Saturday, May 23, 2009
COBRATOX cream with snake venom
(Bonus Post, Saigon-Siem Reap-Hanoi-Halong vacation)
I guess i had ended my series on Vietnam and Cambodia too soon. Given my love for weird, oddball stuff, i couldn't resist posting about this new discovery below.
While browsing at one of the numerous souvenir shops at the Cu Chi Tunnels, my interest was piqued by this product:
Yes, you had read the box correctly, "Cream with Snake Venom". It is intended to provide relief for arthritis, rheumatism and similar ailments.
While other creams / ointments / liniments such as Bengay (from USA), Salonpas (from Japan), White Flower (from HK), Counterpain (from Thailand), Omega (from Phils.) and Tiger Balm (from Singapore) are basically combinations of Menthol / Methyl Salicylate (Oil of Wintergreen) / Camphor with other essential oils, Cobratox does them all one better with its unique ingredient.
It says right there on the side of the box, "Dried venom of cobra 0.0005 g".
Cobratox is produced by the formal-sounding Center for Rearing, Planting, Researching & Manufacturing Pharmaceutical Products of Military Zone IX.
I don't know about you, but what comes to my mind is a bunch of grim-faced men wearing combat fatigues slitting open the throats of writhing cobras and extracting their venom before stitching their insides back again before putting them on these big glass jars filled with water, which men are supposed to buy to increase their stamina in making . . . ahh, "Boom Boom". [A Vietnamese euphemism for . . . but let's not go there, shall we? ;D]
It was kinda cheap at 20,000 VND (around US$1.15) for a 20 gram tube, so i figured there was nothing much to lose if it didn't prove effective in relieving the pain from my tennis elbow.
The accompanying piece of paper inside the box wasn't of much help (see above pic), being in Vietnamese, but there are simple instructions to "apply to painful area with massage 2 times daily" on the box.
I am not so sure about the science behind using dried cobra venom as a painkiller ingredient; i have this vague notion that cobra venom kills you by paralyzing you, so i guess tiny quantities will just deaden your nerves a bit (thereby providing pain relief), no? :D
So, the 500,000 VND question is, is Cobratox more effective than Bengay, Tiger Balm and the like?
I've used it for a week so far, and here is how Cobratox performs based on the ff. criteria:
Heat - packs a bit of a wallop in giving that warm, burning feeling to temporarily relieve joint pain
Odor - neutral, meaning no discernable "snaky" smell, haha :D Would be nice if it had some sort of scent.
Feel - non-greasy, easy to rub into the skin. Not slimy, thank God!
Bottomline, it performs about the same as other pain relief ointments, so perhaps the REAL reason to use Cobratox is to be able to stretch the truth a bit and brag to your gymmates / sports teammates / etc. as such:
"My doctor has prescribed alternative therapy for my tennis elbow. We are applying dried cobra venom on it, which will eliminate the pain, AND as a side effect, increase my agility and quickness on the courts, AND increase my stamina to make Boom Boom. Unfortunately, the ointment is highly toxic and highly limited, so it is not available to the public."