The function of the colon is largely that of a receptacle for unusable and waste matters, a sort of human garbage box. On this account, perhaps, this part of the food tube has been habitually neglected. It has been regarded as of little consequence. But modern studies of this part of the intestine have shown that by neglect this temporary reservoir of wastes may become a veritable breeding place of miseries and maladies almost too numerous to mention. So many and so serious are the disorders of mind and body which are now traceable to this part of the food tube, that not a few eminent surgeons have advocated and practiced the actual removal of the colon in cases of chronic disease of various sorts, and in many instances with surprisingly good results.

Professor Metchnikoff, of the Pasteur Institute, Paris, Dr. Arbuthnot Lane, head surgeon of Guy's Hospital, London, Dr. Barclay Smith, and numerous other scientific men, eminent bacteriologists, physiologists, anatomists and surgeons, have even announced the belief that the colon is a useless and often dangerous structure and that it may be advantageously dispensed with.

The writer does not accept this view, but holds with Professor Keith, the eminent English anatomist, that the evils attributed to the colon are really due to the adoption by man of a dietary unsuited to his anatomy. All vegetable-eating animals have long colons, as has man. The presumption is that a vegetable diet requires a long colon. Meat-eating animals, as the dog, have short colons. The frog while in the tadpole state is a vegetable feeder and has a very long colon. The adult frog feeds upon flesh and has a very short colon.

The Wrong Use To Which We Put The Colon

The trouble with the civilized colon is not that it is too long, but that it is put to a wrong use. Civilized man has adopted the dog's diet while having the colon of the chimpanzee. It may be admitted that if a man is to feed on the diet of the dog he ought to have his colon abbreviated. This is, in fact, the only way in which he could avoid a dangerous biologic misfit.

It is hardly to be supposed, however, that Nature has made so grave an error as to give to man an organ which is not only a useless appendage, but at the same time a prolific source of mischief. It seems more rational to believe that if the colon, an organ useful under normal conditions of life, is found to be so great a source of mischief in our civilized life, it is because of abnormal and pernicious habits or other influences connected with the life of the average civilized man.

The remedy is to be sought then, not in the extirpation of a portion of the body, but in a correction of those habits of life in which there has been a departure from the condition normal to the human species, and a return to practices and conditions which are physiologically and biologically correct for the genus homo.