In this week’s Freakonomics Radio podcast, “The Power of Poop” (subscribe to iTunes here), we meet Alex Khoruts, an immunologist and gastroenterologist at the University of Minnesota whose research concerns the human gut. It turns out that human waste, which for centuries has been regarded with fear and wariness, is now being redefined as the largest organ in your body — and, more important, as a potential source for new ways to treat ailments ranging from constipation to obesity to Parkinson’s disease.? Khoruts has an unbounded enthusiasm for his field:
KHORUTS: I was aware that an entire new science was being born.? And actually I was almost salivating with envy — Boy, I wish I was in that field!? And it just so happened that as a gastroenterologist, I’m in the middle of that field. So I couldn’t resist entering it. We’re at the beginning of this new science. This is a wide-open new frontier.
For Ben Gepfrey, one listener of our podcast, this brought to mind some other medical poop enthusiasts: namely, the cast of Scrubs.? During a 2007 musical episode, they broke into song about the stuff:
It may sound gross, you may say “shush!”
But we need to see what comes out of your tush! Because!
Everything comes down to poo! Whether it’s a tumor or a touch of the flu!