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Snake-Stones or Black-Stones are used to treat snake bites in many parts of the world.

Black Stone / la Pierre Noire

Black Stone, also known as "the viper's stone, the black stone, der schwarze Stein, la pierre noire, la piedrita negra."[1] or "serpent-stone"[2] is used as a treatment for snake bite in Africa, South America and Asia.[3][4] Although called a stone, it is made from animal bones.[5][6]

Black stone is still widely used[7] and promoted.[1][8]

Description of use

There are differing accounts of how to use a black stone. Dr. Linnea Smith reports that in Peru, "It [black stone] is to be applied to the site of a poisonous snakebite and tied firmly in place. It is left there for several days, during which time it supposedly draws the venom from the wound. Once the poison is all removed, the ‘stone’ loosens of its own accord and falls off."[9]

Making a black stone

The steps suggested in this leaflet[8] are:

  • Choose a large dry thigh cow bone
  • Cut it into small pieces
  • Smooth them with sandpaper
  • Wrap the pieces in foil
  • Place in a charcoal fire for 15 to 20 minutes

Views on snakestones expressed in scientific studies

  • A Nigerian study recommended "education on the need to avoid the use of popular first aid measures of doubtful benefit."[10] However the same doctors reported a year later that Black Stone may be beneficial.[2]
  • A Bolivian medical study stated that "contrary to widespread belief, no efficacy to treat envenomation may be expected of the BS" (Black Stone)[11]
  • An Indian study stated that "unscientific methods like ‘black stone’ healing contribute to the delay in seeking appropriate medical care."[4]
  • A Nigerian study found that "... black stone appears to have beneficial effects by reducing the average antivenom requirement of patients and more studies are needed ..."[2]

Medical policy

An International Labour Organization technical workshop stated that "Local medicine, for instance black stone for snake bites, should be provided to those working in the plantations."[12]

In Peru, Dr. Linnea Smith reports that "despite the fact that the state nursing course book admits that no evidence has ever been produced to document the effectiveness of the black stone, each student is required to make ... one ... as a part of the first aid module."[9]


Snake-Stones are usually taken from the head of the snake but have been said to be extracted from the tail as well.


Arab writer Kazwini describes the snake stone as being the size of a small nut.[citation needed] An injury inflected by a venomous creature is to be immersed in warm water or sour milk, the snake stone is then dropped into the liquid which immediately draws out the poison.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Wereld-Missiehulp. "BLACKSTONES" (in Dutch). Retrieved 2007-03-06.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 JKA Madaki. "Abstract: Pattern of First-Aid Measures Used by Snake-bite Patients and Clinical Outcome at Zamko Comprehensive Health Centre, Langtang, Plateau State". Retrieved 2007-03-07.
  3. Tagne, Jean-Bruno. "Pierre noire : Cet aspirateur de venins / Black Stone: This vacuum cleaner of venoms" (in French). Retrieved 2007-03-06.
  4. 4.0 4.1 B. Adhisivam. "Snakebite Envenomation in India: A Rural Medical Emergency". Retrieved 2007-03-06.
  5. CongoForum. "La pierre noire et son usage / The Black Stone and its use" (in French). Retrieved 2007-03-06.
  6. Shuker, Karl P N (2007). Extraordinary Animals Revisited. CFZ Press.
  7. BBC News. "Search for a snakebite cure". Retrieved 2007-03-06.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Rural Extension with Africa's Poor. "Black Stone" (PDF). Retrieved 2007-03-07.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Dr. Linnea Smith. "Piedra Negra" (PDF). Retrieved 2007-03-07.
  10. JKA Madaki. "Abstract: Clinical Presentation And Outcome Of Snake-Bite Patients At Zamko Comprehensive Health Centre, Langtang, Plateau State". Retrieved 2007-03-08.
  11. Chippaux JP. "Abstract: Study of the efficacy of the black stone on envenomation by snake bite in the murine model". Retrieved 2007-03-06.
  12. International Labour Office. "Technical Workshop on Child Labour on Commercial Agriculture in Africa; Dar es Salaam, United Republic of Tanzania, 27-30 August 1996". Retrieved 2007-03-07.

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