Health experts say no evidence Manzano banana can cure viper bite

  • Published on May 29, 2024 at 06:37
  • 2 min read
  • By AFP Thailand
Medical experts warned the only effective treatment for viper bites is antivenom, contrary to Facebook posts that touted the resin of a Southeast Asian banana variety as a cure. While some studies have examined the properties of banana products, experts say there is insufficient evidence to recommend banana resin to treat snake bites.

"The resin of the Rakhine banana can cure viper poison," read a Burmese-language Facebook post shared on May 4, 2024.

"So the saying goes that you should cut a Rakhine banana tree, then use the resin against the venom."

The Manzano banana -- also known as the Rakhine banana -- is a popular dessert in Myanmar and other Southeast Asian countries (archived link).

The post, which shows pictures of a wild banana fruit and a snake, was shared more than 6,500 times.

A screenshot of the false post, captured on May 24, 2024

Myanmar is home to a number of venomous snakes, including Russell's vipers, cobras, kraits and sea snakes.

Similar Facebook posts shared the same claim here, here and here.

However, the claim that resin of Manzano banana can cure viper bite is false.

'No proven clinical evidence'

Dr. Napat Ratnarathorn, a zoologist at Thailand's Mahidol University said there was no scientific evidence to support the claim that Manzano banana resin can treat viper bites.

"While some studies have explored the medicinal properties of banana products, none have conclusively proven their efficacy against snake venom," he told AFP.

"Using unverified treatments like banana resin can be dangerous and may lead to serious health complications."

Dr. David Williams, a snakebite expert at the World Health Organization also said there was "no proven clinical evidence" that bananas can treat snakebites.

While compounds in plants including bananas have been shown to potentially block some toxins in snake venom, he said there was no enough research to recommend it as a treatment.

WHO recommendation

The WHO recommends antivenoms to treat the most harmful effects of toxins in the bite of a venomous snake (archived link).

Napat said viper venom primarily contained hemotoxins that affect the blood and circulatory system, with symptoms including bleeding and impaired blood clotting -- which can be fatal in severe cases.

He urged patients to approach alternative remedies with caution and seek professional medical treatment.

Williams added that the only effective therapeutic treatment for snakebite was antivenom derived from immunoglobulins in animal plasma.

AFP has previously debunked a similar false claim touting local herbal remedies to treat snakebites.

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