Though not mainstream, larval therapy, as it is also known, has enjoyed a comeback of late. Once commonly used to combat wound infections, maggots lost favour in the 1940s with the emergence of antibiotics. Their resurgence has been attributed to the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and to the need for alternative treatments for chronic wounds in aging populations.
Advocates for the therapy say maggots of the green bottle fly are ideal for treating wounds. Maggots secrete digestive enzymes that dissolve dead tissue, destroy bacteria and promote healing (Wound Rep Reg 2002;10:208–14). Though removing dead flesh via surgery is quicker, maggots, unlike scalpels, don’t touch healthy tissue. They are also cheap. A treatment costs about $100. The course of treatment depends on the size and nature of the wound but typically, three bouts of maggot therapy are required.
I’ve seen maggots in wounds a few times. Once the surgeon ordered bacon to draw the critters off the wound; the other times, the surgeons were content to let nature do its thing. Either way, the creepiness of it is (for me) nearly overwhelming. But it’s cheap and apparently effective. And I thought the same about leeches too.