One of my mentors, Dr. Tim Francis taught me that people will generally have no health problems/complaints (in general) if their water metabolism, blood sugar metabolism, and ileocecal valve are all functioning well. I’d say water and blood sugar metabolism, and digestion as a whole, as opposed to the ileocecal valve alone.

You’ve probably never heard of the ileocecal valve unless you’ve been under the care of an applied kinesiologist. That’s unfortunate because so many people could be helped if their practitioner knew how to find and fix a problem with it. So what is it? Let me talk a bit about the anatomy of the digestive tract first to help you gain a better understanding.

The small intestine is divided into three parts: the duodenum, jejunum and ilium in descending order. So the ilium is the third part (if you will) of the small intestine. Essentially, the purpose of the small intestine is to digest and absorb food. The large intestine which extends from the small, consists of the cecum and the colon. The large intestine absorbs water and eventually acts to remove the waste from the foods we consume. The cecum is a pouch that lies between the ileum and the (ascending) colon. This pouch contains the ileocecal valve. In general, the cecum (and valve within it) lies about half-way between your umbilicus (belly-button) and the “point” of your right pelvic bone above your thigh.

The purpose of the ileocecal valve is to prevent the waste material in the large intestine from refluxing back into the ileum. The symptoms and problems begin when the valve gets stuck “open”, allowing this reflux of toxins to occur. The valve can also spasm and become “closed”. The “open” variety is usually the problem about 90-95% of the time. So I’ll talk mostly about that.

Stated simply, if your ileocecal valve allows waste from your colon to enter back into the small intestine (where you absorb food), you will most likely be absorbing many toxic waste products that you should be getting rid of. This is obviously a problem. How it presents as a problem, symptom, or condition will vary individually amongst patients. According to the late David Walther, DC DIBAK, the symptoms include but are not limited to: shoulder pain, (sudden) low back pain, pain around the heart, dizziness, flu symptoms, pseudo-bursitis, pseudo-sacroiliac strain, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), nausea, faintness, pseudo-sinus infection, pseudo-hypochlorhydria, headaches, sudden thirsts, pallor (pale skin), dark circles under the eyes, and any type of digestive complaint.

Personally, I’ve seen an “open” ileocecal valve result in sudden/acute or chronic low back, neck, sacroiliac, and shoulder pain; (pseudo)bursitis; sinus problems (almost always!); headaches; and many types of digestive disturbances. Keep in mind that some of these conditions can occur with digestive imbalances that do not include a problem with the valve (esp. low back and sacroiliac pain, and sinus problems). A “closed” valve can result in the above conditions as well, but I see constipation as the major symptom with that.

According to Scott Walker, DC (founder of NET), the major “causes” of a problem with the ileocecal valve include the a.p.e.s.; that is: food allergies, parasites, emotional complexes, and structure (mainly referring to spinal joint dysfunction). Dietary choices also play a role. Especially popcorn, chips, nuts, seeds, spicy foods, alcohol, chocolate, and caffeine. Think of any hard, fibrous foods as well, such as raw carrots. Additionally, an excess of amount of pressure (perhaps due to a large abdomen) alone can cause the valve to “open”. In addition to parasites, I’d add any pathogenic (e.g.: bacterial, viral, etc.) imbalance in the digestive tract as a culprit.

“Fixing” the valve would obviously be aimed at directing treatment toward the “cause”. Additionally, the first lumbar (or “low back”) nerve (L1) directly controls this valve from a neurological standpoint; while hormones involved in digestion also play a role in it’s function or dysfunction.

I can honestly say that knowing how to “find” and “fix” a problem with the ileocecal valve has helped my patients in a way that nothing else could. So I usually “check” it on every patient at some point during the course of treatment.

Because this article is the most popular one read on my site, I decided to write a bit more on this topic in a second article. Click here to read it.

Dr. Robert D’Aquila – NYC Chiropractor – Applied Kinesiology

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