The Pancreas

Reprinted from the December 2004 issue of Connections Newsletter

THE PANCREAS

The pancreas is a solid ‘tadpole-shaped’ gland, measuring about 10 inches long. It is attached to the back of the abdominal cavity, behind the stomach. It’s ‘head’ is just to the right of the mid-line and its body and tail point upwards, so the tail is situated just beneath the extreme edge of the left side of the ribs. The ‘head’ is closely attached to the first part of the small intestine, into which the stomach empties food and liquid, already partially digested. It is to this partially digested food, that the pancreas adds its digestive juices (enzymes).

The bile duct (from the liver) lies just behind the head of the pancreas and joins the bowel at the same place, where fluids from the pancreas enter the bowel. Running behind the body of the pancreas, are many important blood vessels. Because of its position in the body, it is not easy for a surgeon to operate on the pancreas. (www.digestivedisorders.org)

The pancreas makes pancreatic juices and hormones, including insulin. Pancreatic juices are enzymes that help digest food in the small intestine. Insulin controls the amount of sugar in the blood. As pancreatic juices are made, they flow into the main pancreatic duct. This duct connects to the small intestine near the stomach- see picture. (www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=4743)

Pancreatic secretion is regulated by several peptides that are released from the gastro-intestinal tract. The pancreas secretes about 20 digestive enzymes, which account for most of the digestion of dietary proteins, triglycerides and carbohydrates. They are also important in the cleavage of certain vitamins, such as A and B12, thereby allowing them to be absorbed efficiently. Because pancreatic enzymes are important, nutritional deficiencies can occur when this organ is malfunctioning.

If pancreatic enzymes are unable to pass into the intestine, they begin to work on the surrounding tissue, resulting in an ‘inflamed pancreas’, presenting as both acute and chronic conditions. Acute pancreatitis has several causes- gallstones (which block central ducts), alcohol damage, certain medications and infections. However, in 15% of the cases the cause of the inflammation is “unknown” (www.pancreatic-disorders.com)

(Could this ‘unknown’ factor be related to those peptides that are released from the gut in normal, healthy individuals? – refer back to the first paragraph and re-read. If not released properly due to an unhealthy terrain, it’s my bet that this lack of peptides could contribute to a malfunctioning pancreas……just a thought- G.E.)

Symptoms of acute pancreatitis are upper abdominal pain which radiates to the back, lasting for several days, however sometimes there is no pain at all or there is fever, nausea and vomiting. While alcoholism is the primary cause of chronic inflammation, the condition can be traced to other causes: cystic fibrosis, drugs, genetic disposition and radiation therapy may all trigger the disease. (www.pancreatic-disorders.com)

Without treatment, chronic inflammation gradually destroys the pancreas’ ability to function. Reduced digestive enzymes cause mal-absorption of nutrients, leading to both weight loss and poor quality bowel movements. If insulin-producing islet cells are damaged, diabetes can develop. Chronic inflammation also carries with it a heightened risk of pancreatic cancer. (www.gastroresource.com/GITextbook/en/chapter12/12-2)

It seems that pancreatic secretion is regulated by peptides from the gastrointestinal tract. So here we are back to the ‘gut’ once again. If this area is not working up to par, many bodily systems can malfunction, including the pancreas. Digestive enzymes can be taken along with a B complex for stress and to stimulate the pancreas. Lecithin should be added, as it emulsifies fats and of course probiotics too. Herbs that could be useful are: Horsetail, Calamus, Dandelion, Goldenseal, Juniper Berry, Uva Ursi, Catnip and Mullein. (www.herbs2000.com)

Since blockage from gallstones can trigger an attack, it would be wise to do a liver flush.

THE LIVER FLUSH

Doing a LIVER FLUSH is a simple, sure and safe way to eliminate gallstones, which most of us have (whether we’re experiencing ‘symptoms’ or not).

Click here to see Granny’s LIVER FLUSH or for a one-on-one consultation with Granny, to walk you through your own personal- LIVER FLUSH.

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