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Sunday, 5 May, 2002, 23:13 GMT 00:13 UK
Snake bite 'helped my arthritis'
Snake in garden
Mr de Casa was bitten while digging in his garden
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Jane Elliott, BBC News Online
line

Could snake venom be used to alleviate arthritis?

Joe de Casa certainly thinks it can.

Mr de Casa was bitten by an adder while clearing the undergrowth from his garden in Northamptonshire.

And the 61-year-old arthritis sufferer said the months following this were the only time in five years that he has been pain-free.


I would quite like to find another snake and invite him to bite me

Joe de Casa

"I am not suggesting that it cures arthritis, but it could possibly have anti-inflammatory properties," he said.

He first spotted the snake slithering under a dung heap at the end of his garden. Shortly after he started to feel woozy and noticed the two puncture wounds on his hand.

Pain-free

A trip to the hospital confirmed he had been bitten by an adder.

Almost immediately he started noticing the miraculous effects the venom was having on his arthritis.

Mr de Casa suffers from arthritis at the base of both thumbs and said that even two months after the incident the pain in his left hand, where he was bitten, was considerably less than that on his right.

"After the bite I noticed that the usual pain that I have in the joint of my finger had gone completely and that this lasted for three or four weeks.

"Then the pain was reduced for a couple of months, although it is now back to normal."

Mr de Casa now hopes scientists will start to investigate the properties of venom as an anti-inflammatory in the hope of helping other suffers.

"I would quite like to find another snake and invite him to bite me.

"Using snake venom certainly seems like a possible line of inquiry."

Research

A spokesman for the Arthritis Research Campaign said: "Several people have told us how the pain of their arthritis was reduced as a result of being stung by bees or after falling into beds of nettles.

"These anecdotal stories would appear to be backed up by a small clinical trial at the University of Plymouth which showed that stinging nettles reduced pain significantly.

"The team is now looking at explanations for why nettles appear to relieve pain.

"Mr de Casa's experience seems quite unusual.

"But while we certainly wouldn't encourage people to seek out an adder to bite them on the off-chance that they might feel better, it does appear that venom or stings have some kind of pain-relieving properties, although the effects might not be long-lasting."

See also:

14 Sep 00 | Africa
Snake bite antidote in Nigeria
24 Oct 01 | England
Snake shock for driver
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