The Australian Inland Taipan is the most venomous snake in the world. But her deadly poison can also save lives: in animal experiments, it was successfully used to prevent chronic heart failure. Even today, snake venom components are used in the pharmaceutical industry and in medicine in the field of blood clotting and in neurobiology or now also in cancer research. Products containing snake venom have long been used in homeopathy for the treatment of rheumatism.
Snake toxin as a pharmaceutical raw material
Venomous snakes - their bite is between 50, 000 and 100, 000 deaths a year. In addition, countless victims with late damage such as loss of a hand or leg. Some snake venoms paralyze muscles and respiration, others interfere with blood clotting and the victim bleeds heavily; Cardiovascular disorders and collapse are other symptoms.
But what harms in a high concentration at a bite, can also be useful: Snake venom, targeted used - more precisely, the molecules of individual substances - also means healing for example in hypertension and as a anticoagulant.
Snake venom in medicine
From the venom of the South American lance otters for example, a substance can be obtained that promotes blood clotting. Batroxobin is the name given to the material used to seal wounds that are created during surgery quickly and easily. Before the operation, you draw some blood from the patient and thicken it with the snake substance. During surgery, this gel-like blood can then be applied to open blood vessels and other wounds, whereupon the blood clots and the wound closes immediately.
In the nine major industrialized countries alone, ten million people suffer a stroke each year and 2.5 million suffer a heart attack. Thrombosis is a major cause. From an anticoagulant protein in the venom of an African viper developed pharmaceutical researchers in the late nineties, the drug tirofiban - is the name of the first representative of a group of anticoagulants. These prevent blood platelets from clumping and clogging vessels. They are administered in acute cardiac complaints in the hospital, because they reduce the risk of infarction.
Snake venom in cancer therapy
The biochemical analysis of the snake venom is still in its infancy, but the results are promising. Dr. Johannes Eble from the Institute of Physiological Chemistry and Pathobiochemistry of the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster hopes to use therapeutically applicable substances in tumor therapy through snake venom research. He has discovered that reptile venom may also be effective in preventing the migration of cancer cells.
Cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal body cells. Particularly dangerous is their penetration into healthy adjacent tissue and the colonization of distant body parts - the metastases. Eby's starting point now is the boundary between the tumor and the surrounding tissue.
The most important of these so-called tissue barriers is the basement membrane. It is normally impermeable to cells but not to metastatic tumor cells. They penetrate the basement membrane and penetrate into other tissue, they enter the bloodstream and infect other organs. To overcome the basal membrane, tumors on their surface have so-called cell adhesion molecules, the integrins.
Eble found that snake venoms contain agents that target these integrins and inhibit cell migration. "Developing a drug from these poisons that reduces the invasion and metastasis of tumors is a worthwhile goal, " hopes Dr. Eble, "but we are just beginning a long and uncertain journey".
Snake venom in homeopathy
Snake poison is also sought after in homeopathy. The poison is cleaned of allergenic components and dried. Then it is diluted high. These remedies are used for diseases as diverse as bronchitis, allergies, joint problems, hay fever and rheumatism. As the "Pharmacy News" reports, Norbert Zimmermann, alternative practitioner and founder of the Center for Natural Remedies in Bottrop, has used snake venom in his practice for many years: "Snake venom in low homeopathic doses is highly effective in the treatment of all inflammatory chronic diseases, " he explains,
In snake venom therapy (Reintoxin therapy) just one hundredth of a milligram of venom is used. Foci of inflammation in the joints disappear due to the muscle-relaxing effect and the strengthening of the auto-immune system by the toxin. Incidentally, the venom of the snakes is obtained on a German snake farm for pharmaceutical purposes - they are "milked" up to six times a year.
The Center for Natural Medicine receives the serum from pharmacies. There, one uses the venom of 40 different types of snakes for rheumatic diseases, arthritis and joint inflammation. There are no side effects. A treatment plan consists of ten to twelve sessions, after three injections, the patient already feels a clear improvement in their symptoms.
Private health insurances replace the treatment costs, cash patients bear the costs themselves. Also in the treatment of chronic pain, migraine, neuralgia, chronic kidney inflammation, asthma, atopic dermatitis and hay fever and other allergies, this unique treatment method should show amazing and fast treatment success.