When it comes to pain relief opiates (such as morphine) have been a more traditional option for many doctors and their patients in the medical field for various reasons. The problems associated with opiates is that over time if the dosage has to be maintained many patients will grow tolerant of the drug requiring more and more dosage over time. The problem with this is that many opiates will cause some serious side effects such as constipation, nausea, and worst of all they may fall into the trap of drug dependency. Opiates are a powerful drug and though they serve their purpose there may be a price to pay from having to rely on this drugs that goes beyond what’s in your wallet.
Eric Lingueglia, a molecular physiologist at the Institute of Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology in Valbonne, France points out that it’s important to seek out and discover drugs that can have a similar impact on pain reduction, but with different actions. Snake proteins known as mambalgins were discovered as part of some research that was done in order to find some alternatives to opiate drugs such as morphine. Extensive research of the mambalgins (which is derived from the black mamba) reduced hypersensitivity to pain following tissue inflammation when tested. Studies were done on mice and the findings showed that when mice were injected with the mambalgins they could withstand hot water on their tails and paws for twice as long as untreated mice in the same test. Mambalgins also didn’t slow the breathing rate of the mice which is usually a dangerous side effect of opioids during such use of the drug. This is another negative side effect that should inspire other alternatives to the opioids.
Morphine functions by acting on the opioid receptors where the mambalgins bind and inhibit molecules in the acid-sensing ion channels (ASICs). The reason this is different is that the mambalgins act here where pores are formed in the membrane of neurons and it has been theorized that this is the source of pain transmission.
The good news is that these new pain relievers derived from snake venom are a growing area in the medical field. The key is that people are searching for drugs, or drug alternatives to meet their needs associated with medical issues while also minimizing, or eliminating negative side effects. The mambalgins are proteins that are derived from the black mamba, but other proteins that are unique and incredibly useful to pain relief have been derived from Cobra venom as well.
The unique cobra protein known as ohanin is a protein found in cobra venom that is so unique in its makeup compared to other snake venoms that it isn’t categorized into any of the existing venom families. It is basically in a category by itself as the first of a new line of venoms. Having said that, the cobra venom is also tremendously effective in hyperalgesia which is the heightening of the sensitivity to pain. While this may not seem to be a desirable trait of a painkiller, the value here is its reaction on the body’s nervous system. This is the value of ohanin. Because its effect is so prominent, researchers have been able to conclude that the protein can be manipulated in order to incorporate and enhance desired features for what could be the first effective painkiller derived from cobra venom.
In closing, proteins derived from snake venom have been rather useful in the discovery of new medicinal properties. The research is ongoing, but there are products that are currently available for purchase for the purpose of pain relief.
One product that is great for treating sore muscles and joints is Cobrazol. It contains cobra venom as one of its main active ingredients. Check it out and test it for yourself.