There are eight homoeopathic remedies made from the venom of as many different snakes. Although there are more than eight provings of snake venom, these other provings are very fragmentary, and the remedies are not in general use. However, of
those remedies with which we are more or less familiar Lachesis comes to mind first, followed by Crotalus horridus, Vipera, Elaps, Bothrops, Naja, Cenchris contortrix, and Bungarus fasciatus. The order depending upon which ones have given you good results in practice.
Snake venoms are composed of a mixture in varying proportions of 1) protein substance, 2) mucus and debris of epithelial cells, 3) fatty matter. 4) salts such as calcium chloride, ammonia and magnesium phosphate and others. The specific gravity varies from 1.030 to 1.050. The toxin will keep for years if dried and kept in the dark, but readily decomposes when left in the fluid state.
Generally speaking, the toxic part of the snake venom is composed of two primary elements: the hematoxins, and the neurotoxins. The different reactions exhibited by people to snake venom is due to the varying amounts of these two basic ingredients. The venom varies both in toxicity and in the kind of toxins present in the different snakes. In fact within the same species many variations occur. Young venom (drop for drop) is far more potent than that of an older snake. There is also a seasonal variation in the strength of the toxin within the same snake depending upon is activity.
The hematoxins create a destructive action on the red blood cells, tissues, and produces extensive swellings, and extravasations. This would be like the provings of Lachesis, Crotalus horridus, and Bothrops. The hematoxins can again be subdivided into those which coagulate the blood, and those which produce haemorrhage and prevent coagulation. Lachesis, Elaps, and Vipera are examples of these extremes.
On the other hand, the neurotoxins produce little swelling, but attack the nerve centers, especially the motor nerves, the sympathetic system, and the phrenic nerve. This toxin produces a paralysis of various kinds such as seen in the provings of Naja, Cenchris contortrix, and Elaps. Elaps, or coral snake, is considered a degenerate of the cobra family and secretes a powerful neurotoxin. Chemically, there is present some hydrocyanic acid. It is remarkable how closely the provings of Elaps and Hydrocyanic acid parallel each other in the neurological symptoms. The potentized venom of Bungarus fasciatus produces symptoms closely resembling severe bulbar poliomyelitis with respiratory failure. Histologically the tissue findings are much the same as seen in polioencephalitis.
To digress a moment, there is an evolutionary theory concerning the development of the snake venom from the parotid gland in snakes. For back in the eons of time snakes did not have the powerful toxins of today but used the secretions of the parotid gland to digest their prey.
In other words there is present in snake venom today many of these digestive enzymes which my explain the necrotic action on tissue and blood cells. In line with this theory chemical experiments have found four distinct fermentation-like substances present in snake venom. As would be expected these substances vary from one snake species to another.
The first ferment attacks the fibrin and is considered the blood coagulating factor. The second is a proteolytic enzyme
which softens and dissolves muscles tissue. The third is a diastatic enzyme which activates the pancreatic juice enabling it to attack forcefully the albuminoids. The fourth is a lipolytic enzyme having a fat dissolving action, which splits lecithin and produces fatty degeneration of the liver.
Most venoms contain what is called a “spreading factor” which influence the speed with which the venom spreads throughout the system of a person. A fairly recent study using Bothrops and Crotalus venom indicated that the spreading action was due to the liberation of histamine. It is well known that histamine favors the migration of colloidal particles into the cutaneous tissue.
The great power for good, present in potentized snake venom, was impressed upon me by the case of L.M. She is a chubby cherub of 3 1/2 years. When first seen in October she weighed 36 2/2 pounds and was 39 1/2 inches tall. Upon examination I found a definite mitral systolic murmur, a fast pulse, the residue of a mild tonsillitis, and severe atonic constipation. The mother stated that L.M. had been constipated since she was a year old. The only mental symptom elicited at this time was her fear of sleeping alone or of being alone. Naja trip. 1M was prescribed.
Two weeks later her mother stated she was sleeping alone, and that much of her fatigue and lethargy was gone. I also found to my amazement that the heart murmur was gone, but the pulse was still fast. Placebo was given.
By the end of December there was no sign of heart murmur, but the constipation required several remedies which helped but did not clear up the condition. In April the systolic heart murmur was again audible and Naja trip. 10M was prescribed which was cleared up both the constipation and the aortic systolic murmur. There had been no further return of these symptoms when I checked the little girl a week ago. It would be interesting to have had several electrocardiograms of this patient to have seen what changes may have occurred since the first prescription. Due to the circumstances of the family I did not request it.
My father H.A. Neiswander, M.D., Pandora, Ohio. said in the past year he has prescribed Naja in about 25 cases. Most of the patients had congestions in the chest or heart, and, when indicated, the results were very encouraging.