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Snake-Stones or Black-Stones are used to treat snake bites in many parts of the world.


Black Stone / la Pierre Noire

Black Stone, also known as "the viper's stone, the black stone, der schwarze Stein, la pierre noire, la piedrita negra."[1] or "serpent-stone"[2] is used as a treatment for snake bite in Africa, South America and Asia.[3][4] Although called a stone, it is made from animal bones.[5][6]

Black stone is still widely used[7] and promoted.[1][8]

Description of use

There are differing accounts of how to use a black stone. Dr. Linnea Smith reports that in Peru, "It [black stone] is to be applied to the site of a poisonous snakebite and tied firmly in place. It is left there for several days, during which time it supposedly draws the venom from the wound. Once the poison is all removed, the ‘stone’ loosens of its own accord and falls off."[9]

Making a black stone

The steps suggested in this leaflet[8] are:

  • Choose a large dry thigh cow bone
  • Cut it into small pieces
  • Smooth them with sandpaper
  • Wrap the pieces in foil
  • Place in a charcoal fire for 15 to 20 minutes

Views on snakestones expressed in scientific studies

  • A Nigerian study recommended "education on the need to avoid the use of popular first aid measures of doubtful benefit."[10] However the same doctors reported a year later that Black Stone may be beneficial.[2]
  • A Bolivian medical study stated that "contrary to widespread belief, no efficacy to treat envenomation may be expected of the BS" (Black Stone)[11]
  • An Indian study stated that "unscientific methods like ‘black stone’ healing contribute to the delay in seeking appropriate medical care."[4]
  • A Nigerian study found that "... black stone appears to have beneficial effects by reducing the average antivenom requirement of patients and more studies are needed ..."[2]

Medical policy

An International Labour Organization technical workshop stated that "Local medicine, for instance black stone for snake bites, should be provided to those working in the plantations."[12]

In Peru, Dr. Linnea Smith reports that "despite the fact that the state nursing course book admits that no evidence has ever been produced to document the effectiveness of the black stone, each student is required to make ... one ... as a part of the first aid module."[9]


Snake-Stones are usually taken from the head of the snake but have been said to be extracted from the tail as well.


Arab writer Kazwini describes the snake stone as being the size of a small nut.[citation needed] An injury inflected by a venomous creature is to be immersed in warm water or sour milk, the snake stone is then dropped into the liquid which immediately draws out the poison.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Snake-Stones". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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