Thursday, August 7, 2008


To Dye or Not To Die

During the Reformation the clergy decided that only black was the appropriate color for garb used the spiritually minded. There was small problem. There was no source for a fast (non bleeding) black dye. Pigment colors were all that was available at that time and they washed out quickly, leaving a dirty brown cloth. But in Latin America something was taking place to change all that. It was discovered that from a small tree called Logwood, found in Belize, a black dye could be extracted. It was extremely difficult to harvest and transport the bark used in the process. But the demand was great and to get the tree bark to England required the ingenuity of clever pirates, cutthroats, and prostitutes. But eventually the clergy were able to parade their piety in somber black, unaware of the cost in human toil.

The full story is well told in the book, COLOR, by Victoria Finlay, a book on my list of the ten most interesting books I have ever read. She travelled the world in search of primary sources of almost every color used by artists. Her encounters were something akin to Indiana Jones adventure episodes.

Fast forward to the twentieth century to a laboratory in Texas where a doctor is staining a cancer slide. The stain he used was a dye made from the same Logwood tree and labeled hematoxylon. Under the microscope something caught his attention; the Logwood dye was killing live cancer cells. A light went on and he began experimenting by putting the dye in a solvent called DMSO (Dimethyl Sulfoxide) . This solvent has the property of quickly penetrating the skin and even the blood brain barrier. He injected this mixture into his cancer patients. Tumors, including brain tumors disappeared. This remedy has great possibilities and deserves more attention by medical researchers.

The dye, used for dyeing cloth and other art work, can be obtained on the internet for under $10. The DMSO can be purchased in many health food stores for about the same price. It is used by veterinarians to alleviate pain in animals when applied topically. Human use of this miraculous substance is the story told in the book, DMSO, Nature’s Healer by Dr. Morton Walker. In my opinion DMSO should be in every medicine cabinet. DMSO has been used for over 100 years in the United States. It is a natural substance derived from wood pulp and is harmless when used with the proper precautions. Almost every major disease has found beneficial treatment with the proper use of DMSO.

(Excerpted from a book in progress, THE HEALING ARTS, by Warner Sizemore)

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