Developing herbal drugs to treat snake bites urged

Experts delve on species of snakes, treatment according to region

Professor T Veerabasappa Gowda on Wednesday emphasised on developing drugs from herbs in the treatment of snake bite cases.

Making a presentation on ‘Herbal extracts and their isolated compounds in the management of snake bite victims’, on the third day of national conference on ‘Snake bite management’, organised by the department of studies in bio-chemistry, University of Mysore, and Karnataka State Open University (KSOU), at B N Bahadur auditorium in the city, Veerabasappa Gowda said it’s time to concentrate on the systematic work where herbal drugs could lead to partial neutralisation of toxic effect and buy time to take the victims to the hospital.

Tracing the history of herbs in tending to people bitten by snakes, the expert said it is in practice since time immemorial. However, what is common among those practicing herb-based treatment is it is an inherited profession and there is no literature on the herbs and their contents. Such people collect the herbs on a specific day.

“Sometimes either roots or leaf are used — single or multiple or combination of both — as first aid or total treatment for the patients”, said Veerabasappa Gowda. Interestingly, it could be the same plant extract for both cobra and russel viper bites.

Eventually, the professor was of the opinion that the discovery of drugs from herbs could further support anti-venom treatment.

Earlier, JGS Ranasinghe, faculty of medicine from the department of bio-chemistry, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka, spoke on ‘Structure analysis of venom of venomous snakes in Sri Lanka’. Beginning with the snake caused human deaths in her country,
Ranasinghe said: “The reptiles claim 8.7 per cent lives in every one lakh population with russel viper being the highest killer”.

Giving an account of species of snakes in that country, she said cobra is still the most revered and people don’t kill it for the deep-rooted belief that they don’t bite.
Ceylon Krait and hump nosed russel viper are the other species. She also stressed on developing anti-venoms according to the region, especially for cobra as it differs from India and Sri Lanka.

Dr Ryan spoke on ‘Venom gland transcriptome and venom proteome comparisons of two snake species of the genus boiga’.

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