Maggot Rx

Neosporin no longer taking care of that festering flesh wound?
Worried about catching a nasty case of methicillin-resistant
Staphylococcus aureus, the nightmarish superstrain of
antibiotic-resistant staph infection, during your next hospital
stay? Now you can rest easy: 21st-century medical discoveries are
lighting the way to a fester-free future — by turning back the
clock a few hundred years.

Welcome to the old — and new — practice of biotherapy, the use
of living organisms in medical treatment. National
Wildlife
(Feb./March 2006) reports that maggots, leeches,
and parasitic worms (to name a few) are returning to favor in
modern medicine, and they are showing promising results.

Maggots, for example, are being applied to chronic wounds to
clean and heal them when more contemporary treatments have failed.
Medical maggots work their magic by dissolving and ingesting
bacteria and dead tissue in wounds. The process takes between 48
and 72 hours with maggots placed on a wound at a density of five to
ten per square centimeter. These dream cleaners have proven
especially successful at ridding organisms of stubborn bacterial
superstrains.

Perhaps best of all, they are low-risk, noninvasive, and
natural. ‘The maggots are pretty safe,’ says Ronald Sherman, a
researcher at the University of California at Irvine, ‘certainly
compared to alternatives like surgery.’

John Church, an orthopedic surgeon and medical maggot pioneer,
told National Geographic News (Oct. 24, 2003) that biotherapy is ‘a
highly sophisticated natural means of achieving certain ends.
Nature’s been doing research and development on this for 300
million years.’

The creepy crawly remedies don’t stop with maggots. Leeches have
returned to premier medical circles as one of the best ways to
assist in blood circulation and healing after reconstructive
surgery to attach a severed digit. Parasitic worms are being used
to treat people who suffer from inflammatory bowel diseases, and
saliva from the common vampire bat has led researchers to an
anticoagulant that breaks down blood clots in stroke victims.

The only downside to this rediscovered medical miracle? Getting
over the eww factor.

For more information on biotherapy, visit
www.bterfoundation.org.

UTNE
UTNE
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