Are Ichthammol medicinal properties woo or scientific ?

So my 9 year old had a boil and we had been putting ichthammol ointment on it for it to heal faster. We took the kid to the family doctor, who is fairly young and he said he had never heard about ichthammol!!

Most major pharmacies : Walgreens, CVS, Walmart don’t carry Ichthammol either. We got it from a compounding pharmacy.

So, are there any scientific studies (published in peer reviewed journals) negating or affirming the effectiveness of Ichthammol?

Wki on Ammonium bituminosulfonate.

That stuff is nasty. Get the child on antibiotics, a boil is an infection.

OTOH, Doctor, antibiotic overprescription is a thing. A bad thing. I suspect a systemic (oral) antibiotic for a localized skin infection (which is probably already on the mend) qualifies.

How is that stuff (in the link) both pharmaceutical grade and homeopathic?

By starting with pharmaceutical grade Ammonium bituminosulfonate, then diluting the crap(and distinct smell) out of it.

Does this ointment have a strong odor?

In the link, it’s specified as 20%.

It also says that it is homeopathetic-that’s why I’m asking the OP what it smells like.

Which by definition means it’s not really homeopathic (I suspect that word was added to convince buyers of the product’s alleged superiority).

Not being homeopathic is of course a good thing, assuming a drug or supplement works to begin with. This stuff (derived from shale oil) is an old-time treatment for various inflammatory and infectious skin disorders, with good results described for things like external ear infections (according to PubMed, which lists a number of studies, few of which are recent). i see that it was commonly combined with glycerol (considered a drying agent), so there was antibacterial actiivity along with the drying effect to aid in healing.

There are numerous online mentions of it being referred to as/confused with black salve, which I’m familiar with as a nasty, corrosive substance derived from bloodroot, used in a dangerous fashion on skin tumors. Anything labeled as black salve or as containing bloodroot should be avoided like the plague.

I’d also avoid anything with “homeopathic” on the label.

Back in the 1970s-80s, my family had a tube of what I believe was ichthammol in the medicine cabinet. Black drawing salve, right? We’d put it on minor splinters sometimes. We’d also use it if a teeny-tiny piece of glass got stuck in our feet.

I also remember putting it on bruises, for some reason – maybe just us kids being dumb kids. I don’t remember putting it on rashes or minor cuts or anything like that, which is what the Wikpedia article suggests as ichthammol’s main use.

Ichthammol does not have an entry on Quackwatch.

That said, boils heal on their own in as little as a week. They can take longer, but in a child, they’d probably tend to the shorter end, and heal between one and two weeks. If the salve makes it heal in less than a week, then it probably did some good, but if it still took more than 7 days, I’d say it probably just healed on its own.

Now, if it hurts, and the salve gives relief, I’m not going to argue against using it, even if petroleum jelly would work as well. It’s your kid.

Out of curiosity, what was the doctor’s advice?

You do not use antibiotics for a boil unless the infection gets out of hand.
Over using antibiotics is bad, very bad.

Nothing wrong with black drawing salve, may smell a bit.
It’s no miracle drug, but it works well when used for the right things.
Dont over use it though, it is not a healing salve, once infection is cleared up stop applying it, you can switch to something else to promoted healing with less scaring

Ichthammol is or was also labeled as black salve, black drawing salve etc.

Easily bought at most farm supply places

This thread reminds me that something that must have been this that was used in my childhood. Black cream, in a tube, smelled like kerosene or something similar. Haven’t thought of the stuff in probably 30 years, but I bet it is the same stuff. (We also used to use something called Sofasco/red oil that also seems to be pretty obscure now.)

More likely, so they could avoid all that pesky FDA regulation. Back in the day, there was an influential senator with a lot of stock in a homeopathy company, with the result that homeopathic remedies aren’t required to go through any testing.

Orrin Hatch. Not just him, his son and several other family members. Not just homeopathy but supplements in general.

The homeopathic drug exemption long predates Orrin Hatch. Hatch was heavily responsible for the 1990s legislation (DSHEA) which allows marketers of “dietary supplements” in general to make unsupported claims and avoid having to prove that their nostrums work.

Here’s why it’s best to avoid anything labeled “black salve” (warning, graphic). Something sold as “black salve” and explicitly labeled as containing ichthammol might be safe, but if it has bloodroot in it (and not all supplement dealers accurately describe their products’ contents, if they know what’s in there), look out.

I had some sort of skin disorder in the past where there was a small ulcer or the like. The dermatologist tried treatment with ichthammol a couple times to try to let the wound heal itself before giving up and performing a quick surgery to fix whatever the exact cause was. The only real downside was that it hurt badly for a couple days and only temporarily solved the problem.

Ever since the American Pediatric Assn started insisting on warnings on cold medicine that they should under no circumstances be given to children under six, except as directed by a doctor, homeopathy has had a ready-made market. They’ve started printing the word “homeopathic” a little smaller on their children’s cough and cold remedies, and printing “SAFE FOR CHILDREN SIX AND UNDER” really big (no shit-- it’s water, a little food coloring, and sugar, or sometimes corn syrup, to thicken it). It’s safe for anyone but brittle diabetics and people allergic to the coloring. We get parents bringing this into the school for their kids all the time, and since I know they go to the doctor for regular check-ups, things more serious than a cold, vaccinate them &c, I can only assume that the "children under six and not the homeopathy that catches their eye.