A young researcher from the University of Copenhagen, Denmark has come out with a herbal remedy for snake bites. Marianne Molander, the researcher is a pharmacist by training and is currently a PhD student at the university’s Health and Medical Sciences department.
She has collaborated with a team of Danish researchers who have been exploring the use of native plants of Africa as herbal antidotes to snake bites.
Snakes and their venom
Currently available antidotes for snake venom are very expensive and available only at some of the medical centers in Africa. Most part of Africa is underdeveloped and has only basic medical facilities available to its people.
All advanced medical care is available only at a few notified centers and is very expensive. The African continent has a tropical climate and hence covered with forests and some of the deadliest snakes. This means that many people suffer from snake bites and die due to lack of timely medical help.
Study on African herbs
In this scenario, Danish researches set up a project to tap the natural resources for treating fatal bites. This involved examining various traditional herbs that the local people have been using and finding out their efficacy, documenting them and standardizing the procedure for extracting and administering them.
The result of this research has brought focus to one common snake species – Bitis arietans, the most widespread in Sahara. They are now into examining 27 plant varieties from South Africa and 13 varieties from Republic of Congo. The pharmacology of these plants is under the scanner. The relevant and most effective antidote is selected and a drug is designed with the required potency and properties.
Benefits of the plant derived antidote
- The antidote derived from plants, when fully developed will be an inexpensive source of treatment for the snake bite.
- It can be easily stored even in the warm environs because it will be an inorganic chemical and not a protein that will be destroyed easily.
- Antidotes to snake bites are obtained from the original snake venom extracts itself and not from synthetic sources. This endangers the wildlife. Whereas, use of plants as sources for the drug extract is an inexhaustible resource.
- Protein antidotes require advanced technology for its manufacture and distribution, whereas plant-derived antidotes can be produced locally using the local resources and manpower. Training can be provided to the local medical providers to administer plant-derived antidotes, whereas only registered doctors can administer traditional antidotes and hence timely help may not reach remote areas.