Snake Bites
Activated Charcoal for Poisonous Bites

It seems right to have a healthy respect for things like scorpions, yellow jackets, and fire ants especially after you have been stung. However we all come alert at the mention of “snake!” Snake bites come in many sizes and shapes. Not all are poisonous but those that are will often be benifited by a first aid application of activated charcoal. Activated charcoal is known to adsorb the poisons that destroy red blood cells. If the snake is venomous pain and swelling will usually  begin within ten minutes.

While we have numerous testimonies of the use of activated charcoal (AC) for poisonous snake bites, actual studies are strangely missing. There is one study* for cobra venom in The Complete Handbook p.122

In one experiment, one hundred times the lethal dose of Cobra venom was mixed with charcoal and injected into a laboratory animal. The animal was not harmed in the least.

*Boquet, A, Adsorption of cobra venom and diphtheria toxin by carbon, Comp. Rend. 187:959, 1928
(It is not clear if this was plain or activated charcoal)


While on a hike, John, who was about fifteen at the time, encountered a small rattlesnake. When I called, he gave me the details: “I had been successful in picking one up earlier in the day. So, I proceeded to try again. Only I did not grab it close enough to the head. It was able to squirm around and bite me on the second knuckle of my index finger, but only with one fang. Instantly there was pain. Over an hour elapsed before I was able to get back to my father, who was a doctor. My arm was swollen tight to the elbow, and the pain was severe.

“To allow for some bleeding, my father made an incision near the puncture. Then, from 3 pm till midnight, he applied a tourniquet, releasing it and tightening it as I showed signs of faintness. It was about two hours before we were able to apply any charcoal. My mother, an RN, made up a thick charcoal paste and smeared it over my hand. She put gauze over the paste, and then a plastic bag over the entire hand.

“Later, they immersed my entire arm in cold water with pulverized charcoal. Mother also gave me Blue Kohosh tea to drink. By the next morning the swelling had almost disappeared and soon I was fully recovered.” page 120

Russel’s Viper

Before we hear Beth’s story, let me give you a little background on the Russel’s viper. Its venom is extremely lethal, destroying the walls of arteries and causing heavy internal hemorrhages. Victims often begin to cough blood. A bite can be fatal within forty-eight hours, if it is not treated with antivenin with an immediate positive effect. There was a time when this snake killed more people in the world than any other snake! The Indian cobra may be the most revered and respected snake of Sri Lanka, but the Russel's viper is probably the most feared and hated. Hated because of its deceptive nature, as it is often confused with a harmless snake.

Beth tells this remarkable story: “A woman was bitten by a Russel’s viper. Her neighbor immediately pulverized some charcoal and, making a paste, plastered the area with charcoal. The woman was then rushed to a hospital, but there was no anti-venom in the area. The woman suffered no complications! Because there were no side effects, her husband would not believe that the snake was poisonous. So he had an expert come. But the expert positively identified the snake to be venomous. The woman was convinced it was the early use of charcoal that had saved her.” page 124


Whether you are in America, Europe, Asia or Africa, there is little comfort when it comes to being bitten by a poisonous snake, unless…

Carl and Beverley are currently involved with development work in Uganda and southern Sudan. I happened to discover the following snake encounter posted in their web diary. They have allowed me to share it. Beverly writes: “Sept. 3, Arua, Uganda - One of our Guards, Samuel, came to the house early this morning with the report that his wife had been bitten by a snake last evening. She had made it through the night, but the leg was swelling and painful. I brought her home and put charcoal poultices on it (used cornstarch to thicken with), covered that with a plastic bag, and changed it about every half hour. I also gave her two teaspoons of charcoal to drink every half hour for the first hour, then once an hour for the rest of the day. Within thirty minutes the pain had significantly reduced and within an hour she could bear a little weight on the leg. By evening she was walking with a slight limp. Only the toe that was bitten still remained painful. She will keep charcoal on it all night.

“Sept. 5 - Update. Samuel reports that his wife is fine. She was weak for a day or two, but was able to move about. Today she is back to normal.” page 124

On Hand

These stories of pain and suffering represent just a small collection of experiences from “your neighbor next door” as well as professional health workers. But the one thing they all have in common is the outcome. They all demonstrated the efficacy of charcoal as a simple and powerful healing agent.

Once again these experiences emphasize that the degree of recovery is directly related to the promptness of applying charcoal. If it is available, you should seek professional medical help. However, first use your new emergency anti-poison – charcoal, before you race off.

To find out more how charcoal can help you treat poisonous snake bites, and many common ailments, simply and naturally, right in your home, order the book now.