8 | Ileocecal Valve Syndrome


This article is about a less known source of discomfort in the lower bowels.

Check the following list:

  • flu like symptoms
  • headaches, migraines
  • tinnitus
  • diarrhea, constipation
  • bladder infection
  • lower back pain
  • right shoulder pain
  • unexplained thirst
  • nausea
  • excessive gas
  • dark rings under the eyes
  • depression, low energy

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms for any period of time, there is a chance that you are suffering from a dysfunction of your ileocecal valve, the intestinal valve that separates the small intestines from the colon.
This dysfunction is quite common, and is also dealt with under the name Ileocecal Valve Syndrome.
The ileocecal valve is a sphincter muscle in the lower right abdomen very close to the spot usually associated with the appendix. It separates the end of the small intestines – the ileum- from the first part of the large intestines – the cecum.
The ileocecal valve can show such acute painful stress that it can sometimes be confused with an inflamed appendix.

The valve is controlled by three sources: the digestion process, the nervous system, and the hormone system.

Let’s look how the ileocecal valve works during digestion.

A healthy valve would stay closed to hold the food in the small intestines until the digestion and absorption of nutrients is completed. It will then open up and let the digested food remains enter into the large intestines, the colon. Afterwards, it will close again and prevent the stuff from the colon to reenter the small intestines. In its proper function, it is designed as a one-way valve.

The working of the ileocecal valve can be disrupted in two ways:
– first, it could stay open most of the time. As a result, the food to be digested would pass through the small intestines too fast, too few nutrients would be absorbed, and the mostly undigested food would enter the colon, where bacterial processes could cause a lot of gas; and you might experience diarrhea.
– Second, the ileocecal valve could be shut most of the time. Food would the stay for too long in the small intestines, and could start to rot and cause gas in the small intestines; toxins from the rotting food could be absorbed into you system and force the liver to work overtime; you could feel bloated, and experience constipation.

Contrary to common belief, more roughage and fibre could do more harm than good, because the raw fibres can be very abrasive to the gut lining and the ileocecal valve, so that an already stressed valve can get even more irritated.
This does by no means imply that you should stop eating foods with fibre (see later). It may sound contaradictionary – but fibre is still very important for your digestion. The fibre you should avoid comes from raw uncooked food, look instead for foods with a high content in soluble fibre.

Here is a summary of all the foods that can irritate an ileocecal valve and worsen its dysfunction:

  • raw fruits and vegetables
  • beans, lentils
  • grains, seeds, nuts
  • popcorn ! – the skins act like razor blades !
  • fermented foods, like vinegar, pickles, soy sauce
  • acidic fruits, like lemons, oranges
  • onions, garlic, leeks
  • hot spices, like chili powder, curry, cayenne, ginger, pepper, cinnamon
  • caffeine, chocolate, green and black tea

If you experience ileocecal valve problems, it might be the best to avoid these foods for a period of at least two weeks. This will allow your ileocecal valve to relax, and the inflammation to heal.

To get enough fibre in this time you can eat soft cooked vegetables and fruits. Dark green leafy vegetables are the best for this diet.
The diet should consist out of five parts of cooked vegetables and fruits with two parts of protein. Meat, fish, eggs, and dairy are OK. A few table spoons full of omega-3 rich oils are recommended (walnut oil, hemp oil, flax oil).
Ideally, you should see a trained practitioner who can readjust the working of the ileocecal valve, and give you advice how to reduce any situations that could trigger any new ileocecal valve dysfunctions.

Disclaimer: This article is not designed to provide medical advice or professional services. It is intended to be for educational use only. The information provided in this article is not a substitute for professional care and should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or a disease. If you have, or suspect you may have, a health problem you should consult your doctor.

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35 Responses to Ileocecal Valve Syndrome

  1. Suzanne comments:

    Are rice cakes ok to eat? I don’t know what to eat anymore! Everything makes it irritable!
    Constant constipation…I need a plunger! lol Then poof! Out of the blue i get loose watery bowels. My massage therapist gets it sometimes but 2 days later it is back again. I can’t take the pain in the back of my leg anymore! It’s a pulling sensation enough to drive ya crazy!
    I’ll take any advice…Please help!

  2. Mercedez Lucke-Benedict comments:

    Thank you. I have been diagnosed with this. My right side bulges out only. It is very weird. Does anyone else have that symptom? I have not seen any comments on that in words here.

  3. Adam comments:

    Thanks for this great article. As an acupuncturist and herbalist I can already think of ways to incorporate this knowledge into my work and help people achieve their health goals. There’s one point I’m having difficulty understanding and that’s the statement that 90% of cases are stuck open. My understanding is that the function of valves and sphincters to open is due to parasympathetic activity, since digestive function increases when we are in parasympathetic mode, hence the phrase “rest and digest”. I would expect the majority of cases to be stuck closed though, because of the fact that most people in our modern fast-paced culture are stuck in sympathetic dominance. Maybe my understanding of the stated points is not correct. Please provide some clarity. Thank you much.

  4. Analucia comments:

    Thank you C.E. Cloward. Awesome super helpful feedback!

  5. brian comments:

    does any one know what to do for right side hemicolectomy they took the ride side out to the liver and reattach the small intestine which means i dont have this ic valve anymore .I get have had right lower back pain for a year and a half since the surgy . i can not find much to eat that doesn t bother me any help would be great thanks.

  6. jk comments:

    Hello All – I came across this site by pure accident – but I think this describes me and CE C, you really provided some great information.

    Has anyone had bouts of vomiting for a 24 hour period???

  7. Andrea Wood comments:

    I was diagnosed with this valve issue by my Kinesiologist who managed to close it for me. We went through food allergy testing at length and my body wanted no carbs for a month, no dairy for 6 weeks, no brocolli for 11 weeks, no rice or lentils for 6 weeks and certainly no oils of unless a little bit in cooking. The whole thing was a bit of a shock to the system but it is worth perservering as there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I am a bit confused about the nuts and seeds though as I am taking Cashews/Almonds/Pumpkin seeds mixed a couple of times per day. Not only that but I was told that I needed to take a handfull of Pumpkin seeds directly before sleep to deal with Parasite issues. Has anyone else had this recommended for parasites? The valves seem to have settled down a lot with only the occassional pains ( very odd feeling I must say, and have to agree with the person who mentioned the emotional side)
    Good luck to everyone who struggles with this, find a good Kinesiology and be committed for about a year at least of trial and error in order to heal.

    • michelle replies:

      thanks for your post, i can relate to not wanting carbs, etc, and mostly i was wondering about the emotional aspect of ic syndrome??? hope to hear from U?

    • Adam replies:

      Yes my girlfriend has been dealing with parasite problems and she used to eat pumpkin seeds frequently. She might still do so. She’s found community on social media for parasite issues with lots of good insight and protocols. If you’re interested in speaking with her drop me your contact info. I’m an acupuncturist and herbalist so I can add my two cents too, though I’m sort of new to the field and parasites are a complicated pathology to treat even for seasoned folks. Best of luck.

  8. Sarah comments:

    I used to get sick occasionally when I was a kid…. horrible flu like sick, and it was always my ileocecal valve. My chiropractor would adjust me, and do a circular rubbing on it and POOF i was better. I wish i remembered well enough to give directions….. but i know it can be done!

  9. Shannon comments:

    I took my 6 yr old daughter to a chiropractor this past Saturday. I told him that she is regularly constipated and complaining daily of stomach pain. She says that the pain is on her left side right above her belly button. The chiropractor rubbed gently on that area (and had me also do the same)…I could feel that the area was tight. He told me that every night that I should gently rub that area of her stomach. I wanted to know if there should be any change to her diet…if she does have a problem with her ileocecal valve what foods and vitamins would be good for a child her age?? I have also been giving her a probiotic….is there a certain brand that has good results with children??

  10. Fran comments:

    I am a bodyworker/ massage therapist, recently diagnosed and receieving treament for an ileocecal valve issue. I just startred reading A Pathway to Health written by a D.O. and Viseral Manipulator . Concerning the IC valve and the other valves in the Large Intestine Dr Barral, founder of Viseral Manipulation concidered the I C valve to be able to regulate the other valves once succesfully healed. I myself am looking for a Viseral Manipulator to help me. I have structure issues and know first hand that if an organ and a bone are compressing each other than there needs to be space between them to allow mobility and motility, optimal health. Anti Inflammintory food is important but this issue of bone, fascia, organ, emotion is imperative to the workings of the body and understanding the IC valve. Best to all and if anyone has had results with VM please respond. Thanks

    • betty replies:

      Hello. I am wondering where you live. There are people who practice Touch for Health who have been trained to help people with ileocecal valve problems as well as structural problems. I do Touch for Health myself and live in Alberta. You can find practitioners by visiting the websites CANASK (Canadian Association for Applied Kinesiology) or Touch for Health Association website for the U.S.

    • michelle replies:

      I believe am dealing with ic valve issues, and i am interested in following what happens here! Peace2u

  11. MC comments:

    I am on day two of this diet. Not easy, but I will do anything as I think it may be connected to my feet. I have been able to stand or walk for 2 years. Fell down the stairs and saw more doctors and therapists than I can count.

    My therory is that the systemic inflammation from the toxin overload is stopping my feet from healing after a fall on my heals. The I-S valve is very painful. I massaged it Medium pressure but now it’s really sore. Is cabbage ok? Some sites say no fruit? Broccoli all cooked of course. Canned fish? Sardines? Oysters?
    I’m 53 and active. Five foot two and hundred and 21 pounds. I miss walking so much, tough for a former triathlete.
    Hope I’m on the right track…

    Need help!

    • dr michael replies:

      my more recent personal experience – and this is by no means any advice to copy this – is that the ileocecal valve problems are an expression of emotional issues, and not caused by any food groups or any particular food preparation. I changed from a ‘normal’ cooked food diet to a virtualy all-raw food vegetarian diet a few weeks ago, and my tension haedaches, which I partly connected to ileocecal valve problems, have all gone; I also lost nearly 30 pounds in weight within 6 weeks, and am now 172 pounds at 6ft tall.
      it is not about what we eat, but about how we feel after we have eaten; and about to get aware why we eat.
      I wish you all the best 🙂

      • Diane replies:

        20+ yrs ago I had an appendectomy which turned into an exploratory lap because my appendix was just fine. What was found was tons of adhesions. We have no idea where they come from and some speculated it is scar tissue left from having polio. At any rate, my ICV has been quiet for a long time but is now in a proper rage. I know there is a mess of adhesions in that area. I am also almost constantly backed up due to medication for nerve damage in my spine. I have read several articles (wow that was nice as I couldn’t find any 10-15 yrs ago) and have been trying to figure out what has triggered this. I don’t eat often, and usually small meals, but have no teeth so I am guessing it’s a combination of that and spicy foods. I have to ask if it can be triggered by constipation? I get sharp, shooting pains that sometimes go down my rt leg. Emotionally there really isn’t anything that has set me off. I don’t know what to do now.

      • C. E. Cloward replies:

        People give advice according to their experience.
        I have had a different experience.
        After I had surgery for endometriosis, I began to have chronic pain in the ileo-cecal region.
        The surgeon told me that as a matter of course, they take out the appendix once they are in there for any reason, so the patient will never have appendicitis.

        Well, for the next 40 years, I experienced such pain I would have to say that surgery cursed me with constant appendicitis, even with no appendix.

        After reading and doing much searching, I found some alternative practitioners who, after 30 years of treating patients and keen observation, noted and published their observations that more patients experience ileocecal dysfunction after removal of the appendix, and that whether we know for sure or not, there is some inexplicable interdependency of the healthy valve function with the appendix.

        Not everyone experiences, but since I am 63 and have had this problem since the surgery when I was 27 years old, I can add one more refinement to the observations, and that is, people who have had their appendix removed by laparoscopy have less challenges with the IC valve than people, like me, who had the appendix taken out as part of a long incision to open up the pelvic area. For some reason, cutting around in the lower gut (cuttting out endometrial tissue for instance) and cutting through certain areas of the pelvic wall has a more serious effect on the valve function, whether it be disturbance of muscule relationships or nerve disturbance. My aunt, now passed away, had pelvic surgery/hysterectomy in her early 20’s, and she became constipated for life after that. I interviewed her in her old age, and the chronic pain syndromes she described to me, that doctors had never solved or alleviated, were almost exact replication of my syndromes. Certain areas of pain in the back/spine, and most of these symptoms can be found in chiropractic pamphlets on ileocecal valve symptoms.

        Also, people who have had injuries to the gut, and people who have had verified cases of parasites, all of these I have spoken to, tended to have subsequent chronic IC Valve problems and challenges.

        There is also a major connection between the ICValve function and certain levels of the cervical spine. Since I have spurs at C3-4 and C4-5, I can verify from experience year after year that when the valve is irritated or goes into a spasm, I feel pain in the right side of my neck, and since there is the presence of spurs, this additional obstruction tends to cause pain down my right arm plus affecting the right side of my spine in lesser locations down to the mid thoracic vertebrae, so more right side pain in the back. When a chiropractor adjusts these areas and when I go on a blended diet of pureed vegetables and add a little psyllium (also blended dry to a fine powder so it’s not like roughage) the entire gamut of these symptoms clear up, all at once.

        I am so sad my aunt suffered so much and never knew about colon cleansing. That is one of the factors that helps me so much, to clear out decaying, stuck material where it can be adhered, and poison your system. There is a spot in the colon near the ileocecal valve which is related to the eyes. My aunt went blind. I too have trouble with my eyes when the valve is inflamed, but I immediately know how to treat myself for it, and the eyes clear up. My poor aunt must have had decayed fecal matter sitting right on that spot that relates to the eyes, so for years she reported the strangest visual deterioration until she finally went blind. And also she would report stubborn constipation. You need to learn how to collect the cues, and see the connection.

        If you are using psyllium to cleanse the colon, for this ICV area, be kind to it by putting the psyllium dry into a blender and blend at high speed so that you get a fine powder, which will create bulk and gather up and move fecal matter out, but won’t be rough on your valve. There is also a marvelous formula for removing fecal matter which has given me the best results of all, and that is Robert Gray’s Herbal Cleanse formula, comes in capsules, special herbal combination pulls old stuff right off the walls like plaster. Such a joy to be rid of it. Follow Instructions in the pamphlet.

  12. migraines causes comments:

    Thank you for your Ileocecal Valve Syndrome | TransformationPowerTools | for personal growth and transformation post. You have included some very useful migraines causes tips and information in this post. Thanks for sharing, Helen

  13. Ludmil comments:

    The improper function of the ileocecal valve is due the fact that people today deffecate in sitting position. The ileocecal (IC) valve is designed to prevent toxic “backflow” to the small intestine – but only in the squatting position. The IC valve needs to be supported by the right thigh in order to withstand the pressure built up during elimination. In the conventional sitting position, this valve is unsupported and often leaks during evacuation, contaminating the small intestine.

    Read more: How to Open and Close an Ileocecal Valve | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/how_5153450_open-close-ileocecal-valve.html#ixzz19YBQxyty

  14. Henry Barnes comments:

    the chiropractors on our area are quite good, i love to learn their trade secret`;:

  15. Freya Harris comments:

    omega3 really helps in preventing clogged arteries and cardiovascular diseases::*

    • dr michael replies:

      thanks for mentioning this.
      omega faty acids from natural sources, such as seeds, nuts, and fish, are an important part of a healthy diet.
      however, the omega oil science is really quite complex, and just focussing on one member of the omegas is not enough. the balance between omega 3 and omega 6 is also very important.
      and do remember that not all omega 3 are the same.
      if you are deper interested in these facts, read the book by udo erasmus.

      • C. E. Cloward replies:

        Do not eat seeds and nuts if you have ileocecal valve problems. They will irritate the valve. Another condition can occur here. If there is backwash of the colon contents, it can develop into backwash ileitis. This is inflammation and can even develop into infection, of the last section of the small bowel before the valve. The nuts and seeds will definitely irritate this tissue. Mine is so bad after 3 decades of repeated inflammations, it is permanently damaged and sensitive and the nerves seem to be more exposed to passing material. The nerves in the ileum go crazy with nuts, popcorn, or seed matter, and it causes shooting pains down my right leg – I will never touch popcorn again, I got such leg spasms it was like Charlie Horses all up and down my leg. You will have to get those oils and fatty acids from the pure oils and fish (no bad fiber, nice and soft).

        Once I consulted a psychic, because I had never had luck with doctors. The psychic said to avoid seeds, nuts, and anything white (sugar, milk, white flour, maybe tofu). I followed the advice for a while, until someone told me not to trust psychics. So then I had to find out the hard way – excruciating suffering and loss of years and years of my life to pain and staying home in bed. I certainly love nuts, sunflower seeds, and all those chewy inventions similar to granola bars…but if you have the ICV problem, it’s too rough of a type of fiber especially if it’s inflamed. Same goes for celiac and Crohn’s patients – that area is usually inflamed so you have to eliminate rough fiber to stop irritating it. Any scarring and adhesions in this area are results of the inflammation turning into infection and then healing over. I had that in two places in my colon. If you have had that, or any colon surgery, you will be more sensitive to rough fiber, and will need to find out for yourself just how much fiber you can tolerate.

        If you have food allergies, they can also show up in reactions in the ileum. This information is from a book called “Colon Health” by Norman W. Walker, D.Sc., PhD.

  16. Alisha Cox comments:

    Omega 3 oil can really help your heart and arteries so take a sip of it regularly.;.-

    • dr michael replies:

      i personally consider hemp oil to be the best source of dietary omega fatty acids – if you can get it in your local health food store …

  17. Houston Everman comments:

    It is important that you move your bowel regularly, fiber rich diet helps prevent constipation.

  18. Victoria Young comments:

    Whenever i have diarrhea, i just take some Diatabs or Imodium tablets and it gives me some relief after a few minutes.`-,

  19. Deby comments:

    I agree with Betty … as this problem can be a direct consequence of the controlling nerve of the Illeocecal valve from the spine.
    My Chiropractor is great not only is he the only one that has been able to diagnose it quickly but is also able to assist with a treatment and also assist with a suspected allergy that I have (wheat, yeast or Gluten).
    See a Chiropractor !!!

  20. Dr. Rob D'Aquila comments:

    I am certainly biased because I am a chiropractor and applied kinesiologist; however, it was first brought to the attention of practitioners and patients by Dr. George Goodheart, a chiropractor and founder of applied kinesiology. So that’s who I would go to if I was in your situation. Good luck!

  21. Cordell comments:

    I’ve had great success correcting my illeocecal valve by taking about 1000mg of calcium and magnesium (helps valve relax), and about 3 teaspoons of cod liver oil (source of omega 3, vitamin A and D) a day. I recommend anyone suffering from this problem avoid the foods mentioned in this article for two weeks, and take these supplements… i also find a good probiotic supplement helps, since this problem creates bacterial overgrowth. Anyways, I tried this method and it works!

  22. BettyBlersch comments:

    I definetely have Ileocecal Valve malfunction and have had for some time. What kind of professional do I need for a more permanent adjustment? My acupuncturist has adjusted me for that but it does not last. The condition is making me quite upset. Thanks for the diet suggestions. I will try them.

    • Fiona Bond replies:

      Hi Betty!
      I am like you… i get VERY upset with the pain and discomfort I experience when my I-S valve is agrovated. It is right now actually…. I’m so over it =(
      It’s been about 3 years now… it’s better now that I’ve been on a gut healing diet, though it’s not fixed up.
      I have had chiros, kinesiolgists, acupuncturists, osteopaths and holistic naturopaths look at it and work on it…. temporary relief, but nothing permenant. All of them say “Ileosecal Valve”…. not sure/cannot remember if it’s open or closed…. i think it is one and then the other actually!!!
      Have you had any relief yet??
      What has worked??
      I am officially going off green tea for 2 weeks to see what happens … boo… i love love love my green tea!!
      Love and light to you
      Fiona =)

      • C. E. Cloward replies:

        I found out from nearly 40 years of this problem, that it responds mostly to diet.
        If you go to all those practitioners, and then come home and have a cinnamon roll or a chocolate bar, you’ve wasted your money on the doctor, because you will re-aggravate the valve. This happened to me for years. I would go to the chiropractor, come out feeling great, and would have some chocolate to celebrate. Bam! Back came thte pain. Well, that was either $40 or $60 + for the chiropractor, and I was just throwing my money away. So start a really basic diet that is anti-inflammatory, and stay on it for three weeks until the valve calms down, and then add back other foods, but keep away from the most offending foods on the list – the chocolate, the spices, the heavy roughage (like whole grain oats!! even), and write it all down on paper and commit. For some people it might help to have support from a therapist, because changing food patterns is stressful – you don’t realize it, but it gets you in a subtle way and your cravings have to be handled or you backslide, and out goes that valve again, and you are back where you were before. I have had complete relief by going on boiled meats/fish/poultry, – no frying! – and lots of pureed vegetables or bland vegetable soups. Add the other supplements like Omegas, etc. My best friend is my commercial high speed blender.

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