First Advisor

William York

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Biology and University Honors






Poisonous snakes -- Venom -- Therapeutic use, Rheumatoid arthritis -- Alternative treatment, Pain -- Treatment, Elapidae, Viperidae




This paper reviews the existing literature on the uses of snake venom in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and pain management. Venom from the families Elapidae and Viperidae have been shown to have anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects. The analgesic findings of research on arthritis murine models are discussed, and the existing uses of snake venom in medicine to suggest the therapeutic potential of venom in the pain management of rheumatoid arthritis are taken into account. Snake venom has anti-inflammatory effects by reducing levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines and increasing levels of anti-inflammatory cytokines. Additionally, snake venom can reduce structural damage from prolonged inflammation by acting as a TNF-alpha blocker, and by inhibiting the proliferation of fibroblast-like synoviocytes. The mechanisms of snake venom pain modulation seen in murine pain models follow the cholinergic and opioidergic systems. Analgesic findings involving the cholinergic system concluded not only that the effects of snake venom have similar effects to morphine, but also that no withdrawal symptoms were observed after administration of venom stopped. Notably, the studies that determined opioidergic mechanisms to pain modulation observed that snake venom targets kappa and delta opioid receptors instead of the mu receptors, which are more involved in addictive behavior. Tolerance was not observed with intermittent administration of venom. These results show incredible promise for a non-addictive analgesic that could be used for pain management in rheumatoid arthritis patients.


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