23 July, 2012

Rhopalurus junceus venom in alternative cancer treatment

Rhopalurus junecus from Cuba. Photo: Rick West (C)

The venom from the Cuban scorpion Rhopalurus junceus (Herbst, 1800) (Buthidae) has been used in alternative cancer treatment for several years, but there have been few if any systematic, scientific studies of the venom and its effects on cancerous conditions. Di Lorenzo and co-workers now report of a patient case where the patient experienced an unexpected total pain relief and other positive effects after using the medicine "Escozul" (based on the venom of R. junceus).

It is important to stress that this is no proof that the venom of Rhopalurus contains superior anti-cancer components, but it is an indication that it is important that the venom of this species is subjected to more research to uncover the working components and also to get clinical evidence for its therapeutic effects (similar to what has been done with the venom of Leiurus quinquestriatus and other species).

During the management of cancer pain sometimes patients ask for alternative, unusual, non recognized approaches. Last year we followed a cancer patient treated with an active substance that is the venom of blue scorpions endemic to Cuba, called Rhopalurus junceus “Escozul” that experienced an unexpected total pain relief with a good recovery of muscle strength, vital energy and capacity to cope with daily activities such as meal, walking and interacting with relatives and caregivers. Researchers' working on the blue scorpion venom published preliminary data online referring of postulate antitumoral activity in human tumors in vivo and analgesic, anti-inflammatory and antiproliferative activities in experimental models in vitro and in vivo but unfortunately actual available clinical data are not results coming from recognized Randomized Controlled Trials supervised by appropriate IRB regulatory bodies but in a recent paper published on Toxicon in July 2011 Garcia-Gomez et al. describe the first general biochemical, molecular and functional characterization of the venom. What it is sure is this venom certainly warrant further investigation.

Di Lorenzo L, Chiara P, Antonio C, Calogero F. Cancer pain managment with a venom of blue scorpion endemic in Cuba, called rhopalurus junceus "escozul". Open Cancer Journal. 2012;5(1):1-2. [Free full text]

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