I've done enemas/coffee/insufflation for years but I didn't really know what the different functions were of the small and large intestines. I didn't know what was happening other than 'stuff' was supposed to be absorbed there. I thought I'd post this because I may not have been the only one that has questions about this process.
Major function of Intestines?
The small and large intestines perform different functions. The small intestine is where the most extensive part of digestion occurs. Most food products are absorbed in the small intestine. The large intestine is responsible for absorption of water and excretion of solid waste material. Food and waste material are moved along the length of the intestine by rhythmic contractions of intestinal muscles; these contractions are called peristaltic movements. Waste is solid because most of the water has been removed by the intestines as it travels through them.
If the intestines are not working properly, Crohn's disease, constipation, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or Tapeworms may be present.
Sometimes the intestine can protrude through an abnormal opening in the body and cause a hernia.
The large intestine takes 12 to 25 hours to finish up the remaining processes of the digestive system. Food is not broken down any further in this stage of digestion. The large intestine simply absorbs vitamins that are created by the bacteria inhabiting the colon. It is also very important in absorbing water and compacting the feces.
The large intestine differs most obviously from the small intestine in being wider and in showing the longitudinal layer of the muscularis to have been reduced to 3 strap-like structures known as the taeniae coli. The wall of the large intestine is lined with simple columnar epithelium. Instead of having the evaginations of the small intestine (villi) the large intestine has invaginations (the intestinal glands). While both the small intestine and the large intestine have goblet cells, they are abundant in the large intestine.
The vermiform appendix is attached to its posteromedial surface of the large intestine. It contains masses of lymphoid tissue. It is a part of mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue which gives the appendix an important role in immunity. Appendicitis is the result of a blockage that traps infectious material in the lumen. The appendix can be removed with no damage or consequence to the patient.
The large intestine extends from the ileocecal junction to the anus and is about 1.5m long. On the surface, bands of longitudinal muscle fibers called taeniae coli, each about 5mm wide, can be identified. There are three bands and they start at the base of the appendix and extend from the cecum to the rectum. Along the sides of the taeniae, tags of peritoneum filled with fat, called epiploic appendages (or appendices epiploicae) are found. The sacculations, called haustra, are characteristic features of the large intestine, and distinguish it from the rest of the intestinal tract.