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Related TermsAcute Pancreatitis Chronic Pancreatitis
Principal Proposed Natural Treatments
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Natural Treatments to Avoid
The pancreas is an organ that creates enzymes necessary to properly digest starch, protein, and fat. In addition, cells responsible for creating insulin are also found in the pancreas. Pancreatitis is a condition in which the pancreas is inflamed. When pancreatitis is prolonged, pancreatic function declines, leading to malabsorption of nutrients and, possibly, mild diabetes.
Pancreatitis occurs in three forms: acute (short-term) pancreatitis, recurrent acute pancreatitis, and chronic pancreatitis.
Acute pancreatitis is a painful condition, but with treatment it ordinarily resolves in 3 to 7 days. Causes include alcohol abuse, gallstones, extremely high blood levels of triglycerides, direct trauma to the pancreas, abdominal surgery and procedures, kidney failure, infection, and certain medications.
The treatment of acute pancreatitis consists primarily of resting the pancreas by discontinuing all eating and drinking. Intravenous fluids are used to maintain fluid balance.
Recurrent acute pancreatitis involves multiple bouts of acute pancreatitis, sometimes in the context of a more mild, chronic condition. Each bout is treated as described above.
Chronic pancreatitis is a more gradual process that leads to partial or complete pancreatic failure. Its most common cause is alcohol abuse, although the condition may also occur for other reasons, or for no known reason at all. Chronic pancreatitis causes many symptoms, including most prominently abdominal pain, weight loss, diarrhea because of undigested fat, and mild diabetes. Treatment primarily involves use of digestive enzymes and, if necessary, insulin, as well as dietary changes and pain medication. If alcohol abuse contributed to chronic pancreatitis, it’s important to stop drinking.
Digestive enzymes are the mainstay of treatment for chronic pancreatitis, and all of these can be considered natural products. The digestive enzymes prescribed by physicians for pancreatitis are not necessarily more powerful than their dietary supplement equivalent, and some experimentation with different products might lead to the best results. Excessive consumption of digestive enzymes can cause harm, however, and for this reason doctor’s supervision is strongly recommended.
Last reviewedSeptember 2014by EBSCO CAM Review Board
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.