Going herbal with snake bite's treatment

In one of my recent post about a 6-year-old son of my next-door neighbour that got bitten by a snake, I talked about some local remedies that were applied to the wound, how I was not totally convinced by these remedies, and how we ended up taking the boy to a hospital where we had to spend a considerable time journeying around the town looking for polyvalent snake antivenom.

Thank goodness that the boy is currently fast recuperating and might soon resume schooling in a matter of days. Since the incident, I have been thinking deeply about how people in rural areas deal with a venomous snake bites. I mean, if there are no conventional hospitals and medicine around, does it mean that victims of snake bites will just be left to their fate even when it seemed that the local remedies were not working?

In the case of the boy, I am certain that whatever local antidotes that were applied and given to him to swallow were not working because within a few minutes, the leg had swollen up really big and the victim was in serious agony. As we were busy looking for the prescribed antivenom, suggestions kept on flying from different sources about the alternative/herbal remedies that can be used instead of looking for and spending heavily on the conventional antivenom.

Snake bite's injury. By Bobjgalindo - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10762635

  • One person suggested that the victim keep chewing raw leaves of Launaea taraxacifolia and drinking water to it. He said this will make the boy vomit at some points and the venom would come out along with the vomit.
  • Another suggestion talked about getting 2 different species of onions - Allium cepa and Allium ascalonicum - grinding them together and asking the victim to keep swallowing the paste.
  • A mixture consisting of a paste of Allium cepa and palm kernel oil was also recommended.
  • And so many more, perhaps too numerous to be mentioned here.

What really works?

The array of suggestions made to wonder what actually works. I am certain that snake bites are more common in rural areas where conventional hospitals or medicine are far or largely inaccessible. AT that, I do not think I have heard many instances in which lives were lost to snake bites. How have they been doing it?

There is no doubt that there is a large repository of plants with the potential to be used as antivenom to snake bites. Many of these plants have been anecdotally reported for their efficacies but very few have been scientifically researched and documented.

For example, in Uganda, over 77 species of plants have been documented to have been utilized by the locals in the treatment of snake bites while very little has been done to scientifically evaluate these plants for their phytochemical content capable of acting as antivenom. The few ones that have been evaluated among the plant species include Allium cepa, Nicotiana tabacum, Allium sativum, Jatropha curcas and Carica papaya. Most of these plants are also found in Nigeria.

The Fulani herdsmen in Nigeria are famously known for their nomadic and agropastoral lifestyle that makes access to conventional medical treatment for different ailments almost impossible. Hence, they are known to resort to herbs for the treatment of various ailments, including snake bites. In a particular study, about 19 species of plants being used as snake antivenom were identified and documented with the roots of Anonna senegalensis being the most popular among them.

Other species used by the Fulani herdsmen include the seeds of Moringa oleifera and Hibiscus sabdarifa, the bulbs of Allium cepa and A. sativum, and the stembark of Parkia biglobosa.

Many of these plant organs undergo different processes such as aqueous or alcoholic extraction, grinding, etc before they are either consumed, applied to the wound area, or both.

Final thoughts

Snakes are of two types - venomous and non-venomous. While I acknowledge the fact that many herbs have the potential to be used as snake antivenom, much of the anecdotal evidence of their efficacy might simply be due to the snake bites not being venomous, unless there are clear indications that they are. In other words, the efficacy reported might purely be due to placebo effects.

Many deaths have been recorded from snake bites, even after victims have been treated with some of the plants that have been reported for antivenom potentials. This also gives credence to the successes reported being due to the non-venomity of the snake involved.

Thus, more research inquiries need to be made into some of the plants that have been touted to act as antidotes for snake bites. The treatment of snake bites should for now, not rely on the anecdotal reports of their efficacy unless strong scientific evidence emerges to give credence to it.

What do you think?

References

https://www.ajol.info/index.php/ijaaar/article/view/141536

https://tropmedhealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s41182-019-0187-0
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3388772/

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I just saw this article and couldn't resist looking up information about snake bites. I remember reading about the number of fatalities from bites when I did an article on venomous caterpillars. I stunned by the number of deaths, worldwide, from snake bites. There are hundreds of thousands, perhaps more because reporting is so inaccurate. Mostly children, women and farmers in rural areas,where antivenom isn't available. Once again, as always, we come back to accessible healthcare. I know this sounds naive, but this really is wrong. According to WHO, the number of disabilities that result are three times the number of deaths.

It was wonderful you were able to help the child. You saved a life :)

This is my fear. Many people were castigating us for taking the child to the hospital, citing different alternate medicines that could have been used. My fear was. what if we resort to that and it did not work? Won't it be too late by then? If only there is an accurate data on the deaths and disabilities from snake bites, no one would dare proffer alternate medicines as the only solution. For first aid? Perhaps fine.

There are herbs that can be very effective in treating ailments such as snake bite and others, the problem is lack of adequate scientific research to back them up.

I still think scientist need to look in to those herbs and develope them Into benefiting Hunan race, the rural areas most especially.

I know there are plenty of herbs with the potential to be snake antivenoms. The problem with dosage still remains and we cannot keep doing trial and error with human lives.

There are herbs that can be very effective in treating ailments such as snake bite and others, the problem is lack of adequate scientific research to back them up.

I concord with you on this mate ,in fact most of the medication being used are gotten from the herbs God as already provided to us all we need to subtain ourself

i still think scientist need to look in to those herbs and develope them Into benefiting Hunan race, the rural areas most especially.

Those that understand are already making good use of it and is working fine


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In my country, Venezuela, this is a widespread problem, especially in recent years, when the country has entered a terrible crisis, due to government corruption and the destruction of society. Once, a person who lived in the state of Bolivar, a very isolated area of my country, told me that in case of a snake bite, I do not remember if it was a rattlesnake or a mapanare, they used the person's own urine with which they impregnated a piece of casabe (cassava bread) and placed it on top of the bite. Although I have a modest knowledge of plants, I really don't know which ones are used in this case. Interesting post @gentleshaid.

Thanks for the insightful addition.

Once, a person who lived in the state of Bolivar, a very isolated area of my country, told me that in case of a snake bite, I do not remember if it was a rattlesnake or a mapanare, they used the person's own urine with which they impregnated a piece of casabe (cassava bread) and placed it on top of the bite.

Was that the only treatment given? or it was just used as a first aid treatment prior to taking the victim to the hospital? I would love to know.

The person who told me this told me that they applied the treatment on the first day, as first aid. In the state of Bolivar the distances are enormous (it is the largest state in Venezuela), and the road system and rural roads are not always in good condition, and sometimes they are under water, due to the flooding of the rivers, so it took many hours to get to a hospital center.

Before communism was established in my country, there was an Institute of Scientific Research (IVIC), which was a great institution, and they did a lot of research in various areas of science, and one of the most developed fields of research was the production of various antiophidic serums. It worked so well that they exported these serums to Brazil. Today that institute is in ruins, and produces neither research nor medicines.


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There are effective herbal treatments for snake bites used by traditional medicine men here in Nigeria, but sadly the secrets of the art are closely guarded

Un artículo muy interesante, en la naturaleza podemos encontrar la cura a miles de enfermedades, dolencias y en este caso antiveneno, sin contar vitaminas y minerales, lo guardaré para investigar y buscar las plantas para sembrar, muchas gracias

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