The inflammation of the pancreas is called pancreatitis. The pancreas produces enzymes that assist in the digestive process, produces glucagon and insulin hormones that help in regulating the way your body processes sugar (glucose). The condition of pancreatitis can occur as acute pancreatitis that appears suddenly and lasts for some days or pancreatitis can occur as chronic pancreatitis, which occurs over many years. Mild cases of pancreatitis may go away without treatment, but severe cases can cause life-threatening complications.
In pancreatitis, pancreatic digestive enzymes are activated before they are released into the small intestine and begin attacking the pancreas, causing inflammation and show the signs and symptoms of pancreatitis. With repeated bouts of acute pancreatitis, continuous damage to the pancreas occurs and leads to chronic pancreatitis. A poorly functioning pancreas can cause digestion problems and diabetes.
Ayurvedic Description Of Pancreatitis
In Ayurveda, the pancreas is also known as ‘Grahani’ or the seat of Agni (body fire) in the body. Pancreatitis in the initial phase is an imbalance of Vata-Pitta leading to aggravation in digestive fluids situated in the pancreas, and in the chronic stage, there is some degenerative changes observed.
Signs & Symptoms
- These vary according to the acute and chronic condition of pancreatitis :
- Acute Pancreatitis – Upper abdominal pain radiating to back, abdominal pain worsened after meals, nausea, vomiting, and tenderness over abdomen.
- Chronic Pancreatitis – Upper abdominal pain, weight loss without any effort, oily, smelly stools (steatorrhea)
Causes and Risk Factors
Gall-bladder stone: Stones in the gall bladder is the most common cause of acute pancreatitis. These gallstone/s block the pancreatic duct, trapping digestive juices inside the pancreas. Women older than 50 years are more likely to get pancreatitis due to gallstones.
Infection: Infection from viruses like mumps, varicella, herpes, bacterial and fungi infection can cause pancreatitis.
Alcoholism: Long-term alcohol users, i.e. chronic alcoholism is found to be the cause of chronic pancreatitis.
Genetics: Hereditary conditions like cystic fibrosis is also known to be a factor of pancreatitis.
High calcium and triglycerides: High calcium and high triglycerides levels in blood are the conditions that can lead to pancreatitis.
Medications: Corticosteroids like prednisolone, HIV drugs pentamidine, and didanosine, diuretics, and anticonvulsants like valproic acid, the chemotherapeutic agents have been associated with the condition.
Self Care Tips
- The Ayurvedic treatment of pancreatitis takes time and so one should keep patience while getting it treated. Self-control and lift the spirits are must to begin the treatment.
- Herbs like turmeric and Indian gooseberry have anti-inflammatory properties need to find a place on your plate more often.
- Do not consume alcohol, tobacco even if you have mild acute pancreatitis.
- Fatty foods and heavy digestible items like meats are strictly prohibited.
- Maintain the water intake during the day.
- Strictly avoid foods like garlic, raw onion; fried and spicy as these aggravate Pitta in the body, a light food devoid of spices, pickles is recommended.
- Buttermilk should be the drink of choice and to be taken in afternoon meals.
AAS Ayurveda has the specialty in managing the condition of pancreatitis; focus stays on rejuvenating the pancreas and to restore its normal functioning. When pancreatitis has progressed to a chronic stage, it is managed with the medicines and dietary guidelines. The medicines vary from one individual to another depending on age, body constitution and on how far the disease has progressed.