I have heard that snake venom is safe to ingest. Normally when I hear about this it is about hemotoxic venoms such as that of a rattlesnake.

The argument towards snake venom being safe to ingest is that snake venom is digested into amino acids.

However no matter the kind of venom there are always going to be side effects from ingesting it.

For hemotoxic venom it is internal bleeding in the peritoneum as well as anemia. This is really bad because the person will be in a lot of pain, barely conscious if at all, and have the symptoms of anemia. Rattlesnake venom in particular also causes nausea and vomiting so it can feel like you have a severe stomach infection.

For neurotoxic venom it is the digestive system not working at all or digesting too fast depending on the venom.

For myotoxic venom it is muscle injury which can cause muscle soreness.

For cytotoxic venom it is killing of all cells. However if we had a natural antivenom(like our antibodies reacting to the venom and our wbcs getting rid of it) we could use cytotoxic venom to cure cancer if our cytotoxic T cells aren't active enough.

For cardiotoxic venom it is the heart stopping or beating too fast.

In fact I think that snake venom is more acid resistant than most proteins and so less will be digested. Also the proteins might be too complex for pepsin to break them down.

So is hemotoxic snake venom safe to ingest or is it something with a high risk of poisoning if it gets ingested and there are no wounds in the digestive system?

  • 4
    In your question you make it clear there are different types of venom and I don't think you even summarized all of them. I would guess that some are harmless to ingest and others aren't. So which one(s) are you asking about? Covering all known snake venoms sounds like a research paper to me.
    – Carey Gregory
    Feb 12 '16 at 2:10
  • I have voted to re-open it looks the question was narrowed after closing and is no longer too broad. P.S. It is also in the top 5 google hits for 'ingest venom' Feb 26 '18 at 15:53

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