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Maggots for Wound Healing

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Q. My grandfather was bayoneted in the stomach in World War I. His comrades left, promising to pick him up later. They did leave some water for him.

He said as he lay there he watched the maggots eating at his dead flesh. When his unit returned, his friends were surprised to find him still alive. He died at age 82.

A. Maggot therapy to remove dead tissue from wounds may date back as far as the Old Testament. French physicians documented its value as early as the sixteenth century.
Just a few months ago, French researchers in Caen and Lyon studied this method of treating wounds and determined that it works faster than conventional treatment (Archives of Dermatology, online Dec. 19, 2011).

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In the 1940s my older sister had osteomyelitis (bone infection) in an upper arm. It had been operated on and she had a cast from her upper arm to below her elbow. A fly or some other insect worked its way inside the cast and laid eggs. The resulting larvae ate at the infected area and she healed completely. They didn't know about the larvae until the cast came off (she just complained about it itching a lot). Of course this was before the widespread use and availability of antibiotics.

This is really not new news although the medical community, as they are wont to do, disclaim it because it isn't in a pill or capsule and doesn't require a prescription. The wounded in the Civil ear were more likely to survive if their wounds became maggot infested--so much so that surgeons didn't remove them. There is a very interesting book titled" Honey, Mud, Maggots and other medical marvels", by Robert and Michele Root-Bernstein.. It's worth a read.

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