The Appendix, also known as the worm-shaped tube in the body of a human being, is attached to the large intestinal tract. The appendix is often regarded as a very insignificant organ and is removed without any regard to its importance in preventing complications from infection.
Modern researchers, however, believe that appendixes have many important functions within the human body. They protect the internal environment of the body from infections.
Initially, it was believed that humans did not possess an appendix. However, evolution theories have suggested that this organ may have been involved in the digestion of food. Many pieces of evidence suggest that our appendix was a vestige or evolution remnant. This means it served a purpose in the past.
In his two books On The Origin of Species and The Descent of Man Charles Darwin refers to vestiges of organs that have been left behind as humans evolved. Darwin argues that these vestiges of evolution represent functions that were critical to survival but have since disappeared.
Many biologists believe that our herbivorous forefathers used the appendix. The appendix was larger in vertebrates that ate herbivorous foods, such as tree bark.
According to some studies, ancient humans used appendixes as a digestive organ because they were primarily herbivorous. As humans developed, their diets began to consist of more easily digestible foods, and eventually the appendix lost its function. Scientists believe the may eventually disappear.
Immune system: role
Recent research has revealed that the human appendix contains lymphoid cell, which helps the body combat infections. The appendix is thought to play a part in the immune response.
Appendixes are thought to be involved in mucosal immunity of mammals. It is believed to be involved in extrathymically derived T-lymphocytes and B-lymphocyte-mediated immune responses. The early defenses it produces are said to help humans avoid serious infections.
The role of the gastrointestinal system
Researchers at Duke University Medical Center say that the has a vital role – it stores and produces good bacteria for the gut.
Our digestive system contains a large number of bacteria, which are both harmless and helpful in digestion.
When we are sick with diseases like dysentery and cholera our digestive systems can be upset by these good bacteria. According to researchers, this is the time when our appendix “reboots our digestive system” by releasing its stock of healthy bacteria. The Journal of Theoretical Biochemistry has published this study online.
The fact that food and microbes are passed through the appendix at the bottom of the large intestinal tract, according to Dr. Bill Parker who was part of a research team that established this theory, confirms that appendixes have some role in the digestion system’s flora.
According to other studies, this structure is also involved in the removal and movement of waste from our digestive system.
Appendix: Conditions that affect it
Appendicitis and carcinoid tumors are the most common conditions that affect the human. Scientists believe the appendix is useful in the human body. However, they advise removing the affected because untreated appendicitis and appendix carcinoma can cause death.