What Is Pancreatitis?
Pancreatitis, characterized by inflammation of the pancreas, can cause severe abdominal pain, digestive issues, and even life-threatening complications. While conventional treatments focus on managing symptoms and providing supportive care, Ayurveda, the ancient Indian system of medicine, offers a holistic approach to addressing the root causes of pancreatitis. Ayurveda balances bodily energies and emphasizes personalized treatments, dietary modifications, herbal remedies, and lifestyle changes. In this article, we will explore Ayurvedic treatments for pancreatitis and how they can complement conventional approaches, promoting healing and restoring well-being.
Understanding How Pancreas Work
The Pancreas is a glandular organ 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 break down the food further once it has left the stomach. The gland also produces the hormone insulin and divides it into the bloodstream 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.
Pancreatitis occurs when the pancreas becomes inflamed, leading to digestive enzyme activation within the organ instead of the small intestine. This results in the pancreas digesting itself, causing pain, swelling, and complications. Chronic alcohol abuse, gallstones, certain medications, and genetic factors are common causes of pancreatitis. Ayurveda attributes this condition to an imbalance in the digestive fire, known as “agni,” which leads to the accumulation of toxins and impaired digestion.
Chronic Pancreatitis (CP)
There are many theories about the reason for CP. The use of alcohol is credited as the leading cause. Other factors believed to be responsible include genetics, mutation, malnutrition, 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.
Ayurvedic View Of Chronic Pancreatitis
In Ayurveda, Pancreas may also be called ‘Grahani’ and is considered the special seat of agni (fire) from the body. Pancreatitis in the first phase is Vata-Pita (fire & air components ) results in the 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 to produce 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.
Pancreatitis is a pancreas disease whose 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 and moderate physical and mental rest, has shown sustainable effects in managing pancreatitis. RS addresses the therapeutics of metals and minerals that undergo tedious processing using plant, animal, and mineral substances. RS emphasizes restoring the lost equilibrium of minerals within body tissues, improving body metabolism.
An Ayurvedic physician prepared AMC in the mid-seventies 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 substantially reduces several 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 creates terrible, sharp pain just below the ribs. Pancreatitis occurs digestive enzymes released by the pancreas 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.
Ayurvedic Treatments For Pancreatitis
Ayurvedic treatments for pancreatitis aim to restore the balance of agni, eliminate toxins, and rejuvenate the pancreas. Ayurvedic practitioners emphasize individualized approaches, considering a person’s dosha (unique constitutional type) and the underlying causes of their pancreatitis. Here are some key Ayurvedic therapies used in the management of pancreatitis:
This Ayurvedic detoxification therapy involves various cleansing techniques to remove accumulated toxins from the body. Virechana (therapeutic purgation) and Basti (medicated enema) are commonly employed procedures to alleviate pancreatic inflammation.
Ayurvedic herbs like triphala, turmeric, licorice, and kutki have potent anti-inflammatory properties and help reduce pancreatic inflammation. They can be taken in the form of capsules, powders, or decoctions under the guidance of an Ayurvedic expert.
Diet and Lifestyle Modifications
Ayurveda emphasizes the importance of a balanced diet tailored to an individual’s dosha. A low-fat, easily digestible diet, including warming spices and herbal teas, is recommended for pancreatitis. Regular exercise, stress management techniques like yoga and meditation, and adequate sleep are vital for restoring overall well-being.
Ayurvedic formulations such as Arogyavardhini Vati, Chandraprabha Vati, and Kamdudha Ras can aid in reducing inflammation, supporting pancreatic function, and promoting digestive health. However, these should be taken under the guidance of a qualified Ayurvedic practitioner.
Complementing Conventional Approaches
It’s important to note that Ayurvedic treatments for pancreatitis should not replace conventional medical care. Instead, they can complement mainstream treatments, providing a holistic approach to healing. Ayurveda addresses the root causes of pancreatic inflammation, improves digestion, and promotes overall wellness. By incorporating Ayurvedic practices alongside conventional treatments, individuals may experience enhanced symptom relief, reduced risk of complications, and improved quality of life.
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 require emergency hospitalization. Due to the irreversible and progressive nature of the illness and the 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 were registered 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. Also, a topic is free to go for any system of medicine for the prevention and treatment of any disease. The subjects were treated with an intricate herbo-mineral formula based on the fundamentals of Rasa Shastra in Ayurveda which deals with the therapeutics of processed metals for 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. 
Another 2018 study with data on 319 well-identified instances demonstrates that Ayurvedic Treatment Protocol (ATP) has brought 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 one year, combined with a 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. 
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 treatment, it’s crucial to adhere to the dietary plan. Else, the symptoms may reappear.
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 preventing and treating 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.
Among the most important methods to deal with this illness and maintain proper performance of the pancreas are diet and lifestyle modification. 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 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 foods suggested by Ayurveda for chronic pancreatitis. Generally, foods with a pungent and sour flavor should be avoided, besides avoiding refrigerated foods like ice cream, processed sugar, wheat flour, fried food, fast food, raw onion, garlic, & hot spicy foods.
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.
Ayurveda offers a comprehensive approach to managing pancreatitis by addressing the imbalances that lead to inflammation and digestive disturbances. With its emphasis on personalized treatments, herbal remedies, dietary modifications, and lifestyle changes, Ayurveda can be a valuable addition to conventional medical care. Consult a qualified Ayurvedic practitioner to receive a unique treatment plan that considers your needs. By combining the wisdom of Ayurveda with modern medical interventions, individuals with pancreatitis can aim for long-term healing, optimal pancreatic function, and improved overall well-being.