Sure.  Why not?

We know that many of our time-honored medications are derived from plants.   If there is a plant in Australia that has been used for years to get rid of cancerous skin lesions, it really should be looked  into.   After all, “Australia has one of the highest incidences of skin cancer in the world, at nearly four times the rates in Canada, the US and the UK.”  They might be onto something.

Ten years ago I had a basal cell carcinoma removed from my forehead.  The very fact that I am fair, blue-eyed, have freckles and burn easily makes me prone to actinic keratoses, skin changes thought to often lead to skin cancer.  My daughter has the same predisposition though she hasn’t had 88 years like I’ve had to develop much of anything in the way of skin lesions.    Nevertheless, she likes to be on the cutting edge of nutritional and medical findings and has taken an interest in petty spurge (Euphorbia peplus) and its potential for dissolving skin cancers.

Needless to say, dermatologists are also interested.

Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer

There were several interesting posters from Australia presented at the meeting that detailed a new topical medication: PEP005. This topical medicine is derived from the sap of the petty spurge (Euphorbia peplus). While not detailed in the poster, it was known to me that the milky sap of this plant was used in England during the 17th through 19th centuries as a treatment for warts.[8] The Australian researchers used this particular isolate to treat superficial basal cell skin cancer (sBCC) and actinic keratosis (AK), using daily dosing for 2 days, with approximate 70% and 80% clearance rates, respectively.[9,10] Adverse effects (eg, erythema, dryness, flaking, scabbing, crusting) were low, and no systemic absorption was detected. Based on these preliminary data, the investigators stated that additional testing is indicated, which may eventually add to the growing armamentarium of topical agents for sBCC and AK.

Pharmaceutical companies are conducting clinical trials:


Peplin is a development stage specialty pharmaceutical company focused on advancing and commercialising innovative medical dermatology products. Peplin is currently developing ingenol mebutate, or PEP005, which is a novel compound derived from the sap of Euphorbia peplus, or E. peplus, a rapidly growing, readily available plant commonly referred to as petty spurge or radium weed. E. peplus has a long history of traditional use for a variety of conditions, including the topical self-treatment of various skin disorders, including skin cancer and pre-cancerous skin lesions. Peplin’s lead product candidate is a patient-applied topical gel containing ingenol mebutate, a compound the use of which Peplin has patented for the treatment of actinic (solar) keratosis, or AK. This product candidate referred to as PEP005 (ingenol mebutate) Gel is currently in Phase 3 clinical trials, having just completed their first Phase 3, known as REGION-Ia.

Roaming the internet, I found some before and after photos of one person’s experiments with using the milky sap of petty spurge.

Doesn’t all this just beg for further investigation?  My daughter, Terry, was intrigued and she had already ordered and planted petty spurge seeds by the time she first told me about the wonders of Euphorbia Peplus.  In just a few weeks she had full-grown plants – the mature plant is only about 8 to 10 inches tall, probably why it is called “petty.”  And, sure enough, if you remove a leaf the raw surface will ooze a white milky droplet.

We tried it on various body bumps that we knew were not malignant.  On arms or legs the spot would redden a little, sting a bit or itch, and crust over.  On the face it was much more biologically active, with widespread reddening and some swelling which probably explains why clinical trials (as far as I can tell) have so far not included the face.

The time came when I noted a lesion on my right cheek which seemed to have no intention of healing.  It was quite small, no bigger than a grain of rice, and I asked Terry to put a drop of spurge sap on it.  That was on Monday, September 13.  Here is what happened:

9/13:  Slight redness, started to sting in the middle of the night.

9/14:  Swelling and redness of entire right cheek.

9/15:  Lesion started to ooze, applied bandaid.

9/16:  Crater in the center of the area about the width of a pencil eraser.

9/17:  Settling down.

9/18:  Starting to itch.

9/19:  Scab on surface, washed.

9/20: Scab starts to flake around the edges, no more bandaid.

9/21:  Scab diminishing to diameter of pencil eraser.

9/22:  Scab off, surface smooth.

It is now September 25.  It seems to be gone.