A practical guide for nutritional and traditional health care.
Nutrients in food are digested, assimilated and absorbed with the help of enzymes produced in the pancreas-thus without these enzymes and their beneficial actions, the nutrients in the food is unavailable to the human body. It is not possible for humans to exist without the aid of this very vital organ and any disorder in the pancreas will severely restrict the life of the affected individual. In the western world diabetes is one of the most dangerous and widespread disorders directly related to pancreatic function. Another very common disorder of the pancreas is the condition sometimes known as pancreatitis, which causes an inflammation in the tissues making up the pancreas. Pancreatitis in a manner similar to the common appendicitis leads to a life-threatening emergency situation in a matter of hours-especially in those cases where the inflammation in the pancreas flares up quite suddenly and unexpectedly. The affected person is often thrown into shock due to the inflammation that leads to extreme pain accompanied by other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and abdominal bloating along with fever within hours. As the enzymes are released in large quantities into the bloodstream they cause a change in the coloration of the facial region, as a consequence it often appears reddish or it sometimes turns yellow from a jaundice like state.
Inflammation in the pancreas is marked by a relatively few symptoms-nonetheless these are sufficient to find out the problem exists in the pancreas. One of the most typical problems that is seen is the presence of a recurring pain lasting several hours or even days at a stretch-this pain persist in the abdominal region above the pancreas. This form of pain usually begins before immediately after a person has consumed a meal. The pain curls around the upper abdominal region and its effects are felt deep inside the abdominal region. The disturbance and the persisting pain tend to disappear completely in the later stages of the condition all on its own. The problem is that any symptom or signs of disorders in the pancreas are generally subtle and hard to follow. A disorder in the pancreas is often signaled by the presence of an intolerance to fats in foods and a general allergy to rich foods, these cause indigestion and abdominal bloating, all symptoms signal an ailing pancreas. However, some of these symptoms may indicate a sluggish liver and an impaired gall-bladder or some such problem not necessarily related to the pancreas. Another very common symptom is the presence of an insatiable thirst; many people with pancreas problems tend to have this symptom. An added problem during the progression of a chronic case of pancreatitis is the gradual loss in the ability to digest food in a proper manner. This ability to digest food may eventually be lost, this tends to cause additional symptoms such as malabsorption in the digestive system coupled with sudden weight loss and additional problems such as diarrhea and other stomach ailments.
Acute pancreatitis is typically caused by two very common disorders, the first being the development of gallstones that tend to become lodged in the pancreatic duct, this lets the secreted enzymes return into the gland and allows the dissolution of the pancreatic tissue causing inflammation and the development of full fledged pancreatitis, the second typical cause of pancreatitis is the use of excessive amounts of alcohol, when this is combined with the abuse of the digestive system such as the long term consumption of fatty and rich foods-it results in an enormous strain on the pancreas and ultimately leads to pancreatitis. The chronic form of pancreatitis is usually caused by long term alcoholism; in fact alcohol abuse is the typical and common cause of long term damage to the pancreas. The use of certain medications and drugs may also be responsible for pancreatitis in a rare number of acute cases of the condition, the long term of some diuretics, hormones such as estrogens and the hormone cortisone can all damage the pancreas irreparably. Pancreatitis in some cases can also come about during a mumps infection-even though this is not a common cause of the condition. A severe injury in the abdomen and the presence of a perforated ulcer can grievously injure the pancreas and lead to the inflammation in the pancreatic tissues. The cause of the condition remains unknown in approximately ten percent of all cases.
In these unknown cases, the recurrence of the condition is quite common-as the cause remains a mystery and its elimination an impossibility. Bad eating habits and an improper dietary habits are also responsible as the digestion of foods is directly related to the action of pancreatic enzymes. The pancreas is overwhelmed if the diet consists primarily of simple carbohydrates found in many refined white-flour products, such as pastas and rice-long term diets that are rich in these foods will tend to burden the pancreatic system. The health of the pancreas is best helped by the long term use of foods such as unrefined brown rice and foods like whole-wheat flour-these foods are good for the stomach as they contain the greatest amounts of natural fiber which is good for the digestive system as a whole and for pancreatic health in particular. Because of the tendency of some of the fats to lie in the stomach for long periods of time, one should avoid eating rich foods or packaged foods which are high in saturated fats-these saturated fats are best avoided to promote general health as well. Saturated fats in the diet must be replaced with foods that are healthy, essential fatty acids present in the cold-pressed oils rich are good for health and necessary for digestion, moreover they are easy on the stomach. The pancreas is also adversely affected when a person does not chew his or her food well; this along with irregular eating habits puts a strain and undue stress on the entire digestive tract as well. A sudden flare up in the inflammation in the pancreas is also known to be triggered by the presence of stress and feelings of anger-especially over a long period of time.
Supplements and herbs
Pancreatitis especially of the chronic forms, is caused by the deficiency of many of the enzymes essential for digestion and these must be replaced or the functioning of the pancreas rectified to resolve the problem. Combinations of many digestive enzymes are available in the market and these can be used; these include combinations of enzymes like protein digesting proteases, starch digesting amylase, milk digesting lactase and fat digesting lipase-these can be taken as and when it is necessary or at mealtimes to promote proper digestion in people affected with pancreatitis. Stress can easily be relieved by taking the B complex vitamins-this is an important factor in treating the disorder as stress is known to cause a disruption in the digestive process, undue and persistent stress also affects the normal metabolization of many of the fats and carbohydrates present in the diet. The pancreas is also stimulated by supplements of the B vitamins provide and these vitamins must be added in the supplemental complex to alleviate the worst effects of pancreatitis in the affected individual. The emulsification of fats is aided by the compound known as lecithin and supplements of this compound must also be taken by all individuals affected by pancreatitis. Experts also recommended supplements of the beneficial bacteria Lactobacillus acidophilus in the form of a combination supplement, the supplements replenishes the bowels with friendly bacteria and keeps the intestines well-supplied with a lot of healthy bacteria which are all necessary for normal digestion to take place.
The health of the pancreas can be assured through the careful use of the herbal supplements given below; these herbal supplements will also help heal any damaged tissue in the pancreas.
The abundant silica content in the horsetail herb is essential for restoration of the pancreatic tissues as the silica will heal and aid in the rebuilding and restoration of damaged tissues. Make sure that you consume at least three cups of a herbal horsetail tea or alternately two capsules of a vegetal silica aqueous extract on a regular or daily basis. Make a herbal tea by soaking a single tsp. of calamus herb for twelve hours in a cup of water, warm this up and then strain the decoction. This herbal tea can be taken in the following doses: one sip just before and one sip following the meals, for a total of six sips on a daily basis. It is important not to drink more than a single cup of the herbal calamus tea any given day as this might have too potent an effect along with side effects that are undesirable. The intestines are also flushed out well using teas made from the dandelion, the goldenseal and the berries of juniper along with those made from the uva ursi - these herbal teas also help bring some recovery and healing to the damaged tissues in the pancreas. Such herbal teas can be made by boiling a tsp. of the herbs in a cup water-the tea can then be strained and this can be used as and when needed. Parasites can also cause pancreatitis and if the cause of the condition is suspected to be because of parasites, the use of a herbal decoction made from the black walnut husk can be taken for one or two weeks at a stretch, this tea will help remove all the parasites from the pancreas and help in the recovery and restoration of damages tissues. Topical remedies can also be tried on the patients, these include the application of a hot horsetail poultice on the abdominal region above the pancreas for two hours per session, and this should be done two times every day as a topical treatment for pancreatitis. The entire abdominal region can be healed by covering it with a moistened large cotton ball to which some Swedish bitters has been added-this cotton can be spread out as a cover on the abdominal region. The affected area of the abdomen must first be treated using a spread of some calendula salve-this application will help in preventing dehydration from the use of alcohol in those pancreatitis patients who develop the condition because of alcohol abuse. To prevent the staining of clothing a plastic sheet can be used over the moist layer, a layer of dry cotton can also be used to absorb excess salve seeping out from the area. The area can then be covered using a warm towel-this will also aid in the prevention of dehydration. This herbal compress must be left undisturbed on the area for a period lasting four hours at a stretch. To prevent undue irritation, the affected area can be treated with applications of some cornstarch powder following the removal of the compress.
Additional things you may do
To avoid overwhelming the digestive system, all food that is eaten must be chewed thoroughly as improper mastication is often very disruptive to the digestive system and the pancreas. The aid of a medical professional must be sought for the immediate treatment of all cases of acute pancreatitis as and when it is diagnosed in a person. Intravenous feeding is often and frequently required in such cases and only a medical doctor is capable of giving such treatment.
Other beneficial herbs