Unexpected Health Benefits Of Scorpion Venom

If you live in the Southwestern part of the United States, you may have learned from a young age that you'd better check your shoes for scorpions before stepping into them. While the rest of the country collectively shivers at the thought, you might be quick to point out that those little pests aren't really as scary as they may seem.

Here in the U.S., only the bark scorpion has a sting that would be cause for any real concern (per Mayo Clinic). And while they may be painful, they are very rarely lethal. In fact, most healthy adults don't require medical attention after getting stung. With that said, a scorpion sting is no walk in the park, and we'd venture a guess that most people hope to go their whole lives without coming into contact with scorpion venom. However, a growing body of evidence suggests that scorpion venom can provide a range of health benefits in humans. Let's take a closer look.

Benefits of scorpion venom

While trying to better understand how to treat scorpion stings, scientists discovered that several peptides within scorpion venom might actually have therapeutic effects, according to a 2020 review published in Biomedicines. Bioactive molecules containing antimicrobial, immunosuppressive, analgesic, and anti-cancer properties have all been identified within the venom. To that effect, scorpion venom is already being widely used in China as a treatment for neurological disorders like cerebral palsy and epilepsy, according to a 2019 study published in the International Journal of Peptide Research and Therapeutics.

Multiple studies have also indicated that scorpion venom has pain relieving properties. One 2019 study published in Cell discovered a toxin within the venom that can provide relief from chronic pain. Researchers at Stanford University recently published an article in PNAS detailing a scorpion in Mexico that has venom that could be loaded with antimicrobial properties — a massive undertaking as scientists look for alternative ways to fight increasingly resistant strains of bacteria (per UF Health). 

These findings are encouraging, but UF Health explains that scorpion venom is highly valuable, however costly to extract — estimates are poised at $39 million for a gallon! For that reason, scientists hope to isolate the ingredients within the venom that are deemed beneficial, and find a way to synthesize them.