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July 6, 1912


Author Affiliations

George Higginson Professor of Physiology, Harvard University BOSTON

JAMA. 1912;LIX(1):1-4. doi:10.1001/jama.1912.04270070003001

The portion of the alimentary canal in which the final processes of normal digestion occur, and in which almost all the digested food is absorbed, is the small intestine. At the lower end of this long tube is the large intestine, serving as a reservoir to receive, store and periodically discharge the accumulation of waste. Mixed with the waste received in the large intestine is a slight amount of food which has hitherto escaped absorption; and if the diet has contained much vegetable substance, a good deal of cellulose may also be present. Throughout the small intestine the contents are maintained in a semifluid state—a state favorable to the energetic chemical processes which the food there undergoes, and favorable also to ease of movement through the canal and to readiness of absorption. The material delivered to the colon is still semifluid.

In the cecum and ascending colon the stagnant