When you think of a scorpion, the first thing that comes to mind is that scary, nasty poisonous tail. You really don’t want to have one of these things napping in your shoe.
But, looks like the nightmarish creature may be offering pain sufferers some hope in the future. There is ongoing research into the pain-reducing effects of scorpion venom, and it looks promising. This is a subject of great interest, as popular opiate-based pain medications like morphine and codeine have undesirable side effects; notably addiction and withdrawal symptoms.
Scorpion venom interacts with sodium channels in muscles and nerves, which are involved in the transmission of pain signals to the brain. Prof. Michael Gurevitz of Tel Aviv University’s Department of Plant Sciences is investigating new ways for developing a novel painkiller based on natural compounds found in the venom. According to Dr. Guervitz, these compounds have gone through millions of years of evolution and some show high efficacy and specificity for certain components of the body with no side effects. His research team is trying to understand how toxins in the venom interact with sodium channels at the molecular level, and whether or not they can be modified to make them specific to certain sodium channels associated with pain.
If successfully developed, this new class of drugs could be useful against serious burns and cuts, as well as in the military and in the aftermath of earthquakes and natural disasters, according to Dr. Guervitz.
I hope that the good doctor finds success with his research. Although this blog is about overcoming pain without the use of drugs (exercises, diet strategies, natural supplements, psychological techniques, lifestyle changes, manual therapy) there are those who simply need some form of quick and powerful pain blocking in order to live a normal life. If scorpion venom can help some people achieve this, it could mean a lot to those suffering from intractable pain. Bee venom apparently has some success in reducing arthritic pain; perhaps scorpion venom, being more potent, can some day be a more potent, safer pain killer alternative.