- First Aid
Brown Recluse Spider Bites – A Cure by Dr. Kenneth Burton
Brown Recluse Spider
Brown Recluse Spider Bites – A Cure?
by Roy Blizzard III
The Brown Recluse is a very dangerous Spider that is found all over the southern United States. It is an unassuming spider and by all appearance rather drab. It is quite different from its glossy black relative the Black Widow. It has a distinct violin shaped mark on its back. The base of the violin is by the eyes and the neck of the violin is pointing towards its tail end. They get about the size of a quarter when full grown and prefer log piles and dark areas to nest in. They are often found lurking around out of the way areas in homes such as garage storage areas, laundry rooms, closets, decks and such. In my work in construction in the Austin,Texas areas I see them only very infrequently.
You may not know you are even bitten as the bite is not painful for quite some time and most brown recluse spiders bites do not result in necrosis, but to those that do there is something that can be done without the major surgury most Physicians attempt. I have been friends with Dr. Kenneth Burton who has been a physician in the San Antonio, Texas area for many years. He has been in active practice since June, 1951. He served in the United States Air Force as a Flight Surgeon and General Medicine Officer and was assigned to Air Force One during the last year of President Truman’s term and during the term of President Eisenhower.
All the way back in the mid 1980’s he told me about the following cure that he was using at his practice. Whenever a patient would come to his office with a definitive Brown Recluse bite (they had the spider with them) or after he was able to diagnose it, he would treat them with a Nitroglycerin patch.
The way he came to understand this was described to me in the following manner. He told me, “Roy I was seeing a patient who had a bite on his arm and I was looking at it under my scope. I looked at it and then raised up. It was then that I felt that God was telling me to take another look at it, so I did. When I looked at the bite again I suddenly saw the vessels spasming, constricting from the poison. I thought OK, Hmm. It is a vasoconstrictor, what I need is a vasodialator. A nitroglycerin patch!” Dr. Burton told me that if he hadn’t looked at exactly when he did at the bite he might never have seen it spasming and he never would the idea have come into his brain to try the nitroglycerin patch.
He used this treatment for several years and finally wrote it up in the New England Medical Journal. However, most Doctors have never even heard of this treatment. Here is a link to his writings on exactly what he did to treat this potentially very destructive bite.
Dr. Burton told me as well that it would probably be possible to treat this bite with something as simple as a liniment or something like Ben-Gay or HEET as they are all vasodialators. I don’t know if that would work as I’ve never had reason to try it, but it may be worth studying.
Since first writing this article, there have been two individuals who have written me and let me know this treatment worked exactly as Dr. Burton said it would, saving them money and a lot of pain.
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