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Your appendix: a hotel for friendly bacteria?

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    Your appendix: a hotel for friendly bacteria?

    Why Your Appendix Actually is Important

    April 07, 2008 By: Chris Larson Category: Bizarre, Commentary, Health
    And why it will not be evolved away any time soon.

    For a long time culture has been debating the vestigial status of the veriform appendix in the human body. There’s a significant new theory about the historical and current purpose of our appendix that seems to be holding water quite well . Well enough in fact that it is gathering supportive physiologists like wildfire. The explanation is almost too simple.

    Before I go into it, I just thought you should know that your intestines are a cesspool of bacteria. I’m serious. They have an insanely high concentration of bacteria - about 13 million bacteria per gram of feces. Before you start wondering about how you can flush those massive clumps of microorganisms out, you should know that out of all the bacteria we’ve identified in this world, less than one percent is harmful to humans. A lot of bacteria is beneficial - even essential, and the bacteria in-between serves its purpose by bullying out any new harmful bacteria trying to settle in your body. Bacteria is fantastic protection against sickness. The natural infestations of bacteria in our bodies are the most important thing keeping us from contracting illness or infection from every single malevolent bacteria we come in contact with. Our natural immune system is great, but completely blocking hostile bacteria from getting into your body in the first place is the reason our immune system isn’t always exhausted.

    Here is where it gets interesting. When our bodies get diarrhea, I mean serious diarrhea - the kind where you have to drink an extra gallon of water just to keep hydrated - it is our body’s attempt to flush out the intestines and get rid of the bacteria or the chemical or whatever it is that is attacking your insides. This is great for taking care of the problem at hand, but all that flushing out removes most of the bacteria - beneficial included - from our system. And our bodies don’t make bacteria. Can you see how that could be a problem? Virus and malevolent bacteria can get in through the intestine and go absolutely nuts. If too much of the beneficial bacteria is flushed out, there is nobody to stop them, nobody on the way, and nothing you can do about it until you go to the doctor with your serious infection and they give you antibiotics. In third world countries where antibiotics are scarce, sometimes the final step in that sequence is death instead of antibiotics. That being the case, you might wonder why every time you have diarrhea you don’t get a serious series of illness and infections.

    This is where the invaluable appendix comes in and saves the day.

    An appendix is a long worm shaped pouch hanging off the side of our intestines. Specifically, in the right iliac fossa. And it is specially designed to be able to keep 99.99999% of our fecal matter out of it, but not the bacteria. That is right - it is an internal hotel for bacteria. This is where they kick up their feet, take a snooze, chat it up with the boys, and basically wait around for something to happen. When your intestines get flushed in an emergency, these guys start coming out doing what they do best - multiplying as fast as they can. If you were healthy before, you can safely assume that the guys that fill your appendix are friendlies, and having them take up all the seats in your intestinal buffet is preferable to what was in there making the trouble in the first place, plus a lot less risky than what might be coming through in the near future.


    I always understood that an important function of the appendix was its role within the lymph system, which plays an integral role in an immune response. The information posted above about the role of the appendix as a hotel for essential bacteria seems to connect with this as having a close connection with the lymph may help ensure that harmful bacteria do not take advantage of the five star accommodation offered by hotel appendix.


      I had about a half a teaspoon of dark greenish brownish fluid come out of my appendix/stoma last night [weekend of course] freaked me out, I'll hope it was friendly bacteria!
      Embrace uncertainty. Hard problems rarely have easy solutions. Jonah Lehrer


        here is an interesting fact we found out while stephen was in the hospital. i am sure dr. young knows this, but it surely was new info to me!

        you can actually have an appendicitis after having your appendix removed!

        when i took stephen into the hospital when his intestines ruptured, almost two weeks ago now, the ER doctor kept telling him that he sure did have every symptom of an appendicitis. however, he had had his out at age 11.

        the doctor said, that when removing the appendix, the doctors leave a stump, and rarely, that stump will act up and actually turn into an appendicitis and have to be removed. this is basically another appendicitis; so when people present with stephens symptoms, they actually check for appendicitis of the stump. this is very rare, but can happen.

        having never heard of this before, when we got him out of the hospital, i did go on the internet and check it out, and it is true.

        in stephens case, it was a ruptured intestines, but the infection had actually invaded his appendix stump and that had to be removed during the surgery, as well as a foot of his large intestines and about 5 inches of his small intestines.

        i would have never considered an appendix problem when someone told me they had had theirs removed. i found this very interesting and since dr. young started this thread, thought i would share this.