Global Animal, Danielle LeVee
The banana spider, a highly venomous arachnid, is now being studied in hopes of finding a treatment for erectile dysfunction (ED). The venom of the Phoneutria nigriventer is known to cause loss of muscle control and breathing problems that can result in paralysis and asphyxiation. But most importantly (in this case), the venom causes priapism, painful prolonged erections. Scientists are not just going to let this embarrassing and painful effect hide under the covers.
Since some patients do not respond to the conventional ED drugs, researchers are now experimenting with the banana spider’s toxin. Physiologist Kenia Nunes isolated the priapism-causing toxin—a peptide called PnTx2-6—and fed it to flaccid rats. The rats quickly perked up. Nunes discovered that the peptide acts in a different pathway than other ED drugs, leading scientists to believe that the banana spider’s toxin could be the answer to many men’s bedroom problems.
Along with spiders, several scorpions, bees, snakes, snails, and frogs possess venom that contain chemicals that can treat many human ailments. The value of countless minerals and molecules that are found in nature is incredible. Both plants and animals have healing abilities that should be admired and explored but only if it can be devoid of harm. Instead we poach rhinos to acquire their medicinal horn, kill alligators for their curative meat, or murder elephants, bears, tigers, and zebras for their healing body parts.
How is the banana spider’s venom gathered and studied? While many people have an aversion to arachnids, there is still no sense in killing spiders for that extra boost of confidence in the bedroom. We must respect all animals for who they are and not what they are worth to us.