Would You Eat A Scorpion?

Pincers, body armor, a barbed-tail filled with paralyzing poison, second only to spiders: scorpions have to be the creepiest arachnid.

We never worry about scorpions in Canada. Maybe when we escape to Arizona or Central America, during the famous Canadian winter, thoughts of poisonous night crawlers never cross our minds. My friend’s grandparents are “snow birds”, retirees who fly South for the winter. We used to stay in their trailer, in Mesa, Arizona, during spring break from high school. We would go out onto the golf course at night with black lights, and freak out at all of the scorpions illuminated on the golf course, because scorpions glow under UV light.

In Costa Rica, my friend put her hand behind her pillow, and a scorpion stung her hand underneath. Jennifer panicked, and ran to the front desk of her hotel for First Aid, because her lips were going numb. The staff laughed at her worries. They knew the local scorpions are harmless to fully-grown healthy humans. Since she told me this story, I’ve taken a second guess before I put my arm under my pillow anywhere south of the 49th Parallel.

I’ve never considered scorpions anything more than a pest; however, in China scorpions are a culinary delicacy, and have said to cure blood cancer and tumors.

In most Asian markets and traditional pharmacies you will find worms, bees, snakes, scorpions. In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) a scorpion is considered an earth animal. Ground animals, and insects, dig through soil and ingest the garbage within. In TCM, the idea is that by ingesting insects you can root out the garbage in the systems of our bodies. Dried scorpion (Quan Xie) is considered a herb that when consumed targets the liver meridian and is said to relieve headaches and calm seizures (For more info: http://tcm.health-info.org/Herbology.Materia.Medica/quanxie-properties.htm & http://tcmtreatment.com/herbs/00-quanxie.htm).

The only three Mandarin words I remember are: “Jiu”, (酒; pinyin: jiǔ) the word for alcoholic beverage, “Pijiu” (啤酒 Pinyin: Píjǐu) the word for “beer”, and Baijiu (白酒; pinyin: báijiǔ) means white liquor and is made from distilled grain. On Daqingshan Mountain, in China’s Shandong Province, we were served fried scorpions and treated to a tincture of baijiu, ginseng, goji berries, and scorpion. Imagine drinking lightning mixed with sweet dirt. The fried scorpions tasted like “Chicken Popcorn” from KFC: only crunchier. However; this tincture, which was referred to as “Jiu”, is rumored to kill any tumors or cancer growing inside you.

The superstition behind the healing properties of scorpion venom healing is now gaining ground as a legitimate alternative medicine in the West. National Geographic News, NBC and ABC, have reported on the potential for use of scorpion venom in “painting” brain tumors, and as a nanopartical for passing through the blood-brain barrier so drugs can act on tumors. Also, a patent filed by Jinghai Zhang, Runlin Ma, Siling Wang, Yanfeng Liu, Chunfu Wu, claims that a peptide found in the venom from a black scorpion can be used an analgesic and anti-tumor drug. The method Zhang, Ma, Wang, Liu, and Wu, use to extract the active peptide is by diluting the scorpion in either distilled water, a basic or an acidic formula. Alcohol, such as baijiu, is a basic solution.

So, would you eat a scorpion, or drink alcohol infused with scorpion venom?

If you were diagnosed with a serious health dilemma would you try this alternative treatment, or would you be suspicious of taking a treatment based on superstition?

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