Karnataka

‘Medicinally important herbs neutralise effect of snake venom’

Studies have confirmed the potential role of certain medicinally important herbs in neutralising the effect of snake venom in humans.

Presenting a paper on antidotes for snakebites from eight medicinally important herbs at the national symposium on ‘Challenges in Snakebite Management’ here, D. Velmurugan, Emeritus Professor, University of Madras, Chennai, said eight medicinally important plants reported to be antidotes for snake venom in literature and being used as folk medicine by the snake catchers had been taken up for the studies.

The studies, Dr. Velmuguran said, had confirmed the potential role of plants in neutralising the snake venom as “anti-inflammatory agents”.

Hence, the herbs can also be used to neutralise the deadly snake venom in addition to the anti-venom serum, he said. About 50,000 deaths are reported in India every year due to venomous snake bites.

However, he said scientific validity and expertise is needed in the process of identifying the herbs.

In another paper on Recombinant Human Antibodies for Snakebite Treatment, Vijay K. Chaudhary, Professor, Centre for Innovation in Infectious Disease Research, Education and Training, University of Delhi South Campus, emphasised the need to develop technology that produces antibodies that bind and neutralise all medically important snake venom toxins.

The present treatment for snakebite includes intravenous infusion of polyclonal antibodies (anti-snake venom) produced by immunising horses with a mixture of venom derived from the four most commonly found venomous snakes – the Big Four comprising Common Cobra, Common Krait, Russel’s Viper and Saw Scaled Viper.

In the last few years, scientists have unequivocally demonstrated that Indian anti-snake venoms are severely deficient in antibodies to fight against toxic components in the venom from Indian snakes, he said.

Hence, to neutralise the venom completely, a large amount of antibodies is needed. But being of equine (relating to horse family) origin, a large volume infusion could lead to sever reactions and side-effects. “Besides, the process of producing anti-snake venom is animal unfriendly and in India, it involves nearly 5,000 horses and hundreds of grams of snake venom collected from thousands of snakes. Worse is that each horse produces only 500 to 700 vials of polyclonal antibodies,” he said.

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Printable version | Apr 5, 2020 7:54:23 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/medicinally-important-herbs-neutralise-effect-of-snake-venom/article30331105.ece

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