May 05, 2007

Maggots and Diabetic Foot Ulcers: Gross, but Kinda Cool, Too

You can read the full article here, but then you'd have to see the picture. (Which is actually fascinating, and just as icky as you might expect). But in case you're eating or something, we'll play it safe here and just go with the quote:

"University of Manchester researchers are ridding diabetic patients of the superbug MRSA - by treating their foot ulcers with maggots. Professor Andrew Boulton and his team used green bottle fly larvae to treat 13 diabetic patients whose foot ulcers were contaminated with MRSA and found all but one were cured within a mean period of three weeks, much quicker than the 28-week duration for the conventional treatment."

This seems like good, if weird, news. "Superbugs" are super-deadly, because they're resistant to antibiotics. You can read more about the whole problem of overuse of antibiotics here, but talking about maggots is much more fun.

"Maggots are the world's smallest surgeons. In fact they are better than surgeons - they are much cheaper and work 24 hours a day," Professor Boulton said.

Yay maggots!


  1. I would read the article too but, the picture makes me a little woozy. I am thrilled those little buggers are useful in this way, and I am sure they are happy as a any other maggot. I hope I never have to use the "technology". Ew!

  2. There are a lot of surprising uses for nature like this. Honey is a good wound disinfectant and can keep an infection from taking hold. There's a type of worm (hookworm, I think) that has been tested in treating people with celiac disease. Leeches are used in modern hospitals to help keep blood flowing to re-attached toes and fingers after surgery. And I think there's a way bee stings are being used, too.

    We dumb humans have no business valuing technology over nature when it's so clear that nature is one of the best partners we've got.

    Maggots are still gross, though. Useful, but... ew!

  3. My mother had a friend with arthritis in her hands. She accompanied her friend over the border from Massachusetts into New Hampshire for bee-sting therapy (which was illegal in Mass.). The technique is simple: you take a bee out of the refrigerator where the coldness has made it dormant and hold it against your arthritic joint with a pair of tweezers until it comes to, mad as hell, and stings you. Apparently the venom helped. My mother's friend made several trips over the border, and kept a supply of bees in test tubes in her fridge.

  4. I've heard of "medical maggots", hee! They may be icky, but they can do some very helpful things. :)

  5. This actually an old/new remedy. There are a number of diseases that all being treated with maggots and other types of living creatures to kill them because of the problem of antibiotics. That said, I happen to be a diabetic and I really hope I never end up needing this kind of treatment ;).


  6. Maggots, leeches, bee-stings, hookworms? I guess even though they're scary or gross in real life, it's great that they're so helpful in medical situation.

    (Still though--I hope, whatever my next medical problem might be, that it can be solved by swallowing a nice little capsule).

    I'm constantly amazed at how much interesting and weird stuff you folks know. Thanks so much for sharing it!

  7. Did you know that people used to deliberately give themselves tapeworms to stay slim. The tape worm competes for the food you take in!

  8. I didn't read the full article, fascinating though it may be. I couldn't take the chance of seeing the pic.
    All that said, I'm happy the method works. I'm pleased as all get out for the maggots.

    Ummm...they also serve who crawl and eat. (Sorry, Milton!)

  9. Okay, so what tastes bad for you is generally good for you. What is disgusitng can cure you. Hmmm.

    From The TimesMay 5, 2007

    For a memory boost . . . the eyes have itLewis Smith, Science Reporter

    Hey Crabby check out this weird eye movement-memory connection article.

  10. Yuck, Dawn, tapeworms! Guess it's easier than dieting, but, um, no thanks.

    And leah--good decision to skip the pic. Really was kind of gross.

    Yeah, very interesting study, thanks for pointing it out. I may have to post on that at some point. I could use all the memory help I can get, though I suppose I'd have to remember to move my eyes back and forth for thirty seconds.

    There's a whole therapy called EMDR that also involves similar eye movements, though I believe it has more to do with integrating memories than calling them up. But the coordination of the two sides of the brain is definitely an interesting issue.

  11. Like appleton said bee stings do help with arthritis. My neighbor's father claims to keep his arthiritis away by doing monthly visits to his tool shed (several beehives there). VMcNeill

  12. I'm much too squeamish to dare a peek at the maggots, but I trust your judgment. I'm so pleased you commented on my blog (you have the distinction of being the first) that I almost looked, but--no, not that. I looked at the cupcakes for a long time, though. Your blog is lovely. Especially the cupcakes.

  13. Hi Vmcneill & Petrea!

    Petrea, just thought I should show some support for a fellow snarkling. We (happily) get enough grief over there at her blog.

    And yes, I'd say meditate on the cupcakes, not the maggots.

  14. When deep pressure ulcers get to the last of their healing, that is tough to get done at the network or blood vessels aren't quite normal yet. I work as a therapist, and we deal with pressure ulcers in people commonly, so this is where I get most of my information.


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