Quoted from -

The following Lancet article came from: "...then in a letter to the editor of the prestigious medical journal The Lancet, July 26, 1986, p229, we find the following article entitled


The mainstay of treatment of a person bitten by a venomous insect or reptile is to give anti-venom as soon as possible. However, the serum needed may not be available in remote areas of the world. In Ecuador high voltage , low current electric shocks have proved very successful. In the eastern Amazon jungles of Ecuador 4% of deaths are caused by snake bites. 45% of the Waoroni tribe have been bitten by a snake and 50% of adult males will be bitten more than once. Most of the bites in Ecuador are from snakes identified by Dr. Giovanni Onores (Catholic University, Quito) as Bothrops atrox, B bileneatus, B nasutus, B schlegelei, B castelnaudi, and Lachesis muta.

The idea of using an electrical current for treating venomous bites arose from a report in a local paper in Illinois, USA, of a farmer who was hyperallergic to bee stings and who found that applying a high voltage, low amperage, direct current shock to the site of his bee stings prevented his usual severe reactions. For snake bites a 20-25 kV,  1 mA direct current is applied to the site of the bite. The bitten area (usually a limb) is electrically grounded as close to the site as possible and current is applied via an insulated probe to the bite for 1-2s. Usually four or five shocks are given with 5-10s between them. An outboard motor is one commonly available source of such current.

A lead carrying an insulated probe can be attached to a spark plug, and the current is best applied with the engine at half-throttle. Other motors with spark plugs (eg, lawnmowers and auxiliary lighting plants) have also been used with excellent results.

We have records on 34 cases of bites on limbs where there was evidence of penetration of the skin. The current was applied within 30 min, and 10-15 min later all pain had gone and the usual sequelae of an untreated bite (swelling, serosanguinous bullae, bleeding, shock, and renal failure) did not develop. No patient died. After an hour the patient was usually able to go home. At follow-up there was no necrosis of tissue around the bite due to the bite or treatment. 7 people who refused the shock treatment experienced the classic complications and 2 needed life-saving amputations. 2 other patients were not treated until 2h after being bitten by viper snakes (B atrox and L muta) and they arrived with swollen limbs and intense pain; 1 had signs of spontaneous bleeding. Seven electrical treatments were given, producing pain relief in 30 min; 12h later the swellings had not progressed and there were no signs of bleeding. After 3 days the swelling had almost disappeared; however, 1 had a small necrotic area around the bite site.

This technique has been used equally successfully by other investigators in the jungles of Ecuador for other types of bite, such as those of the ant (Paraponera sp). Colleagues in Irian Jaya, Indonesia, and Peru have also used this technique with similar results. Moving towards a more portable system for this treatment, we have modified a 5 x 13 cm unit, popularly known as a "stun gun", with a 9 V battery to deliver a direct pulsating current of around 25 kV and less than 1 mA. One probe acts as a ground terminal while the other applies the current to the bite. Such currents do not stimulate myocardial muscle.

The biological basis of this treatment is unknown. There may be a local effect on the host tissues or there may be a direct effect on the activity of the venom itself. Venom has a short half-life and a shut-down of local vessels by electrospasm may confine the venom locally long enough for it to become inactive. Whatever the mechanism, this technique is a practicable and potentially life saving procedure. Hospital Vozandes, Quito, Ecuador Ronald H. Guderian Wolfson Tropical Pathology Unit London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine London WCIE 7H7 Charles D. Mackenzie Department of Microbiology and Public Health Michigan State University, USA

Comments by others after reading this on a metal detecting forum:

This isn't a new idea, most of us have heard about using DC current to neutralize snake venom. Years ago there was quite a bit written about it. However, anybody heard the latest on it? I actually used this method one time, about 10 years ago, to completely neutralize a Black Widow bite. Here goes the story. I was welding on a project in the back yard one afternoon, and I moved an 8 hp motor, amounst many other things. About 5 minutes after finishing I noticed pain in the web between two of my fingers. Didn't think much of it and kept working. 10 minutes later this pain had become pretty intense and I noticed a slight swelling. I checked the area closely and saw a small, but bright red welt. I figured it was a nasty sticker that got me, or something like that, and tried to dismiss it. However, after another 5 minutes it was real clear something was wrong. Swelling was very obvious and the pain very intense. I now figured that bright welt just might be a bite of some kind.

I retraced my steps, flipped over that motor, and saw a BIG Black Widow with two legs missing. Obviously I had put my hand right on her and she nailed me good. I immediately recalled reading an article in a recent Outdoor Magazine about the use of DC current to "treat" venomous bites. Following its advice, I took the plug wire off the motor (after dispatching the spider), put the wound on my hand directly on the plug, and with the other hand cranked that sucker half a dozen times. Yes, it was a bit painful. And yes, I was more than slightly irritated, however, the end result was worth it.

Anyways, and this absolutely delighted and amazed me, within minutes, 3 at the most, the pain started to noticably subside! Within 20 minutes the swelling started to go down, and by 45 minutes I was back at work and had nearly forgotten the incident!!!!! That evening there was not the slightest pain and absolutley no indication of swelling. Just a tiny red dot that didn’t bother me in any way whatsoever. When my older brother was a teen he was bit by a Black Widow and ended up in bed, sick as a dog, for 3 days. So, needless to say I was pretty impressed and shared this info with a lot of my friends at the time. One fellow said that maybe the positive reaction I received was due to the "mind over matter" effect of my having read the article. Possibly, but I really doubt it. First off, I was zapping myself, not out of faith in the method, but out of desperation because I remembered how sick my brother became from that bite. I didn’t want to be a victim as well.

Another Comment:

The article in "Treasure" magazine which sparked so much interest, and even a part in "60 Minutes," was written by little 'ol me. No brag, just fact. I took the info from the British medical journal, "The Lancet." The first part of the whole story took place in the US midwest, when a farmer who was deathly allergic to bee stings got stung on the hand, and, to his horror, found that his antivenom kit had been misplaced. Deciding to "loose a hand rather than his life," he attempted to cauterize the site with the spark plug wire from his tractor engine. It killed the effect of the venom. This was reported by his doctor in an Amercian medical journal, and two doctors in South America (one British, the other German) took up on it, and did experiments. They determined that FIVE closley-spaced shocks, of no more than 25,000 volts, at less than 1 milliamp, at the site of the bite, totally destroyed the effect of deadly snake bites, if the shocks were administered quickly enough. This information was made public, and lots of people now claim that their lives have been saved by electrical shock therapy after snake, bee, wasp, etc. stings/bites. Really. Interestingly, a friend of mine has a little electrical shocker, which he uses to cure muscle pain. He claims that on several occaisions he has used it to neutralize bee stings. Seemingly, even little shocks help. I just bought a couple of portable hand-held "bug zappers" at the San Bernardino show, and they give a nifty zap. I plan to carry them with me when in the field, as a precaution. NOTE: all my efforts to get the FDA to concede that the method works have come to nothing. Very frustrating. Anyway, I hope readers find this helpful. The original article generated an enormous amount of publicity. Although I CANNOT TELL YOU TO DO SO (as I was ordered by the FDA) IT IS UP TO YOU TO DECIDE TO USE SUCH A METHOD TO CURE SNAKE BITES. Nuff said? HH Jim.

A Theory regarding how this procedure works:

Apparently, venoms's molecular structure is held together with a very loose electrical charge.  Administering a low amperage DC volt current apparently disrupts venoms electrical molecular bonding and causes the molecules to break apart thereby neutralizing the venom.  Please be aware that this is theory only.   There have been no clinical trials to verify the efficiency of this method.

Use the zapper on snake bites at your own risk and seek medical attention immediately.