Maggots, worms and leeches are not exactly the pets that you keep. But in medicine, they are enjoying increasing popularity. As a natural cleansing command, they are supposed to clean wounds, clean up the intestines and activate the immune system.
Much disgust, few side effects
Treatment practices of our ancestors and effective therapy methods in modern medicine: fly maggots in wounds, leeches on the skin for venous disorders and rheumatic complaints, worm eggs for drinking in chronic intestinal diseases - what is unappetizing Listening, in many cases brings a resounding success. Above all, it is important to overcome the disgust of patients and medical staff - otherwise, such treatments are usually side effects.
Treatment with maggots has been known for some time, but has been suppressed by antibiotics since the 1940s. Only in recent years, the animals crawl more frequently on wounds. They even kill bacteria that are insensitive to antibiotics, and that's particularly gentle.
Only the dead, infected tissue is consumed, live cells are not touched. An advantage over the usual method with a scalpel, in which the surgeon has no choice but to remove at the wound edges and healthy tissue.
The more specific working method of small animals is also called biosurgery designated. Fly maggots are especially common in chronic, poorly healing wounds, for example diabetic feet or leg ulcers. But also in acute wound infections can you help.
Physicians report some spectacular successes. The crabs have already saved patients with aggressive infections that could not be stopped by antibiotics from amputation of their limbs.
Mode of action of fly maggots
The maggots of the blowfly Lucilia sericata have a whole arsenal of effects: First, they attack the infectious agents directly. So they change the acidic environment in the wound, in which the pathogens are particularly comfortable, and they turn off a digestive secret, like a local antibiotic acts.
On the other hand, the maggots also have a positive effect on the wound itself. They release certain substances with which the metabolism of the wound is activated and the Healing excited becomes. This effect is probably enhanced by the fine body hairs of the animals, which mechanically stimulate the wound surface during movement.
In addition, the maggots remove substances that liquefy the dead tissue. So they can kill this and the bacteria. A Made grows through this feast in a few days to over one centimeter in length - three to seven times their original size.
Treatment with fly maggots
The sterile maggots are applied directly, ie "freely running" or sealed in gauze bags on the wound. The latter are opaque and have the size of teabags. They save patients and staff the sight of the five to ten crawlies per cm2 Wound surface. The wound edges are completely sealed, after two to five days a dressing change takes place.
The treatment usually does not hurt, but tingles and tweaks only a little; however, it may produce an unpleasant odor. If the patients are sure that there is no danger that the animals will flee their "workplace", they can usually become friends with the therapy.
Leeches have been used for therapeutic purposes for millennia, but clinical trials are still pending. Leech contains anti-inflammatory, anticoagulant and vasodilator substances. They are therefore used in diseases caused by Circulatory disorders arise or go along with it. These include, for example, varicose veins, thrombosis, phlebitis and hypertension. There are also reports of successful treatment for muscular and skeletal disorders, such as spinal disorders and arthrosis.
A leech sucks about three to six milliliters of blood; another 20 to 30 milliliters are lost through the rebleeding. Her bite is short painful, similar to a mosquito bite. The soaked animal falls off after 10 to 40 minutes by itself. Not infrequently, side effects are caused by the Blutegelsekret: light local reactions such as Redness, swelling and itching such as Poor circulation.
In Germany, an estimated 300,000 people are suffering from one of inflammatory bowel disease Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. These autoimmune diseases are chronic, patients have persistent or recurrent bowel problems that can not always be overcome with medication or surgery.
A cocktail out Eggs of the pig whipworm now promises a gentle alternative. This water-like liquid is drunk about twice a month, from the worm eggs contained therein in the intestine parasites hatch, which die after a short time and are excreted. Behind this is the idea that this is the reason Immune system stimulated becomes.
The theory sounds plausible, the side effects are low. At present, however, there are not enough studies to substantiate the effect scientifically. Other researchers are investigating the extent to which worm infections can reduce allergic diseases such as asthma and hay fever. Whether there will be a corresponding vaccine made from worm eggs in a few years' time, however, requires further research.