Rethinking Healthcare

Like bugs? Study shows maggots may help heal diabetic wounds

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A study showcased at Interscience Conference on Anti-Microbial Agents and Chemotherapy says that maggots may be able to heal diabetic limb wounds.

Diabetes is a serious condition, and should be monitored by a doctor on an ongoing basis. But what if your doctor presented you with a say, creative approach to treat your diabetes?

The answer: Maggot therapy.

This study was showcased at the Interscience Conference on Anti-Microbial Agents and Chemotherapy.

Reuters Health reports:

These problem patients with diabetes really need better treatments in order to salvage their limbs," said study author Lawrence Eron from Kaiser Hospital and the University of Hawaii in Honolulu , who with colleagues presented their findings at a recent scientific meeting in Chicago. "Maggot debridement treatment is overwhelmingly effective," Enron said to Reuters Health.

Now, before you freak, it's important to keep in mind this was a tiny study with less than 50 participants. Only 21 of 27 patients were able to achieve a successful treatment with maggot therapy.

Here's what researchers did:

  • The maggot therapy was only to be used on patients who had already gone through traditional treatments with zero success.
  • Lucilia sericata (green bottle fly) was the type of larvae reported Bloomberg Health. This study only used maggots that were grown in a lab and germ-free, reported Bloomberg Health. Translation: Don't try this at home. You won't be able to replicate this on your own.
  • The abstract says 50-100 maggots were applied to wounds. After two days, the maggots were removed. Researchers then replaced the old maggots with new maggots in a cycle. The cycle was repeated five times.
  • Not all of the patients involved in the study had a positive outcome. The abstract reports that one patient had excessive inflammation surrounding the wound. Another two patients had problems with bleeding from the wound, and three patients had a problem with their bones being infected.

Last resort option? Perhaps. According to the abstract:

MDT (Maggot Debridement Therapy) is an effective, low-cost, salvage option for the treatment of poorly vascularized, infected wounds in diabetics, especially when vascular remediation cannot be utilized. Bacteriostatic substances secreted into wounds by maggots may combine with antibiotics in eradicating these infections.

Image: Flickr via katzenfinch

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Stacy Lipson

Contributing Writer

Contributing Writer Stacy Lipson has written for Natural Health, MSNBC's Body Odd, HealthDay.com, Sprig.com, BNET.com, MarieClaire.com, MyDaily.com and Lemondrop.com. He holds a degree from Temple University. She is based in New York. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure