Mammals can breathe through the anus in emergencies, a controversial study claims


Photo: Getty Images

Through a liquid enema, a Japanese scientist demonstrated that mammals may breathe through the anus in emergencies.

Lung tissue is delicate. Although treatments traditionally for those with low oxygen levels involve a fan that inoculates air into the lungs, this method can cause damage because it is invasive. Takanori Takebe, of Tokyo Medical and Dental University, wondered if there was another alternative. He discovered that mammals have an alternative escape route.

Breathing through the anus: an emergency escape route

Breathing through the anus: an emergency escape route
Photo: Getty Images

The premise Takebe used was simple: options for people with low oxygenation rates can damage lung tissue. For this reason, he thought of other holes that mammals have in their bodies. The intestines were his first bet: he wanted to know if it’s possible to absorb oxygen through them, as is the case with some fish.

It turns out that the rectum is protected by a thin membrane that allows it to absorb certain compounds from the bloodstream. For this reason, suppositoriums are used for some discomforts. According to the Japanese expert, passing an oxygen-enriched liquid could be the key for a person to recover, in an emergency case.

This new alternative was applied to pigs and proved to be effective. It is therefore possible that this emergency measure can be extendable to other mammals— including humans. Although not yet a certainty, the evidence from this team of scientists suggests that it’s a possibility.

How was this conclusion reached?

small pigs at the farm,swine in the stall. Meat industry.
Photo: Getty images

Takebe tried, in conjunction with his team, to give liquid enemas to the pigs. This substance had high oxygen levels, and have in the past been shown to be effective in helping protect the lungs of premature babies. For this experiment, they were administered through the anus.

Since it’s a chemical that has been shown to be non-toxic, Takebe decided to implement it to his research. Before applying, four pigs were anesthetized, after putting them on a ventilator gaving a lower-than-average breathing rate. Once the liquid enemas are administered, the oxygen in the blood increased significantly.

According to Takebe, if there was a similar effect on people, it would be enough sustenance to bring them a medical benefit. According to the expert, this would be a solution for developing countries with less infrastructure in the health sector. “Fans are very expensive and require a lot of medical staff to manage them,” he says. “This is just a simple enema.”

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