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Snake skin

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Related terms
Background
Evidencetable
Tradition
Dosing
Safety
Interactions
Attribution
Bibliography

Related Terms
  • Keratin, snake slough.

Background
  • Snake skin has scales that serve various functions and change over the life cycle of the snake. Snake skin and scales help to retain moisture, serve as a form of camouflage, and are used for traction. The scales contain keratin, which makes them hard and shiny; keratin is also found in the hair, hooves, and horns of mammals.
  • Snake skin is traditionally used for various skin disorders, such as abscesses, acne, boils, itching, and sores. Human research is limited.
  • Snake skin, in combination with other traditional Chinese herbs and injections of sodium iodide into the eye, has been examined as a treatment for corneal opacity, a condition in which the cornea (the transparent structure of the eye) becomes opaque, meaning light may not pass though efficiently. Studies employing snake skin alone are necessary in order to determine if it has any effect on this condition.

Evidence Table

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. GRADE *


Snake skin has been used as part of a combination of other traditional Chinese herbs and an injection of sodium iodide in a study examining its effect on corneal opacity (a condition in which the transparent structure of the eye becomes opaque). Additional research is needed before a firm conclusion can be made.

C
* Key to grades

A: Strong scientific evidence for this use
B: Good scientific evidence for this use
C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use
D: Fair scientific evidence for this use (it may not work)
F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likley does not work)


Tradition / Theory

The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.

  • Abscesses, acne, anticonvulsant, boils, carbuncles, hemorrhoids, itching, psoriasis, skin conditions, sore throat, sores.

Dosing

Adults (18 years and older)

  • There is a lack of safety or efficacy information regarding the use of snake skin in adults.

Children (under 18 years old)

  • There is a lack of safety or efficacy information regarding the use of snake skin in children.

Safety

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.

Allergies

  • Avoid with known allergy or hypersensitivity to snake skin or its constituents.

Side Effects and Warnings

  • There is currently a lack of information on adverse effects associated with snake skin.
  • High levels of heavy metals may be found in snake skin. Use only snake skin from trusted sources.
  • Use cautiously during pregnancy and lactation, due to insufficient safety evidence.
  • Avoid with known allergy or hypersensitivity to snake skin or its constituents.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

  • Use cautiously during pregnancy and lactation, due to insufficient safety evidence.

Interactions

Interactions with Drugs

  • Insufficient available evidence.

Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements

  • Insufficient available evidence.

Attribution
  • This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).

Bibliography
  1. Baby, A. R., Haroutiounian-Filho, C. A., Sarruf, F. D., Tavante-Junior, C. R., Pinto, C. A. S. D. O., Zague, V., Areas, E. P. G., Kaneko, T. M., and Velasco, M. V. R. Stability and in vitro penetration study of rutin incorporated in a cosmetic emulsion through an alternative model biomembrane. Brazilian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences (Revista Brasileira de Ciencias Farmaceuticas) 2008;44:233-248.
  2. Burken, R. R., Wertz, P. W., and Downing, D. T. A survey of polar and nonpolar lipids extracted from snake skin. Comp Biochem.Physiol B 1985;81(2):315-318.
  3. Burken, R. R., Wertz, P. W., and Downing, D. T. The effect of lipids on transepidermal water permeation in snakes. Comp Biochem.Physiol A Comp Physiol 1985;81(2):213-216.
  4. Haigh, J. M., Beyssac, E., Chanet, L., and Aiache, J. M. In vitro permeation of progesterone from a gel through the shed skin of three different snake species. International Journal of Pharmaceutics 1998;170(2):151-156.
  5. Harada, K., Murakami, T., Kawasaki, E., Higashi, Y., Yamamoto, S., and Yata, N. In-vitro permeability to salicylic acid of human, rodent, and shed snake skin. J Pharm.Pharmacol. 1993;45(5):414-418.
  6. Itoh, T., Xia, J., Magavi, R., Nishihata, T., and Rytting, J. H. Use of shed snake skin as a model membrane for in vitro percutaneous penetration studies: comparison with human skin. Pharm.Res 1990;7(10):1042-1047.
  7. Jones, D. E. and Holladay, S. D. Excretion of three heavy metals in the shed skin of exposed corn snakes (Elaphe guttata). Ecotoxicol.Environ.Saf 2006;64(2):221-225.
  8. Kang, L., Park, M. O., and Jun, H. W. Two-phase melt systems of ibuprofen for enhanced membrane permeation. Pharm.Dev.Technol. 2004;9(4):349-357.
  9. Ngawhirunpat, T., Panomsuk, S., Opanasopit, P., Rojanarata, T., and Hatanaka, T. Comparison of the percutaneous absorption of hydrophilic and lipophilic compounds in shed snake skin and human skin. Pharmazie 2006;61(4):331-335.
  10. Ngawhirunpat, T., Opanasopit, P., Rojanarata, T., Panomsuk, S., and Chanchome, L. Evaluation of simultaneous permeation and metabolism of methyl nicotinate in human, snake, and shed snake skin. Pharm.Dev.Technol. 2008;13(1):75-83.
  11. Pongjanyakul, T., Prakongpan, S., Panomsuk, S., Puttipipatkhachorn, S., and Priprem, A. Shed king cobra and cobra skins as model membranes for in-vitro nicotine permeation studies. J Pharm.Pharmacol. 2002;54(10):1345-1350.
  12. Rigg, P. C. and Barry, B. W. Shed snake skin and hairless mouse skin as model membranes for human skin during permeation studies. J Invest Dermatol. 1990;94(2):235-240.
  13. Wang, Z., Itoh, Y., Hosaka, Y., Kobayashi, I., Nakano, Y., Maeda, I., Umeda, F., Yamakawa, J., Nishimine, M., Suenobu, T., Fukuzumi, S., Kawase, M., and Yagi, K. Mechanism of enhancement effect of dendrimer on transdermal drug permeation through polyhydroxyalkanoate matrix. J Biosci.Bioeng. 2003;96(6):537-540.
  14. Yuan, X. and Capomacchia, A. C. The binary eutectic of NSAIDS and two-phase liquid system for enhanced membrane permeation. Pharm.Dev.Technol. 2005;10(1):1-10.
  15. Zhang, R. J., Zhao, Y. W., Tang, F. U., Sheng, S. S., and Zhou, Y. Y. Clinical effect of traditional Chinese herbs combined with sodium iodide in treatng corneal opacity. International Journal of Ophthalmology 2007;7(1)

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.

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