Many people throughout the country have some sort of digestive problem or disturbance. In addition, many people who have digestive problems believe it to be a normal occurrence. S/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 “Certain foods always give me gas.” The symptoms of digestive disturbance should not be ignored in the early stages when they are easy to correct. If ignored, these symptoms can lead to other more serious problems. “Listen to your body.”, Dr. Sahara likes to emphasize. “These common symptoms are like the idiot lights on your car (low oil / low gas), your body is trying to tell you that something is wrong… fix the problem.”
Stomach Burning or “Heartburn”
Traditionally, when someone has a burning stomach or heartburn, the common solution is to ingest an antacid. It is constantly in the news media, advertisements, T.V. commercials, and radio. Many of these advertisements make it seem that it is normal to have heartburn, upset stomach, bloating, and / or gas. This fallacy often promotes overindulgence in poor nutrition or any digestive symptom as a normal process. This is a serious and fallacious problem. In fact, these commercials want us to believe that we can eat anything we want and get away with it.
Different forms of digestive disturbance / symptoms have specific correlations with what is wrong in the digestive system, and with what can ultimately develop. Burning in the stomach 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 the beginning of the small intestine. That which eventually becomes an ulcer always starts as a small problem with attending digestive disturbance.
The same burning sensation in the stomach could be a result by not having adequate hydrochloric acid. Paradoxically, a patient can 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 pill taken by an individual who already has too little hydrochloric acid makes the stomach more alkaline. The body recognizing the need for 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 cause more problems than too much, because it is necessary for the first stage of protein digestion, calcium metabolism, and other factors. If the protein is not properly digested, the body can not absorb the adequate amino acids necessary to build new tissue. The body ages more rapidly and functions poorly.
Hydrochloric acid production is regulated by the nervous system. Proper pH of the stomach should be 1. 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-lived when (and if) correction of the controlling mechanism is possible. Any burning stomach symptom commonly has an emotional cause to it. There are also structural corrections that cause the problem.
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, a small portion of the stomach can protrude into the chest cage. Acid is not held in the esophagus, thus causing a severe burning pain around the chest as well as many other symptoms.
AK evaluation and treatment, as well as chiropractic, have been very successful in correcting the hiatal hernia. 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 / merdian system. Sometimes the diaphragm gets dysfunctional due to dural (body) torque. Simple but specific chiropractic adjustments can and will un-torque the body; therefore normalizing the diaphragm.
The small intestine is a great workhorse in the digestive system. Many complex chemical actions important in the total digestive process take place in this area. The small intestine is where the vast majority of absorption occurs (Timothy D. Francis, D.C., The Digestive System).
It is divided into 3 sections:
- Duodenum, the first portion, which is the secretory portion of the small intestine (proximally 1 foot in length)
- Jejunum, the middle portion, responsible for absorption.
- Ileum, the third portion, also responsible for absorption.
Complications can develop rapidly in the digestive process. If there is too little hydrochloric acid, due to a dysfunctional stomach, the first phase of protein digestion is decreased. A relative hypoproteinemia (lack of protein in the blood stream) develops. This lowered protein level causes no immediate problem, 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 the protein. The digestive enzymes are one group of protein-containing compounds. Many of these enzymes are produced in the pancreas and then moved into the small intestine for various types of digestion, including advanced protein digestion. The proper pH of the small intestine should be slightly on the alkaline side (pH of 8). Now the body is experiencing malabsorption, and vicious cycle develops.
When digestion is sluggish (malabsorption) – whether in the stomach, small intestine, or large intestine the body fails to break up food down into its component parts for absorption. The food then becomes putrid. When this occurs, bloating, and flatulence become a common theme. This not only becomes an uncomfortable problem, but the body fails to absorb nutrition or supplementation for the processes of life. A person can eat nutritious food, but if his/her digestive system fails to break down and use it properly, nutritional deficiency can result.
Ileocecal Valve Syndrome (ICV)
There is a valve – the ileocecal valve – between the small and large intestines that controls passage of the small intestine’s contents into the large intestine. This valve can dysfunction in two ways. First, and the most common, is the open ileocecal valve. Let’s call the small intestine the kitchen area of the body, and the large intestine the garbage area. If the ICV 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 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, sinuses – can develop symptoms.
The second form of ICV problems is the closed (spastic) 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, and 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 a significant but often ignored; this is colon stasis. In other words, waste material / fecal matter stays in the colon for a long period and eventually the body re-absorbs toxic material. This is usually the first stage of more significant problems, such as colitis, diverticulosis, and diverticulitis.
Many factors are involved in normal colon function. Three items generally considered necessary for normal bowel activity are adequate water intake, an irritant, and adequate bulk. Most laxative preparations are based on one or more of these three basic ingredients. Other factors, however, are important for normal colon action, including control of the nervous system and other energy patterns of the body. When one has a tendency toward constipation or colon stasis, Dr. Sahara is knowledgeable in AK will give you a thorough examination / evaluation. This evaluation is indicated if the patient has foul stool odor, or when the stool is not frequent and voluminous. The normal bowel movement has no full odor; dysfunction should be suspected whenever a strong odor is commonly present.
The major emphasis for this write up, is that whenever digestive dysfunction is apparent, it should be evaluated and corrected. If left alone, digestive interference can lead to much more serious problems. For instance, there is evidence that colon cancer can develop from colon stasis. Arthritis can develop 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 vulnerable to the arthritic process. Ulcerative colitis (UC) can develop and process to the point that portions of the colon must be surgically removed.
To prevent these and any other serious consequences of digestive disturbances, it is important that the condition be corrected early, rather than just treating the symptoms with patent medications.
Written by System DC, edited by Darrick E. Sahara, D.C., Inc.
“When educated intelligence can communicate with innate intelligence, a point at which not too distant future may hold, then a correct diagnosis and treatment will be made and rendered.”
– DD Palmer, chiropractic founding father
“The body has a unique system of identifying its needs both in terms of food and nutritional supplementation, as well as medication, and the nutrient in question can be tested against any of the patient’s muscles upon ingestion of the material on the patient’s lingual receptors on the tongue: a muscle tested, and if the food is good or neutral the muscle will not weaken. If the food, although very appetizing and well liked, is detrimental to the patient the muscle will weaken. The same true of a nutrient or any medication. This makes sense out of a hit-or-miss sort of nutritional thing, and rather than listening to symptoms alone, we depend on body reaction, a much more effect technique.”
– George Goodheart, Jr., D.C., D.I.B.A.K., Applied Kinesiology founder
“One the biggest tragedies of human civilization is the precedence of chemical therapy over nutrition. It’s a substitution of artificial therapy over natural, of poisons over food, in which we are feeding people poisons in trying to correct the reactions of starvation.”
– Royal Lee, D.M.D, founder of Standard Process