Cannabis Oil Reduces Venom Effects from Brazilian Lancehead Pit Vipers

Written by Sabina Pulone

Bothrops moojeni is a highly venomous pit viper species found in Central and South America, also known as “Brazilian lancehead.” The venom of this snake contains a variety of toxins capable of inducing pronounced tissue damage around the area of the bite, haemorrhages, myonecrosis, and inflammation. [1] Because of the serious concern related to “ophidian accidents” by B. moojeni, much research has been focused on finding new anti-inflammatory compounds capable of mediating and mitigating the effects of the snake venom. A recent study [1] investigated the effects of cannabis seed fixed oil (CSO) and a nano-emulsion of it (NCS) on venom-induced inflammation from the B. moojeni snake on Wistar rats.

Lyophilized snake poison was dissolved in saline solution (0.9%) and it was injected directly into rats during laboratory tests to induce oedema, peritonitis, granulomatous tissue, and damage to the gastrocnemius muscle. The rats were divided into five groups: one group was treated with dexamethasone, a glucocorticoid effective in reducing the venom-inflammation response; the control group was treated with 4% polysorbate 80 solution; two groups were treated with CSO 200 mg/kg and 400 mg/kg doses, respectively; and the last group was treated with a 100 mg/kg NCS dose. These were administered orally.

The therapeutic effect of CSO and NCS led to decreased formation of granulomatous tissue in rats by reducing the production of eicosanoids, proinflammatory cytokines, and leukocyte recruitment. In particular, treatments with CSO and NCS were able to significantly decrease the formation of oedema and granulomatous tissue and significantly reduce the inflammatory response in venom-induced peritonitis and leukocyte infiltrate.

CSO can be obtained by crushing and pressing cannabis seeds. It is rich in unsaturated fatty acids like omega-6, omega-3, and linolenic acid and linoleic acid, both α- and γ- isomers. These compounds are particularly interesting for their nutritional properties and anti-inflammatory activity. CSO presents greater bioavailability and penetration capability of cell membranes if it is delivered in the form of nano-emulsion; the increased water solubility and controlled release, in addition to the improved kinetic stability offered by emulsification techniques, enhance CSO’s pharmacological effect on the venom-induced inflammation from the B. moojeni snake.

The results found in the research of de Oliveira et al [1] confirm the therapeutic effect against inflammations of fixed oils rich in unsaturated fatty acids, like the cannabis-derived fixed oil, and the importance of the emulsification technique in increasing the efficacy of lipophilic substances and modulating their therapeutic effects.



[1] Carvalho HO. Actions of Cannabis sativa L. fixed oil and nano-emulsion on venom-induced inflammation of Bothrops moojeni snake in rats. Inflammopharmacology. 2020. doi:10.1007/s10787-020-00754-y. [Journal Impact Factor = 4.473] [Times cited = 1 (Semantic Scholar)]

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Sabina Pulone

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