Snake venom as a pain killer…really!

The poison that’s good for you (maybe)

• This might make you smile
• The weirdest pain relief remedy ever?
• Britain’s hidden epidemic

The other day I went to my local chemist’s.
I asked a woman standing by the counter if she had anything which would kill the coronavirus.
“Ammonia cleaner,” she replied.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” I said, “I thought you worked here.”
Or “LOL” as the kids say.
That was a joke sent to me last week by Geoff, a Good Life Letter reader, in response to my letter regarding Trump’s comments about injecting detergent to kill the virus.
If you missed that email and would like to read it, you can do so on my website here: When Lockdown Cleaning Is Unhealthy
In that email I compared the weirdness of the advice to inject cleaning products to the story of a man who injected snake venom to get healthier.
That story is totally true by the way – you can even read a profile about the guy who did it on The Guardian website.
Steve Ludwin is an ex-punk rock singer in the USA who regularly injects snake venom into his arm. He claims that he gets a tremendous energy boost for up to eight hours after the injection.
In an interview with Business Insider, he explained:
“While other people are out there wasting their money in gyms, lifting weights, I’m at home injecting snake venom and exercising my immune system.”
He also said that when he was a singer in a band, he would gargle snake venom to prevent throat infections.
Rock and roll!
His method sounds really ‘out there’ (bit of an understatement) but it’s an avenue of pain relief that scientists are exploring.
Why venom could be the future of pain relief
Research in the journal Toxin has shown that a snake known as the ‘killer of killers’ could be the next pain relief breakthrough.
The long-glanded blue coral snake likes to prey on other dangerous animals like king cobras.
Most snake venom takes a while to work, slowly sending the victim into a coma-like stupor. But the long-glanded coral snake has a uniquely powerful venom which acts immediately. Apparently, this is so that its deadly dinner doesn’t retaliate after it gets bitten.
Scientists believe that this same venom could be used to quickly switch off pain receptors in the human body.
Obviously this would be in drug form rather than a LIVE snake.
Nurses would need a whole new level of PPE if snake handling was part of their job remit.
That’s not the only snake research happening right now.
Scientists in laboratories are isolating black mamba venom proteins known as ‘mambalgins’ and testing them as pain relief drugs.
Meanwhile, at the National University of Singapore, Professor R. Manjunatha Kini has developed a cobra-venom painkiller which could be 20 times stronger than morphine but without the side effects.
We tend to think of a snake bite as being painful and lethal, so it does boggle the mind a little…
But then again, this is just our Western perspective on medicine.
In the Far East, snake venom is a traditional medicine. For instance, in ancient China, cobra venom was used to treat arthritis, liver cancer, lung cancer and leukemia. While in the Unani system of medicine in India, cobra venom was used to heal and revive seriously ill patients.
Now, of course, I am not even remotely suggesting that you seek out snake venom.
As they say on television, “Don’t try this at home!”
I am telling you about this because it’s another example of nature offering us a solution to some of our most pressing problems.
And when it comes to pain relief, the race really is on to find an alternative to painkilling drugs.
I know the media is full of the coronavirus epidemic right now but that doesn’t mean other pressing health issues have gone away.
Britain’s hidden pain epidemic
As I wrote earlier this year, we’re experiencing a nationwide pain epidemic right now that doesn’t get nearly the publicity that it should.
A survey in 2018 showed that an estimated 2.5 million British people get back pain every day, and almost half reported that this pain had been ongoing for over five years.
And while more than 60% of the over 55s in the survey had back pain at least once a month, the statistic for 18-24 year olds was higher, at 71%.
So with a younger generation already experiencing chronic pain, this is going to get worse and worse.
Clearly, the main aim for all of us is prevention – finding practical ways to address our posture problems, work safely at our computers, and get enough exercise.
If you’d like some information on this, check out my post on the website here: Why We Are In A Back Pain Epidemic
But we must be realistic…
Even if we educate ourselves about pain prevention and do more exercise, there is still going to be widespread chronic pain in this country and sufferers are still going to want fast, natural relief.
The worst thing we can do is rely on painkillers that are addictive, with nasty side effects.
But as the snake venom story shows us, there might be far better options available.
I’ll share some of those with you over the coming months.
Of course, if you are chomping at the bit for information you can delve into the recent back catalogue of Good Life Letters.
The team have posted a load of my letters up on our website to read for free whenever you like.
On the righthand side of this page, you’ll see a search tool that will find products for you, based on whatever health concern you enter into the box.
Below that, about halfway down, you’ll also see a box where you can enter a condition you’d like to know about – for instance, ‘joint pain’.
The site will then show you all the relevant editorial articles.
Hope you find it useful!