10 Horrifying Toxins That Are Actually Helping People

Pufferfish

Pufferfish have a terrifying poison called tetrodotoxin. This poison, if eaten, can kill at an alarming speed. Nothing about the pufferfish’s poison will damage any part of your insides. Instead, it is designed to shut down your body via paralysis. Tetrodotoxin simply blocks your nerves from talking to each other. If they can’t do that, then, well, you can’t move. If your nerves aren’t telling each other that it is time to inhale, guess what you’re not going to do? Scary right? Death by paralysis, not a way that I would want to go.

Ticks

Ticks are the last creature that I would consider to be helpful. They bite, attach themselves to you, and suck your blood. Who wants that? They even spit into us. That’s right. Ticks will bite you, then use their spit to go undercover, so our immune system doesn’t attack them.

Sea Anemone

Sea Anemones are silent and very slow hunters. I personally don’t live near the ocean, but I have visited and am always delighted by the colorful flower-like creatures hanging out in the tide pools. Pretty to look at, sure, but not nice to touch. Those wavy little “petals” are actually hunting tools that house tiny barbs just ready to grab and inject you or any passing fish with their poison.

Fire-Bellied Toad

It is strange to think that humans look at a creature known to be poisonous and say, “Yeah, I want that as a pet.” Fire-bellied toads are a relatively common pet in the United States, even though the toxin covering their skin can cause pretty nasty effects.

Yew

Many plants have also developed a wide range of poisons to protect them from being munched on. Yew is one of those plants. The leaves of a yew tree are poisonous, and many innocent farm animals have become victims to the tempting greenery of the yew tree. The poison can cause vomiting or diarrhea, difficulty breathing, and convulsions.

Bees

So, we all know that getting stung by a bee is not fun. It hurts, and for people who are allergic, it can be deadly. But, even if you’re not allergic, there is a limit to how much bee poison you can take before the little flower hunters kill you. I never really thought about a bee sting being poisonous. I used to think that it hurt because a sharp needle-like thing was being stabbed into me by an angry bug. But no, that ongoing pain is poison.

Autumn Crocus

Yet another plant that kills but heals once scientists get their hands on them. Colchicine is the toxic element of the Autumn Crocus (Colchicum autumnale). Eating any part of this pretty plant can cause severe stomach pain and vomiting that could end in kidney failure, along with a host of other adverse effects. These flowers are the definition of look but don’t touch.

Sweet Clover

No, not the little clovers on your lawn that you dig through in hopes of finding one with four leaves. This clover is taller with yellow flowers and, if left out too long, it gets moldy and can poison your animals. The mold actually changes the coumarin found in sweet clover into dicoumarol, which is toxic. Sweet clover thins the blood and can cause anemia, rapid heart rate, and hemorrhaging.

Lionfish

Lionfish are not only venomous to humans but also a danger to the entire ecosystem that they live in. Those pretty, decorative spines on their back are not just for looks. The toxins inside of them will target your nervous system if they get the chance. That sting can cause swelling, pain, and even paralysis if it gets you, and who wants to experience paralysis when swimming in the ocean? Not me!

Fire Ants

Even ants have venom; all species in one capacity or another carry some form of toxin. Not many out there can kill a human, but most all hurt. Fire ants sting with a vengeance and in numbers, leaving you with a bunch of painful and itchy blisters that could get infected if you scratch them open. If you’re unfortunate enough to be allergic to fire ant stings, you could have similar symptoms as those with bee allergies, including anaphylaxis.