Study: Mammals can breathe from their butts, maybe humans could too

01:20 PM May 18, 2021 | Team Udayavani |

It no rocket science to know that human beings like many other mammals out there breathe oxygen either through their nostrils or mouth. A novel study hints that mammals could also be able to breathe from their butts.


Based on the experiments with multiple mammal species which has revealed that even though nostrils and mouth remain the most effective way of breathing, mammals do have the ability to breathe through their rectum.

In humans, the food gets broken down in the intestines and later the nutrients are absorbed by our body which goes the same for most mammals.  Some creatures including the aquatic loaches have the ability to absorb air through their gut.

Looking at this observation, scientists wanted to learn if mammals could do this too.

For the study, scientists used oxygen in both gas and liquid form dubbed conjugated perfluorocarbon. They artificially induced respiratory failure in animals like pigs, rodents. Later to provide their bodies with necessary doses of oxygen, both the gas and liquid forms of oxygen were pumped into their rectums.


It was discovered that both liquid and gaseous forms of oxygen effectively helped in the recovery of respiratory failure.

Researchers opine that this opens a way for the development of an enema-like oxygen supplementation system for patients who have their airway blocked or cannot provide enough oxygen due to sustained severe damage.

Takanori Takebe, senior author of the study explained that artificial respiratory support plays a vital role in the clinical management of respiratory failure due to severe illnesses such as pneumonia or acute respiratory distress syndrome.

Takanori added, “Although the side effects and safety need to be thoroughly evaluated in humans, our approach may offer a new paradigm to support critically ill patients with respiratory failure.”

This hasn’t been tested on humans yet but it will be interesting to see if it works in a similar way.


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