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Most people fear being stung by an arthropod, such as a wasp, spider or scorpion. It has been reported that public health may benefit from the careful application of venoms in medicine. Some arthropods make venom in order to protect themselves from danger or to capture their prey. These types of creatures inject their victims with venom through a process called envenomation. Such venoms can include organic and inorganic compounds, which may enhance the effectiveness of these toxins.

Arthropod venom in medicine

How does the medical industry use venom?

Different arthropods create different venoms which could be useful to human health. Researchers have found medical uses for certain natural compounds found in arthropod venom. The antimicrobial activity of peptides found in arthropod venom can be important in protecting hosts from bacteria, fungi, or viruses. A Hungarian-born doctor named Dr Zoltan Takacs mentioned that; venom toxins are among the most potent and precision-targeted molecules on earth. Over hundreds of millions of years, the venomous toxins have been known to target specific components of their prey’s vital bodily functions. Some toxins are known to attack the nervous system and cause paralysis by interfering with the nerve to muscle transmission. These substances, which are deemed highly dangerous, might be useful to make great pain killers.

The above statements do not recommend that you keep a few arthropods at home in order to self-medicate because you need to isolate a particular toxin in order to have a safe therapeutic agent. Using venoms in medicine is an ancient idea that was explored during the 1980s and made available in 1981 in the UK.

Types of venoms and what they are used for

  1. Bees and wasps’ venom is mainly used for the treatment of HIV, breast cancer, skin cancer and rheumatoid arthritis
  2. Venom from snakes is used for the treatment of blood pressure, blood clotting, chronic pain
  3. Venom from cone snails is used for the treatment of chronic pain, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, schizophrenia and lung cancer
  4. Spiders, scorpions and centipede’s venom is used for the treatment of cancer, muscular dystrophy, chronic pain, erectile dysfunction
  5. Venom from sea anemones is used for the treatment of Multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, lupus
  6. Lizards’ venom is used for the treatment of Diabetes

There are only 2 species of venomous lizards in the world and those are from Mexico or the US desert areas called the Gila monster. It’s important to note that there are no venomous lizards native to South Africa.

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