The Ileo-cecal valve receives a great deal of attention in complementary care modalities. Probably the applied kinesiology approach to this syndrome is the most comprehensive to date. There are several techniques for addressing the problem in applied physiology, chiropractic, osteopathy, and therapeutic massage. At this stage it is usually treated symptomatically and the treatment needs to be repeated quite frequently.
The ICV is the valve between the small and large intestines. It is located in the lower right abdomen in the “appendix” area. It is designed as a one-way valve to allow the flow of waste from the small intestine to the large intestine. It has the ability to regulate the flow according to changing conditions.
The key to effectively addressing the Ileo-Cecal Valve Syndrome is to understand that the ileo-cecal valve itself is not the cause of the syndrome. Disturbances of the ileo-cecal are merely the body’s way of alerting us that deeper causative factors are at play.Typical general symptoms include:
• Mood swings
• Feelings of separation and isolation
• Dark circles under the eyes (toxic system)
• Intermittent fever
• Nightmares or disturbed sleep
• Susceptible to catching the “flu”
When the ileo-cecal valve muscles are over contracted (closed) or over relaxed (open) the following symptoms present:
Symptoms of over contraction:
• Constipation and general problems with elimination
• Inflammation of the appendix (because of the increased level of toxins)
• Inability to “let go”
• Over-attachment, i.e., situations, persons, conditions
Symptoms of under contraction:
• Classic flu and common cold symptoms
• Frequent bowel movements, often with urgency
• Runny stool, often with a lot of gas
• General muscle pain and feeling of weakness
• Fever (Body trying to break down toxins)
• Disturbances in vision – including blurriness and floaters
• Lack of clarity in thinking processes
The interesting factor is that many people experience symptoms from both lists because the ICV, when malfunctioning, will often fluctuate between over contraction and under contraction.
The BodyTalk approach to addressing Ileo-Cecal Valve Syndrome
In the BodyTalk, Principles of Consciousness course we discussed the nature of the various body parts and how they relate to one another. When we look at the gastro-intestinal tract we start to get a clear picture of the factors behind a malfunctioning ICV. Remember that when we talk of an organ’s function, we need to understand that it is intimately related to its associated meridian. Each meridian has internal connections to those parts of the brain relating to the function of its associated organ.
The stomach represents the conscious mind and our normal thinking processes. These processes are then passed to the small intestine, which represents the intellect. The intellect utilizes discernment to separate the “good” thoughts from the “bad” thoughts. Locally, it also separates the good food from the bad food. It absorbs the good and passes the waste onto the large intestine.
The large intestine is the great eliminator. It conducts the wastes in the body to the outside of the body via the anus. If it is sluggish and under-functioning, the large intestine can cause some of the toxins and wastes to be absorbed into the blood and lymph system and deposited into the skin for elimination. This is why so many skin conditions are related to bowel function. Another elimination pathway could be through its metal energy partner, the lungs. (We often see a reciprocal relationship between asthma and eczema. When the asthma is bad, the eczema is good. When the eczema flares up, the asthma is often gone.)
A Closed ICV
If the colon is blocked up and constipated, then the ICV will contract to prevent more waste from being pushed into the already clogged colon. If the colon has diarrhea, it might also close to stop the food in the small intestine from flowing into the colon too quickly, thereby reducing the absorption of good nutrition in the small intestine. The foregoing represents natural processes.
At the consciousness level, the body utilizes the “fruits of the intellectual processing” of the associated areas of the brain. The waste, and processes that gave the results need to be expelled. Hence they are passed through the ICV to the eliminator – the large intestine. The large intestine can also represent the process of expressing the “fruits of the intellectual processing” by letting go of them: Expressing them to the world in speech, writing, etc. When the ICV is over-contracted, the person may have great ideas but be unable to express them in a clear way.
An Open ICV
It is rare that the body needs the ICV to be under-contracted. When this happens, it is usually a pathology, indicating that the “one way” function of the valve is compromised. When this happens the waste in the bowel can flow backwards into the small intestine creating toxic buildup.
At the consciousness level, an under-contracted ICV may mean that the “fruits of the intellectual processes” will be passed on too soon. This symptom will often present in the person who expresses the new thoughts and ideas by blurting them out prematurely before they are clear in their own mind.
The Ileo-Cecal Personality
The large intestine classically represents the process of “letting go.” This type of letting go does not just refer to physical waste products. It also refers to emotions, ideas, beliefs, stress, and all the challenges of life. Bioenergetics shows us that all these energies that need to be discarded, or let go of, flow to the diaphragm, and from there into the intestines for final processing and elimination.
The lack of ability to “go with the flow” of life and let go is indicated by the controlling personality. The person who has control issues is the classic ICV syndrome personality type. They are usually type ‘A’ personalities who work hard, play hard, and are very demanding on themselves and those around them. They can manifest many disease patterns according to their general genetic makeup and health dispositions.
In some cases the ICV personality type is aptly seen as “anal retentive.” This acronym descriptively explains why such people are so susceptible to hemorrhoids and anal fissures. To let go of the food the anal valve has to relax and release the contents of the bowel. The controlling personality has psychological resistance to this and will tend to hold a great deal of tension in their anus and pubococcygeus muscle, leading to local health issues.
The controlling personality will occasionally have a major crisis in the life. It could be a major financial loss, bad divorce with loss of family and friends, etc. In this case they literally feel like the “bottom is falling out of their life.” And literally it does: they have extreme diarrhea – the ultimate in letting go or, more correctly, loss of the illusion of control!
The Migraine Personality
This is a variation of the controlling personality. There are many types of migraines but one of the most common is the cluster migraine that starts around puberty and has strong hereditary influences.
These migraines are used by the body as a means of stress release. Classically, the migraine personality is a type ‘A’ person who works hard all week and builds up stress because they are, at some level, never fully satisfied with their work output. Then, on the weekend, their body has to release the stress. When the working week was the classical Monday to Friday, it was interesting to note that 80% of these migraines occurred on Sundays. It is like a volcano that has built up from suppressed frustration. In this case, because suppressed anger (frustration) is involved, the liver and gall bladder are major players. When the headache erupts, it follows the pathway of the gall bladder meridian and has classical symptoms of disturbances of the liver and gall bladder.
Lets go back to just before the migraine seems to start. There is a situation of accumulative intellectual (small intestine) stress building up during the week. Because of this build up, the ICV will try to protect the large intestine from a sudden releasing flow into the bowel, which would overload its processes. Hence the ICV will over contract. These people will often notice pain in the lower right abdomen on the Friday and Saturday. In fact they often wonder if they have an inflamed appendix. The will often have many of the associated symptoms listed earlier.
Finally the backpressure of stressed energy will cause the Gall Bladder to suddenly release the energy up its meridian pathway. This overloads the brain circuits, setting of a “brain storm” of neural overload, which manifests as a migraine. Brain scans show these migraines to be just like major electrical storms in the brain. In some people, their genetic makeup may manifest this as a form of epileptic seizure. (The same drugs are often given for both migraine and epilepsy.)
I have often seen this type of migraine in children around 10 to 14 years of age. They go though stress of school and have the controlling personality they inherited. Hence, they wake up with lower right abdominal pain and general weakness and nausea and a mild headache when they are active. It is often gone by lunchtime and then they are well. This is the early sign of a migraine. There is usually a family history and the migraines start with the major changes of puberty.
Addressing the ICV symptomatically can be a good first aid but symptomatic treatment does not cure it. In BodyTalk, the ICV will often come up in our links to be part of a bigger formula that addresses the total picture. In the meantime, I hope this short article will help keep the ICV more in mind when working with clients.
By Dr John Veltheim