Snakebite venom spreads through lymphatic system

I was reading this evening and read that "venom travels through the lymphatic system NOT the circulatory system. The venom molecules are larger than can enter the bloodstream directly and instead travel in lymphatic vessels parallel to veins until entering at the heart." They also stated that death would be within minutes if it travelled through the bloodstream.

So then, we have been told that plantain will draw out blood poisoning & is good for snakebites, but how could this be effective if the venom travels through the lymphatic system? Do any of our herbalists or with a science background know?

Also, snakebites are dealt with differently in Australia since most snakes there are deadly within minutes...maybe someone from Pacifica could chime in on this too? On top of that...I didn't know that their emergency number for 911 is actually 000. Interesting!


  • frogvalley
    frogvalley Posts: 675 ✭✭✭✭

    You pose a very interesting question @LaurieLovesLearning . As long as I live, I don't think I'll know enough to write the definitive owner's manual on the human body, nor will anyone else. It helps when there are people like you who bring this things up for conversation.

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,361 admin

    @frogvalley I ask only because of curiosity. If there is an answer, I'd want to know! 😉

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,507 admin

    @LaurieLovesLearning I did not know about snake venoms and the lymphatic system. We don't have any snakes that are poisonous this far north so I haven't really looked into venoms. But rattlers can be found within about 2 1/2 hours drive so I should know more than I do.

    So off I went on a research mission to learn more. What a rabbit hole that led me down last night. Or maybe I should say hibernarium. I think I have learned more about snakes than I ever wanted to know. I really don't like snakes, not even looking at pics. Its a wonder I didn't have nightmares.

    I had thought there were only two types of envenomation. Haemotoxic (which poisons the blood and causes internal hemorrhage) and neurotoxic (which causes paralysis and respiratory arrest). But there are other methods of disabling prey as well. I discovered that most snake venoms contain several toxic enzymes (as many as 20 different ones) in varying combinations depending on the snake. Most have between 6 & 12 enzymes. Some of these enzymes are large enough that their method of transport through the body is through the lymphatic system. But the venom may also have enzymes that are smaller and may enter the vascular system at the site. The Indian Cobra has very small venom toxins which can enter the blood stream. Possibly a reason they are considered so deadly. There are also cytotoxic enzymes that may start to necrotise tissue at the wound site. Some enzymes are designed to dilate and increase permeability of blood vessels (so that might let some of the larger molecules into the vascular system). In general the elapines have neurotoxic effects while the viperines typically have haemotoxic effects with an anticoagulant and necrotising enzymes. However, there are exceptions. The Mojave Rattlesnake is a viper but it also has a neurotoxin as well. The Indian Cobra is a elapid but also has an anticoagulant effect.

    A difference that could make the Australian snakes more deadly is that the venom from Australian elapids seem to have a greater absorption rate than the North American vipers. 90% of the viper venom fails to reach circulation while the elapids have a 90% absorption rate within 4 hours.

    So a plantain poultice (or any kind of poultice) will assist in getting out some of those smaller enzymes that might enter the blood stream or to draw out the cytotoxins that are damaging local tissues.

    7Song recommends echinacea with all bites (insect or snake) and Marjory mentioned it in her snakebite booklet in addition to poultices that both recommend. Strangely enough, a cream containing nitroglycerine is suggested for slowing the absorption of some of the venoms.

    All in all, get to know the individual snakes in your area and how the venom from each one works so that you will know best how to treat it and when to go for help.

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,361 admin

    I would be the same about mice, filthy little things. I like our non-poisonous snakes as they eat mice! I am not a fan of spiders or ticks either. My kids have no issues with our snakes.

    Sorry that I sent you down the proverbial snake hole. What a way to start a new year, having nightmares about something so disliked. I hope tonight won't bring those either.

    When I went south, I heard many rattlers, but fortunately never saw any (I didn't see echinacea nor plantain either!). The worst I remember was going through a pasture on a hay ride on Wyoming and listening to the constant & loud rattles as we proceeded through the pasture. There was no pushing of anyone off that rack! 😬 It always has amazed me how those horses were never bit. I had walked through other pastures & free climbed bluffs/rocks & never heard nor saw them then. I was very fortunate, I think, as I most likely disturbed some on those climbs.

    I had done a lot of exploring in the US in quite a few states that had them. I am still surprised that I never saw those snakes.