FDA OKs Maggots for Medicine

Maggots—the offspring of flies—are making their way to the modern medicine chest, according to this month’s Scientific American

The wee young of flies—larvae—munch on dead skin, cleaning bacteria from wounds.

Science writer Carrie Arnold notes the FDA approved medical use of maggots in 2004, in part because some antibiotics have lost efficacy as drug-resistant strains of bacteria populate communities.

I found half-a-dozen studies where researchers reported benefits of using grubs that eat decaying flesh on living patients.

It’s called “debridement” when tissue is removed—or–de-bridled.

And the maggot nostrum? 

“Biotherapy” is the mild descriptor you’ll find in the current vernacular referring to bug therapy.

Indigenous peoples in Central American, Australia and Burma are reported to have used maggots in medicine, although native contributions to science are brushed aside in favor of stories of modern doctors who treated soldiers on the battlefield with the flesh-eaters prior to antibiotics.

Because maggots thrive on dead tissue they are often coupled with corpses and burials in literature.

Scottish poet Robert Burns invoked the maggot in Whistle o’er the lave o’t when he simultaneously mocks and praises his lover, wishing she were…

Maggot’s meat, Dish’d up in her winding-sheet

A winding-sheet is a burial shroud.


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