Under My Skin

Fake medical news: The black salve and the black arts


Jake clearly needed a biopsy.

When I suggested that we find out what that new growth on his cheek was, he responded with fear. “Do you really need to test it?” he asked. Then he proposed an alternative.

“I had another spot last year,” he said. “This European doctor I saw in somebody’s home put a special black salve on it, and it went away.”

“Who was this doctor?” I asked.

“At the time, I was a raw vegan,” he said. “One of our group members gave me the doctor’s name. He has a big reputation in Europe. He treated people locally in people’s living rooms.”

“Do you recall his name?” I asked him.

Jake didn’t. But I did.

Three years ago, a frightened, middle-aged woman named Josie came to see me with ugly scarring all over her face.


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