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.