5 Venomous Animals That Could Save Your Life

Scorpion venom has been shown to shrink tumors. wisawa222/Shutterstock

Venomous animals tend to get a bad rap. Certainly, this reputation is understandable since the venom from some of these species can kill humans in a matter of minutes. But the same qualities that can make venom dangerous in a natural setting can also be powerful when used for good in science and medicine.

Take a look at these venomous animals that just might save your life one day.

Spider venom

A black widow spider crawls up some leaves
The hourglass on a black widow's abdomen isn't always red. Jay Ondreicka/Shutterstock

It's hard to convince an anti-spider person to embrace them, but in general, spiders are highly misunderstood. Spider venom has been proven to fight pain, cancer, muscular dystrophy and other diseases. The black widow has some of the most beneficial venom, and other spiders with beneficial venom include the brown recluse, parson spider and the sac spider.

Research published in PNAS found that venom from Australia's deadly funnel-web spider could stop brain damage from stroke. A study conducted by University of Queensland researchers and published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry found that certain molecules in tarantula venom could be used as a non-addictive alternative to opioid pain killers for people seeking chronic pain relief.

Snail venom

A conus textile snail in Australia
The poison of a cone snail, Conus textile, is responsible for several human deaths. Harry Rose [CC BY 2.0]/Flickr

You might not think of snails as being venomous — and don't worry, most aren't — but cone snails are some of the most toxic animals in the world. Cone snails have a small range in the reefs of the Indo-Pacific area. Anyone who gets stung by one of these snails likely has only a few minutes to live. The venom this 4- to 6-inch creature can produce is said to be hundreds of times more powerful than morphine. Scientists are still trying to figure out the best ways to harness it.

Snake venom

Malayan pit viper keeps close to the sand
The venom of Malayan pit vipers can serve as a life-saving coagulant. KAMONRAT/Shutterstock

Snake venom is probably the most understood of the animal venoms. It is used to treat heart attacks, blood disorders, high blood pressure, minor heart attacks, blood clots, brain injuries and more. The history of using snake venom in medicinal ways can be traced back thousands of years to when Indian and Chinese cultures used cobra venom. Then in the 1960s, Hugh Alistair Reid made a breakthrough. He was a doctor in Malaya when he discovered that the venom from Malayan pit vipers could help with blood clotting, according to an abstract published in Elsevier. This eureka moment led to many more discoveries by Reid and others.

Scorpion venom

A black scorpion on a rock with one claw extended
Scorpion venom may be a weapon in the fight against cancer. Lamyai/Shutterstock

Researchers are studying how venom from several different animals could help with the treatment and cure of cancer, and scorpion venom is key to that work. The toxins are believed to help shrink tumors and slow their growth. While scientists test the toxic effects of the venom on cancer cells, according to Science Daily, there's hope for what they might learn next.

Bee venom

A honey bee cover in pollen
Provided you're not allergic, it's possible to build up an immunity to bee sting venom. Serg64/Shutterstock

Most people don't realize that a bee sting injects a type of venom. No one likes getting stung, but evidence shows that it can help you in the long run because it helps build up a natural immunity to future stings. This isn't the case for those who are allergic to bee stings; for that group, the stings can be potentially deadly. But for the former group bee venom therapy (BVT) is catching on in popularity and being used to treat a variety of diseases and ailments, including arthritis, Lyme disease, eczema, asthma, tumors and more.