Why do we have tonsils? Is there a particular function they serve?
Despite high tech medicine, there are still some basic questions about how the human body works that stump the medical profession. And the function of the tonsils is one of them.
When I was in medical school, almost nothing was mentioned about the tonsils. Textbooks devote only a paragraph or two to these organs. So doctors know more about how to remove them than what they do in your body.
Despite not knowing what they do or why our bodies have them, US doctors perform about 650,000 tonsillectomies each year. At around $10,000 per surgery, this means that removing tonsils generates close to $6.5 billion annually. And that’s for only one surgical procedure.
Removing the tonsils was at one time the fashion, and was supposed to relieve throat infections, although evidence suggests that there is not a significant enough decrease in throat infections following tonsillectomy to justify widespread use of this procedure. Now, the primary reason for tonsillectomies in children is for sleep apnea and other sleep disorders thought to be caused by enlarged tonsils obstructing the throat and airway.
What do doctors know about the function of the tonsils?
Medicine contends that the tonsils are part of the lymphatic system which helps to fight infections, since the tonsils contain lymphoid tissue that produced white blood cells and antibodies. However, tonsils are not lymph nodes. Lymph nodes have sinuses through which lymph fluid filters. Nothing like that happens with tonsils.
The tonsils are walnut sized glands composed of lymphoid tissue that surrounds several deep crypts, or folds. Lymph does not filter through the tonsils, but saliva filled with bacteria and food does contact the tonsil crypts. Bacteria are known to reside within these folds. As we swallow, food and saliva wash past these folds sending samples of the bacteria in them down our throats.
Medicine claims it has no idea what tonsils are really supposed to be doing in the body, apart from some vague immunity function. Textbooks say the tonsils are the first line of defense against infection, although any pathogen in the tonsils is already in your intestines and/or lungs, so it is hard to understand how this is a first line of defense. The tonsils are also said to trap pathogens in the mouth, although there is no mechanism to describe how tonsils can do this since they are not a filter, as are lymph nodes. In fact, tonsils are accused of spreading bacteria, not trapping it. Research also shows that removal of the tonsils does not seem to increase susceptibility to infection. So the role of tonsils in immunity is unclear.
Strange, isn’t it, that medicine can map the human genome, but they can’t tell you what the tonsils are for.
Tonsils and Bacteria
I would like to propose a new theory on the function of the tonsils and why we have them. But to understand their purpose in the body, you need to …