Radium Weed to Treat Skin Cancer

radium weed plant in the garden

Radium weed is a common weed that can easily be used to treat basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas.

We often have groups come for morning tea and a tour around the herb garden. I enjoy walking around our herb garden and sharing information about the herbs that we grow.

I particularly like showing people the weedy herbs that help themselves to the prime positions in the garden, begging to be noticed, so they can be used as they were meant to be.

I am amazed at the uses of the many medicinal weeds that grow abundantly in our gardens. Radium weed is one of these, an annual weed common throughout Australia; it was introduced from Europe in the 1800’s.

Historically, it has been used to treat warts, corns and skin cancers.

radium weed plant

What Is Radium Weed?

Radium weed Euphorbia peplus, is also known as petty spurge, milkweed and cancer weed. It has branched stems with alternate, oval leaves, the yellow-green flowers are inconspicuous, and the stem, when broken, produces a milky corrosive sap. The sap is the useful part of this plant, being used to burn off sunspots.

Science Research

An Australian company called Peplin Biotech Pty Ltd  started research research in the late 1990's and developed 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. Research identified ingenol mebutate which induced necrotic cell death in cancer cells. 

An elderly gentleman who was partaking in the trials came to our nursery in search of radium weed. When the trials were finished he asked one of the doctors how he could continue the treatment which was having a positive effect on the skin cancers on his head, the doctor replied, ‘use the weed’.

 Peplin Biotech Pty Ltd later merged with Leo Pharma and continued to develop a product now known as Picato this was approved by the TGA in 2013.  Picato is available by prescription.

How To Use Radium Weed Plant

radium weed sap

 You can use radium weed straight from the garden. When you break the stem it exudes a milky sap. This sap can be applied to sunspots for 2-4 days, depending on the reaction. If the area starts to bleed discontinue. You do not need much of the sap, just a drop on the area to be treated. The site will fester and become inflamed, followed by a scab, then fresh pink skin. Aloe gel can be applied to aid healing once the scab has come away.

Be careful when using radium weed Avoid contact with the eyes and internal membranes. The sap is corrosive and will burn sensitive soft tissue.

CAUTION: Please get your skin cancers checked by a doctor to determine the type you have before proceeding with this treatment.

Growing Radium Weed

radium weed plant

Euphorbia peplus self-seeds readily throughout the garden, it will grow in poor soils and difficult positions, but grows better in a well-watered position in the sun to semi-sun. It grows much more abundantly throughout the cooler months of the year here in South East Queensland and in the warmer parts of Australia. In cooler southern states, it will grow through summer.

Know Your Weeds

Another useful herb chickweed grows profusely at the same time that radium weed grows. Chickweed is a nutritious and soothing herb that can be eaten as well as applied to sore, dry, itching skin to bring relief. If you pick radium weed Euphorbia peplus accidently along with the chickweed, thinking it is all chickweed you could be adding a corrosive substance to your cream/oil/meal instead of the soothing chickweed you thought you picked.

Be sure you know what you are picking when it comes to using weeds from your garden!

All information provided on this website is for informational purposes only.
Please seek professional advice before commencing any treatment.