The Use of Maggots in Medicine
Maggots are fly larvae. When they mature in a few days, they become blow flies. The same flies we don’t want on our foods and beverages because they are pretty dirty and can cause many diseases. Maggots are also the same larvae we see on rotten foods. And the yuckiest of them all, maggots are the larvae that live on dead people and animals. They naturally occur in decaying and rotting flesh. So, why would we want to use maggots in medicine?
Maggot Debridement Therapy (MDT)
Maggot debridement (cleaning) therapy is used in cleaning wounds that won’t heal. In many cases, doctors find that MDT is more efficient in cleaning wounds than any doctor or antibiotics can. Not all maggots can be used in medicine. Apparently, there are different maggot species also. The ones that can be used are the maggots that do not eat healthy tissues and do not multiply in the wound. Modern medicinal maggots are farmed in a sterile environment to ensure safety for medical use.
Diabetics are the usual people who develop non-healing wounds or sores. When diabetes worsens, diabetics usually develop open sores on their feet or legs. Due to poor blood circulation, these sores won’t heal. In many cases, their foot is amputated just to prevent the spread of infections to nearby tissues. Deep wounds that are caused by accidents can also develop into non-healing wounds.
So, how do you avoid amputation? The answer is MDT, also called biosurgery. Live maggots are placed in wounds and covered with a bandage to keep them in place. First, they eat the dead flesh that helps clean the wound. Second, they eliminate bacteria. And lastly, they stimulate cell regeneration and healing. However, using an MDT is not a guarantee that wounds would heal. They just heal wounds in most cases. And they do clean wounds efficiently.
MDT is not available in most parts of the world. U.S.A. and the U.K. are two countries that use MDT. In other parts of the world, you’ll need to ask your doctor if this is available in your area.
Maggot Debridement Therapy (MDT) Is Not the Same as Myiasis
Myiasis (pronounced mai-a-sis or mai-ai-a-sis) is a disease where a non-healing wound or sore is infested by maggots. When an open wound or sore is not healed for a long time, maggot infestation can occur. When the right maggots live in the wound, it can be beneficial. But when the wrong maggots are in the wound, then it can be dangerous to its surrounding tissues. Some maggots will eat healthy tissues and will multiply in the wound. Some will also burrow (hide) under the skin. These types of maggots are dangerous and can cause the spread of infections to its surrounding tissues.
Myiasis usually occurs to people with non-healing open wounds or open sores on their feet or legs. Any part of the body can certainly be infested with live maggots but the feet and legs are more vulnerable to such infestations. People with advanced stage of diabetes are certainly more susceptible to myiasis. Diseases that cause lesions and skin inflammations can cause myiasis. Deep wounds that are caused by accidents and develop complications can also cause myiasis.
- Maggots and Leeches: Old Medicine is New | LiveScience
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- Medical Maggots Treat As They Eat
The doctors who use them to treat chronic flesh wounds call them "microsurgeons," but they're not talking about scalpels or lasers. They're referring to live maggots. The medicinal use of the wriggling fly larvae to dissolve dead tissue and disinfect
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