In a world where anything can become an addiction, researchers are constantly struggling to find pain relievers that aren’t addicting. Not being deterred by anything that seems too outrageous or crazy, doctors are even turning to nature for some guidance.
Scorpion venom is a substance that has recently gone through testing to determine its possible benefits for human medicine. It seems that scorpion venom is more than a potentially dangerous defense mechanism for a funny looking arachnid. Current research on scorpion venom is slow going, but there are a number of medical possibilities. Some people believe scorpion venom can one day be used to cure Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis. It has already been explored to help with some cases of multiple sclerosis and cancer, and to help with heart transplants.
Some people hope scorpion venom will be used as a painkiller one day. Pain is so debilitating to patients that doctors are always hoping for some better way to manage it. Early research has found that painkillers derived from a chemical in scorpion venom are very effective for certain types of pain. The key will be to determine what side effects it causes. Most new medications that have emerged for pain management have been extremely addicting, causing the huge prescription drug epidemic in our world today. Therefore, researchers are being very cautious about possible addiction to scorpion venom.
Stories from the other side of the world have people wondering if scorpion venom is more likely to be abused than people had hoped. It started with a Chinese man, Li Liuqun, who says he is addicted to eating live scorpions. For the past 30 years, he’s eaten over 10,000 of the creatures. When stung by a scorpion years ago, this man said “I was so angry I picked it up and bit its head off. It tasted sweet and nutty and I never looked back. To me, they’re delicious – like fried beans. (1)” It goes beyond a tasty treat for this man, though. He can easily eat 20 or more scorpions at a time, and even though he does still get stung, the venom no longer affects him. Doctors in his country believe he is now addicted to the venom.
He is not alone. A new craze for youth in India is to purposely get stung by scorpions. It has turned into a profitable clandestine business for dealers on the side of the road between Delhi and Bombay. Clients pay the scorpion owners money to be stung on their hands and feet. The sting is painful, but then users are taken over by a feeling of euphoria, much like a drug high. Sellers of scorpion stings know they have a market that isn’t going to go away for some time. Most of their clients become addicted to the venom and to the thrill of getting stung by a scorpion. More research will need to be done to determine the true addictive qualities of this substance, and how those change when the venom is altered for use.
This article was written by Bethany Winkel
Joining the TSN online family in 2008, Bethany has used her skills as a writer to reach many people through her blog. Always eager to be a help to others, she is pleased to see her writing become a source of information, encouragement, and hope for those impacted by substance abuse. Bethany is happy to be involved with an organization that is making a difference in the lives of others. Bethany has also held the position of development coordinator for a nonprofit youth center for the past 6 years. With her expertise in grant writing, Bethany has raised over $1 million for programming that benefits at-risk youth. The happy mother of 4 young children, Bethany juggles her writing from home with spending time with her family. If her hours of research for her TSN blog articles have taught her one thing, it is to be an involved parent who takes time to listen to her kids.