A very large percentage of our population has some form of disturbance in digestive function. Unfortunately, it is very common for an individual with a disturbance to assume it is not important. She/he usually thinks along these lines: “I just have heartburn,” or “It’s too bad that I had to be born into a family who’s always constipated,” or “These types of food always give me gas.” The symptoms of digestive disturbances should not be ignored when in the early stages and easy to correct, because they can frequently lead to much more serious problems.
Stomach Burning or “Heartburn”
Many people who develop a burning in the pit of the stomach follow the advice of televsion, newspaper, and magazine ads; they take antacids to “neutralize the excess acid.” Many of these ads indicated that it is normal to have burning and gas after overindulgence or eating the wrong food. This approach must be critically evaluated, as it condones overloading the digestive system and accepts digestive failure as normal. If a particular food bothers you but not very many other people, your digestive system must be functioning poorly; don’t blame the food.
Different forms of digestive disturbance (such as burning and gas, with an associated bloated feeling) have very specific correlations with what is wrong in the diestive system, and with what can ultimately develop. Burning in the stomach region, or so-called ‘heartburn,” usually indicates either too much or not enough hydrochloric acid. Hydrochloric acid is necessary for a very important early step in digestion, but the concentration of the acid must be correct for normal function. A too-high concentration is commonly responsible for ulcers in the stomach or in the first portion of the small intestine. When too much acid si present, it irritates the lining and causes a sore, which is an ulcer. The sore can become large enough to bleed and, ultimately, to perforate the wall of the stomach or small intestine. That which eventually becomes an ulcer always starts as a small problem with the attending digestive disturbance,. It is a this early stage that the condition should be corrected, not after the ulcer has developed.
A very similar burning sensation in the stomach area can be caused by too little hydrochloric acid. Interestingly, a person acn get relief from the discomfort of too little hydrochloric acid by taking an antacid tablet. This seems to be a contradiction, but it has a simple explanation. An antacid tablet taken by an individual who already has too little hydrohloric acid makes the stomach even more alkaline. The body, recognizing the need for hydrochloric acid in the stomach, manufactures it on what is called an acid rebound basis in an attempt to bring the stomach’s acid medium back to normal. Too little hydrochloric acid can possibly be even more devastating than too much, because it is necessary for the first stage of protein digestion, calcium metabolism, and other factors. If protein is not properly digested, the body suffers from not having the basic building blocks neesssary to make new tissue. The body will age much more rapidly and function poorly in many respects.
Hydrochloric acid production is regulated by the nervous system. Too much or too little hydrochloric acid indicates that the mechanism controlling acid production is out of balance; it should be returned to normal by a doctor interested in the body’s controlling factors. Treating this condition by taking tablets to control the acid level is very short-sighted when (and if) correction of the controlling mechanism is possible.
Sometimes the burning sensation that develops in the upper portion of the digestive system is the result of a hiatal hernia, which can develop when the diaphragm does not function properly. There is an opening in the diaphragm through which the esophagus- or food gullet-goes to join the stomach. If this opening enlarges, the stomach can protrude into the chest cage. Acid is not held in the stomach; it is allowed to pass into the esophagus, thus causing a severe burning pain around the chest and many other symptoms.
Applied Kinesiology evaluation and treatment have been very successful in correcting a hiatal hernia because of the ability to improve muscular function. The diaphragm is a muscle, just like any other muscle in the body; it can usually be returned to normal by correcting the energy patterns.
The small intestine is a great workhorse in the digestive system. Many complex chemical actions- which are very important in the total digestive process-takes place in this area. In the small intestine complications can develp rapidly in the digestive process. If there is a problem in the stomach because of too little hydrochloric acid, the first phase of protein digestion is decreased. A relative hypoprotein-emia (which means lack of protein in the blood stream) develops. This lowered protein level causes no major problems, but the body goes into a “protein sparing” effect, which means that the body reduces its use of protein to make new tissue and other items normally manufactured from protein.. The digestive enzymes are one group of protein-containing compounds. Many of these enzymes are made in the pancreas and then moved into the small intestine for the digestion of several factors, including further protein digestion. Now the body has an even greater limitation in absorbing protein ingested in the diet; thus the vicious circle continues.
When digestion is poor- whether in the stomach, small intestine, or large intestine- the body fails to break food down into its component parts for absorption. The food can actually become putrid when this occurs, and gases of varying nature can form. This causes the bloated gaseous feeling and rumbling a person may experience when the digestive system is not functioning correctly. This is not just an uncomfortable situation; much more important, it is a situation in which the body fails to absorb nutritional products for the processes of life. A person can eat nutritious food, but if his/her digestive system fails to break it down and use it properly, nutritional deficiency can result.
Ileocecal Valve Syndrome
There is a valve between the small intestine and the large intestine which controls the passage of the small intestine’s contents into the large intestine. This valve- the ileocecal valve- can dysfuntion in two ways. First, and most common, is the open ileocecal valve syndrome. Let’s call the small intestine the kichen area of the body, and the large intestine the garbage area. If the ileocecal valve does not adequately control the flow of material, the small intestine becomes contaminated because the material passed into the large intestine regurgitates into the small one. In essence, the garbage area contaminates the kitchen area. Many and varied symptoms can develop from this situation in addition to those of digestive disturbance. The body becomes toxic; literally, any weak area-such as a hip joint heart, or sinuses-can develop symptoms.
The second form of ileocecal valve syndrome is the closed variety. In this situation, the valve becomes spastic and does not allow material to pass from the small intestine to the large one. Food becomes putrid in the small intestine; toxic material is again absorbed by the body.
Many people suffer from constipation. The general public typically thinks this means that the bowels do not move frequently enough. There is another type of constipation, however, which is just as significant but often ignored; this is colon stasis. In other words, waste material stays in the colon for a long period of time; eventually the body re-absorbs toxic material. Many times colon stasis is the first phase of more significant problems, such as colitis, diverticulosis, and diverticulitis.
Many factors are involved in normal colon function. Three factors generally considered necessary for normal function are adequate water, an irritant, and adequate bulk. Most laxative preparations are based upon one or more of these three basic ingredients. Other fators, however, are extremely important of normal colon action, including normal control by the nervous system and other energy patterns of the body. When one has a tendency toward constipation or colon stasis, a doctor knowledgeable in applied kinesiology should make a thorough evaluation. This evaluation is indicated whenever a stool has odor or when the stool is not ferquent and voluminous. The normal bowel movement has no odor; dyysfunction should be suspected whenever odor is commonly present.
This pamphlet discusses only a few of the problems that may develp from digestive dysfunction. The major emphasis is that whenever digestive dysfunction is apparent, it should be evaluated and corrected. If left alone it can lead to much more serious trouble. For example, there is significant evidence that colon cancer develops from colon stasis. Arthritis can develp from a prolonged lack of protein digestion because tissue is not repaired and rebuilt adequately at the joint surfaces, thus weakening the joint and making it vulverable to the arthritis process. Ulcerative colitis can develop and progress to the point that protions of the colon must be surgically removed.
To prevent these and other serious consequences of digestive disturbance, it is important that the condition be corrected early, rather than just treating the symptoms with patent medications.