Disease & Illness

Well, It Turns You Might Need Your Appendix After All

Oops.

Appendix removal is a common treatment for appendicitis, but research is suggesting that we may need to rethink the whole “take-it-out” method as the one and only cure.

According to Time magazine, a recent study published in the “Comptes Rendus Palevol” journal by Heather F. Smith, PhD, took a close look at the presence or absence of the appendix in 533 different mammals.

The study revealed that while not all mammals have the organ, the ones that do seem to need it. So, perhaps it’s not as useless as we once thought. Here’s what Time reported about the study:

Species who had an appendix tend to have higher concentrations of lymphoid tissue in their cecum, a pouch that connects the small and large intestine. This type of tissue can play a role in immunity, and can also stimulate growth of healthy gut bacteria.

The appendix essentially serves as a “safe house” for the healthy bacteria, Smith told Time.

According to Science Focus, a study conducted back in 2015 revealed similar information: Keeping that “good” bacteria around is important for our health.

“A balanced microbiome is essential for recovery from bacterial threats to gut health, such as food poisoning,” Gabrielle Belz, a professor at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne, Australia, told Science Focus.

So, what if you’ve already have your appendix removed? Smith said not to worry too much.

“In general, people who have had an appendectomy tend to be relatively healthy and not have any major detrimental effects,” she told Time. “It may also take them slightly longer to recover from illness, especially those in which the beneficial gut bacteria has been flushed out of the body.”

Smith also mentioned to the publication that she wouldn’t be surprised to see other treatments for appendicitis emerge as scientists conduct further research. Because maybe that appendix isn’t quite as dispensable as we have always thought!

[h/t: Time]