Digestive System: Ileocecal Valve (ICV) Dysfunction

The Ileocecal valve (ICV) is located in the digestive tract in between the small intestines and the large intestines.  It is positioned near the appendix in the lower right side of the abdomen.  The main function of the ICV is to open and close periodically in order to let food move through the digestive tract.  As the ICV is closed, food remains in the small intestines in order for nutrients, vitamins and minerals to be absorbed.  Once the nutrients are absorbed, the ICV opens and lets the remaining portion enter the large intestines so that water is then absorbed.  The food that is in the large intestines has considerably more toxins in it than the food in the small intestines do to the amount of digestion/breakdown that has already taken place. After nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and water have been absorbed from the food, it is then excreted from the intestines dying bowel movements.

Occasionally, certain foods, a lack of nutrients, a lack of proper nerve supply, or even a misalignment of the joints in our body can cause the ICV to dysfunction.  When this dysfunction occurs, the ICV will either remain open, or remain closed, and an imbalance in the digestive system begins to lead to many problems in the body.  One problem that stems from ICV dysfunction is malabsorption, a problem where your body is unable to take all of the nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and water from the food that you eat.  Even though you may be eating the right types of foods, have a healthy diet, and taking high quality supplements, if your ICV is dysfunctional, you can still have absorption problems.

Another problem that can arise from the ICV not working properly is toxicity.  If the valve is “stuck” in a closed position, the food that is being digested sits in the small intestines to long and continues breaking down.  When food is not removed from your body through bowel movements, it begins to rot and putrefy.  The toxins from the rotting food are then absorbed through the walls of the small intestines.  As this happens, your liver becomes overloaded and stressed as it tries to keep the intestines clean and handle the toxins.  Patients that experience liver congestion as a result of ICV dysfunction often report symptoms such as waking up at night to go to the restroom, neck stiffness, knee pain, acid reflux, heartburn, burping, flatulence, and stomach pain after eating.  When the ICV is “stuck” in the open position, the previously digested food in the large intestines is able to back up into the small intestines and once again provides a toxicity problem, also contributing to liver congestion.

Symptoms from ICV dysfunction can include the above liver congestion symptoms as well as, shoulder pain, low back pain, malabsorption, chest pain, dizziness, flu-like symptoms, pseudo bursitis, pseudo sacroiliac pain, ringing in the ears, nausea, faintness, pseudo sinus infection, headaches, sudden thirst, dark circles under the eyes, and more.

Since the ICV receives information from the digestive system, nervous system, and from hormones in the body, these three systems must be evaluated in order to restore proper ICV function.  Quantum Neurology Rehabilitation is specifically designed to rehabilitate ALL portions of the nervous system, including those that go to the digestive system. As a Quantum Neurologist and Functional Nutritionist, Dr. Chase Hayden has had many patients report significant improvements in their digestion as well as the symptoms associated with ICV dysfunction by following his recommendations.  By decreasing the inflammation of the ICV through diet modification and nutritional supplementation, and rehabilitating the associated spinal nerves, you too can see a change in the symptoms that you are experiencing.  To contact The Hayden Institute and speak to a representative of our office  in regards to your digestive stress, click HERE.

Those experiencing ICV dysfunction often benefit from avoiding the following foods until their nervous system has properly been evaluated and rehabilitated.

  • Roughage Foods (high fiber content)
  • Popcorn
  • Potato Chips
  • Corn Chips
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Spicy Foods
  • Whole Grains
  • Chili
  • Peppers
  • Salsa
  • Paprika
  • Alcohol
  • Cocoa
  • Chocolate
  • Caffeinated Beverages
7 Comments - Leave a Comment
  • Laura Richards -


    Great to find your website. I live in UK so it is a shame you may /may not be able to help. I beleive I have suffered with ICV for many years but I dont think it is recognised here and it is very frustrating. Do you know of anyone/or books or o line articles I could read to help. I have pretty much had to fifure it out myself but I still dont sleep at all well which is affecting my quality of life a great deal. The shoulder and neck are made worse by displced disk form accident but have to keep on top of right adominal pain which I guess keeps me trying t keep diet on track. As vegetarian – which I find helps anyway – I do eat nuts and seeds. I take good quality liquid multi and various and milk thistle to keep on top of toxins. Wont go on. Any suggetsions? Many thanks and best wishes

    Laura Richards Derbyshire UK

    • admin -


      Most of the time we support patients that have ICV dysfunction through dietary changes and applied kinesiology procedures. From a dietary standpoint, avoiding inflammatory foods (grains, dairy, nuts, seeds, crackers, popcorn, etc) is a great starting point. Finding an applied kinesiology practitioner may be harder though. As I am not familiar with the counties of the UK, I did a few google searches and found the following people: (I am not sure how far they are from you but I tried to pick counties that bordered Derbyshire)

      Mr John Goulbourn – Osteopath
      Address: 40 Church Street, Padiham, Lancashire, BB12 8JQ
      Telephone: 01282774047

      Mr Fazial Page – Osteopath
      Address: 453 Barlow Moor Road, Chorlton, Manchester, M21 8AU
      Telephone: 01618812128
      Website URL http://www.pageosteo.co.uk

      Dr Amanda Green
      Address: 75 Upper Gungate, Tamworth, Tamworth, B79 8AX
      Telephone: 01827310910
      Website URL http://www.fraserhouseclinic.co.uk

      Due to your location, and the symptoms that you are experiencing, I would start with these individuals first. There are also possibilities that intestinal infections could be contributing to the problem. Without appropriate laboratory testing we would not be able to tell though. If I am able to help in any other way, let me know.

  • Melanie -

    Hi! I have suffered with pretty terrible pain in the lower right quadrant of my abdomen for about a year and a half. I was told that the pain was not caused by my pregnancy (I was pregnant when it started) and that it was not appendicitis or gallbladder issues (I’ve been to the doctor many times. I even had a nuclear test to ensure my gallbladder is working properly.) I get the pain primarily after eating. My dad has told me that diverticulitis is something that our family has a history of, but my docotr won’t look into it, because I am “too young”. I am 25. I came accorss this page when I was looking at what else might be causing my pain. I live in Ames, Iowa. Is there any way you could send me some information on where I could look into this further near me? I would really appreciate it. Thanks!

    • Chase -

      You are describing very symptoms that are very common in our office. Frequently there are certain inflammatory foods that can irritate the digestive track, and create the symptoms that you are describing. A comprehensive exam and history is always the best place to start, occasionally laboratory testing is needed in order to identify the cause. If you have not experimented with changing your diet, a gluten free/dairy free diet often helps when it comes to digestive complaints (even if you have been previously tested for Celiac Disease and were negative).

  • Victoria -

    My goodness, this sounds like me! I have had so-called “IBS” for 2.5 years now with chronic constipation, nausea, dizziness and “unexplained” sacroiliac pain for about 7 years. I never thought they coud be connected til I had an Xray and the Dr said “you’re backed up all the way to the iliocecal valve!” When I heard that “ilio” I thought, “hmm… sacroiliac pain and iliocecal valve, is there a connection?” And there is!

    Do you know of any practitioners in Australia who treat this condition? In or near Adelaide, South Australia would be amazing…

    • Chase -

      Victoria, Thanks for your comments. There is a strong correlation between the pain lower back pain, digestive stress, and ICV dysfunction. Unfortunately, the only doctor in Australia that I have regular correspondence with offices out of Sydney. You can contact him through his website (www.chiropractorchatswood.com.au). I will also encourage you to read the book “Wheat Belly” and look into a gluten free diet. Without performing a physical exam, and seeing what is going on in your particular situation, I am unable to offer more. Stay well!

  • Robert -

    Is there a connection between bad breath and ICV issues. 25 years ago I slipped a disc in my lower back, and since then have had chronic bad breath, burning sensations in my throat, post nasal drip and sinus problems. Recently I’ve had intermittant pains where my appendix is, but no sensitivity as is common with appendix issues.

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