- The Washington Times - Monday, August 29, 2005

ROCHELLE, Ga. (AP) — Curtis Brown carries business cards with old pictures of his tumors, including an egg-sized growth on his neck. He says they were each shed after the application of a flesh-eating paste containing the medicinal herb bloodroot.

“I cured myself of cancer,” the cards read.

Georgia’s medical board and the Food and Drug Administration don’t share Mr. Brown’s enthusiasm for the paste.

The state board has accused its maker, Dan Raber, a pastor-turned-healer, of practicing medicine without a license. FDA agents recently raided Mr. Raber’s business, and a doctor could lose her medical license for purportedly knowing Mr. Raber was giving people the paste — not approved for the treatment of cancer — and not reporting him.

Mr. Raber’s paste is described by the medical board as “a caustic, tissue-destroying substance that eats away human skin and flesh.” On his Web site, Mr. Raber displays graphic before-and-after photos of those who have used the paste, including women with scabs on their breasts and men with scarred faces.

While the state board has leveled serious charges against Mr. Raber, he has not been charged with a crime. Prosecutors are studying the case.

Mr. Raber has never responded publicly to the board’s accusations. In an interview with the Associated Press, his son, Kelly, defended his father and his products.

“The herb does not kill healthy tissue,” Kelly Raber said, smearing some of the paste on his nose. “Instead, it performs a process known as apoptosis that allows the [cancer] cells to self-destruct.”

He said his father’s paste is being singled out because it’s an old remedy that can’t be patented, and therefore, wouldn’t generate large profits for the medical establishment or giant pharmaceutical companies.

Dan Raber was named in a state complaint filed against Dr. Lois March, an ear, nose and throat specialist who risks losing her medical license for purportedly providing pain medication to 12 patients who had received Mr. Raber’s bloodroot treatments. The board said seven of the patients had breast cancer and that the doctor knew or should have known that Mr. Raber’s use of bloodroot “mutilated their breasts and caused excruciating pain.”

Dr. March has denied any wrongdoing.

During a 2003 crackdown on alternative-medicine merchants who made false claims on the Internet, the FDA shut down a Louisiana company that sold a bloodroot paste and its owner was sent to prison. An Indianapolis woman who said she used products from that company and Mr. Raber’s in 2001 contends in a lawsuit that her nose was eaten away, forcing her to have seven reconstructive surgeries.

A settlement was reached in the suit against the company.

Mark Blumenthal, executive director of the American Botanical Council, said bloodroot has been used for years by nontraditional healers to treat skin cancers, but he acknowledged “the efficacy has been unproven from a scientific point of view.”

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