Pancreatitis
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How Ayurveda can heal chronic pancreatitis

What is Pancreatitis?

Pancreatitis is the inflammation of the pancreas.

The Pancreas is a glandular organ that's situated in the abdomen, behind the stomach, and under the ribcage. It's part of the digestive tract and creates important hormones and enzymes that help break down foods. It's an endocrine function since it releases juices right into the blood vessels, and it's an exocrine function since it releases juices into ducts. Enzymes, or digestive juices, made by the pancreas are secreted into the small intestine to further break down food once it has left the stomach. The gland also produces the hormone insulin and divides it into the bloodstream so as to modulate the body's sugar or glucose level. The pancreas is an organ in the upper abdomen. It's about 6 inches long and is situated behind the stomach. The pancreas has two main functions:

a) It creates enzymes, which help digest fats, proteins, and carbohydrates before they can be absorbed in the gut. 

b) It creates hormones (chemicals made from glands), the main of which is insulin, which controls how the body stores and uses sugar (glucose), its principal source of energy.

Watch: Ayurvedic treatments for pancreatitis video

Chronic Pancreatitis (CP)

There are many theories towards the reason for CP. The use of alcohol is credited as the leading cause. Other factors believed to be responsible include genetic, mutation, malnutrition factors, oxidant stress, and trace element deficiency. There are 20% of cases of idiopathic CP among all sorts of CP patients. Episodes of abdominal pain and nausea lasting several days come and go over time and may progress to chronic pancreatitis. A diagnosis of hereditary pancreatitis is likely if the individual has two or more family members with pancreatitis in more than one generation.

See: Pancreatitis diet plan & restrictions

How does Ayurveda view chronic pancreatitis?

In Ayurveda, Pancreas may also be called 'Grahani' and is thought of as the special seat of agni (fire) from the body. Pancreatitis in the first phase is Vata-Pita (fire & air components ) results in aggravation of digestive fluids found in the pancreas. In the chronic period, there are degenerative changes that are detected.

Ayurveda essentially rejuvenates the pancreas and restores its functioning for its purpose of producing enzymes and insulin. When pancreatitis has progressed to a chronic stage, it's treated with medications and dietary guidelines. Medicines vary from one person to another depending on age, body constitution, and how far the disease has progressed. Doctors assess these aspects before deciding on the course of therapy. Ayurveda aims to balance the air and fire elements.

See: Yoga treatment for Pancreatitis Patients

Ayurvedic treatments for healing pancreatitis

Pancreatitis is a disease of the pancreas and its therapy is limited to painkillers, intravenous fluids, and pancreatic enzymes. In the absence of a substantial cure, alternative medicine, especially Ayurveda has shown promising results in treating Recurrent Acute/Chronic Pancreatitis (RA/CP).

According to one of the eight clinical specialties of Ayurveda, Rasa Shastra (RS), an Ayurvedic Mineral Complex (AMC), combined with a balanced diet, moderate physical and mental rest, have shown sustainable effects in the management of pancreatitis. RS addresses the therapeutics of metals and minerals that undergo tedious processing using substances of plant, animal, and mineral origin. RS emphasizes restoring the lost equilibrium of minerals within body tissues, thereby, improving body metabolism.

AMC was initially prepared in mid-seventies by an Ayurvedic physician using aluminum, mercury, sulfur, and herbs. It showed the miraculous recovery of a patient suffering from an advanced pancreatic disorder. Afterward, this approach showed similar effects in treating Pancreatitis. These cases have been well documented since January 1997. It is observed that within one year, AMC brings substantial reduction in several of emergency attacks and hospitalization without inducing grade II toxicity, moreover, helping patients regain weight. None of the patients received pancreatic enzymes after starting ayurvedic therapy. Process standardization and characterization of AMC is being carried out along with safety studies. The outcomes of acute and sub-acute toxicity studies show that the formulation has no adverse effects. In this presentation, the speaker will discuss clinical data of the first 450 instances of RA/CP.


Pancreatitis, or inflammation of the pancreas, creates terrible, sharp pain just below ribs. Pancreatitis occurs digestive enzymes released by the pancrease are activated too soon, and auto-digest the pancreas, damaging the tissues. This is a life threatening disorder. Pancreatitis can be caused by cystic fibrosis, high triglycerides, hyperparathyroidism, gallstones, smoking, excess alcohol and other causes. When blood levels of calcium are high, the calcium molecules may clump together, forming stones that clog pancreatic ducts, and scar and irritate the pancreas.

See: Foods & herbs good for pancreatitis

Scientific studies in Ayurveda for Pancreatitis

Recurrent Acute Pancreatitis/ Chronic Pancreatitis (RAP/ CP) is generally marked by abrupt onset of symptoms such as severe abdominal pain, nausea, and weight loss that requires emergency hospitalization. Due to the irreversible and progressive nature of the illness and limitations of traditional therapy, many patients search for an alternate solution. In a 2017 comprehensive study, 250 well-recognized cases of acute recurring/ chronic pancreatitis, registered in between January 1997 to August 2016, in our Ayurvedic clinical practice in the Northern part of India. Ayurveda is well recognized as a different medical system parallel to traditional medicines in India and also a topic is free to go for any system of medicine for the prevention and treatment for any disease. The subjects were treated with an intricate herbo-mineral formula based on the fundamentals of Rasa Shastra in Ayurveda that deals with the therapeutics of processed metals from the prevention and treatment of ailments. They were also prescribed a controlled balanced diet and lifestyle. Significant improvement was noted in areas that have completed the treatment. [1]


Another 2018 study with data on 319 well-identified instances demonstrates that Ayurvedic Treatment Protocol (ATP) has been able to bring complete relief in a substantial number of patients, without causing any side effect. Statistical analysis of this data demonstrates that the treatment brought significant improvement in weight and a decrease in the frequency of attacks. ATP comprises of a couple of Ayurvedic formulations which are prescribed for a period of one year, combined with regulated diet and lifestyle in addition to complete physical and mental rest. The key Ayurvedic formulation used in the treatment is Amar. Preliminary studies conducted using Amar have shown its protective properties from pancreatitis. Additional research has been conducted for the systematic and scientific development of the technical ATP. [2]

See: Home remedies for pancreatitis treatment

Home remedies for pancreatitis

The term of pancreatitis treatment in Ayurveda may last from 3 to 6 months. The patient will begin to experience better digestion, though the pain will come. After a few weeks, the frequency and intensity of pain will decrease. But throughout the course of treatment, it's crucial to adhere to the dietary plan, else, the symptoms may reappear.


Herbal remedies

Among the most important herbs that Ayurveda uses to treat pancreatic disorders is 'Turmeric', which is currently being studied by conventional doctors due to its role in the prevention and therapy of pancreatitis. Another useful herb for this illness recommended by Ayurveda is the 'Indian Gooseberry'. Apart from powerful antioxidant properties, it is also one of the richest sources of vitamin C. The antioxidants of gooseberry help the body to neutralize free radicals which are thought to play a role in pancreatitis and other health conditions.

The 'dandelion root' herb is also useful since it enhances the digestion of fats by improving bile production. Also, ginger is an outstanding anti-inflammatory. 'Cramp bark (Viburnum opulus)' can help alleviate inflammation, pain, and cramping.

Among the other remedies recommended by Ayurvedic doctors are Chebula, Behada or Terminalia, Yashtimadhuk, Haritaki, which form the mainstay of treatment for this ailment.

Antioxidant-rich foods such as Blueberries are a standard pancreatic remedy, due to their high antioxidant content. An even stronger anthocyanosides (class of nutrients called flavonoids) within bilberry fruit is also available as a nutritional supplement today.


Dietary Modifications

Among the most important methods to deal with this illness and maintain proper performance of the pancreas are the modification of diet and lifestyle. Include foods full of omega-3 fatty acids, veggies, nuts, cereals, beans, and fruit, which help protect against diseases and disorders of the pancreas.

Follow a Satvik diet and completely eliminate refined foods from your diet. Limit meat ingestion and have only low-fat foods. Drinking loads of water is critical, as pancreatitis cause dehydration. Additionally, it's crucial to cut out sugars, tobacco, and alcohol completely.

However, among all, buttermilk and amla (Indian gooseberry) are the best of foods suggested by Ayurveda for chronic pancreatitis. Generally, foods using a pungent and sour flavor ought to be avoided, besides avoiding refrigerated foods like ice cream, processed sugar, and wheat flour, fried food, fast food, raw onion, garlic, & hot spicy foods.


Lifestyle Changes

Lifestyle modifications, with specific yoga poses (especially Vajrasana), practiced under expert guidance could be useful. Daytime sleeping has to be avoided. Dinner should be kept very gentle, and stick to soups. Alcohol, smoking and unhealthy diets have to be eliminated.

See: Turmeric Curcumin Health Benefits & Side Effects

References

1. Prakash, Vaidya & Prakash, Shikha & Sharma, Shakshi & Tiwari, Sneha. (2018). impact-evaluation-of-ayurvedic-treatment-protocol-on-three-hundred-nineteen-cases-of-different-variants-of-pancreatitis-2165-7092-1000196. Pancreatic Disorders & Therapy. 8. 1-5. 10.4172/2165-7092.1000196.

2. Prakash, Vaidya & Shikha Prakash, Vaidya & Sharma, Shakshi & Tiwari, Sneha. (2017). Relevance of metal based Ayurvedic formulations in the management of recurrent acute/ chronic pancreatitis. International Journal of Genuine Traditional Medicine. 7. e9. 10.5667/tang.2017.0007.


See: Ayurveda for Successful Treatment of Pancreatitis of 35 yr old male

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