Appendix 'not such a useless organ after all' say scientists

It can help you fight off stomach bugs for one thing...

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The appendix is known to cause some very painful problems that only surgical removal can fix, but there is still a great deal of mystery surrounding what, if any, positive function it performs.

Researchers from Midwestern University Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine have found that the organ may actually do some important work.

See also: Could it be appendicitis?

See also: Scissors left inside man's stomach for 18 years

Most notably, their study revealed that the appendix could hold an emergency supply of good gut bacteria.

Those little helpers, which provide nutrients and protection from their nefarious counterparts, often get vacated when antibiotics are taken or food poisoning strikes. Having a reserve at the ready helps speed up repopulation.

This isn't the first study to link the appendix to gut heath.

In 2012, a team tracked recurrence rates of a Clostridium difficile, a bacterial infection that causes fever, nausea, and diarrhea.

The researchers found that "individuals without an appendix were four times more likely to have a recurrence of Clostridium difficile..."

The Midwestern University team's study also notes that the appendix hasn't evolved its way out of existence, in either humans or a variety of animals, suggesting it's a small part of a much larger system that is still needed.