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Toxicon. 1992 Oct;30(10):1131-42.

Plants with a reputation against snakebite.

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  • 1Institute of Legal Medicine, Christian-Albrechts University, Kiel, F.R.G.


Many plants are recommended in traditional medicine as active against various effects of snakebite. Few attempts have been made to investigate the veracity of these assertions in controlled experiments. Several workers, mainly Oriental, have investigated the reputation of such plants by performing in vitro and in vivo experiments in order to demonstrate whether there was any protective effect, using drugs or mixtures of drugs prepared using traditional formulae. In some studies, these extracts were administered to mice before or after treatment with different elapid or crotalid venoms. Other papers deal with selected compounds isolated from Schumanniophyton magnificum, Eclipta prostrata or Aristolochia shimadai, and their capacity to inhibit phospholipase A2 or other enzymes (e.g. ATPase) or for physiological and biochemical properties (such as effects on uterine tone or the protection of mitochondrial membranes). Japanese workers have described the antihaemorrhagic effect of persimmon tannin from Diospyros kaki. Atropine has been attributed a life-prolonging effect after black mamba venom treatment. Prolonged survival was also observed after pretreatment with extracts of Diodia scandens and Andrographis paniculata. Some authors have found little or no beneficial effects. The papers collected so far show that there are no systematic investigations in this field.

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