Here's one from the "try not to think about it" file: The latest natural cure for diabetic wounds that won't heal is... ready for it?
Gross, I know -- but it works. A new study shows that maggots can help clean and close non-healing wounds.
And in some ways, they're even better than surgeons -- because every time a doc puts a knife to your skin to clean a wound, there's a risk of infection...including a potentially deadly one caused by drug-resistant bacteria.
But maggots, on the other hand, have a secret ingredient in their spit: an antibacterial compound that can actually prevent those infections from even happening in the first place.
They use that same spit to dissolve the dead and infected skin...that they then eat, making for a remarkably clean procedure. Well, that is if you're willing to overlook the fact that you've got maggots crawling through your wound and eating your flesh.
And it's easier to overlook than you might think -- because in the new study of 100 patients blindfolded and randomly assigned to either procedure, there was no increase in "creepy crawly" sensations, and certainly no boost in pain, among those who got the maggots.
But after a week, the maggot patients did get a boost in healing: Just 55 percent of their wounds were covered in the dead skin that can slow or stop the healing process, versus 75 percent of the wounds in those treated by surgeons.
However, two weeks later more measurements showed that the surgically-treated wounds had caught up -- so while the maggots will get you off to a faster start, they probably won't make much of a difference beyond that.
Still, the fact that these patients needed only $100 in medical maggots instead of the time and expense of a surgeon and they didn't face the same infection risk should be enough for the mainstream to take this method of wound cleaning seriously.
And other studies have found an even bigger benefit -- with one showing that maggots can clean and close wounds that surgeons failed to treat, including hard- to-heal wounds that had been open for years.
So, gross? Yes -- but don't let that scare you away.