/Ayurvedic Treatment for Pancreatitis: Symptoms, Therapies

Ayurvedic Treatment for Pancreatitis: Symptoms, Therapies


By Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ay) & Dr Manasa, B.A.M.S

Pancreatitis is an inflammation of pancreas, a large gland situated behind the stomach and next to the small intestine. 2 main functions of Pancreas –
Releases powerful digestive enzymes into the small intestine to help digest food.
Releases insulin and glucagon into the bloodstream. These hormones help your body control how it uses food for energy.

Read more about Pancreatitis – Modern view

Types of Pancreatitis

Acute pancreatitis is sudden inflammation that lasts a short time.
Chronic pancreatitis is long-lasting inflammation.

Causes and pathology

Pancreatitis occurs when digestive enzymes become activated within pancreas, irritating the cells of pancreas and causing inflammation. Repeated bouts of acute pancreatitis cause damage to the pancreas and lead to chronic pancreatitis. Scar tissue may form in the pancreas, causing loss of function.

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Conditions that can lead to pancreatitis include:
Abdominal surgery
Alcoholism
Certain medications
Cystic fibrosis
Gallstones
High calcium levels in the blood
High triglyceride levels in the blood
Infection
Injury to the abdomen
Obesity
Pancreatic cancer

Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP), a procedure used to treat gallstones, also can lead to pancreatitis. Sometimes, a cause for pancreatitis is never found.

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Pancreatitis Symptoms

Symptoms of acute pancreatitis
Fever
Higher heart rate
Nausea and vomiting
Swollen and tender belly
Pain in the upper part of your belly that goes into the back. Eating may make it worse, especially foods high in fat.

Symptoms of chronic pancreatitis
The symptoms of chronic pancreatitis are similar to those of acute pancreatitis. But you may also have:
Constant pain in the upper belly that radiates to your back. This pain may be disabling.
Diarrhea and weight loss because pancreas isn’t releasing enough enzymes to break down food
Upset stomach and vomiting

Treatment

Treatment for acute pancreatitis
Antibiotics
Intravenous (IV) fluids
Low-fat diet or fasting.
Pain medicine

Severe cases –
ERCP to take out gallstones if they’re blocking your bile or pancreatic ducts
Gallbladder surgery
Pancreas surgery

Treatment for chronic pancreatitis
Insulin to treat diabetes
Pain medicine
Pancreatic enzymes to help your body get enough nutrients from your food
Surgery or procedures to relieve pain, help with drainage, or treat blockages
Read more about Causes, Risk factors and Complications of Pancreatitis

Pancreatitis In Ayurveda

Probable Ayurvedic correlation
Agnyashaya Shotha – Pancreas is one organ which has not been anatomically elaborated in Ayurveda. Among the list of visceral organs, agnyashaya i.e. organ where agni or digestive fire is located has been mentioned. This seems to be an explanation of pancreas. The digestive juices and hormones it produces, which participate in digestion of food and other body functions can be compared to the fire in pancreas. A term called kloma too has been correlated to pancreas. The line of treatment of shotha i.e. inflammation should be followed in this context.

Pittaja Shotha – Pancreatitis shall be treated on the basis of pittaja shotha or inflammation caused by increased pitta. Fire and pitta have a residence and resident relationship. Pitta is chiefly involved in causing inflammation. If the fire in the pancreas is considered to be pitta, excessive pitta in the pancreas will tend to damage its abode.

Pittaja Shula – Pain or colic caused by aggravated pitta includes pain having origin in many digestive organs, mainly pancreas.

Teekshnagni and Vidagdhajirna – Tikshnagni is a condition in which the digestive fire governed by vitiated pitta causes burnout of food, inflammation and destruction of digestive apparatus, pancreas in this condition. This condition will lead to a pitta type of indigestion wherein the consumed food is burnt out and depletes the body of its nutrition.

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Samprapti – pathogenesis

Dosha – Pitta predominant
Agni – Tikshnagni
Srotas – Annavaha, Udakavaha,
Sroto dushti Lakshana – ati pravritti (excessive discharge, hyperactivity)
Vyadhi Marga – Abhyantara (visceral organ)
Sadhya Asadhyata – acute pancreatitis – curable, chronic pancreatitis – curable with difficulty
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Treatment principles

Shula Chikitsa – treatment of colic, mainly pittaja type of colic
Shotha Chikitsa – treatment of swelling and inflammation, mainly pittaja type of swelling
Teekshnagni and Vidagdhajirna – treatment of intense digestive fire and subsequent burnout of food should be adopted. Both these are caused by highly vitiated pitta.

Other treatment strategies –

Krimi Chikitsa – when infection is suspected as causal of pancreatitis.
Ashmari Chikitsa / pittashmari chikitsa – treatment for gall stones or calculi, when it is suspected to be causal. 

Sthoulya and Medo Roga Chikitsa – when obesity and high triglycerides are responsible for pancreatitis 
Arbuda Chikitsa – when pancreatic cancer is causing inflammation of the pancreas.

Jwara Chikitsa – treatment of fever, when fever and pain are associated
Chardi, Atisara, Ajirna Chikitsa – treatment of vomiting, diarrhea and indigestion when these symptoms are predominant in pancreatitis

Role of Panchakarma

Virechana is the best treatment for pancreatitis since there is involvement of the digestive part of pancreas, involvement of high pitta and inflammation. Guggulutiktaka Ghrita for oleation and Trivrit lehya for purgation are preferable. Small doses of Avipattikara Churna, Trivrit lehya, Drakshadi Lehya, Sukumara Ghrita, Kalyanaka Ghrita and Indukanta Ghrita in small doses calms pitta and relieve inflammation associated with pancreatitis apart from causing mild purging. These remedies shall be tried in case of mild to moderate pancreatitis.

Enema with Dashamula Ksheera Vasti or Yashtimadhu siddha Ksheera Vasti, matra or anuvasana vasti with yashtimadhu taila and pittahara vastis are highly useful.

Read – Basti Chikitsa: Benefits, Routes, Types, Indications, Equipment

Useful medicines

Sukumara Kashayam / Ghrita
Kalyanaka Ghrita
Tiktaka Kashayam / Ghrita
Amalaki Churna
Amalaki Rasayana
Dhatri Loha
Shatavari Ghritam
Chandraprabha Vati
Shiva Gulika
Shankha Bhasma
Shanka Vati
Shukti Bhasma
Milk boiled with Licorice
Drakshadi Lehyam
Avipattikara Churna
Guggulutiktakam Kashayam / Ghritam
Sudarshana Churna
Hingwashtaka Churna
Bilwadi Lehyam
Dadimadi Ghrita
Dadimadi lehyam
Kutaja Ghana vati
Medohara Vidangadi Lauha
Shotari Mandura
Varanadi Ghritam / Kashayam
Punarnavadi Kashayam / Punarnava Mandura
Trayantyadi Kashayam
Patoladi Kashayam
Krimi kutara ras
Dashamula Haritaki Rasayana
Shatavari Churna
Triphala Churna
Pravala Pishti
Kanchanara Guggulu
Triphala Guggulu

Important Herbs

Emblica officinalis
Terminalia chebula
Asparagus racemosus
Inula racemosa
Aegle marmelos
Ginger
Ghee fried asafetida
Dashamula – ten roots
Yava Kshara – alkali of barley
Raisins
Adhatoda vasica
Pointed gourd
Ash of conch
Licorice
Ash gourd
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