Your Appendix Isn’t Useless After All

We all know someone who has had their appendix removed. Appendicitis isn’t uncommon, but luckily the appendix is one of the few non-essential organs in our digestive system. Most of us can live happy, healthy lives without it. But have you ever wondered why it is even there in the first place? Does it do anything?

Your appendix, which is located in the lower right quadrant of your abdomen, lies at the beginning of your long intestine—a thin little tube coming off the bottom. For years, scientists thought the appendix had no purpose. They assumed it was just a vestigial organ left over from evolution that no longer contributes to (and may even harm) our health, like wisdom teeth.

But it seems like there’s more to the appendix than we previously thought.

illustration of intestinal structure

Not Just an Empty Aack

Your appendix actually does serve a function. It seems to play a role in the health of our microbiome by both protecting and cultivating good bacteria.

The appendix acts as sort of a safe reservoir in which good bacteria can shelter and thrive. This is valuable, as it ensures that beneficial colonies remain rooted in the digestive system, no matter what sort of digestive disturbances arise.

Studies have also noted lymphatic tissue in and around the appendix. This suggests that this organ is likely involved in building and supporting immune health, as well.

An organ just to support bacteria?!

It sounds crazy, but it makes sense. Good bacteria are critical to good health. They play a huge role in proper digestion and strong immunity, among other important functions.

When our microbiomes are weak or unstable, bad bacteria can easily take hold. This can cause the immune system to become overactive, leading to harmful, inflammatory conditions. Our appendix ensures that our microbiomes maintain a healthy balance.

Unfortunately, as our lives become more devoid of bacterial diversity, our appendix health has suffered. Perhaps that’s why around five percent of people will have appendix issues in their lifetime and why it’s the number one most common general surgical emergency in the US.

While you can live without your appendix, it does provide a valuable service to your body. No matter what’s going on in your digestive tract, your appendix houses all those good gut critters, ensuring that populations will stay balanced and steady.

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60 comments

Jan S
Jan S13 days ago

tyfs

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Vincent T
William T19 days ago

thank you

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Michael Friedmann

Thank You for Sharing This !!!

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Jeanne R
Jeanne Rogers27 days ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Jeanne R
Jeanne Rogers27 days ago

Thank you for sharing.

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S M
S M29 days ago

Interesting new info, thanks.

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heather g
heather g29 days ago

No problems there, thanks

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Anna R
Anna Rabout a month ago

Thank you for sharing

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Ruth S
Ruth Sabout a month ago

Thanks!

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Ruth S
Ruth Sabout a month ago

Thanks!

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