It all came about when a friend of Dr. Guderian mentioned a Farm Journal article that described how an Illinois farmer who was allergic to bee stings had accidentally found a cure when he touched an electrified fence.

Since 1980, Dr. Guderian, a graduate clinical pathology from San Francisco University, had been researching tropical diseases while working in jungle medical stations deep in the Ecuadorian jungles. At that time, around 5 to 6 snake bite victims were coming to their remote jungle clinic for treatment every week. With no antivenom on site and with the nearest hospitals often several day’s travel away, Dr. Guderian was eager to try non standard solutions. Upon reading the farm journal, Dr. Guderian began successfully treating insect stings and snakebites with the ignition systems of outboard motors, chain saws and automobiles. He attached a wire from a spark plug and used another wire as a ground. Then he applied the live ends to the bite or sting site for 1 or 2 seconds to provide relief. Shock has been used as first aid on the venomous bites of Portuguese men-of-war, Conga ants, scorpions, spiders, and even poison oak.
Dr. Guderian indicates that “shock should only be used in Third World Countries, and then only if anti-venom is not available. Shock is not used along with anti-venom, nor in place of it.” The best results occurred when, within 20 minutes of the bite, a DC pulsating 15 Kv-25 Kv, 1mA spark was applied directly to each bite mark. The limb should be grounded on the side opposite the bite and the electrodes held in place with tape as contact is otherwise broken during the discharge. The shock should be applied directly to the bite for 1 second. After a brief delay, the process can then be repeated up to 5 times depending on the size of the snake. To be effective, the skin should be washed (with alcohol, if available) and dried as sweat can conduct the discharge away from the wound.
After several months using this treatment technique on 34 patients, Dr. Guderian decided to share his findings with the medical community. In 1986 he and two other researchers wrote a letter to the editor of the renowned British medical journal Lancet documenting their findings. Soon after the article was publish the media got a hold of the idea. Dr. Guderian’s findings were republished in the world press including Time magazine, ABC, NBC. For many years following that publication, Dr. Guderian continued to be contacted by the media.

Upon hearing the news of the effects of shock on bites, Jim Scroggins, vice-president of US stun gun manufacture traveled to Ecuador to work with Dr. Guderian. Though there were no snake bite victims during his trip, he did have an opportunity to see shock’s positive results on scorpion and fire ant bites. Later, when he returned home, he was able to successfully treat his wife’s allergic reaction to bee stings. Jim Scroggins left Dr. Guderian with a Nova 50KV stun gun which Dr. Guderian used successfully for many years. An extension wire was added to one probe so that it could be held to the opposite side of a bitten limb while the other probe was applied directly to the fang punctures. In this way, current could travel through the wound on its way to the extension wire on the other side of the limb.

Jim Scroggins. returned to the US with the hope of marketing the Nova stun gun for first aid snake bite treatment. Because of the lack of double blind clinical trials on humans, the FDA did not support the endeavor. During the initial media frenzy, another entrepreneur calling himself ‘The Snake Doctor’, jumped on opportunity to sell a cheap imitation stun guns from China as cures to all snake bites. Without any studies showing that particular stun gun design worked, and by claiming that shock was a cure instead of first aid, the FDA shut him down.

The traditional medical community has continued to refute the benefits of electric shock on snake bites. Studies on rats and other small animals have not proven the effectiveness of the solution. There have also never been any double blind clinical trials on humans to support the theory.

The good side of all the publicity was that missionaries around the world were hearing about the possibility of using electric shock as first aid treatment of venomous bites. Many third world missionaries live in fear of snake bites as medical facilities and antivenom are often impossible to reach. When Dr. James Propst, heard about the electric shock treatment he designed a ‘venom detoxifier’ out of automobile ignition parts. This was used for many years by JAAR’s missionary pilots as well as Witcliff missionary’s. Due to the difficulty in obtaining parts, the ‘venom detoxifier’ was redesigned using a geared crank that turned a small engine’s flywheel. This was later manufactured by Wade Teague, a machinist in South Carolina. Wade manufactured over a thousand hand crank zappers which have been sent all over the world.

Dr. Guderian later learned that the practice of shocking venomous bites had been going on in Nigeria for 40 years. Missionary Al McElheron described to Dr. Guderian his memories of his father, a missionary in Nigeria, treating scorpion stings with the ignition systems of a motorcycle.

Dr. Guderian continued to document his results in the jungles of Ecuador until 1999 when he returned to the US. At last count there were over 1000 documented cases of the positive effects of shock treatment on snake bites.