Medicinal maggots: an ancient remedy for some contemporary afflictions

Annu Rev Entomol. 2000:45:55-81. doi: 10.1146/annurev.ento.45.1.55.


Certain fly larvae can infest corpses or the wounds of live hosts. Those which are least invasive on live hosts have been used therapeutically, to remove dead tissue from wounds, and promote healing. This medicinal use of maggots is increasing around the world, due to its efficacy, safety and simplicity. Given our low cultural esteem for maggots, the increasing use and popularity of maggot therapy is evidence of its utility. Maggot therapy has successfully treated many types of chronic wounds, but much clinical and basic research is needed still. In this review, the biology of myiasis and the history of maggot therapy are presented, the current status of our understanding and clinical use of medicinal maggots is discussed, and opportunities for future research and applications are proposed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Complementary Therapies / methods*
  • Debridement / methods
  • Diptera*
  • Humans
  • Larva
  • Wound Healing