The inflammation of the pancreas, the large gland situated behind the stomach and next to the small intestine is known as pancreatitis. Acute pancreatitis is described as sudden inflammation that lasts only for a short period of time. Inflammation in the pancreas occurs when the digestive enzymes get activated within the pancreas and irritate the cells of the pancreas. There are two main functions of the Pancreas:
- It releases digestive enzymes into the small intestine. These enzymes help in digesting food.
- It releases insulin and glucagon into the bloodstream.
Symptoms of Acute Pancreatitis
- Nausea and vomiting
- Swollen abdomen
- Pain in the upper part of the abdomen that goes into the back
- High heart rate
Pancreatitis – According to Ayurveda
There are 8 types of Kostanga (visceral organs) described in Sushrut Samhita and Agnasya (pancreas) is one of them. Agni (digestive fire), particularly Pachak Pitta, is located in the pancreas. When Pachak Pitta is present in excess then due to its vidaha guna (corrosive nature), it can manifest sopha (inflammation). So, pittashaman chikitsa (pacifying Pitta dosha) is the therapeutic target in the Ayurvedic treatment of acute pancreatitis.
Natural Treatment of Acute Pancreatitis
The line of treatment of acute pancreatitis in Ayurveda includes the treatment of shotha i.e., inflammation with herbs and herbal remedies. It is treated on the basis of pittaj shotha i.e., inflammation caused by the increase in Pitta dosha.
Top 10 Herbs for Acute Pancreatitis
1. Amla (Emblica officinalis)
Amla is a powerful antioxidant. It is known to be effective in pancreatitis and eventually manages blood sugar levels also.
2. Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus)
Shatavari being a coolant in nature has Dahahara (relieves burning sensation), Rochana (stimulates appetite), Amahara (expels toxins), etc. properties that are quite effective in the treatment of acute pancreatitis.
3. Bael (Aegle marmelos)
Bael is an aromatic and sweet fruit. It stimulates the pancreas and helps in producing insulin.
4. Dashmoola (Group of 10 Herbs)
Dashmoola is widely used in Ayurveda for the treatment of inflammatory disorders due to its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and moderate analgesic actions. It contains 10 roots of different plants.
5. Haritaki (Terminalia chebula)
Haritaki is considered as the most ideal of all herbs for gut cleansing. It kindles digestion strength, has mild laxative action which rejuvenates not only the gut but all the systems of the body.
6. Guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia)
Due to Tikta (bitter) and Kashaya (astringent) rasa (tastes), Madhur Vipaka (undergoes sweet taste conversion after digestion), Ushna Virya (hot potency), Guru (heavy), and Snigdhya Guna (oily) qualities, it potentiates the digestion of fats by improving the production of bile.
Triphala helps in rejuvenating the pancreas and restoring its function for the production of enzymes and insulin due to its antioxidant nature.
8. Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)
The roots of ashwagandha plant are balya (strength promoting), brhuna (improves nourishment) and rasayana (rejuvenating) in nature.
9. Ginger (Zingiber officinale)
Ginger is rich in many phytochemicals that are known to provide a wide range of health benefits. It is nourishing in nature, stimulates the digestive fire, useful in bloating of the abdomen, inflammation, etc.
10. Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra)
Licorice is considered as Vata-Pittahara (pacifies the aggravated or morbid Vata and Pitta doshas). It is useful in acute pancreatitis due to its sweet taste and cold potency.
Thus, the properties of herbs such as anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, antioxidant, etc. help in reducing the formation of ama thus keeping the check over free radical formation responsible for inflammation. Moreover, these herbs also elevate the digestion of fats by increasing the secretion of bile thus reducing pain and inflammation associated with acute pancreatitis. The rejuvenating herbs help in rectifying the health of already injured tissues of the pancreas thus help in rejuvenating health.