By enough time Michelle Marineau noticed her patient, James, there is little she could do to help him. His big bottom have been removed, a complication from years of uncontrolled type 2 diabetes, however the amputation site experienced stubbornly refused to cure. An infection had eaten away flesh and left tendon and bone exposed, streaks of off-white against the angry, red, weeping wound.
Several of his other feet had developed gangrene, turning dark and falling off gradually. If unchecked, diabetes leads to damaged nerve endings, meaning small injuries can go unnoticed and turn into ulcers susceptible to life-threatening bacterial infections. The bacteria build an impenetrable shield called a biofilm that protects them from antibiotics nearly, so instead surgeons use scalpels to clear dead cells and contaminated flesh away, an operation known as razor-sharp debridement. Unfortunately, this misses spots often, allowing chlamydia come roaring back with a straight larger area to colonize.
Seeing his father’s stress at the looming procedure, James’s son proposed a different solution: maggots. The larvae of the green bottle blowfly (Lucilia sericata) feast on the bacteria and dead tissues in chronic wounds, cleaning out the wound and offering it more of a chance to heal. That is a historical therapy, used since Biblical times, but fell out of favor with the invention of antibiotics. However, the rise of drug-resistant bacteria, combined with skyrocketing rates of chronic wounds from diabetes, has resulted in a resurgence of interest in using creepy-crawlies as treatment, usually described these full days as maggot debridement therapy or larval therapy.
Although larval therapy have been researched in the lab, few clinical trials had examined it head-to-head against more modern surgical techniques. So although Marineau agreed to try the maggots, she experienced no idea if they would actually work for James. She also had no idea how to use maggots, and needed to be talked through the task over the phone.
But it proved helpful perfectly: “We’d amazing success with him,” she says. Marineau received the maggots via right away email from Monarch Labs in Long Beach, California. As she placed them one by one on James’s foot in early 2009, she became the latest in a long series of healers. Ethnicities round the global world, including the Maya of Central America, Aboriginal tribes in Australia and the Myanmar Hill People, have used maggots to take care of wounds. Much of the historical writing on the role of maggots in assisting wounds heal revolves around battlefield injuries. Although such wounds can and do destroy outright, nearly all deaths from war injuries have been caused by an infection.
Festering wounds often attract blowflies searching for a spot to lay down their eggs, which hatch into larvae then. Napoleon’s battlefield surgeon, Dominique Larrey, noted in an 1832 book that these were “greedy only after putrefying substances, rather than touch the parts that are endowed with life”. And they were not just harmless but helpful, by “cutting brief the process of character” to cure wounds more quickly.
- Due to fact no. 1 I speak 3 dialects: Russian, English and Hebrew. German soon 😉
- Avoid nail-biting or picking
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- 11 months ago from the brief trip
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- Firstly dermatological problems are addressed and treated
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Despite Larry’s advice, though, his wounded military were irritated and terrified by the larvae: “nothing lacking experience” would encourage these to trust the insects. While Larrey observed their benefits, he hadn’t deliberately placed blowfly larvae on the wounds. The first documented intentional use of maggots today came through the American Civil War.
Faced with battlefield wounds on an unprecedented level in the trenches of France during World War I, Johns Hopkins University physician William Baer began seeing injuries that acquired become infested with maggots. After the war, Baer returned to Johns Hopkins and brought his insights into maggot therapy with him. In particular, he wanted to check it out on chronic bone infections known as osteomyelitis. He bred and elevated Lucilia sericata maggots on the windowsill of his Baltimore laboratory, and used the larvae on 21 patients for whom all earlier treatments got failed. 8 weeks later, Baer mentioned, all of their wounds experienced healing.