The People's Perspective on Medicine

Unusual Approaches to Fighting Warts

Warts are, in many ways, a medical mystery. Scientists know that they are caused by viruses, and the viruses responsible have even been identified and catalogued. Doctors have many therapies for warts, but it can be hard to predict if a treatment will work. Sometimes peculiar therapies are successful against warts.

Perhaps that is why there are so many different home remedies for fighting warts.

We recently heard this story about using banana peels to fight warts from a reader:

“I had a large mosaic wart on my face, along with several other clusters growing nearby. They were very unsightly and quite embarrassing, especially since they were on my face. I tried almost every treatment available (salicylic acid plasters and a range of topical creams) in addition to my dermatologist freezing them. Nothing worked. In fact, aside from the burning pain I experienced using these treatments, they had no effect on the warts, which continued to grow and look even more unsightly. It was a nightmare.

“Finally I tried the banana peel method. I used an adhesive bandage to tape a small piece of banana peel over each wart every night at bedtime. The inside of the peel faced the wart and I removed the peels in the morning. The warts started to dry up immediately and eventually they got smaller. Within three weeks all of them were gone; my face is now completely clear.

“I know it sounds crazy but it works. I highly recommend this method for stubborn warts.”

Many other readers report that they have had success with the banana-peel method of treating warts, although there are no double-blind studies. Another popular approach has been tested in clinical trials–and it has come up wanting (Annals of Pharmacotherapy, July, 2007).

Maybe that’s not surprising, considering that the compound in question is a heartburn medicine called cimetidine (Tagamet). What could heartburn have to do with skin growths?

For years, dermatologists have tested cimetidine for treating warts, but they have concluded that there’s no strong evidence to support its use (Journal of Dermatological Treatment, online Nov. 6, 2010).

Nonetheless, many readers report surprising success using Tagamet to combat their warts:

“My 10-year-old daughter had a severe case of raised warts on both of her feet. It started with a single wart between her big toe and second toe. After a few months, the virus spread across three of her toes, Eventually the count reached over 20 warts in all on her right foot and about 8 or 9 on her left.

“Her pediatrician prescribed Tagamet at double the normal dosage. I was concerned, but he gave me the impression that it would be safe for a short period of time. He said the Tagamet would boost her immune system and allow her to fight off the virus. Two weeks later, the warts were completely gone. There were no scars, no dimples, nothing but 10 beautiful wart-free toes. I was amazed.”

We are always intrigued by the unusual approaches that people use to eliminate warts. They include duct tape, vinegar, lemon juice, turmeric root, tea tree oil, nail polish or instant glue. You can learn more about wart treatments and other home remedies for common ailments at www.peoplespharmacy.com or in our book, The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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I have multiple warts on my hand. I have tried getting rid of them by freezing them twice at the local doctors office. I have also tried many methods like duct tape and over the counter ointments bu none of it has worked effectively. Could banana peels help my case?

Thank you for this reminder. I see my dermatologist in a month and I will definitely show him my (wart?) Could it really be squamous cell these last 2 years?

Many, many years ago (my son was about 14, he’s now 34!) he had multiple warts on his hands. the dermotologist tried many things. He finally read about this “experimental” treatment and used it. It was Tagamet in VERY high doses.
It worked. After everything else failed for many years, this worked. Only problem, my son now has severe stomach problems at only age 34. he has needed surgery several times. Wondering if this high dose of medication at such a young age caused or attributed to this.

I hear comments about taking Tagamet to get rid of warts. Is this drug prescribed by a DR.? or you can find at he drugstore? and how many milligrams?

I thought I had a wart on my forearm and treated it as such but my friend said it looked like a cancer. I went to the dermatologist and he said it was a squamous cell, and that KIDS mostly get warts and people my age (in my 60s) get squamous cells. It sure LOOKED like a wart!

I am 70 yrs old, had a wart at the end of my eyebrow. I used the banana peel method, it took several months but I have been wart free for about a year.

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