Chinese Moccasin is commonly known as Qi She, Bai Hua She, Sharp-Nosed pit viper, or Deinagkistrodon acutus, which is an oviparous pit vipers belonging to the family Viperidae. It is a rare animal medicine, which first appeared in <Lei Gong Pao Zhi Lun> (Master Lei’s Discourse on Processing of Chinese Materia Medica) in the Northern and Southern Dynasties (420 AD–589 AD).
Deinagkistrodon acutus is a very famous snake in Asia. It has high medicinal and scientific value. It is recognized as one of the top ten venomous snakes by the Chinese, and the remaining 9 species are Hydrophis cyanocinctus, Bungarus multicinctus, Ophiophagus hannah, Naja atra, Trimeresurus mucrosquamatus, Vipera ruselli siamensis, Daboia russelii siamensis, Bungarus fasciatus, and Tryptelytrops albolabris.
In general, This kind of snake is also known as Hundred Pacer (100 step snake) in China. Because people think that its venom is very powerful, the person bitten by it will die within 100 steps. In some areas, it has even been called the fifty pacer or, in extreme examples, the five-step snake.
This kind of snake is extremely aggressive. According to reports, it bites and causes death every year. With the production of antivenom, such deaths are also decreasing. If you meet it in the wild, you should avoid it at a distance.
Chinese Moccasin live in mountainous or hilly areas 100-1400 meters above sea level. Most of them live near valleys and streams at an altitude of 300-800 meters and occasionally enter mountain village houses.
In the hot summer, they will inhabit the shady places under the rocks, grasses, and tree roots by the valleys and streams. In winter, they live through the winter in the rock cracks and earth caves on the sunny hillside.
Chinese Moccasin can be found in Southeastern China in the provinces of Anhui, Zhejiang, Fujian, Hunan, Hubei, Jiangxi, Guangxi, Guangdong, Guizhou, extreme southeastern Sichuan, and possibly Yunnan. Among them, they are the most distributed in the mountains of Wuyishan and southern Anhui. This species also occurs in northern Vietnam and Laos. Due to environmental impacts, the number of wild Chinese Moccasin has been relatively reduced. It has now been bred in captivity.
In the summer and fall of each year, the breeders catch Deinagkistrodon acutus, cut open their abdomens, remove their internal organs, wash them with water, spread their abdomen with bamboo, dry them in the sun, remove snakeheads and snake scales, cut them into segments, use them directly, or fry them with wine, or rice wine to penetrate them, making them into Chinese medicine.
Chinese Moccasin contains 3 kinds of venom protein: AaT-Ⅰ, AaT-Ⅱ, and AaT-Ⅲ. It also contains type II collagen, aspartic acid, leucine, isoleucine, serine, valine, methionine, tyrosine, tryptophan, uracil, xanthine, hypoxanthine, and Uridine.
According to <Compendium of Materia Medica>, the medicinal property of Chinese Moccasin is relatively warm, with toxicity and a sweet and salty taste. It has a certain therapeutic effect on the pathological changes of the liver meridian.
In Chinese medicine, Chinese Moccasin is often used to expel wind and dredge meridians, treat rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, Sjogren’s syndrome, lumbar disc herniation, nodular skin vasculitis, thromboangiitis obliterans, primary Gout, facial distortion, hemiplegia, leprosy, scabies, pediatric convulsion, tetanus, scrofula, syphilis, malignant sores, esophageal cancer, liver cancer, and advanced gastric cancer.
At present, most of the researches on Chinese Moccasin has focused on the immune regulation, anti-tumor, and cardiovascular protection of its snake venom. Only a small proportion of Chinese patent medicines contain it, such as Ren Shen Zai Zao Wan, Ding Ming San, Zhui Feng Wan, and Qu Feng Gao.
Health benefits of Chinese Moccasin
- Anti-inflammation, inhibiting xylene-induced ear swelling in mice and collagen-induced ankle swelling in rats.
- Raising the pain threshold and inhibiting the pain caused by the hot plate experiment and glacial acetic acid experiment in mice.
- Enhancing the phagocytic ability of macrophages and improving immunity.
- The thrombins in the snake venom can promote blood clotting outside the body. It can consume fibrin, resist blood clotting, and dissolve thrombus in the body.
- This type of thrombin can reduce blood viscosity, plasma triglycerides, and cholesterol.
- Dredging meridians and treating rheumatoid arthritis, numbness and spasm, stroke, hemiplegia, and facial distortion.
- Dispelling exogenous wind in the skin, treating leprosy and scabies, and relieving itching of the skin.
- Removing toxins and treating scrofula, syphilis, and malignant sores.
- Studies have confirmed that its alcohol extract has a cytotoxic effect on glial cells and can damage gastric cancer cell lines.
Chinese Moccasin is used with other Chinese herbs
- It with Fang Feng (Radix Saposhnikoviae), Qiang Huo (Notopterygium Root), and Dang Gui (Radix Angelicae Sinensis) can treat rheumatoid arthritis, numbness and spasm, stroke, hemiplegia, and facial distortion.
- It with Wu Shao She (Black Striped Snake) and Wu Gong (Centipede) can treat pediatric convulsion and tetanus.
- It with Da Huang (Radix et Rhizoma Rhei), Chan Tui (Periostracum Cicadae), and Zao Jiao Ci (Spina Gleditsiae) can treat leprosy.
- It with Jing Jie (Schizonepeta Tenuifolia), Bo He (Mentha), and Tian Ma (Rhizoma Gastrodiae) can treat scabies.
- It with Quan Xie (Mesobuthus martensii) and Wu Gong (Centipede) can relieve sciatica.
Side effects of Chinese Moccasin
Chinese Moccasin is poisonous, and its toxic component is the snake venom from the venom gland. When processing it, the pharmacist will remove the snakehead containing the venom gland.
The snake venom can cause dizziness, headache, palpitations, difficulty breathing, flaccid paralysis, and respiratory failure.
There are reports of allergies in a small percentage of people taking medicines containing Chinese Moccasin.
Precautions of Chinese Moccasin
- The dosage of Chinese Moccasin should be controlled at 3-9g.
- It can be made into decoction, pills, powders, medicinal liquors, or ointments.
- People with internal heat due to yin deficiency should not take it.
- People with blood deficiency should not take it.
- Pregnant women and children should not take it.