The Native American Snake Bite Solution

I will admit to being completely terrified of snakes as a child. Even now, while not terrified, they still aren’t my pet of choice, and I’d much rather have other animals around me.

Now, you may ask why I was so afraid? In retrospect, the stories that I was told about snakes are completely to blame. I was told that if you get bitten by a poisonous snake, then you would die, and, since I couldn’t tell the difference between poisonous and nonpoisonous snakes, they all scared me.

To be fair, those who told me those stories were just trying to protect me, but, like people who watch television news on a daily basis think the world is more violent than the statistics show, I thought snakes were universally more lethal than the evidence shows. And, just like those news watchers tend to be more afraid of the world, I was more afraid than I needed to be.

I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t be cautious about poisonous snakes, and, ideally, you’ll be able to identify the poisonous snakes common to your area so that you can have a realistic assessment of the threat when you encounter a snake. But, if you are bitten, Alex Cutshall tells you how to survive to deal with a snake another day:

First, don’t panic! There are several things that you can do to prevent swelling and pain. Native Americans have been using the plantain leaves for centuries to help reduce swelling and as an anti-toxin. According to Dr. Christopher’s Herbal Legacy website, the plantain was used for a variety of illnesses and was a key remedy to cure the rattlesnake bite. Native Americans also used them for battle bruises and for drawing out any type of snake venom. The Gwen’s Nest health website says “Plantain has been used since ancient times for snake bites, mad dog bites, and a variety of internal diseases. … Plantain herb can be used internally and externally for many different conditions. Basically, anything dealing with a toxin or venom … I have personally used it to remedy poison ivy/rashes, mosquito bites in children who have allergies to them, and bee stings.”

The plantain leaves can be chewed up and applied to a wound to help swelling. Another option would be black cohosh, which has several different applications. The Southeast Wise Women website explains that “Black cohosh has been in Native American medicine for centuries and was also used by European settlers. Native Americans worked with black cohosh to treat snake bite and as a ceremonial herb to bring visions.”

While there are several other remedies that work OK on their own, a combination of a few of them make a serious fighting power against snake bites and animal wounds. Caroline Thompson at Livestrong found that “The Menominees Indians used witch hazel to reduce swelling and inflammation. They boiled the leaves and rubbed the liquid on the area that needed treatment. In a 1994 study at the department of physiology and pharmacology at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, researchers concluded that witch hazel does indeed contain anti-inflammatory substances.” While all of these can help you in the case of a snake or an animal wound, if you are ever bitten in the neck or near a major artery, find professional help. Still, if you’re planning a trip where there may be a higher chance of an animal or snake bite, bring some of the previously mentioned herbs with you and enjoy the trip!

Again, I’m not advising you to go looking for a fight with a rattlesnake, but, if you are bitten, you are now armed with a bit of knowledge to calm your fears. And, this can help you to tread through the world with a little more happiness and a little less fear.


  • guestimate

    There’s another more modern cure you may not be aware of, carry a tasar, if you are bitten, tase the wound. Or the HV from an automobile ignition coil. Crazy as that sounds, the burst of electricity probably neutralizes by dissassociating the venom…

    • Jerry

      have you ever tried to use a hand held taser on your self for just say a 10 second burst?

      • guestimate

        Who said it takes 10 seconds?

    • Dave from San Antonio

      The electric shock method has been debunked for some time now.

      • guestimate

        None of the usual serious medical complications developed and none of the patients died, the researchers said in a report on what could become a revolutionary treatment. Also, the pain of the poisonous bites disappeared within 15 minutes, according to the report in the July 26 issue of The Lancet, a leading medical journal published in London.

  • generalJed

    The major way to avoid snake bite is to put your cell phone away and look where you are stepping. I almost stepped on a coiled up five footer when walking into a garage where the snake had crawled to get out of the heat. He was right by the door! Fortunately, I was not a phone fanatic. I pushed him out of the garage and watched him slither uphill

    • Garden_Goddess

      You are absolutely right. I like your term “phone fanatic”. Those idiots look so funny walking around with their phones glued in their hands and their heads bent down staring into the screens. If they only knew how ridiculous they look. Even funnier when they run into a wall or stumble.

      • Michael Skok

        Or step on a snake.

  • Wm. Michael Mott

    So if you are bitten by a rattlesnake, immediately go in search of a plantain tree and some black cohosh… Because wasting time doing this and exerting yourself on a fruitless quest for mumbo-jumbo will help the venom work that much more quickly.

    Or you could slit the wound and attempt to extract the poison via pressure and suction.

  • Dave from San Antonio

    The absolute best solution for snake bites…is not to be bitten…it works.
    Nice article….