What are Rope Worms?

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“What are rope worms?” asks one of our readers in Canada. This is all she writes in her submission, and yet this short, simple question is an excellent one. It’s a question that has been posed many times on the internet, with very different responses coming from all sides. The truth of the matter is that rope worms are not really worms at all. What ‘rope worms’ actually refers to is the mucus that is shed by the human intestines. The point of intestinal mucus is to protect our body from harmful microorganisms that could enter our bloodstream through our intestines, and humans excrete intestinal mucus all the time, like we constantly shed skin. But we do not excrete this music in the rope-like structures that ‘rope worms’ refer to. Excretion of intestinal mucus in this fashion could be a sign of gastrointestinal problems.

In any case, it is these long, ‘ropes’ of mucus that spawned the name ‘rope worms’. Weirdly enough, this is more than a nickname given to a rare intestinal condition; the name is actually the product of a very real belief that these truly are worms. Rope worms are a little bit of a modern myth, spawning from a research paper published in 2013 by Dr. Alex Volinsky which claimed these to be real organisms – he even gave them a Latin name: funis vermes. He claimed that this was a parasitic worm that lived out its life in the intestines of a human, and which could cause brain damage if left untreated. On top of that, he suggested various types of enemas that people should take as treatments.

The reason this myth remains at large, and why people are still asking questions about rope worms, is because this intestinal phenomenon is likewise under-researched. It is very much still a theory, and even though it is more realistic than the theory about the rope worm being a massive intestinal parasite, people are still split on the matter. Some will believe the original paper solely because a doctor wrote it, even though the paper was never peer-reviewed and remains the only source that adamantly claims that these creatures are real.

In conclusion, rope worms are long strands of intestinal mucus – or are they? Maybe they really are parasitic worms, ones that were only discovered in 2013. We suppose the matter is still up for debate. We would love to hear our readers’ input, so if they have any opinions, or are on either side of this debate, they are free to share their thoughts in the comments section below.

 

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Summary
Article Name
What are Rope Worms?
Description
"What are rope worms?" asks one of our readers in Canada. This is all she writes in her submission, and yet this short, simple question is an excellent one. It's a question that has been posed many times on the internet, with very different responses coming from all sides. The truth of the matter is that rope worms are not really worms at all. What 'rope worms' actually refers to is the mucus that is shed by the human intestines. The point of intestinal mucus is to protect our body from harmful microorganisms that could enter our bloodstream through our intestines, and humans excrete intestinal mucus all the time, like we constantly shed skin. But we do not excrete this music in the rope-like structures that 'rope worms' refer to. Excretion of intestinal mucus in this fashion could be a sign of gastrointestinal problems.
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Author: Worm Researcher Anton

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