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Snail cream is made from snail mucus, or slime as it is commonly called. Snail slime is the fluid that snails’ excrete that allows them to glide along and climb walls without falling. Snail slime has some unique medicinal properties that are used in various dermatologic conditions and products. Snail cream is available in over-the-counter cosmetic creams to treat various skin conditions.
The mucus that snails excrete is called Helix aspersa. This extract helps heal skin burns. A study by D. Tsoutsos and colleagues, published in the 2009 issue of “The Journal of Dermatological Treatment,” evaluated snail extract used as a burn treatment in 43 burn patients. One group of 27 patients used snail cream twice daily while the control group of 16 patients used moist exposure burn ointment, MEBO. The patients given the cream with snail extract had a significant improvement in burned skin. The burn patients treated with MEBO did not show the same improvements. They concluded that snail cream is a safe and effective alternative treatment for burns.
Snail extract used in creams to treat burns works as a topical anesthetic, reducing pain from skin burns. The D. Tsoutsos study treated burn patients with snail extract cream and noted that not only did the burns heal faster, but also the pain was significantly reduced.
Other studies on sea snail neurotoxins indicate a powerful anesthetic effect, according to an article published in the March 2005 issue of “Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine.” In 2004, the FDA approved the drug Ziconotide, which is made from snail neurotoxins, as a treatment for chronic pain. Ziconotide, however, is not in cream form. A medical professional must inject it.
Snail cream has been used since the days of Hippocrates as a wound treatment. Spermatheca gland extract from snails was used as a topical cream to treat wounds in 12 rabbits. The rabbits were examined on days zero, three, seven and 14 for wound-healing progress. The results showed significant improvements in all measured parameters, according to S. Kuumar in a 2008 study published in “The International Journal of Lower Extremity Wounds.” The study conclusion recommended further testing to better understand the wound healing potential of snail cream.
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- PubMed: The Efficacy of Helix Aspersa Muller Extract in the Healing of Partial Thickness Burns: A Novel Treatment for Open Burn Management Protocols
- The Beauty Brains: Are Snail Creams Good for You?
- Science Daily: Studying Snail Slime Substitutes
- PubMed: Helix and Drugs: Snails for Western Health Care from Antiquity to the Present
- FDA: Prialt Approval
Caroline Thompson is a professional photojournalist who has been working for print and online publications since 1999. Her work has appeared in the "Sacramento Bee," "People Magazine," "Newsweek" and other publications. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in photojournalism from California State University at Hayward and a personal trainer certification from the university's Health and Fitness Institute.
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