A letter from Robert Stone tells about the possible benefits of using a cactus to treat skin cancer. Robert's interest in this cactus was aroused by an article in the Cactus and Succulent Society Journal of 1974, which is also quoted. The Editor asks that the reader be cautious in the interpretation of this information. A folk remedy should never be substituted for modern medical expertise, especially in this case where surgery does provide a real cure. If you wish to experiment, do so with the advice and guidance of a dermatologist.
Letter from Robert Stone
In the October issue there was an article on skin cancer. I have enclosed a photostat from the Cactus and Succulent Society Journal of 1974 concerning the use of a cactus, Stenocereus marginatus, to treat skin cancer. I have told several people about this article, and I know two who have tried it with success. At the present time, I have a small growth on my right forearm that looks suspicious. I intend to get a diagnosis from a dermatologist, then treat it as described in the article, to see for myself if it works.
If anyone is interested in trying it, I will be happy to send a plant or two for their use. As it happens so frequently in the plant world, someone took it upon himself to rename the plant, so it is now known as Marginatocereus marginatus.
I hope this will prove of interest to those who are involved with treating this serious problem.
A good way to get a persistent health insurance salesman to go away is to inform him that you are subject to skin cancers. For many years, I have been a dermatologist's bank account and a pest to health insurance companies.
In fact, before leaving for Mexico last May I checked, in some consternation, with my dermatologist because a skin cancer, that he had treated five times in the past five years was acting up again. Was it safe to absent myself for three weeks from the inscrutable wisdom found only in our advanced technology? The doctor gave me, as it were, three week's parole, on condition that I report in as soon as I got home - for another gouging treatment "burning the hell out of it" as an expert put it.
In Guadalajara I chanced upon a scrap of information, familiar I have since discovered, to many Indians, not only of Mexico but of Peru: that certain cacti are good for skin cancers. In particular - in Mexico - the organpipe cactus Stenocereus marginatus. Having nothing to lose, I gambled five pesos on a kilogram of organpipe cactus at Libertad market, placed a slice of the meat of it upon the five-times-treated recurring skin cancer, and stuck it there with adhesive tape. It should stay there at least a week, my authority said.
After five days of flesh-to-flesh contact, the 'recurrence' had disappeared. And it has stayed smooth, just as if I had had the 'treatment' plus the two weeks elapsing while the painful wound healed. The 'cure' - how permanent it is, of course, impossible to say yet - is so spectacular, that had I known about it thirty years ago, I probably would never have been seen in any dermatologist's waiting room.
I have tried it since on another skin disturbance which has all the weary, familiar symptoms of becoming another skin cancer, with equally spectacular results. Could it be that our most impressive and highly educated dermatologists are making a lot of money from the ignorance and superstition of us, who tend to look down our noses at the lore of the primitive campesino? We will find out, in time.
DATE: March 1989
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