Animal Toxins That Are Helping Humans

Flora and fauna around the world have evolved to develop different ways to ensure their survival. One of the most effective ways is creating poisons and toxins to keep others away and, in some cases, to get food. We’ve all heard about the poison dart frog and the blue-ringed octopus, but did you know that some of these animals’ poisons have wonderous properties that are being used to help humans? Here’s a list of the animals whose potentially dangerous poisons are being used for good. 

1. Pufferfish

Pufferfish all have a deadly toxin called tetrodotoxin which can quickly kill anyone who eats it. The toxin works by paralyzing the body and when people first began to eat the fish, they dropped like flies. Today, only specialized chefs are permitted to serve pufferfish at their restaurants. Surprisingly and auspiciously, scientists have isolated its nerve-blocking properties which can be used to treat pain… if it is administered correctly. The toxin has also been shown to help people with cravings as well as anesthesia. Scientists are also looking into using it to treat neurological conditions. 

2. Sea Anemone

Sea anemones occupy tide pools in tropical regions, and they have a reputation for being silent and deadly. The bright flower-like sea creature is extremely beautiful, and it uses this to its advantage. It contains tiny barbs that hold onto fish and injects them with poison. Small fish die almost immediately while larger ones are paralyzed. Scientists have been experimenting with the toxin and are testing its use in people with disorders such as arthritis and multiple sclerosis. Research has also suggested that it has the ability to kill cancer cells.

3. Fire-bellied toad

Fire-bellied toads are commonly kept as pets in the United States despite having toxic skin. Quite a bit of poison needs to get into your system to have significant effects, but the toxin can hurt, if you just come into contact with it. Most people break out in hives while others have reported eyelid swelling. Although no one can touch these animals, the toxin in their itchy skin is said to be effective against tumors. The fire-bellied toxin, specifically a component called bombesin, has been used to stabilize or treat a number of cancers.

4. Yew

Animals aren’t the only ones with toxins and they’re not the only ones whose toxins are being used to help humans. The yew tree’s leaves are poisonous, and  many animals fall victim to its leaves. If ingested, symptoms of poisoning range from diarrhea and difficulty breathing to convulsions. Yew trees and leaves have since been used in chemotherapy treatments and it was also shown to help stop the new growth of cancer cells. Chemicals in the tree’s needles can stop cancer cells from dividing thereby stopping the growth of a cancerous tumor. 

5. Bees

No one likes getting stung by bees and if you’re allergic, things can get very tricky and immediate treatment is advised. Allergies or not, people can only take a certain amount of bee stings and you won’t know how many until you end up surrounded by them. Despite their stings, they play a vital role and are necessary for life on earth to continue. Bee venom has been proven to help patients who have lupus, sciatica, arthritis, and lower back pain. It has also shown some potential to fight Lyme’s disease and HIV. 


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