Last Modified on Jun 20, 2014
The Ileocecal Valve - Functions, Issues and Treatments
The ileocecal valve is a sphincter muscle located at the intersection of the small intestines and large intestines. Positioned near the appendix, the ileocecal valve functions to open and close the passageway between the intestines to facilitate the movement of food through the digestive tract. When the ileocecal valve is closed, food remains in the small intestines allowing the body to render and absorb nutrients. Periodically, though, one of several factors may cause dysfunction of the ileocecal valve causing it to remain open or remain closed, which results in an imbalance in the digestive system and rest of the body.
Depending on the actual ileocecal valve issue, different symptoms are presented. Nonetheless, several common issues include joint pain, circulation problems, muscle aches and pains, pinches nerves and whole body arthritis. Additionally, ileocecal valve issues may cause a sudden stabbing pain in the low back or leg, a standing curvature, sharp or dull headaches, migraines, chronic sinus infection, allergies, dark circles under the eyes. Loose bowels, colon syndromes, burning leg pain, asthma-like symptoms and general GI discomfort may also be caused by ileocecal valve dysfunction.
Several factors influence the function of the ileocecal valve. Eating certain foods, not getting enough nutrients, having an improper nerve supply and even misalignment of the joints contribute to dysfunction of the ileocecal valve. Additionally, the way food is chewed, the texture and quality of food consumed, emotional stress and travel may affect the ileocecal valve.
Natural Ileocecal Valve Issue Remedies
Diet is one of the best remedies for treating ileocecal valve issues. Avoiding bread and other dense foods prevents sticking of the ileocecal valve. Likewise, avoiding caffeinated, spicy and sugary foods maintains effective functioning of the valve. Supplements including vitamin B12 and vitamin C support the functioning of the digestive system and bile acid absorption. AFA blue green algae also helps digestion and effective functioning of the digestive tract. Some of our readers also report having the area massaged in order to get food moving again is most effective.
Continue reading below for more tips from Earth Clinic readers.
Additional Pages of Interest:
[YEA] 02/27/2014: Desi from Canada: "Stuck Ileocecal Valve: I've had this problem for years now and no Dr. could figure out what the pain was all about. I just recently had a Bio Feed back session done where I was told my ICV was not working properly, thus the stabbing pain in my belly button area and diaphragm ( not the usual spot on the right side by the hipbone but still...) She recommended I go home and do a cure/detox with a so-called "Castor Oil hot pack" discovered by Edgar Cayce ( You can Youtube it). Recommended 3 days in a row on, 3 days off, for 2 weeks. Only took 1 hour at night laying in the couch with the warm castor oil pack and heating pack on my tummy. Today is the day after my 2nd treatment and I am literally painfree already. Its a great detox for not just ICV issues...I think my liver is smiling today too. Good luck and I hope this tip helps you all get better xoox"
[YEA] 06/16/2014: Lina from Riverside, CA: "I've been suffering with ICV incompetence for over four months now starting out with random headaches that lead me to see my nutritionalist who confirmed my icv was not working properly and tracked it down to my lower back being out of place. I now am going to the chiropractor and things are slowly getting better as well as starting yoga to strengthen my lower back/core. Anyone suffering from this, here are some treatments: avoid spicy food, see a chiropractor, take slippery elm capsules (aids digestion), castor oil packs, and self massaging the area. Also what helped me was the information in the book Gut Feeling by Gary Richer. It will help you pinpoint the cause of your icv problems as well as helpful treatments and self-massages you can do. Hope this helps please feel free to email me with any questions(:"
06/03/2011: Patti from Toledo, Ohio, Usa: "I've sucessfully utilized a number of the posting on earthclinic but I still have a problem that I'm not sure how to correct. Frequently my ileocecal valve sticks shut. This valve is located between the small and large intestine and it serves two purposes. First, it acts as a block that prevents the toxic contents of the large intestine from backing up into the small intestine. Second, it keeps the food products in the small intestine from passing into the large intestine before the digestive processes have been completed. When this valve sticks shut, feces stays in the small intestine unable to move any further. This backup causes constipation.
I know that spicy or roughage type foods can irritate the valve and cause it to get stuck as can emotional trauma and stress. But mine seems to get stuck almost every day at least once.
I've modified my diet, eliminating caffeinated foods, spicy foods, alcohol, and popcorn, all with minimal effect. I massage the site (right abdomen just in front of the large pelvic bone), and drink lots of water. I've tried taking chlorophyll, 2 tabs two hours apart for a total of 3 times. When nothing seemed to be happening, and I felt somewhat constipated, I also drank a herbal tea before bedtime that in the past has promoted gentle evacuation. Wow, this led the next day to tremendous diaharrea, inflamation, bleeding etc. Obviously too much "cure". Any suggestions you've found that worked?"Replies
06/12/2011: Kaitlin from Fairfield County, Ct replies: "Hi Patty,
I have these very same issues that you do, as does my sister in law! I think it may be more common than people realize, especially in perimenopausal women. The best advice I can give you is to avoid eating too much bread. If I eat bread (or another dense food) more than once a day, or even 2 days in a row, it causes my ileosecal valve to stick. I also make sure to drink water with meals. I have also discovered that if I eat a certain type of bread the day before my period starts, it can trigger a very painful gas attack and incredible stomach pain that can last up to 12 hours.
The most important supplement for me has been enzymes. I am now experimenting with different brands. I bought an expensive raw food supplement that contained 22 enzymes last month and can't tell if it is any better than some of the enzyme products that are much cheaper. I do know that taking enzymes have helped enormously. I have heard that it is better to take enzymes between meals on an empty stomach, but in our case, it might be good to do both (at the start of a meal and in between). Hope this helps."
04/21/2012: Deb from Sandy, Utah replies: "Oregano oil works for everything and has helped me alot! but I recently read that peppermint plus oregano alows the oregano to be absorbed into the intestines. Staying away from dense food such as bread and taking enzymes helps."
04/23/2013: Steven M. from Ashland, Oregon replies: "You say: 'The ileocecal valve is distinctive because it is the only site in the GI tract which is used for Vitamin B12 and bile acid absorption.' Copied from Wikipedia
I read that there and did some research:
Chir Ital. 1991 Feb-Apr;43(1-2):49-54. (Italian Society of Surgery)
[The ileocecal valve as a prognostic factor in extensive resection of the small intestine].
[Article in Italian]
Fornaro R, Belcastro E, Lo Presti G, Carissimi T, Ferraris R.
Source: Istituto di Clinica Chirurgica I, Universita degli Studi di Genova.
Excerpt from abstract: 'The ileocaecal valve, however, does play a substantial role, in that, on the one hand, it performs sphincter and barrier functions against ileocolic reflux of bacteria, while, on the other, its removal involves excision of the right colon (reserve area for reabsorption of water and ions) and of the terminal ileum (a site specialized in absorption of vitamin B12 and bile salts). '
Urol Clin North Am. 1991 Nov;18(4):743-54.
Nutritional and gastrointestinal complications of the use of bowel segments in the lower urinary tract.
Steiner MS, Morton RA.
Source: James Buchanan Brady Urological Institute, Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, Maryland.
Excerpt from Abstract: 'The loss of the ileocecal valve and ileum segment accelerates intestinal transit time, which does not allow for complete digestion and absorption of food. Water and electrolytes remain associated with undigested food particles and may overwhelm the absorptive capacity of the colon, resulting in an osmotic diarrhea. A second problem is vitamin B12 deficiency. Surgical reduction of sites in the terminal ileum for active and exclusive uptake of vitamin B12 might lead to hypovitaminosis. If this is unrecognized, patients may develop irreversible neurologic injury. '
I hope this helps."
04/23/2013: Leah from Philadelphia, Pa replies: "I have read that you can dissolve vitamin B12 in DMSO and apply to skin. Dmso should be diluted with distilled water to avoid irritation. It can be taken internally or dermally. I have not tried this particular meathod yet but it was recommended for people with digestive problems such as irritable bowel or Crohn's. I have used 99. 9% pure DMSO (mixed in grapefruit juice) I bought online and had no negative or positive side effects besides the odd smell. It is mainly used as a carrier for other medicine because it is a good solvent, highly tested and found non toxic (check medline or pubmed) and can cross the blood brain barrier. The medical community uses it in embryo preservation and organ transplants because it has such a high antioxident status. Apparently embryos that have been soaked in this and then frozen have better rates of implantation than fresh ones. Side effects include skin sensitivity and strange cream of corn odor. May cause cataracs in dogs. You can google it. I found a great ebook about it last year but lost the link.
Actually there was a lot of controversy about it at the time it was being tested because it had so many healing applications: cancer, heart disease, stroke, paralysis, arthritis, senility, schizophrenia, sprains, glaucoma etc. Veterinarians still use it for race horses when they get injured. It is a very potent free radical scavenger. To me it makes sense why it would have so many applications. When you think holistically the "one drug for one disease" model seems stupid."