Acute pancreatitis is a medical condition in which there is acute and severe abdominal pain, accompanied by nausea and vomiting. There is an acute inflammation in the pancreas and blood tests like serum amylase and serum lipase are highly elevated. This condition is quite serious, with high potential for complications like infection, peritonitis, abdominal rupture, and septicemia. Acute pancreatitis therefore carries a significantly increased risk in morbidity and mortality; however, with proper treatment, most patients recover completely.
In chronic pancreatitis, the patient experiences chronic or intermittent severe abdominal pain, in the middle or left side of the abdomen. This pain may occur after meals or independently of meals, is not transient and may last for several hours. The chronic, continuing inflammatory process gradually destroys the organ fully or partially in an irreversible manner. The presence of stones, cysts, increased lobularity, and dilated ducts are typical signs of chronic pancreatitis. The chronic inflammatory process gradually leads to calcification and permanent damage. Pancreatic enzyme blood levels are either normal or mildly elevated. In time, the organ gradually loses its endocrine and exocrine functions and the patient may end up with diabetes and malabsorption syndrome.
Alcohol abuse, gall bladder stones, autoimmune disorders, and trauma constitute about 70 percent of the known causes of chronic pancreatitis, while about 30 percent patients have the idiopathic variety, with no known cause. Standard treatment includes pain management, prevention and treatment of known causes, treatment of organ insufficiency or failure, and surgery for removal of the damaged part or to ensure duct patency. There is currently no known modern drug which can reduce or reverse the pancreatic organ damage.
Ayurvedic herbal medicines can be very effectively used in chronic pancreatitis to reduce pain and prevent or minimize long-term, irreversible damage to the organ. Herbal medicines can reduce the inflammation in the pancreas and thereby prevent long-term complications like cyst formation and calcification. Treatment can change according to the known cause of the condition. If alcohol abuse is the main identifiable cause, medicines which have a soothing and healing effect are used. Infection requires to be treated with herbs and herbo-mineral combinations which have a good anti septic, antibacterial and antiviral action. Stones and obstruction in the pancreatic duct may require altogether different treatment.
Since chronic pancreatitis gradually causes irreversible damage, it is advisable to start Ayurvedic treatment at the earliest possible, since this can bring about a complete reversal of the inflammation and a complete cure. It is observed that Ayurvedic medicines have a very good action on the pathology involved in pancreatitis, since even patients with a chronic history and visible damage to the pancreas have made a complete recovery without a recurrence; however, the treatment time required depends upon the extent of damage already present at the time of commencing treatment. Even children with recurrent pancreatitis do well with Ayurvedic treatment and recover completely with a course of treatment. Most children who are severely underweight before treatment gradually put on weight and show normal growth for their age groups.
Once Ayurvedic treatment is started, any fresh episode of pain can usually be treated successfully with Ayurvedic medicines, with very few exceptions. Most patients who tend to relapse or do not respond well to treatment usually have a history of faulty compliance to treatment, inadequate diet control and a tendency to binge on fatty foods and alcohol. It is therefore very important to follow treatment and diet instructions carefully. Average treatment time for chronic pancreatitis is about three to six months, depending upon the severity of organ damage and the response to treatment.
Ayurvedic herbal treatment is therefore a viable treatment option for chronic and recurrent pancreatitis. Early treatment can prevent irreversible damage and bring about complete recovery, with minimal chances of recurrence.