If you do not like to use chemicals on your body and would like to use a more natural approach, The Natural First Aid Handbook (Storey Publishing, 2017) by Brigitte Mars, is the book for you. Find herbal and homeopathic treatments for common conditions as well as tips to be prepared for emergency situations. This excerpt can be found in chapter 2, “An A-Z Guide to Ailments and Injuries.”
A bite from a poisonous snake can be fatal! Seek immediate medical attention if you or someone else has been bitten by a poisonous snake.
Signs of Poisonous Snakebite Include:
- Bruising or swelling
- Sharp pain around a bite of one or two puncture wounds
- Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
- Blurry vision
- Breathing problems, convulsions, or seizures
While you wait for medical attention:
- Wash the area with soap and water. Wipe outward, away from the wound.
- Remove the venom. If you have a snakebite kit, use the suction cup to remove the venom, preferably in the first 5 minutes after the bite occurred, before the venom starts circulating.
Do not use your mouth to suck out venom, as you could end up being poisoned. Do not cut into the flesh. Remove constrictive items such as rings, bracelets, or shoes, as swelling may occur.
- Apply ice. If ice is not available, place the limb in a cool stream. Immobilize the bitten area and keep it at or below the heart level.
- Use any strip of cloth to make a constricting bandage — not a tourniquet. Apply a constricting band for pit viper bites 2 inches above the bite. Make sure the band is not tight and that a finger can easily be slipped underneath it. Loosen the band every 15 minutes.
- Give the victim fluids to drink (but not alcohol).
- Keep the victim calm. Agitation increases blood flow, bringing the venom into the bloodstream. If the victim must walk any distance, make sure it is very slowly.
- Monitor the victim’s airway. Be ready to administer CPR if necessary.
Follow-Up Care for Snakebite
Follow-up treatments for snakebite focus on neutralizing the venom and boosting the body’s antibodies. Here are some suggestions:
Echinacea. Use echinacea orally and topically. Give 1 dropperful of echinacea tincture every hour for up to 12 hours following the bite. Saturate a gauze pad with echinacea tincture and apply to the bite. Echinacea tincture stimulates the production of the white blood cells that neutralize the venom.
Vitamin C. Give 1,000 mg vitamin C every 2 hours to help stimulate the body’s production of natural antibodies.
Homeopathic arnica. This remedy can be good for the trauma of it all.
Poultices. A salt pack moistened with vinegar or a green clay and apple cider vinegar poultice can be applied as drawing agents.
Garlic. Eat it fresh to remedy snakebite or take it in capsules as an antiseptic agent.
Common Sense Beats Copperhead
Years ago I was bitten by a copperhead snake, many miles away from a hospital or even a telephone. Fortunately, we did have electricity. My husband, without missing a beat, turned on the vacuum cleaner and sucked the venom out with the wand. Just goes to show that sometimes you need to improvise!
Seek Immediate Medical Attention If the Victim:
- Has difficulty breathing
- Goes into shock
- Experiences nausea, vomiting, or convulsions
- Has a history of allergic reactions to insect bites
- Has increasing pain
- Is a young child
While you wait for medical attention:
1. Immediately wash the bitten area.
2. Keep the bitten area lower than the heart to slow down assimilation of the spider’s venom. Icing the bitten area will also help.
3. Neutralize the venom. Depending on what you have on hand, topical application of any of the following quick remedies will help neutralize the venom and help the tissues heal:
- Three to 5 drops lavender essential oil
- Apple cider vinegar
- Mashed garlic clove (apply for no more than 10 minutes to avoid skin irritation)
- A few drops of St.-John’s-wort tincture and vitamin E oil
At-Home First Aid for Spider Bites
The steps and remedies listed above for use in an emergency situation will also provide relief for nonvenomous but itchy or painful spider bites.
More from The Natural First Aid Handbook:
Reprinted with Permission from The Natural First Aid Handbook and Published by Storey Publishing.