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Yo, Matt!

When I was a kid, for $2 we could rent a leech from Gregory Peck's dad, the pharmacist at Ferris & Ferris, Fifth and Market, stick it on your black eye, and voilá, all gone. I've also heard that (yuk) maggots are used to clean up some traumas. So what's new in the art of using critters to fix up injuries?

-- Mike Gleeson, Oregon City, OR

Leeches and maggots have come full circle. The newest critters are the oldest. Nowadays it's called "biosurgery" so patients won't run screaming from the hospital. Leeches reduce the pooling of fluids in surgical sites, and a very particular type of fly larva cleans out necrotic, pus-laden tissue more efficiently than a scalpel. It takes some skill, beyond knowing your decayed-tissue maggots from your intact-tissue maggots. They can roam around, so maggot wrangling is a true talent.

Agnihotra ash doesn't qualify as a critter, though it has critterly elements. According to its East Coast developer, who, as far as I can tell is perfectly serious, it will realign the planet's aura and energy fields while producing a fine antibacterial agent. Take a pyramid-shaped copper pot, put in it dried cow dung and sandalwood, and set it on fire. Mix some ghee (yak butter) with rice and drop it in the center of the fire. Do this twice a day, at the exact second of sunrise and sunset, while chanting a mantra with "ancient vibrational tones." Luckily, the inventor will sell you the ghee and the dried cow dung by mail order. The resulting ash will stop bleeding and will detoxify your system if you sprinkle it on your food. Makes leeches and maggots look sane.

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