You Don't Need Your Appendix...Or Do You?

Kim Conte

digestive system appendixDo you still have your appendix? I do.

I've always heard that the appendix is a useless organ, which is why it's really no big deal when people have appendicitis and have to get it taken out. But now, doctors are beginning to discover that this slimy sac that hangs between the large and small intestines may—and the key word here is may—have a useful purpose.


Have you had your appendix taken out?

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Some scientists believe that that the appendix may have functioned in food digestion. Specifically, they suggest that at one time this organ stored good bacteria, which was used to repopulate the digestive tract after a severe case of diarrhea.

Because we live in an industrialized society and have good sanitation and clean drinking water, the appendix in the modern age is often left with nothing to do. As such, it has been considered to be "obsolete"—even though it might be more vital than originally thought.

So should people who have had their appendix out panic? Absolutely not. There are no ill effects of removing the appendix.

This research is still important, however, because knowledge about the true function of the appendix could be used to prevent allergies, autoimmune disease, and appendicitis.

Plus, it's downright fascinating (at least to me!) that a seemingly useless organ could actually have such an important function. And we don't even know it!

Have you had your appendix taken out?


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