Maggots have always gotten the bad rap for being nasty and disgusting critters who feast on dead, decomposing bodies. Nobody likes them! Nobody, except doctors and a few hundred people who actually owe their health to these little critters.
A new focus on what is known as Maggot Debridement Therapy has revealed the hidden potential of maggots and their power to heal â€œnon-healingâ€ wounds.
Maggots have been crawling around medical science since World War I but recently their popularity has been increasing rapidly worldwide. One factor is that some infections are becoming more and more resistant to antibiotics.
Doctors have been applying starving maggots to the wounds of their clients in the hopes of healing infections, which would normally take months or even years to fully heal. In some cases, by replacing antibiotics with maggots a wound can heal within 48 hours, saving the doctor and the patient a lot of time and energy.
There are three ways a maggot can help heal a serious wound. Maggots only eat dead tissue, by dissolving the dead and infected tissue in a patientâ€™s wound they are cleaning the wound, leaving behind the healthy tissue. In the process of cleaning, maggots disinfect the wound by killing off all the bacteria. And finally, maggots can actually stimulate the healing process in the wound.
The University of California, along with the BioTherapeutics Education and Research Foundation(BTER), are experts at spreading the practice and doing research in Maggot Debridement Therapy.
â€œProteolytic enzymes appear to be responsible for the debriding or liquefying action of the maggots upon the dead (necrotic) tissueâ€¦By isolating, identifying, and characterizing these maggot- derived factors, it may be possible, someday, to provide the benefits of maggot-induced wound-healing, without the maggots,â€ according to University of California, Irvine website.
A researcher at the University of California, Irvine, and a leading expert in Maggot Debridement Therapy, Dr. Ronald Sherman, states that medical maggots are â€œas sterile and germ free as a gauze pad or a needle a doctor might open at the office.â€
This therapy proves that despite our constant technological advancements, we can still learn a lot from natures simplest organisms-the maggot.