José Luis Casañas had already been stung on purpose by bees as a pain reliever. That’s why, when he heard that Cuban scientists were using scorpion venom to combat cancer, he also wanted to try it.
“If it’s good for cancer it has to be good to cure other things,” he said to himself, and he went out in search of one of those terrifying arachnids under the stones of his home’s backyard. When he found the first, he surrounded it with his hands, placed it on his waist and squeezed it….
Ten years later, this farmer from the zone of Carabela, in the municipality of Los Palacios, trusts in the effectiveness of the therapy.
“Some months ago my elbow was slogan. I couldn’t do any of this,” he says while bending up and down his right arm, “I couldn’t even comb myself or brush my teeth. So I put a scorpion to the elbow so it would sting me, and I was OK again.”
Since he doesn’t know when he will need it, José Luis always runs around with a scorpion on his head, under his hat. Just in case.
“I put them there and they stay very still, because it is a humid and dark environment, like the ones in which they live,” he explains.
There was one time when he threw the hat at a hen, to frighten it away, without remembering that the animal was there. When he picked it up and put it on, the scorpion, furious due to the shaking, stung him in the middle of the head: “That time it hurt as never before, but afterwards all my ailments went away for a long time.”
José Luis doesn’t know which properties of the venom make it good for curing, but he affirms that it is good for muscular aches and pains and the inflammation of the articulations.
“You place it where it hurts, be it the knee, the elbow, the arm, the waist, and as soon as the pain from the sting goes away, you will feel relief. The only part you have to be careful with is the jugular, because it can be dangerous close to that area,” he affirms.
“I always placed two bees on the hip, on top of the buttocks, for the arthritis, before I started using scorpions. My brother Pedro one time almost couldn’t walk and he cured himself with them. He used to take off his shirt close to the beehives so they would sting him, and that’s how he got better.”
After testing with several animals, Casañas says that the scorpion venom provides faster relief. They can be female or male, it doesn’t matter. That’s why he has been breeding them for a decade in a corner of the family farm, where he has always worked.
Every morning when I go out, I collect one of them and take it with me under my hat, and in the evening, when I come home, I set it loose. Sometimes my wrist hurts, and as soon as I make it sting me, I can continue cutting the weeds as if nothing had happened.”
At least twice a month José Luis applies a dose of this rare “painkiller.”
“One day I told the family doctor that I went to see her so she would tell me what was wrong with me, but that I applied the medicine,” he tells us.
For Dr. Jorge Hernández, a specialist in physical medicine and rehabilitation, the explanation could be that the scorpion “injections” causes in José Luis a neurological dissociation of pain, or that the animal’s toxin produces the analgesia in that zone.
“It’s something that would have to be studied, with a broader sample of patients, before reaching a definitive opinion,” he says. However, he recognizes that it’s not the first time that he has had references of similar cases.
“There have already been other persons who affirm having felt relief after a bee sting and with the venom from some type of toad, but they are still therapies that have not been demonstrated and that many people would surely reject.”
The Vidatox-30 CH is produced in Cuba. It is a homeopathic medicine against cancer whose active principle is the venom of the blue scorpion (Rophalurus junceus), endemic to the island.
Developed in Cienfuegos and endorsed by the Center for the State Control of Medicine, Medical Equipment and Devices (CECMED), the Vidatox-30 CH is used to improve the quality of life of cancer patients because of its analgesic and anti-inflammatory character. In addition, it has been used in geriatric patients complaining of aches and pains.
Although according to medical literature the scorpion venom is a powerful neurotoxin, capable of causing from a simple inflammation to acute poisoning, and even the failure of some organs, this 71-year-old farmer says that – at least in the case of the species that exist in the zone where he lives – “it all depends on the person.”
“All medicines have their contraindications. If you are allergic or your defenses are low, then it can be dangerous. If not, nothing will happen to you. On the contrary, when the pain of the sting goes away you will feel better,” he affirms.
Even so, there’s no one in the family or in the barrio who has wanted to try the treatment. Surely, despite José Luis’ recommendations, for fear that the solution will end up being worse than the problem.