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Germany

Snake Poison to Nip Hayfever in the Bud?

A non-medical practitioner in Germany has hit upon a deadly cure for that most common of all illnesses that strikes when spring rounds the corner - snake venom is the latest weapon in the effort to bust hayfever.

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What gorgeous, achooo... er blooms!

Sunshine, mild weather and nature in full bloom – there’s nothing like spring to lighten the spirits in Germany and bask outdoors after the grey, cold months of winter.

But unfortunately not all Germans can fully enjoy the glorious offerings of spring.

About 13 million Germans are forced to stay indoors and watch the burst of warmth and life from behind a tightly sealed window.

The reason - Hayfever.

As plants, trees, flowers and herbs begin to bloom and become laden with pollen, allergies surface - the most common one being hayfever.

The pollen in the atmosphere releases histamine from cells in human skin. Histamine causes the usual symptoms of hayfever - a constantly stuffed feeling, running nose, itchy watering eyes, sneezing, headaches and an absolutely miserable mood.

The unfair thing about hayfever is suffering from persistent symptoms, while the rest of the world seems to be in such a good mood, sunning itself good-humouredly in open-air cafés and in parks.

Plenty of medicines, but no cure

Hayfever remains one of the most common and widely-spread illnesses in Germany.

And every year new medicines appear on the pharmacological market, promising to provide much-needed relief from the debilitating symptoms.

But most of these medicines, which include tablets, nasal sprays and eye drops, contain antihistamines or cortisone which can cause nasty side-effects in the long run.

Deliverance has arrived in the form of traditional eastern medicine such as ayurveda and acupuncture.

Often looked upon sceptically in the West and considered "exotic" and "oriental", these have achieved some success in treating some of the more severe symptoms of hayfever.

Snake poison cocktail the panacea?

The latest so-called alternative medicinal wonder from the East to join the bandwagon in Germany is the "snake poison cocktail".

It’s the brainchild of Dr Norbert Zimmermann, a non-medical practitioner, who claims to have learned his craft from Indian snake experts.

He heads the Centre for Natural Healing in Bottrop and treats his patients with strongly diluted snake poison. The venom is obtained from a snake farm in Braunschweig, where a variety of snakes and vipers are bred and milked for their precious poison.

The lethal substance is then treated in such a manner as to heal the extreme symptoms.

The enzymes of the snake venom, which are actually pre-digested by the slithery creatures, are the main healing factors.

They lead to the building of anti-bodies in the bloodstream, which in turn leads to a drastic strengthening of the immune system.

Thus the hayfever is given no chance to erupt.

Dr Zimmermann uses about 40 different kinds of poisons to treat his patients.

Steep price could put patients off

The prospect of this unconventional therapy might make some people queasy, but the cost of the treatment could be a further deterring factor.

At 100 euro for a single injection of the poisonous concoction, the venom comes for a steep price.

The first results are usually evident after about 3 to 4 sessions, or 300 to 400 euro later.

Depending on the condition of the patient, the complete therapy usually takes about 12 sittings.