Black stone, or viper’s stone as it is popularly called, has been used for years traditionally to treat snakebite, scorpion bite and infections in Africa, India, Asia and South America. Other names are snakestone, snake pearl, serpent stone, cobra pearl, der schwarze Stein, nagamani, la pierre noire, der schwarze Stein.
There is also another form, Adder stone, used in the earlier Celtic era of Europe. It is made from a glass with holes and used to drive away evil spirit rather than snake bites.
Kazwini, a 13th century Persian/Iranian writer, also described the snake-stone in his work, Aja’ib al-Makhluqat. In his writing, he described how the cure works. They place the wound from a venomous creature in warm water or sour milk. The snake-stone is added to the water or sour milk to draw out the venom.
Snake stone has absorptive ability and works to neutralize the snake venom. Although it is called black stone, it’s made from animal bone. Alternatively, it is got from the head of the snake and also the tail.
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NOTE: This stone should not be used instead of the recommended snake treatment drug – serum antidote. However, in extreme condition, when the antidote is not readily available, it can be of great help.
Black stone is absorptive in nature and this can be confirmed by placing it on the tongue. It will stick like a glue.
How effective is the black stone as a snake antidote?
In Africa and South American countries like Peru, most people in rural areas apply black stone to the snakebite. They tied the black stone to the snake bite area and left for hours and days. According to reports, the stone will fall off after drawing out all the poison.
In a study by Jean-Philippe Chippaux et al., they administered the venom of Bitis arietans, Echis ocellatus and Naja nigricollis on experimental mice using four different methods. The result did not prove that black stone is effective in eliminating snake venom.
However, the black stone powder reduced the toxicity of the venom as if it fixed the venom protein. This is not enough since venom diffuse rapidly from the point of entry.
In Peru, nursing students are taught how to make the snakestone even when there is no strong evidence about the efficacy.
The effectiveness of this treatment is not well established and proven.
However, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has reiterated that the non-conventional treatment methods such as wound incision, excision, suction and use of snake-stone on snake bite have no healing effect since most snake bites are from non-venomous snakes.
How is Blackstone made?
- Remove an old long bone from the hindquarters of a buffalo, ox or cow. Old bones have less fat hence they are prefarable.
- Wash and dry it with detergent many times to remove dirts, oil, grease.
- Cut it into pieces like 5 cm by 2 cm.
- Open the pores of the bone by filling it.
- Put wood coal on a metal sheet, wrap the foil. Apply heat to it.
- When the metal sheet is hot, open the coal and put the bones in it. Cover it again with the coal for 15 minutes.
- When the bone becomes black and shiny, remove it from the coal with a tong and put it in cold water from the river, stream or spring. Do not use chlorine treated water or boiled water. It hardens the stone.
How to apply the black stone
- Wash the snake bite wound.
- Using a sterile object like a surgical blade, make a minor cut in the snake bit area.
- Place the black stone in the area you made the cut till it stick by itself. The patient should restrict movement.
- Treat the patient with recommend antibiotics such as Penicillin G and Dicloxacillin.