Skip to comments.How Maggots Heal Wounds
Posted on 12/06/2012 9:07:50 PM PST by neverdem
Yes, maggots are creepy, crawly, and slimy. But that slime is a remarkable healing balm, used by battlefield surgeons for centuries to close wounds. Now, researchers say they've figured out how the fly larvae work their magic: They suppress our immune system.
Maggots are efficient consumers of dead tissue. They munch on rotting flesh, leaving healthy tissue practically unscathed. Physicians in Napoleon's army used the larvae to clean wounds. In World War I, American surgeon William Baer noticed that soldiers with maggot-infested gashes didn't have the expected infection or swelling seen in other patients. The rise of penicillin in the 1940s made clinical maggots less useful, but they bounced back in the 1990s when antibiotic-resistant bacteria created a new demand for alternative treatments. In 2004, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved maggot therapy as a prescription treatment.
Although anecdotal reports suggested that maggots curb inflammation, no one had scientifically tested the idea. So a team led by surgical resident Gwendolyn Cazander of Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands siphoned samples of maggot secretions from disinfected maggots in the lab and added them to donated blood samples from four healthy adults. The researchers then measured the levels of so-called complement proteins, which are involved in the body's inflammatory response.
Every blood sample treated with maggot secretions showed lower levels of complement proteins than did control samples—99.9% less in the best case, the team reports in the current issue of Wound Repair and Regeneration. Looking closer, the researchers found the broken-down remnants of two complement proteins—C3 and C4—in the secretion-treated samples, suggesting that the secretions had ripped the proteins apart. When the team tested blood samples from postoperative patients, whose wounded bodies were already scrambling to heal, they found that maggot secretions reduced the levels of complement proteins by 19% to 55%.
For good measure, the team tested the maggot secretions again after a day, a week, and a month to determine their shelf life. They also boiled some. To their surprise, the secretions were more effective after boiling and lost no potency after sitting on the shelf for a month.
It's not surprising that maggot secretions would suppress the immune system, Cazander says. Otherwise, the larvae would probably be attacked by the body. She says she hasn't yet seen such a reaction, even in patients treated with maggots for more than a year.
Cazander's team is now working to isolate the complement-inhibiting compounds. A clinical drug featuring maggot secretions may be several years away—but if you can't wait, the maggots themselves are available now.
The research team's conclusions are spot-on, says Ronald Sherman, pathologist, pioneering maggot researcher, and board chair of the BioTherapeutics, Education and Research Foundation in Irvine, California. Sherman's nonprofit foundation connects patients with doctors willing to handle the crawly critters. Faster wound healing probably arises from several combined maggot effects, he says, such as increasing oxygen concentrations in the wound and enhancing cellular growth. "This research advances our understanding of how and why maggot therapy helps wounds heal faster."
but probably very popular as a food in Indochina. lol.
Here’s the problem: they make me scream and flail about in panic. I’d have to be very heavily sedated.
My US Army Survival Guide from way back when lists maggot therapy as a useful method to cleanse a wound of dead flesh.
Wonder if that could also lead to better treatments for autoimmune disorders?
Yes I think I’ll wait for the synthetic maggot secretion drug, myself.
>>Heres the problem: they make me scream and flail about in panic. Id have to be very heavily sedated.
You would never see them unless you peeked. They’d be under a full dressing.
Where this therapy is particularly beneficial is a wound that is in a place where it is difficult to cut away diseased tissue.
I was going to post these photos but decided not to as they might upset some people. Nevertheless, they are worth a look - and ponder if maggots weren’t used, what would have been the alternative?
Ok, so I’m out somewhere and wounded.
Where would I find these helpful maggots?
Especially in winter?
“Enquiring minds want to know......”
Stay outside in unsanitary conditions with an unclean wound and the maggots will find you. Eggs in the dirt, maturation triggered by moisture and body heat? I don’t know.
Oh MAGGOTS! I thought they said faggots.
But... wouldn’t you feel them squirming around in there? (shudder-shudder-shudder)
Or perhaps flies landing on the wounds and laying eggs?
A liberal's skull? From the article: Maggots are efficient consumers of dead tissue. I have a hard time thinking of deader tissue than a liberal's brain.
But sometimes the maggots do mature and escape.
Not in winter.
We had that up until yesterday, high today was 48 though.
I remember reading the tale of some mountain man, after being mauled by a bear and abandoned by his comrades, treating his wounds with maggots or some other kind of larvae. He found an old rotting log and flipped it over, rolling in the grubs underneath it to keep his wounds from becoming infected. It apparently worked, because the guy survived and made it back to civilization to get his revenge.
Gwendolyn Cazander “It’s not surprising that maggot secretions would suppress the immune system. Otherwise, the larvae would probably be attacked by the body.
Hmmmm, sure. Gota wonder just how that could work. Living munchers being attacked by dead munchables. Buzzard spit Gwen.
Rab can but wonder. Thanks for the post neverdem.
I had an uncle who fought in WWII and whose leg, wounded in combat, the doctors attempted to remove the gangrene of with maggots in an attempt to avoid amputating it. Unfortunately they forgot to first clue in said uncle, who freaked when one of the little critters wriggled out of the bandage.
I’ve heard varying accounts of how well this works. Some report that the maggots can eat TOO much from a wound, going at the living flesh and becoming counterproductive, if left there too long.
Now we know to look for a rotted log and don’t leave them on the wound too long.
Cold cuts external bleeding already. Medical treatment facilities have maggot eggs stored on hand.
Flies in summer have it as their usual job the finding of dead flesh. They come to you.
They do tickle a bit as they do their work. It is one way to clean up frostbite damage. I stay south of Interstate 10 now.
Wouldn’t those little suckers itch like hell, and smell really bad when they get squished under the dressing?
Maybe the lib-dem maggots will clean
the national wound that is “conservative”
FReepmail me if you want on or off my combined microbiology/immunology ping list.
Happy Chanukah, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Get out your iPhone, call your doctor, ask him to order them.
Make sure he will make a "house call" to wherever you lie wounded.
17875 Sky Park Circle, Suite K
Irvine, CA 92614
Phone: (949) 679-3000 ~ Fax: (949) 679-3001 ~ E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
>>Wouldnt those little suckers itch like hell, and smell really bad when they get squished under the dressing?
Smell bad? Itchy? You mean compared to rotting, putrid, necrotic flesh? Don’t forget, this isn’t therapy for even little injury. It’s often an alternative to amputation. Itchy or gangrene would be a pretty easy choice. As to getting squished, I don’t know for sure, but would think those kinds of wounds would not be allowed (and would be too painful it happened) to have much pressure applied to them.
BTW, this seems to be gaining popularity treating infections inside horse’s hooves where removing infected, necrotic tissue must be extremely difficult.
In winter, you won’t of course. In the warmer months, just leave the open wound exposed while you sleep and let nature take its course. All it takes is a single fly to land and lay eggs, and you’ll be good to go. I’d guess you’d find more flies near water sources, just because they’ll be following the animals which gather there.
The trick then is to remove the maggots (all of them) once they’ve eaten away the necrotic flesh. Once they start hurting, and drawing blood, it’s time to pick them out and clean the wound.
The kind of wound this is used on, is when the flesh is already dead and dying. Dead flesh doesn’t have any nerve endings, so you wouldn’t feel anything while they are working on that. They prefer the dead and rotting flesh, so they eat that stuff first, and then when they start on the part you can feel, it’s time to get them out of there.
Ping to Kartographer for preppers use. (What to do with those logs to rotten to toss in the stove).
They are coming back as a wound debrider. Eating only dead flesh, raised in sterile conditions put on a sterile gauge and applied periodically to wound...very tiny when first put on infected wounds.... One of my nurse friends at another hospital had a bum broungh to her floor, ER wouldn’t debride open sores. She sat with a bottle of alchol and tweezers to pick off the maggots. She said it was the cleanest wound she ever saw....
Oh, does this mean that you have to shove a bunch of Democrats up your butt if you want to get rid of Hemmorhoids?
Nah. I'd rather let you do it - wouldn't want to deprive you of the opportunity to whine about it.
I was laughing when I wrote that!! Thanks for inspiring me to do it right!
Well, you oughta put a little smiley there in those situations. Sorry for being testy!
Ping... (Thanks, neverdem!)
Ping... (Thanks, neverdem!)
Ping... (Thanks, neverdem!)
This was documented during the Civil War, when military surgeons noted with amazement that severely wounded Confederate soldiers tended to heal faster and overcome gangrene better than their Union counterparts because they were invariably “cleaned” by the maggots (as a result of their generally poor and unsanitary post-battle hospital care.)
Note that many herbs DO work as medicines if you know which and how much;there are natural cures for many ills ,but it seems they are not so neat as we have come to expect.
We had a young cow severely gashed by brab wire many years ago.Maggots infested thwe wound and we flushed them out with the garden hose.Her wound healed cleanly and she was a productive member of the dairy herd for some years.
Maggots,leeches, and herbs were the tools of healers for centuries.Of course just as now not everyone survived all the treatments by all the healers.How many die of doctor’s,nurse’s and laboratory mistakes today every year ?I seem to remember it is about 100,000 !Hundreds sickened and dozens dead recently from bad steroid injections for back and other pains.
Where they must have an unusually low rate of stomach ulcers...
Oh MAGGOTS! I thought they said faggots
I just realized...my face is all scrunched up.
Nasty wound, that. Electrical discharge or mine?
>>Nasty wound, that. Electrical discharge or mine?
Hard to say what caused it, isn’t it? Looks to me like it was festering for some time and I would think the blood flow to the wound, and therefore the effectiveness of antibiotics, would be substantially reduced. That would make it a more likely candidate for maggot therapy.
Ping for why you don’t need a doctor...
The little fat white worms under rotting logs are known as grubs - not maggots. I think they are beetle larvae. Bears and Bear Gryls like to eat them.