Spare the “Spare Parts”
Tonsils. Appendix. Gallbladder.
Quick! What do these three body parts have in common?
This was the question I recently posed to my patients. I heard many answers: from “These are organs I no longer have,” to “They are all vestigial body parts.”
Here’s my take. Apparently, some healthcare providers consider these “spare parts,” and they are often removed by surgeons as an extreme form of symptom treating. And while I’d never argue against removing, say, an appendix that was ready to burst, I do wonder why it escalated to a point in which its removal became medically necessary.
Perhaps it was due to poor dietary or lifestyle choices from the past.
By being all too quick to remove these offending organs, we may be “throwing the baby out with the bath water.”
In other words, if someone is having a gallbladder attack, are we really solving the problem by removing the gallbladder? Or, is the inflamed gallbladder really an observable, outward manifestation of a much deeper problem — a problem that will revert “underground” once the town crier is removed from the picture.
I have a hard time with the common thinking that these organs are evolutionary remnants. I believe that our Creator knew what he was doing when he placed them in our bodies. And I know enough to know that we don’t know enough. Just because we don’t have a clear understanding of the importance of the appendix, for example, does not mean that it is a part that we can freely discard. Sure, we may be able to survive without it, but we can live without a pinky too. There is a cost.
Of the organs listed, the gallbladder probably has the clearest function: to aid in the digestion of fat by secreting bile. Our understanding of the tonsils and the appendix, however, is less clear. But we do know that both contain immune tissue — making them a part of our immune system.
The tonsils serve as “guards” or “gatekeepers” of sorts to one of our most vulnerable infection access points: the mouth. The reason they enlarge when we are ill is that they are packed with an army of immune cells, known as lymphocytes, ready to engage in battle. There was a time in which removing tonsils was a routine procedure. So much so, that nearly everyone had them removed — making ice cream factories very happy, indeed.
The appendix has a reputation for being thought of as “useless.” Its name alone makes it seem like an afterthought. But that maybe changing. Scientists from Duke University are now saying that the appendix acts as a “safe house” for the necessary, good bacteria that we need in our gut. When certain diseases wipe out the good bacteria team, replacements are at the ready for immediate deployment. In addition, the appendix acts as a manufacturing plant to produce more.
I’m not implying that these organs should never be removed, I am saying, though, that we need to be asking more questions. Mainly, what is causing this organ to malfunction to the point that its removal is now highly advisable — if not immediately necessary? The blatant disregard that these pieces of anatomy have useful and functional purposes turns a blind eye to truly ministering to one’s health needs.
Please understand that I’m not pitching that we chiropractors are the key factor in preventing these “organ-ectomies.” But our focus on improving the integrity of the nervous system through proper spinal function, puts us in a unique position.
And so while medicine will often resort to removing organs, remember that your doctor of chiropractic focuses on reviving them.
Source used for this article:
Bollinger et al., “Biofilms in the large bowel suggest an apparent function of the human vermiform appendix,” Journal of Theoretical Biology. 249 (2007): 826-31.
Scientists may have found appendix’s purpose. MSNBC.com Health News. 10/05/07. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21153898/
Tonsils. Dr. Hull’s Encyclopedia. http://www.drhull.com/EncyMaster/T/tonsils.html (viewed on 07/04/10).
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