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Posts Tagged ‘digestive disorders’

Sinus congestion

Sinus congestion a very common condition that patients report to me. Sometimes people are bothered by it along with an infection and/or a sinus headache, although sinus congestion often occurs in isolation. Interestingly though, the root of the problem is rarely located in the actual sinuses where the symptoms are nagging. I’ll explain…

Mucous is naturally secreted by certain cells in select areas of the body. Those cells are mainly located in the digestive tract (especially the small intestine), the sinuses, the lungs and the urogenital tract. Mucous provides the body with the means of carrying out necessary functions, such as the secretion and exchange of nutrients and waste products, in addition to protecting the body from exposure to chemicals and microbes.

As a result, sinus congestion can occur when an individual is exposed to a man-made environmental or household chemical (inc. beauty-care products); an infection from a microbe such as yeast, fungus, mold, parasites, bacteria, or viruses; certain foods (esp. allergens which incite an immune system response); as well as from pollens. Any of the above mentioned offenders can result in sinus congestion, and possibly lead to a headache and/or sinus infection.

The idea is to find the source of the problem, which should eventually lead you to eradicate the root cause. I know I’m stating the obvious with all of this. Now I’ll discuss the not-so-obvious. Many of my patients report that they have no environmental or food allergies they know of, along with no signs of an infection, yet they still have (chronic) sinus congestion. When there is no apparent trigger to cause sinus congestion like this, the first place I look to is the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. This is because when one area of mucous-secreting cells in the body begins to produce excessive mucous, the other areas seem to follow. As a result, a problem leading to excessive mucous in the GI tract often results in excessive mucous in the sinuses. This winds up being the reality in about ninety-percent of the cases in my patient population.

Because of this phenomenon, the GI tract needs to be “cleaned up” in order to eliminate the sinus congestion. Typically, this is the result of an underlying yeast or fungal overgrowth in the intestines. Whether or not it is labeled “candida” or an “infection” is besides the point. The idea is that there is an overgrowth of harmful organisms in relation to helpful organisms. This can also occur from a parasite, bacteria or virus. Very often exposure to a microbe may be obvious from eating a meal that you know didn’t “agree” with you. However, you can’t always assume that you’ll get (immediate) symptoms when you eat food that contains a harmful pathogen. When the gut is exposed to pathogens like these, the mucous-secreting cells tend to become active in order to help protect the lining of the GI tract while hoping to rid the body of the invader.

Additionally, you’ll want to consider the possibility that a food allergen or sensitivity is leading to your sinus congestion. The reason these can cause excessive mucous production is due to damage and inflammation inflicted on the cells of the GI tract. And, again, when the cells in the GI tract step up mucous production, the mucous-secreting cells in the sinuses often kick in as well. The most typical foods I see as offenders tend to be wheat, corn, dairy, sugar, yeast, and any aged or fermented foods, including alcohol.

The treatment is obviously to eliminate the offender, whether it’s a microbe or a food (very often it’s both). Supplements to help get the GI tract functioning optimally should also be considered. This typically includes enzymes and hydrochloric acid, anti-microbials, probiotics, and nutrients to help repair the lining of the GI tract. Keep in mind that very often, patients will be completely unaware of any GI complications despite the fact that it is the source of the problem (i.e.: sinus congestion).

Other than dietary changes and supplements, treatment should include balancing the muscles and joints of the cranium, TMJ, and neck in order to allow for proper sinus drainage. This is especially true when there is a sinus headache or known structural imbalance that leads to symptoms that are asymmetrical. This would be the case in instances when there is more of a problem on one side of the head; or when the pain or congestion is localized to a specific sinus or ear canal (whether right, left or both).

So when it comes to chronic sinus congestion, I always look to the GI tract (and liver, which really can’t be separated from the GI tract) to be the cause of the problem. Again, this tends to be the case ninety-percent of the time.

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

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One of the most commonly used phrases related to health and healthy eating is: “you are what you eat”. This obviously refers to the fact that our tissues are made from the food we consume on a daily basis. However, this phrase is a bit simplistic. After thinking about this concept for a while, I realized that we are a lot more than what we eat. Because of this, we need to consider some other factors beyond just what we eat in order to really gauge what we are made of. OK, so besides what you eat, what are you? Here’s a list for you:

1) You are what you eat

2) You are what you digest

3) You are what you absorb

4) You are what your environment contains

5) You are what you do not detoxify

6) You are…the result of 1-5

These may be self-explanatory, but I’ll expand on them a bit.

Number one mentioned above is obvious. This relates to the foods (and things referred to as “food”) we choose to eat/drink on a daily basis. This is a no-brainer and what we all refer to when using the phrase, “you are what you eat”.

Number two begins in the mouth. Well, it can be argued that actually seeing food is when digestion begins, but I won’t go into that. Digestion begins chemically and mechanically in the mouth. Chemically-speaking, we need to have a salivary pH of about 7.2-7.4 in order for our salivary enzymes to begin processing and digesting food. I have seen different pH ranges mentioned, but I generally find that my patients do well with a salivary pH between 7.2-7.4.  Salivary amylase is a starch-digesting enzyme, so it’s especially important when eating starchy vegetables. I hope you don’t consume too many starches from grains. The other step involving digestion in the mouth is chewing. If you don’t chew your food well, the digestive acids and enzymes won’t be as effective as they should be in breaking down food, and you’ll surely miss out on some of the nutrients in the food. By the way, it’s probably more important to chew your plant-based foods, because humans don’t have the enzyme cellulase in order to break down fiber.

In addition to the digestive processes that take place in the mouth; you’ll need sufficient hydrochloric acid in your stomach to break down proteins, and sufficient pancreatic enzymes to help with protein, fat, and carbohydrate digestion. Also, a properly functioning gallbladder is necessary to fully break down fats.

Number three has to do with (mainly) your small intestine’s ability to absorb food. There are small hair-like projections that line the small intestine called villi. These increase the surface area in the small intestine in order to be able to absorb more nutrients. A common hypothesis is that these villi can get clogged up with impacted matter. This is thought to be due to eating processed food, and not eliminating very well. The bottom line is that if the villi are clogged up, you won’t be absorbing everything that you are eating. Additionally, the “glue” that holds the cells in the small intestine together can get damaged resulting in leaky gut syndrome. When this occurs, you absorb too much. And you won’t want to be absorbing some of those things.

Number four refers to the chemicals in the environment that we are exposed to on a daily basis. This goes for everyone, but if you live in a major metropolitan area, you’ll most likely be more at risk.

Number five does relates to what we eat and the environmental chemicals we encounter. If your detoxification pathways aren’t running as smoothly as possible, you can be sure that “you are” a lot of toxins no matter what you eat. Additionally, if your digestive function isn’t up to par, then you may also be “made of” the food that sits in your small intestines and clogs up those villi mentioned in number three. There are five major detoxification pathways that need to work effectively for optimal detox. They are the liver, kidneys, lungs, skin, and colon. Making sure that these pathways are capable of dealing with the toxins of every day life in the modern world will go a long way in making sure that “you are not the toxins you encounter”.

So in conclusion, we are quite a bit more than what we eat. We are the result of the how our body’s respond to what we encounter on a day-to-day basis. This includes the (digested and absorbed) food we eat, the toxins we are exposed to, and whatever our body doesn’t let go of (whether those substances are helpful or harmful). Starting with a healthy diet is a great way to get all of those steps in order, but chances are you may need some more assistance (e.g.: supplements, specific diet(s)/food choices, detoxification methods, etc.) when building a better you; at least in the beginning.

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

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Every time I mention the term “leaky gut syndrome” to a patient, they look at me and cringe. Rightfully so, as it doesn’t sound like something very appetizing. Unfortunately though, because I see a large number of patients with digestive disorders, I tend to evoke the cringe response fairly frequently. Leaky gut syndrome is one of the most common digestive disorders. Very often leaky gut will be the last thing to occur in the digestive tract, after years of digestive issues and stress take a foothold. Fortunately, it can be addressed rather successfully through lifestyle changes.

Leaky gut is when the intestinal lining becomes more permeable than it should be. That is, it allows substances to pass through the intestinal lining (into the bloodstream), that a normally functioning intestinal tract would not allow. The barrier between the intestinal cells are known as tight junctions. Damage to those areas is essentially the problem. And again, the result is that those junctions are no longer “tight” enough to hold back things that shouldn’t be “leaking” through. By the way, the “only” substances that should get through are fully-digested foods and fluids.

In my experience, there is no one particular cause of leaky gut. It is basically the result of poor dietary choices, lack of sufficient digestive enzymes and/or hydrochloric (stomach) acid, food sensitivities/allergies, overuse of antibiotics, high levels of stress hormones, and/or an intestinal infection (bacterial, viral, parasitic, fungal, etc.). Essentially, it is the result of damage and chronic inflammation from any of the above mentioned (or more).

So, what is the result? Well, any number of problems can result. And they can be very serious. As you know by now, the problem arises when microbes, toxins, and undigested food particles get released into the bloodstream. Once this happens, the immune system goes on red alert and decides that it needs to mount an attack on these foreign invaders. The result of this can be any number of symptoms (or conditions) such as: (new) food sensitivities, bloating, gas, intestinal cramps, fatigue, foggy-headedness, joint pain, chronic infections, adrenal stress syndrome, skin rashes, autoimmune disease, any gastrointestinal disorder, liver toxicity, and more. The list can become practically endless when looking at the interactions between the systems of the body.

The first step in combating this syndrome is to address the cause of course. I touched on some causes above and here are some more articles related to those conditions: adrenal stress syndrome, food sensitivities, hypochlorhydria, and healthy eating. There certainly are targeted nutrients that help with this condition, especially the amino acid l-glutamine. This amino acid acts as fuel to the cells lining the intestinal tract and helps them to repair. You would most likely need to supplement this amino acid to get sufficient quantities to address leaky gut. Additionally, plant substances like aloe and deglycyrrhizinated (DGL) licorice can help to heal the gut lining. Other nutrients essential for intestinal cell production and growth may also be necessary. However, taking nutrients to help repair the lining of the gut will be futile until you address the major cause(s) involved. My article titled “Digestive disorders and the 4 R’s” goes through a comprehensive protocol of helping with most digestive conditions. The “fourth R” stands for “repair” which refers to repairing the integrity of intestinal lining.

This condition can be quite debilitating if some of the worst-case scenarios result (e.g.: autoimmune disorders). And without repairing the lining of the gut, there will be a never-ending battle in many, many different conditions.

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

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Gallbladder dysfunction is a fairly common clinical condition. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, cholecystectomy (or gallbadder removal) was the seventh most common ambulatory (or out-patient) surgery in the U.S. in 2003. This is rather unfortunate considering how important the gallbladder is in overall body function; in addition to the fact that there are many successful, non-invasive natural methods in order to help it function properly.

The gallbladder is located on the right side of your body, behind the lower edge of the ribcage underneath the liver; in line with the center of the clavicle (or collarbone). Its purpose is to store bile that is manufactured by the liver, and then release the bile into the small intestine. From a digestive standpoint, bile’s purpose is to emulsify (or break down) fats in the small intestine, which allows them to be absorbed efficiently. Additionally, this allows for the proper absorption of the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. Another role bile plays is to carry cholesterol and toxins into the intestines in order to rid them from the body. The toxins include anything ranging from pesticides, estrogens, toxic metals, and any other fat-soluble toxins. As you can see, a sluggish gallbladder (or worse, cholecystectomy) can cause a wide variety of complications.

The most common symptoms of gallbladder dysfunction include nausea, constipation, indigestion (especially after eating fatty meals), bloating (especially about half-an-hour to an hour after eating), gas, pain in the area where the gallbladder is located, pain in the right shoulder, a bitter taste in the mouth, clay or light-colored stools, and stools that float (except if you’ve consumed large amounts of fiber).

The gallbladder constricts and releases its bile via the action of a hormone called cholecystokinin (CCK). Cholecystokinin secretion is stimulated by the presence of fat- and protein-rich food that enters into the small intestine. As a result, avoiding fat completely may not be the best way to avoid gallbladder complications; because the mere presence of fat is helpful in releasing the bile that resides in the gallbladder in the first place.

The most common problem you’ve probably heard of related to the gallbladder is gallstone formation. And the most common type of stone is known as a cholesterol stone. It is not fully understood why cholesterol gallstones form, but it is generally accepted that they stem from any of the following: too much cholesterol, too much bilirubin (a breakdown product of old red blood cells), insufficient bile salts, a lack of emptying of the gallbladder, or the gallbladder not emptying enough. Cholesterol and bilirubin are normal components of bile. It is when they increase in concentration that they may become a problem. The other less common stone is known as a pigment stone.

I spoke about what causes the gallbladder to constrict (i.e.:CCK). In addition to a possible inhibition of the constriction of the gallbladder, the bile can also become thick and lose its ability to flow freely; regardless of the amount of CCK release. When this occurs, it is called cholestasis, or a suppression of the flow of bile. There are several possibilities as to why this may occur. First, realize that the largest component of bile is water. Therefore, being sufficiently hydrated is of prime importance to keep the viscosity down. Next, you must have an adequate supply of essential fatty acids, particularly omega 3’s. These fatty acids help to thin the bile to keep it flowing freely. Additionally, certain nutrients can be helpful in aiding fat metabolism and bile flow. In particular, inositol, choline, taurine, and betaine (not betaine-HCl, though it is possible that betaine-HCl may be helpful through improving overall digestion and stimulating the release of CCK). The gallbladder (and liver) can also be helped by botanicals such as milk thistle, dandelion root, and ginger. By the way, beet leaves are high in betaine, and juicing them would be best.

Other factors that can affect bile flow need to be considered as well. In particular, estrogen dominance can be a problem. Estrogen dominance refers to either: 1) too much estrogen in relation to progesterone, 2) too little progesterone, or 3) too much estrogen with normal progesterone levels. The reasons for estrogen dominance are beyond the scope of this article. Essentially, excessive estrogen can result in lithogenic (or calculi/stone forming) bile according to this article from the Annals of Surgery. Additionally, eMedicine cites a study which “postulated that estrogens cause increased cholesterol secretion and progesterone promotes biliary stasis”, thus possibly leading to gallstones or bile stasis. Low thyroid function (which can result from estrogen dominance, but certainly not always) can also cause the gallbladder to become sluggish and congested.

Women tend to be more likely to suffer from gallstones and gallbladder complications, which may further point to excess estrogen levels as being a major problem. There is a profile of a person likely to get gallbladder problems coined the “4F’s”: 1) female; 2) (let’s just say overweight); 3) forties (age); and 4) fertile (implying high levels of hormones).

Otherwise, I’ve quoted the following characteristics that put people at risk for gallbladder complications from the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse:

  • women—especially women who are pregnant, use hormone replacement therapy, or take birth control pills
  • people over age 60
  • Native Americans
  • Mexican Americans
  • overweight or obese men and women
  • people who fast or lose a lot of weight quickly
  • people with a family history of gallstones
  • people with diabetes
  • people who take cholesterol-lowering drugs

However, don’t rule out a gallbladder problem if you don’t fit into any of the categories above. I commonly see gallbladder problems in all types of individuals. The most common related complaints I see are sharp, piercing pain at the right fourth rib (where it connects to the fourth thoracic vertebrae) sometimes extending upward into the neck and resulting in neck pain as well; knee pain; and digestive disturbances. If you suspect a gallbladder problem, please seek a licensed, qualified healthcare practitioner that can help you before the worst case scenario (cholecystectomy). It can be a very simple problem to manage through diet and lifestyle changes.

One last thing! For those who have had their gallbladders removed, it may be a good idea to take bile salts (in supplement form) with every meal, as there is a good chance that fat digestion will be impaired without them.

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

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Recently I’ve realized that the most popular search term that guides people to my website is “ileocecal valve” (and variations thereof). Because of this, I thought I should write a few more words about the significance of it. If you are not familiar with the ileocecal valve, please refer to this article first, which explains the basics.

As mentioned in the first article, the ileocecal valve can either be stuck “open” or “closed”. I put those words in quotes because that might not literally be the case; however, it gets to the point and keeps things simple. When the valve is causing a problem, it is usually found to be open about 95% of the time and closed about 5%. Symptoms of both can be similar, but constipation is certainly a hallmark of the closed variety.

The reasons for dysfunction are also similar, but a closed valve is basically caused a hypertonic or spasticity in the intestinal muscles. This can be caused by excessive abdominal workouts, especially if done isometrically (i.e.: simply contracting the muscles without moving the torso). The next most obvious reason is nutrient deficiencies that cause muscle spasms in the first place. Remember the intestines are made of muscle, not skeletal (or cardiac), but smooth muscle. The most common nutrient deficiencies would be magnesium, or lack of available/usable calcium, not necessarily a deficiency in calcium. Hypochlorhydria, or low stomach acid (and/or digestive enzymes) is also usually an issue. There may be other causes, but those are the ones I typically see.

Other issues that accompany (perhaps the result, not necessarily the cause of) a closed valve might be things like intestinal yeast overgrowth (or candida), parasites, protozoa, bacterial and viral infections in the intestines. This can be the cause or result of insufficient “good” bacteria in the gut. Think hypochlorhydria; excessive sugar, refined carbohydrate, and/or fruit consumption; food contamination, and drinking chlorinated water, when it comes to gut flora imbalances. Symptoms on the other hand would be anything that accompanies constipation, such as bloating, abdominal cramps, flatulence, fatigue, general poor digestion, headaches, halitosis, low back pain, etc..

An open ileocecal valve can be the result of poor abdominal or pelvic floor muscle tone, leading to a general ptosis (drooping) or flaccidity of the intestines because of lack of support. Usually however, this is also due to gut flora imbalances along with the presence of pathogens related to the reasons mentioned above. An open valve can also result from irritation to the lining of the valve and intestinal wall in general. This is mainly due to foods high in roughage such as: popcorn, chips, nuts, seeds, spicy foods, alcohol, and sometimes chocolate and caffeine. This is especially true if those foods are not chewed thoroughly. By the way, I’ve found an open valve in just about every person who adheres to a strictly “raw food” diet. Chew properly and thoroughly if this is you!

Symptoms of an open valve mainly include loose stools, bloating, flatulence, general poor digestion, low back pain and lumbar disc herniations (without an onset of obvious trauma – i.e.: not simply bending down to pick something up), fatigue, headaches, halitosis, etc.. Hmmm, sounds just like a closed valve right! Remember, this is essentially a digestive problem, just like the closed variety; with the main difference being a possible magnesium or calcium deficiency in a closed valve. Again, consider hypochlorydria and insufficient digestive enzymes as well.

Unresolved emotional issues should be ruled out in either case. And pelvic and lumbar spinal joint dysfunction must also be addressed because the nerves that control the intestines arise from those areas. The fist lumbar nerve root (or L1) directly innervates the ileocecal valve. But again, I would check the entire lumbar spine and pelvic joints, including the sacrum.

I hope this sheds some more light on the topic as it is an important one. I check it on just about every patient, every visit, and definitely in cases of low back pain, headaches, and digestive disturbances.

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

 

 

 

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Candida albicans is a yeast that is normally present in our gastrointestinal tract, skin, and vaginal tract in women. Under normal circumstances it remains in those places causing no harm whatsoever. However, it is quite common for candida to grow out of control and cause many debilitating symptoms. An overgrowth of candida is probably one of the most common conditions that I see in patients with digestive disturbances. But it doesn’t stop there. Candida can cause (directly or indirectly) any of the following symptoms or conditions: irritable bowel syndrome, leaky gut syndrome, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, GERD, sinusitis and chronic sinus problems, inability to lose weight, thyroid imbalances, headaches, vaginitis, chronic fatigue, “foggy-headedness” or inability to concentrate, food allergies or sensitivities, pre-menstrual syndrome or dysmenorrhea, skin rashes, depression, pain, yeast infections, and more. The question now is: why does it grow out of control?

There can be any number of reasons that someone has an overgrowth of yeast. The main thing to think of however, is a person’s diet. And the main culprit in the diet is definitely sugar. This obviously includes foods like pies, cakes, cookies, candy, ice cream, soda, donuts, brownies, and the like. However, even so-called natural sugars like honey, maple syrup, brown rice syrup, agave nectar, corn syrup, brown sugar, fruit and fruit juices are problematic as well. One more “food group” needs to be added to the list. I’m referring to refined grains and flour products. This would include bread (even whole grain), cereals (even sugar-free), muffins, croissants, pancakes, waffles, etc.. Although these foods are not sugar per se, they quickly get metabolized into sugar (or glucose). Additionally, any foods that actually contain yeast or fungus will certainly be a problem. And don’t forget alcohol, as that is certainly a very refined “sugar”.

The problem with these foods and sugar is that they actually “feed” the yeast or candida. It is synonymous with adding gasoline to a fire. So in order to quell a yeast or candida problem, one MUST avoid these foods temporarily. Other factors leading to an overgrowth of yeast or candida include a weakened immune system, nutrient deficiencies (particularly certain minerals), and use of antibiotics. All of the above can lead to an imbalance between the amount of “good” and “bad” bacteria in the intestines. This imbalance in intestinal or vaginal bacteria can be both a cause and effect depending on how the problem began. The length of time it takes for this condition (and it’s related symptoms) to resolve will depend on many factors including: the amount of candida in the system, the strength of the immune system, intestinal and digestive integrity, and nutrient status.

In addition to dietary changes, supplements are usually necessary to fully eradicate the problem. Think of dietary changes (i.e.: avoiding sugars and refined grains) as a way of starving the yeast. Specific supplements on the other hand can actually “kill-off” candida as some can act as natural anti-yeast or anti-fungals. Additionally, certain supplements that address mineral deficiencies and help strengthen the immune system can often be necessary. And lastly, probiotics (or “good” bacteria) as well as digestive enzymes and/or hydrochloric acid may be necessary.

In general, this can be an easy condition to eliminate, IF you avoid sugar and yeast-containing foods. Besides the obvious sugary foods and flour products, it’s often also necessary to avoid eating fermented, fungus/mold-containing, and aged foods such as: vinegar, mushrooms, aged cheeses, soy sauce, and also peanuts and corn (they often contain a fungus or mold known as aflatoxin). High starch vegetables like potatoes, carrots and beets can be an issue in very stubborn cases. The extent that these dietary changes need to be in place will certainly vary individually. Although, I would say a minimum of three weeks is necessary, and it would be wise to avoid pure sugar-containing foods afterward in order to prevent a recurrence.

If you don’t avoid eating the above mentioned foods, the situation usually becomes a vicious cycle. Eating sugar and refined carbohydrates feeds the yeast, and disrupts the balance between the “good” and “bad” bacteria in the intestinal and/or vaginal tract. This will result in a weakened immune system and altered gastrointestinal integrity which causes the yeast to continue to grow out of control. This will ultimately result in more immune compromise, allowing the yeast to continue to grow; and so on. As you can see, without changing your food intake, it can be very difficult to clear up this problem.

Please keep in mind that vaginal yeast infections almost always indicate a gastrointestinal overgrowth of yeast. And candida and yeast infections do not discriminate…men are just as susceptible as women to succumbing to the deleterious effects of candida in any part of the body. The worst two cases of yeast infections I’ve “seen” in my patients were among a male and a female.

Because this is such a rampant problem with potential “far-reaching” effects, it would be wise to rule this in or out in many different symptoms and conditions.

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

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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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