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Snake Oil: History, Truth, Uses, Benefits, Side-effects, Precautions

Benefits of Snake Oil

The term “snake oil” has been used over centuries to describe fraudulent medical remedies and has been associated with fake therapeutic value. Snake oil has some impressive health benefits with a few mild side effects.

History and Truth of Snake Oil

Snake Oil

It was back in 1893, Clark Stanley- a self-titled “Rattlesnake King” went to Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Earlier for 11 years, Clark worked as a cowboy.

He dressed up and went to the stage in front of the audience. With him, he brought a sack at his feet and pulled out a writhing rattlesnake, which he dangled in front of the audience. Then he quickly slit the snake open with a knife and immediately tossed its body into a vat of boiling water behind him. Slowly the snake fat rose to the surface of the vat, then Stanely scooped it out and place it into the liniment jars which were previously prepared with herbs inside. He then offered the name of his product to the crowd as Clark Stanley’s Snake Oil Treatment.

But unfortunately for Stanley, Snake Oil was brought to the American West by the Chinese. In 1800 many Chinese immigrants arrived in the United States, bringing with them traditional Chinese Medicine practices.

So the Chinese introduced snake oil with their Chinese water snakes. Rattlesnake is less beneficial than Chinese Water Snake for health-related problems as it contains lower fatty acid content than Chinese water snakes.

However, in 1917, the federal investigators found that Stanley’s snake oil was lacking the key ingredient snake of what he advertised. Instead, it contained mineral oil, beef fat, red pepper, and turpentine.

So the federal investigators seized the contents and charge Stanley a fine of $20 for the violation of the Pure Food and Drug Act due to the misbranding of his product. Yet the mythos of the Rattlesnake King lives on and he has become the first snake oil salesman in history.

What is the composition of Snake Oil?

There are lots of snake oil available in the market but the best known is of Hemani. It is made up of:-
• Castor Oil
• Sesame Oil
• Mustard Oil
• Olive Oil
• Laurel leaves
• Jatamanas or Nard
• Tigernut oil
• Alkanna tinctoria
• Santam album oil

Uses or Benefits of Snake Oil

Snake oil is derived from the fat of the Chinese Water-Snake. This fat is processed and refined into a concentrated oil that contains a high amount of omega-3 fatty acid named eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), which has n number of benefits.

1) Snake Oil Reduce Inflammation

Snake oil is commonly used for topical purposes in inflammatory conditions such as joint pain, arthritis, gout, and muscles aches. The omega-3 fatty acid found in snake oil helps to loosen up stiff joints and relieve inflammation in various parts of the body.

2) Snake Oil can be used for Hair Care

4. Hair Benefits

Traditional use may include massaging small amounts of snake oil into the scalp in order to prevent hair loss. According to the studies, the omega-3 fatty acids and other active components found in snake oil help to moisturize the skin and improve the health of the hair follicles thus preventing premature hair loss.

3) Snake Oil can be used to Relieve Pain

Relieve Pain

Snake oil also has analgesic properties which makes it a popular remedy for an injury or surgery. In topical use, the oil can speed up the healing of painful wounds and injuries.

4) Snake Oil Boosts Heart Health

Snake Oil contain omega-3 fatty acid, this polyunsaturated fat helps in lowering blood pressure levels, which reduces strain on the cardiovascular system and thus boosts your heart health.

5)Snake Oil improve Cognitive function
The active ingredient in snake oil: Omega-3 fatty acid helps to improve cognitive abilities and decrease neurodegenerative and nerve disorders including schizophrenia, depression, dementia, and Alzheimer’s.

Side Effects of Snake Oil

1) Skin Inflammation

Skin Inflammation

When you topically apply the product, there might be chances for skin inflammation, redness, itching, or swelling. So before using a large amount on the skin, do a patch test to see if there are any negative reactions.

2) Allergic Reaction
Some people face immediate reactions to snake oil. Resulting in gastric distress, nausea, vomiting, bloating and cramping. If you face any of these allergic reactions, discontinue their use immediately.

Written by Rajnish Singh

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