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Anatomy and Physiology
Although the ileocecal valve isn’t an organ or gland, it can cause a myriad of symptoms and the medical profession often misses correct diagnosis of ileocecal valve syndrome. Knowing the function, symptoms, and problems, relating to this valve might save someone much invasive and expensive testing.
The ileocecal valve is at the very end of the small intestine (ileum) and connects it to the first part of the large intestine. If you drew a line from your umbilicus to your right anterior superior iliac spine (the most prominent part of your pelvis in the front of your body), the valve would be located just below the midpoint of that line.
The ileocecal valve has two main functions. The first is to prevent the backflow of fecal contents from the colon to the small intestine. The second is to prevent the contents of the ileum from passing into the cecum prematurely.
Gastrin is a hormone produced when food is in the stomach. When the chyme with gastrin approaches the valve, the gastrin causes it to relax. Also following a meal, the gastroileal reflex will open the valve to let the chyme through. At other times, the valve remains shut. Irritation and/or distention of the cecum will keep the valve tightly constricted.
Symptoms of Ileocecal Valve Syndrome
The main problems that can affect the valve is that it can become stuck open or it can become spastic. Symptoms that can occur with either condition include pain in the area of the valve (can be mistaken for right ovary pain), dizziness, low back pain, shoulder pain (mainly on the right side), nausea, faintness, paleness, sudden thirst, bad breath, and ribbon like stools. Ileocecal valve syndrome will also aggravate dysmenorrhea and endometriosis and should be evaluated in these conditions.
2) People with valves "stuck open" usually suffer from loose bowels, get overly emotional, and exhibit vitamin C deficiencies (their vitamin C is exhausted detoxifying the backflow of fecal material).
3) People with spastic valves tend to be constipated.
4) In my practice when I have seen cases of diarrhea caused by this condition, closing the valve would stop the diarrhea immediately.
Causes of Ileocecal Valve Syndrome
1) Any chronic irritation in the area of the cecum such as an irritated appendix (from too much spicy, greasy, or refined food, not enough exercise, water, or any other unhealthful practice that will clog the lymphatic system) can cause spasming of the valve.
2) Alcohol, caffeine, carbonated beverages, chocolate, charbroiled and meat, incomplete digestion (from not chewing well, eating too frequently, overeating, dysfunction of the stomach or small intestine, etc.) can cause dysfunction of the valve.
3) Any irritation in the small intestine, eating too frequently, strong emotional upset, overeating a food you’re allergic to, can cause the valve to become "stuck" open.
4) Eating refined sweets especially if you have blood sugar handling problems can make the valve get stuck open, and eating sweets after correcting valve problems can cause its recurrence.
5) Nerve pressure in the upper lumbar spine can cause ileocecal valve syndrome (see Appendix A).
6) Fecal contents with a pH under 6.8 tend to distend the colon by making it atonic causing the valve to become spastic. Conversely fecal contents too alkaline (pH over 7.0) will make the colon hypertonic and relax the valve.
7) Hyper or hypotonic psoas muscles can contribute to ileocecal valve syndrome.
Other Indications of Ileocecal Valve Syndrome
1) The iliacus may exhibit weak on manual muscle testing in ileocecal valve syndrome (see Appendix C and figure 14.1).
2) Pushing on the valve straight down through the body will make a strong muscle weak if the valve is spastic. Pushing on the valve straight through the body and toward the left shoulder will make a strong muscle weak if the valve is stuck open.
Prevention and Treatment of Ileocecal Valve Syndrome
1) Avoid spicy food, alcohol, caffeine, meat. Don’t eat in between meals. Don’t overeat.
2) Rubbing a reflex area on the front of the shoulder (where the biceps muscle goes through a groove in the humerus) for one minute every other day for two weeks will be helpful (see Appendix B).
3) Go to a good chiropractor to check for nerve pressure as a possible cause (see Appendix A).
4) If stuck open, press straight down through the body during five successive expirations, use 3-4 pounds pressure and let up on inspiration (see figure 14.2). If spastic, press down through and toward the left shoulder for five successive expirations (see figure 14.3).
5) After #4 go on the adrenal recovery diet for two weeks. If your valve was stuck open put a cold plastic bag of water over the valve for twenty minutes before bed daily for one week to help prevent recurrence.
6) An open ileocecal valve should not always be closed. If you ate an irritating substance, your body in its wisdom may have opened the valve to get the harmful substance through faster. Go over the dietary history of the past two days before deciding on treatment.