The site will fester and be quite unsightly, followed by a scab, then fresh pink skin. Fresh aloe gel can be applied to aid healing.
Milkweed produces a milky sap which contains chemicals that can control cell growth and death (apoptosis). The active ingredient in the sap is a diterpene ester called ingenol mebutate. The sap extract works by activating an enzyme called protein kinase C which triggers controlled cell suicide. A recent study has shown that this herb has treatment potential for non-melanoma skin cancer. Early results are favourable with basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. An Australian company called Peplin Biotech is conducting research and developing a gel from the sap of Euphorbia peplus as a simple topical treatment for certain skin cancers, such as basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas. According to Peplin Biotech, the sap penetrates the skin and destroys the malignant tissue.
Radium weed is one of the most promising and so far successful home remedy treatments for skin cancer. Treatment is a drop of sap from the plant directly on skin cancers. For the best and safest results, it is advisable to obtain the seeds from an experienced organic gardener or a plant nursery and grow your own plants. Wild harvesting can be very dangerous, even if it only from the next door neighbour’s garden.
Radium Weed has a serious side.
Care must be used not to allow the sap onto unaffected skin or anywhere near the eyes. THIS IS IMPORTANT. The eye can be affected more seriously by inflammation because it is easily scarred and cause loss and clarity of vision. It is toxic if ingested and will cause blistering wherever it is applied.
Self Treatment Advice
There are a few points that need to be applied when using the raw sap.
1. When plucking the stems to extract sap, choose the small stems first.
2. Wear gloves and do not allow the sap to get onto your fingers or on the lips or eyes.
3. Apply the sap only to the most prominent and specific tissue only.
- Do not over treat. Once or twice per day is more than enough.
Last, but not least, seeing a doctor or alternative healthcare specialist before self-treating is always recommended.