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The Native American Snake Bite Solution

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.



View Comments (39)
  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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.

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

  • 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.

  • ‘Native American’ snake bite solution? You mean, indian snake bite solution. Indians are indians (though, not of the country of India). Their ancestors migrated here from Asia. Mine migrated here from Europe. I, today, am as much native American as any indian. Don’t call them Native American, as if nobody else is. Anybody born and raised here is a native American. The Indians’ ancestors were the first known human inhabitants of this continent. Those ancestors were aborigines. Indians are the descendants of the aborigines. No other people are. That’s a distinction Indians DO have, for what it’s worth. But, they’re not distinguished by being Native American. All the rest of us are, too. All the rest of us are also descendants of somebody, just like indians. What’s it worth for anybody to be a descendant of anybody? There are other things everybody should value much more. Mike Kevitt

  • Living in an area where there is no anti-venom drugs available in the small hospitals it is best to wear snake boots if playing in the woods, have a will, good insurance and hope the hospital u attend has a helicopter pad so you can be sent to another hospital. Oh Muck boots are like being bare footed when it comes to snake bites.

  • I have grown up around rattlesnakes on the family ranch. I agree with generalJed. If you are watchful it is highly unlikely to will get bitten. I am 81 and have walked upon rattlers several times. They will try to run and hide unless you get too close, then they coil. Just be careful.

  • Cutting and opening up the bite wound and sucking out venom has been shown not to be helpful and can cause poisoning by ingestion of venom especially if there is a sore or cut in the mouth. Suction of any type is essentially a useless time waster. Also, cutting the bite can lead to the complication of infection which is low in venomous snake bites. Tourniquets are also too dangerous to use as they will cut off arterial blood flow but not stop venous flow. The best thing to do is keep the victim as immobile as can be done and call for help or or get the victim to a hospital. Anti-venin is the best chance for survival and most medical centers have it on hand for common venomous snakes.

  • Plantain will not cure poisonous snake bites. It “may” slow the spread of the venom until you can get to the hospital. As for treatment of mad dog bites, that’s a completely phony treatment. The ONLY treatment for a rabid dog bite is immediate rabies vaccination. Plantain poultices only and you’re dead in a couple weeks.

  • How do they know the snake bite victims didn’t die anyway? Once the poison starts coursing through your blood stream, no poultice, rub or eating leaves is going to do anything.

  • 1. If you’re in the wilderness and have to hike out, follow my advice or you will probably die.

    2. Don’t go searching for herbs while the venom is doing its damage. That is stupid and the chances of your finding black cohosh or plantain, at the drop of a hat, are zero to none.

    3. Take a snake-bite kit and know how to use it.

    Now, what else do you not comprehend?

  • Not unless there’s another kind of plantain I’m not acquainted with; it’s a weed, ground cover, so far as I know it, very aggressive if it gets in your lawn.

  • What do you have against the electric treatment It works but you should use your car or boat motor – not your house current beccause if a surge hit while you were using ti, it could be fatal. Have been told electric fence would be safe as it stays under 10 amps.

  • Raised in the country also, but did not know that when a copperhead feels threatened, it gives off a strong odor of cucumbers. We were hiking in the woods and were walking in a lovely spot for a picnic, but one that wouldn”t have been easy to pack your picnic supplies into, when suddenly got the strong odor of cucumbers, which stopped me in my tracks to look for cucumber plants or peelings. None seen and we resumed our hike. Stopping at a small grocery on way home recounted how weird it was to get a strong odor of cucumbers where there was none on our hike. The owner of the grocery said: “”you must have been standing very close to a copperhead”! Talking with a man years later about that incident and he verified what the grocery owner said, and related a story of when he was a kid and a copperhead lived underneath a country grocery store and he and other boys would get some long bean poles and agitate the snake until it gave off a strong cucumber odor.

  • Don’t think a burst of electricity that would knock you down is required. Don’t know how it works, but think it must have something to do with changing the molecular structure of the venom. Seem to have more snakes in my yard than in the woods so have devised a snake bite treatment from an old printer cable that stays in a convenient spot in the house, but also recommend making yourself one from a device to plug your car chargers in to carry in your car.

  • Really? Sure the orthodox medical field has tried to debunk it, but only a year or two ago, heard that a local hospiital was using it to debride nasty wounds. It also did a beautiful job on a dog bite recently . Rapid healing and early decrease in pain!

  • Welcome to our world of believers! Haven’t read the Lancnet, but did read 2 of 3 articles in a sports magazine, which was written by a doctor who lost lost snake bite victims in his third world country practice because even when they brought the snake in with the victim, by the time they got the venom for it, the patient had died. Thank God he was a curious doctor and when he heard about a local bee keeper who was allergic to bee stings, but still keeping bees, he founnd out where he lived and paid him a visit and asked how he was managing the bee stings. The man told him, no problem, if a bee stung him he just shocked around it and went about his business. The next snake bite victim he got he tried and found it worked and even worked several hours after the bite and the swelling and paid was worse.

    Can’t vouch for it, but suspect since it works on bee stings and snake bites, it would probably be just as effective for scorpion stings or any spider bites & probably other insect bites.

  • No Jerry, and don’t plan to, but can tell you that you hardly feel any current coming through at all when you use an improvised zapper made by snipping off the end of the car charger you would plug into your phone or camera, stripping 1/2 to 1″ of insulation off and attaching a small piece of metal to each of the two exposed wires. You now have a device to carry in your glove compartment for emergency use.

  • Had the same happen. Rattled just before I stepped into the garage. Father inlaw used a shovel to throw him out of garage before shooting it. That was the year of the baby rattlers and women and children were not allowed in the garden or chicken house.

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