Reprinted courtesy Dr. Will Falconer DVM : http://vitalanimal.com/
We live in snake country. Our conventional vets recommend the rattlesnake vaccine, but I wonder if there are any better alternatives?” Indeed there are. Homeopathy has a long history of saving those envenomated by poisonous snakes and I’ve had a few cases over the years that corroborate this.
Most near in my memory were a couple of curious foals who’d both been bitten on their muzzles. I was called rather late in the progression, days if not a week after the incident, and there was notable necrosis (dying flesh) on both foals’ noses.
Cora and Chiva are Kiger Mustangs, and in 2010, got too close to a rattler and got bitten. Here’s Michelle’s description, after she’d given a remedy I’d prescribed from my snake bite remedy kit the day before:
“Both girls swelled up badly; Cora on the right side of her face and Chiva both sides. After the first remedy, they were still compromised in their breathing and lethargic, so I gave the second early evening After the second dose of the second remedy, both relaxed after being unsettled all day, and took naps for a few hours. They were able to eat better than I figured last night and were both in good spirits.
This morning, Cora’s face is almost normal and breathing regular. Chiva seems worse, swelling higher up toward her eyes and her breathing is very labored. She seemed to get the effects of the venom over a longer period of time yesterday (where the other filly was immediate), so I am hoping her response time is slower too and I’ll see improvement by this afternoon.”
That first remedy was Echinacea in homeopathic high potency, 10M. The herb and the remedy made from it both have a long history of helping snake bite victims. The Plains Indians reportedly used the herb successfully for this very purpose.
The next remedy, and the one that worked in this case and brought both foals back to normal was Lachesis, also in 10M potency. Cora probably had less venom, as she quickly responded, while Chiva took more doses over the next couple of days to improve. Both went on to heal completely and show no residual signs of snake bite within a few weeks.
Why Not Rattlesnake Vaccine?
The rattlesnake vaccine is of questionable efficacy. The manufacturer, Red Rock Biologics shows no study data to support efficacy at all. Hmmm. My guess is that this is because there is none. If there were data, that would be quite a selling point, wouldn’t you think?
Immunologists and UC Davis Vet School don’t think it’s worthy of recommending. A colleague of mine, practicing in snake country in S. California, relayed that Dr. Michael Peterson, DVM, MS, an expert in venom and snake bites, thinks the vaccine is a joke, and it was “laughed off the stage” at a human medical conference. If there’s immunity from this vaccine at all, it’s short lived. Some months, perhaps. Even the maker admits this.
Another point against its efficacy: the manufacturer urges the same rush to the ER and same intensive treatment whether your dog has had this vaccine or not when he received his snake bite. Doesn’t sound very convincing, does it?
Then there’s the safety question. As with all injections of foreign protein into an animal’s body, you really have to question the wisdom of such a procedure. Abscesses at the injection site have been reported, and here’s a case of autoimmune disease I found that came right after rattlesnake vaccination, with denial by the manufacturer at every turn. Rattlesnake vaccine is also quite expensive, often running $40 or more a shot, and a series is recommended.
The Safe and Efficacious Route: Homeopathy
There are several remedies known to help one respond to envenomation, be that from snakes or venomous insects. Besides Echinacea and Lachesis (the latter made from a venomous snake), those who took my acute homeopathy course will recall Ledum, a remedy famous for curing illness that comes of bites and stings of all sorts. The remedies are not used preventatively but in the face of a bite incident. Snake venom typically causes what the old masters referred to as “disorganization of the blood.” What? Well, if organization meant smooth flow and appropriate clotting ability, snake venom undoes all that.
Local Damage Done
It’s common to see local bite wound damage, as we saw in the foals’ example above. The circulation in the bite area is impaired and it’s not uncommon to see blue discoloration and feel coolness of the tissue. Those are both symptoms found in the remedy Ledum, as is local bleeding, another common outcome from snakebite. The remedy lachesis similarly has symptoms of blueness and hemorrhage, but is less known for coldness.
Systemic, Bodywide Effects
When a poisonous snake bites its prey, its venom not only causes local damage, but it immobilizes the victim, allowing capture and swallowing. We see the effects of snake bite on the general well being of our animal patients as well, which was why both Cora and Chiva had breathing troubles. As their bodies were grossly larger than a rattlesnake’s usual prey, they were unlikely to die of envenomation, but they surely didn’t feel well either.
Echinacea angustifolia, written up in the homeopathic materia medica includes symptoms of tiredness, weakness, aching in muscles, and “great debility.” The old words of “blood poisoning” and the more familiar ones like “septic conditions” and gangrene are found.
These are my top three remedies for snakebite, but here are some others worth your consideration.
My Own Intoxication: Scorpions!
One of the great things about homeopathic remedies (and, okay, also one of the difficult things) is that they are rarely a single remedy for a single condition. I’ll sometimes send someone to the store for a prescribed remedy when time is of the essence, and on reading the one line description on the vial, I’ll get an email back, asking if I’m sure their itchy dog should take a remedy for “upset stomach.”
How much can the poor manufacturers fit in one line about a remedy that has pages of symptoms in the homeopathic literature?
I live in scorpion territory here in Texas. As such, I’ve had many a painful sting, and I tried all the usual remedies one thinks of for stings, all without success: Apis, Ledum, Lachesis.
Finally, in the fire of pain from my last scorpion sting, I paid closer attention to how I was feeling systemically intoxicated. My lips and tongue had a strange numbness, a symptom I’d had in prior stings by these devils. As my mind went to remedies, I recalled Echinacea, known for this general intoxication symptom and how, when I’d taken the herb in tincture form, it had always made my tongue feel strangely numb. Eureka! That was enough similarity of remedy and my condition for this remedy to work. After a dose, I could immediately feel the local fire and the general feeling of intoxication subside. So, if you live in scorpion country, you may want to pick up some Echinacea. I’d get it in homeopathic form, but who knows? It could also work in tincture form.
Had any snake bites in your life? Tell us about it in the comments. And if you’re interested in my snake bite remedy kit, write me for the details on my Contact page. It is that time of year, after all.