Can You Use Charcoal To Cure Poisonous Snake Bites


Everybody loves to think about those emergency “What Would I Do” scenarios. What if I get attacked by a shark? How do I get out of quicksand? What should I do if I encounter a bear?

Maybe these thoughts are leftover from a time where humans actually had to fend for themselves or we could just be trying to add a little excitement into our lives(even if it’s imagined). Although most of these survival scenarios are unlikely, snakebites are a very real threat.

Every year approximately 130,000 people die from snake bites. Most of those people are in Africa and Asia without easy access to health care, but poisonous snakebites are still somewhat common in the United States (7000 cases per year).

Luckily, the United States has one of the best health care systems in the world. Our pricing might be outrageous, but few countries can beat our quality of care and technological advancements.

Luckily, most of the snakes in the United States have slow acting venom which buys you a little time. With quick access to a hospital there’s very little chance of death, but what if you can’t get to the hospital in time? Can you temporarily treat snake bites at home?

Can You Treat Poisonous Snakebites At Home?

Obviously, if you get bit just go to a hospital. Don’t risk your life by trying natural snake cure remedies. That being said, if you’re in a remote area without access to emergency healthcare a home remedy just could save your life, or at the very least slow down the poison until you can get an anti-venom.

Does Activated Charcoal Help Snake Bites?

There is definite evidence that suggests activated charcoal will help snakebite victims in the short term. This is a short term solution to slow down the spread of poison in a life or death scenario. Always go to the hospital immediately if you get bit by a snake.

Using activated charcoal to slow the spread of venom is a short term solution and needs to be followed up by emergency medical services. Don’t be stupid and try to treat a snake bite at home. Just go to the hospital if you can.

Using Activated Charcoal To Cure Snake Bites

I’m not a doctor so it wouldn’t be right for me to teach you how to treat a poisonous snake bite with venom. It’s a very complicated process where you have to create a activated charcoal poultice within the first 10 minutes of getting bit(good luck) and wrap the bite area replacing the wrap every 10 to 15 minutes until you can get to a hospital.

There are very few legitimate resources available online to explain this process. The only source I found was John Dinsley’s book The Complete Handbook of Medicinal Charcoal and Its Applications (On Amazon). The video below shows how you can make a charcoal poultice.

Will a Charcoal Poultice Actually Help?

Making a charcoal poultice might work in theory, but I don’t see how anybody could actually do this within 10 minutes in an emergency. You would need to have all the supplies on hand and easy to find.

You will still need to get to the hospital so you can get anti-venom. Charcoal is really just buying you a little bit of time by reducing inflammation which therefore slows down the spread of venom.

With the slow acting venom of the poisonous snakes in the United States these remedies aren’t really applicable. Realistically there’s very little chance you would actually have activated charcoal out in the wilderness.

The only time this could possibly help is if you lived hours away from the nearest hospital which seems unlikely.

Here’s What You Should Do if You Bit by a Snake

  • Immediately go to the emergency room. Even if the snake is poisonous you will still need to prevent infection.
  • Try to stay still and avoid moving the limb that was bitten. Moving the limb speeds up blood flow. All poisonous snake bites in the United States can be successfully treated if you get to the hospital immediately for anti-venom.
  • Try to take a picture of the snake or at the very least you should come up with a description. The doctor can usually figure out what type of snake it was by your location and the snakes color.
  • You can use tylenol for pain, but don’t use any pain reliever that thins your blood. Don’t take aspirin, ibuprofen or other painkillers that thin your blood.
  • Do not apply a tourniquet to cut off blood flow, try to suck out the venom or try to capture/kill the snake.

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