Snake bites and snake stones

Snakes occur across the Karoo and consequently there are a great variety of remedies across the region for snake bite. During his travels, Carl Thunberg came across small, flat and porous stones used in the treatment of snake bite; these were called “snake stones”. He said it was possible to test whether a stone was genuine or not simply by placing it one’s palate.  A genuine snake stone clung there and this is what made it effective. “Locals said that when placed on a wound the stone would stick fast, absorb the poison and fall off only when all the venom had been extracted,” states Bartle Logie in Traveller’s Joy.  “The stone was then purified by placing it in milk.  When the milk turned blue, the stone was ready for use again.  Snake stones were used by Khoi khoi herders, farmers and by doctors. While large sums were paid for these stones, many preferred to make a poultice of the leaves of kruidtjie-roer-my nie, Melianthus comosus, to treat wounds, bruises and snake bite.”


Rose’s Roundup, April 2012 (No 219)

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