Feature

The Wonder's of Poop

By Cody Sung

Volume 1 Issue 8

June 8, 2021

The Wonder's of Poop

Image provided by the Canadian Digestive Health Association

Poop is a brown substance with many wonders. Well, it smells, and human poop can contain diseases such as cholera (no wonder we flush it), and poop is disgusting, but poop has power, from being a way to track down certain animals to helping a colon infected with C.diff. Poop is not just a thing you flush, it’s an important biological substance that has been rejected by civilization.


Dogs can smell a lot of things, and that nose can be put to good use to track down animals - using poop. For example, dogs can be trained to smell elephant poop with DNA. Whenever law enforcement finds elephant ivory tusks laying around, they can use the DNA from that and the surrounding poop to find poachers. Dogs can also do this for other endangered species, such as the pangolin.


Poop can also help the environment. For example, cow poop in a pond with the correct nitrogen can allow algae to grow, because algae needs the correct nitrogen to make chlorophyll to photosynthesize. Another helpful thing poop does is it can make or break a nutrient cycle. For example, when phytoplankton die, their bodies and nutrients go down to the seafloor. Right whales eat the nutrients down there and bring them back up, and when they poop, all the nutrients are released and they allow for new phytoplankton to grow, and this can help other life in the ocean.


Poop even has a major benefit for human health as a medicine to treat C.diff. When you take an antibiotic, bad bacteria in you are killed, but so are good bacteria. This hurts your microbiome, bacteria that’s inside you and doesn’t harm you. This causes you to be susceptible to C.diff, which is a bacterium that causes inflammation in your colon, accompanied by frequent diarrhea, fever, nausea, and more. It can be deadly. But a solution involves poop. If poop from a healthy person with a healthy microbiome is shot up the colon, the new, stronger microbiome can help get rid of C.diff, with this procedure being effective over 90% of the time. It’s called a fecal transplant, and it’s been used since the fourth century in China. Patients would be given fecal slurry, and it would be very effective. Poop capsules are made for this purpose. There’s even poop banks where a person can donate poop for money.


Poop is something seen as gross (which is fair), but poop can be good for the environment in an ecosystem, and humanity. Poop is something to not take for granted, as it is an important part of our world, and it can do some very interesting things. The next time you see poop, think about the wonders of it.


Sources used:

Who Gives a Poop?: Surprising Science from One End to the Other - Heather L. Montgomery - Google Books

SciCafe: The Power of Poop | AMNH

OpenBiome

What is C. diff? | CDC