Is there a naturopathic cure for chronic pancreatitis?
The function of the pancreas is to release digestive enzymes which break down carbohydrates, fats, oils and proteins. When the pancreas becomes inflamed, the strong digestive enzymes in the organ become active too soon. Instead of becoming active in the intestines where they digest food, they become active inside the pancreas and the enzymes then work on the tissue of the organ itself (autodigestion). This is known as Pancreatitis, and the condition can be acute or chronic in nature. Acute bouts may only last several hours or days and be more spontaneous than chronic bouts which are experienced over longer periods of time. Acute pancreatitis may resolve in a week, however, if the condition is left to worsen then scarring of the pancreas may occur. Once this occurs a further decline in the health and function of the organ is experienced and symptom management is the only option.
Diagnosis of this condition is via a blood test to investigate whether there are elevated levels of pancreatic enzymes (amylase and lipase) in the blood, or abdominal X-rays/ CT scan to ascertain whether the pancreas is enlarged.
Diet tips for pancreatitis
- An appropriate diet is important for relieving symptoms of pancreatic insufficiency and improving nutritional status. Patients with chronic pancreatitis display considerable individual variation in their treatment requirements
- A low carbohdyrate, protein and fat diet in the short term to take the strain off the organ and later on when vitality levels are lifted begin a cleansing diet of the liver and gallbladder
- Lemon juice and bitter foods such as rocket, endive, kale and radicchio are beneficial for digestion as they are classed as bitters
- Reduce food and drinks such as tea, coffee, alcohol, soft drinks, preserved and processed foods, deep fried foods, sugary and bakery foods, oily foods, high carbohydrates and proteins
Lifestyle factors for pancreatitis
- Avoid alcohol
- Manage side effects of pharmaceutical medications
- Address underlying digestive insufficiencies, maldigestion, liver function and gall bladder health
Natural remedies for pancreatitis
- Pancreatic enzyme therapy (amylase and lipase) may be beneficial for some individuals by helping to restore the function of the gastrointestinal tract and ensure adequate food break down
- Probiotics may help to ensure increased amounts of healthy digestive flora and maintain digestive function
- Bromelain is commonly used in cases of inflammatory conditions to reduce the inflammation, congestion, as a digestive enzyme to facilitate the breakdown of proteins and reducing any scarring that may occur to the pancreas due to infection
- Zinc, Selenium and anti-oxidants are important to support the immune system in down regulating any inflammation
- Antimicrobials such as Echinacea, olive leaf, golden seal, andrographis are used to treat the infections that cause pancreatitis
- Slippery elm powder in a small glass of water ten minutes prior to eating helps to soothe the digestive tract. Slippery elm is a demulcent which helps to soothe any digestive inflammation and repair any damaged tissues