Thursday, October 11, 2007

Explaining The Appendix

OK, so clearly Gareth was less than impressed about the potential discovery of the use of the human appendix. But I have to say, I'm actually fascinated about the discovery. Here's a snippet of the explanation:

But sometimes the flora of bacteria in the intestines die or are purged. Diseases such as cholera or amoebic dysentery would clear the gut of useful bacteria. The appendix's job is to reboot the digestive system in that case.

The appendix "acts as a good safe house for bacteria," said Duke surgery professor Bill Parker, a study co-author. Its location _ just below the normal one-way flow of food and germs in the large intestine in a sort of gut cul-de-sac -- helps support the theory, he said.

And no, I wasn't just impressed because the author used the phrase reboot the digestive system.

I think this appreciation for the appendix comes from a general appreciation of all things bacteria, no doubt caused by the fact that my Dad's a Biology professor, my mom has a Master's in Biology and my brother is getting his Ph.D. in Immunology (right Dave?). Listening to my family sit around the dinner table and talk about the marvels of bacteria makes me appreciate them in ways I never thought possible.

My dad was just explaining to me that a new born baby's intestinal track goes from having no bacteria in it, to being fully populated in just a few hours. How remarkable is that?

Perhaps I'm easily impressed?

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, I read that article, too, and also liked the "reboot" metaphor.

    A friend of mine blogged about this recent discovery, too, and talked about some of her theories about her own health issues before and after getting her appendix out.