Snakes: From Alcoholic Beverage to Cancer Cure!

When I think of a snake, I think “slither.” Snakes have been commonly associated with a slithery, sly, cunning kind of character in pop culture and western media. This harkens back to the old biblical tale of how the snake corrupted Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. As seen in the picture below, the snake in western culture has long been associated with evil. 

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Photo: genius.com

However, as I delved deeper into other cultures, I realized there is a lot of diverse mythology surrounding the snake. In Chinese mythology, it was a woman-headed snake named Nuwa that first made humans out of clay. In Korean mythology, the goddess Eobshin was the snake goddess of wealth, as snakes ate rats and mice that gnawed on the crops. My favorite perhaps, was Hindu mythology: Lord Vishnu is said to sleep while floating on cosmic waters on the serpent Shesha. Shesha holds all the planets of the universe on his hoods, and constantly sings the glories of Vishnu from all his mouths. What a strange, interesting image!

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Photo: en.wikipedia.org

I found surprisingly a lot of ways that snakes are consumed. Although most of us would cringe at the thought of eating a snake, they are actually considered delicacies around the world. Snake soup is consumed in Cantonese cuisine, and it is thought to “warm the body” during cold seasons. In the Midwest, cooked rattlesnake meat is common. Snakes are also used in the making of alcohol, and is thought to make the liquor stronger, such as the Okinawan liquor Awamori.

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Photo: metropolis.co.jp

Finally, the cytotoxic effect of snake venom is being researched as a potential treatment for cancers. Snake venom has high affinity and actions on cells, and has been shown to have antitumoral properties.

 

Works Cited

"Chinese Myths Retold by DKJ." Jordan: Chinese Myths. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 May 2015.

"The Gods, the Anti-gods, & the Serpent Sesa." The Gods, the Anti-gods, & the Serpent Sesa. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 May 2015.

"Good Snake Wine Should Taste Like a Meal in a Shot Glass." MUNCHIES Good Snake Wine Should Taste Like a Meal in a Shot Glass Comments. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 May 2015.

Gasanov, Sardar E, Ruben K Dagda, and Eppie D Rael. “Snake Venom Cytotoxins, Phospholipase A2s, and Zn2+-Dependent Metalloproteinases: Mechanisms of Action and Pharmacological Relevance.” Journal of clinical toxicology 4.1 (2014): 1000181–. Print.

Vyas, Vivek Kumar et al. “Therapeutic Potential of Snake Venom in Cancer Therapy: Current Perspectives.” Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine3.2 (2013): 156–162. PMC. Web. 27 May 2015.