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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A strange new therapy is slithering up the charts in popularity. Snake massages are said to provide a thrilling kind of therapeutic relaxation.
For those who can stand it, the writhing motion and weight of a snake all over the body is supposed to be therapeutic, relieving stress and increasing blood flow to tight muscles.
The snake session in Poughkeepsie, New York is guided by a self-proclaimed snake priestess who calls herself the Serpentessa.
She says for 25 years she has specialized as an inter-species facilitator who guides snakes to slither and wrap around people, like Pam Kelly.
Boa constrictors, some longer than six feet, slither all over Kelly’s body.
“They tone and stimulate the vagus nerve in our body that releases endorphins and oxytocin — the feel good hormones,” Serpentessa explained.
She says snake massages can help with everything from migraines to fibromyalgia.
“There are no guarantees with a wild animal,” Serpentessa said about the safety of the therapy. “You are the one who’s going to choose if this is safe for you or not. Nobody has ever been hurt by one of my boa constrictors.”
She says people typically reach out to her for one of three reasons: healing, empowerment, or to get over their fear of snakes.
Kelly says the session was helpful.
“It was a lot calmer and more peaceful than I thought it would be,” she said. “There was a point it felt like they were hugging me around the shoulders; just felt very calm, like I could fall asleep.”
The price for a snake massage is $297.
Many doctors are skeptical about the benefits of such therapy and say it’s potentially dangerous.
Snake massages are more common in Russia and Thailand.