THE HEALTHY CHANNEL: John Appleton
Your Ileocecal Valve Could it be the cause of your symptoms?
Most people and indeed many doctors may not be familiar with a very important part of the digestive tract known as the Ileocecal Valve (ill-e-o-c-cal). As our food passes through the stomach into the small intestine (which is approx 7 metres in length) the process of digestion gets underway and if all goes well, by the time it reaches the end we will have been able to break down the protein – the fats and the carbohydrates and many important nutrients will have been absorbed into the blood vessels found in the wall of the small intestine.
At the end of the small intestine (the Ileum) there is a small valve (not really a valve but a sphincter muscle), which allows for the passage of our digested food into the colon (at the Cecum) where it becomes ‘waste’ ready for elimination. This small valve, the Ileocecal Valve, has a very important role to play. When it’s functioning normally it’s a one way system and ‘waste’ is not able to pass back through it.
If however if the Ileocecal Valve malfunctions and remains open or closed this can cause a range of symptoms which can include: bowel disorders (diarrhea/constipation) - abdominal pain and bloating – nausea (the liver can become overloaded) - bladder infections - pain around the heart - right shoulder pain - dark circles under the eyes - right side pelvic pain - flu symptoms - postnasal drip – tinnitus - low back pain - face pallor – syncope – headache - bad breath and dizziness. There are so many seemingly unrelated symptoms – Ileocecal Valve dysfunction is often referred to as the ‘Great Mimicker’.
When the Ileocecal Valve sticks in the open position (which is most often the case) there can be a ‘backflow’ of toxic material, which can exhaust antioxidants such as Vitamin C as it works to detoxify the fecal material. If ‘colonic’ bacteria pass back into the small intestine it’s possible that they could be absorbed into the bloodstream and end up in the kidneys ultimately causing a bladder infection. If the Ileocecal Valve remains closed this can result in constipation. Problems with absorption of nutrients can be an issue when there is Ileocecal Valve malfunction. We can be eating all the right foods and taking good supplements but we don’t get the benefits from them.
I found out about my Ileocecal Valve some years ago when I was trying to get to the bottom of unexplained ‘gastro’ symptoms (burning and pain in the lower abdomen) that had plagued me on and off for a long time. It was only when a chiropractor told me I had an irritated Ileocecal Valve it came to my attention.
The ‘chiro’ had pressed firmly down on my ‘tummy’ approximately halfway between my navel and the top of my right hip (the high part of the pelvic bone). The area was very tender. A simple massage treatment worked wonders for me and I was very surprised to find that my ‘gastro’ symptoms had eased the next day. Since then I have always had my chiropractor check my Ileocecal Valve and I have learned the massage technique so that I can keep on top of it at home.
To locate the Ileocecal Valve area (its placement can vary slightly for each person), place your left thumb on your navel, your right thumb on your right hip (the high part of your pelvic bone). Imagine a line connecting those two points and find the middle of that line. Place all your fingers 2 to 3 inches below the middle of that line and you should be close to the Ileocecal Valve.
With all of your fingers, press in firmly and find the tender spot. This area can be tender in most people. It’s a bit like finding a golf ball under a pillow - but some of us have more 'pillow' than others so keep palpating to locate the spot. Palpate means to press in slowly but deeply to feel for hardened or tender areas. I find that it is easier to do it while lying down with my knees raised. Once you've found it, massage it in a circular fashion as you would any cramped muscle. Massage with medium pressure, in a rotary motion for five seconds.
Then bend your right arm at the elbow and using your left fist, briskly stimulate the bicep muscle, which is the reflex area connected to the Ileocecal Valve. Ideally, this massage as above should be done three times a day before meals. At the least do it in bed before going to sleep and in the morning before you get out of bed.
In addition to my massage programme, I use a simple Herbal product that I found in the U.S. known as ‘Valve Ease’ (Dragon River Herbals), which I make into a drink.
Just how common is Ileocecal Valve dysfunction? I read an interesting book ‘Gut Feeling’ by Gary Richer and I discovered that Ileocecal Valve dysfunction is indeed a very common problem. One chiropractor says that 80 percent of his clients with difficult digestive symptoms had to work through their Ileocecal Valve problems before they could gain their way back their health.
Digestive issues can be really debilitating and what I have learned about my Ileocecal Valve has been enormously beneficial.
John Appleton – www.johnappleton.co.nz firstname.lastname@example.org