Pancreatic insufficiency

With so much attention directed to the liver and digestive disorders associated with liver function impairment, the importance of pancreas seems to be almost completely ignored, particularly due to the fact that the blood tests that evaluate basic enzyme presence in the blood stream are not an accurate representation of pancreatic function.

Treating the liver with supplements and so called liver flushes often alleviates the symptoms therefore the symptomatic causes are attributed to a poor liver function. However, many of these popular treatments also affect the function of pancreas, which can , in reality, be the primary underlying reason for indigestion and other health problems, such as allergies, asthma and autoimmune disorders.

Lack of energy, gas, bloating, constipation, burping, vitamin deficiencies and steatorrhea – all are the symptoms of enzyme deficiency caused by pancreatic insufficiency and at times low gastric acid. Pancreatic insufficiency is often misdiagnosed as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and treated with methods that further downgrade the function of pancreas which makes enzymes for digesting proteins, carbohydrates and fats.

Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency over time leads to accumulation of toxins, overgrowth of bacterial infections, dysbiosis, leaky gut and protozoal and other parasitic infestations.

Pancreatic insufficiency can be a result of 

  • Copper deficiency [srs]
  • Hypercalcemia [srs]
  • Latent viral infections such as the herpes family viruses
  • Nutritional deficiencies of magnesium, selenium, manganese, zinc, copper and fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, K.
  • Vitamin B3 deficiency (B3 is required for activation of pancreatic enzymes)

Pancreatic insufficiency can be more pronounced in the individuals with blood type A, since they are predisposed to underproduction of hydrochloric acid unlike the other blood types and their ability to digest animal based proteins is reduced

General health maintenance

  • Reduce calcium toxicity as a possible underlying cause of chronic pancreatitis
  • Reduce histamine toxicity to minimize the symptoms of adverse health effects from a chronic enzyme deficiency
  • Food combining:
    • Do not combine animal proteins with starches
    • Starches and vegetables can be combined
    • Eat fruits alone on empty stomach
  • Chew food thoroughly, 8-12 chews per bite to stimulate pancreatic activity
  • Practice gentle cardio exercise s15-30 minutes daily
  • Eat in a relaxing environment to promote gastric function as activating sympathetic system suspends the digestive process

Dietary adjustments

  • Eat every 3-4 hours
  • Drink more warm fluids – inflamed pancreas cause water loss and take more water to recover
  • Add 1/8 teaspoon of sea salt once a day to a glass of water
  • Emphasize on
    • Magnesium rich foods to balance calcium to magnesium
    • Vegetables amounts in relation to starches and proteins
    • Cooking with olive oil and sea salt
    • Foods rich in B vitamins, iron and antioxidants
  • Reduce
    • Protein intake to 10-20%
    • Histamine rich foods, gluten and refined foods which cannot be digested due to the lack of enzymes
    • Trans-fatty acids and products most commonly containing these fats such as cookies, crackers, cakes, donuts, french fries, onion rings, margarine, frozen dinners, etc.
  • Avoid
    • Stimulating drinks and drinking too much water
    • Very fatty foods but ensure there is enough dietary fat in foods
    • Glucosamine/Chondroitin supplementation – may damage pancreatic enzymes. Inhibits enzymatic function resulting in malabsorption

Helping pancreas with supplements

  • Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) – powerful antioxidant known to protect pancreas [srs], improve glutathione levels [srs], increase insulin sensitivity and improve glycemic control and reduce allergic inflammation due to enzyme deficiencies.
    Usage: Start with 40mg per day in mornings only, as it may cause insomnia and gradually over 2 weeks increase the dose to 100-300mg per day in divided doses. Low dose Thiamine (B1) 100mg every 2-3 days is required as deficiency can produce serious side effects when ALA is taken. With heavy toxicity, ALA has to be taken every 3 hours in 25-50mg doses, including night time to avoid suspension of detoxification process which may result in symptoms of toxicity. This is partially attributed to ALA removing the toxic compounds from tissues where sudden ALA deficiency may cause re-depositing of disturbed toxins.
    Dietary sources of ALA are yeast, liver, kidney, spinach, broccoli and potatoes.
  • Water soluble vitamins
    • C (buffered, sustained release) 250-500mg
    • B vitamins are best supplemented as a complex 50. The following are those that are most beneficial for pancreatic function, although a complete complex may be required for proper utilization.
      • B1 20mg, B2 20mg, B5 150mg, B12 20 mcg
      • B3 25-50mg with each meal – required for the activation of pancreatic enzymes, induces histamine release consequently raising the gastric acid and protects insulin-producing pancreas cells from inflammation by white blood cells and reactive oxygen species. Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin ) and B6 (pyridoxine) are also important for conversion of tryptophan into niacin.
        Usage: Do NOT use timed-release niacin as it has been noted to induce liver damage. Use standard niacin and sparingly, 1 to 3 times a week to stimulate pancreas function.
  • Fat soluble vitamins
    • A 2500UI, D 400UI, E400UI, K2 100mcg
  • Minerals
    • Trace minerals (mineral drops)
    • Chromium GTF 100 mcg
    • Selenium 200 mcg
    • Manganese 10mg
    • Zinc 5-10mg
    • Copper 2-4mg (copper deficiency affects pancreatic health)
    • Magnesium (chelated) 400-800mg to address a possible hypercalcemia
  • Herbs
    • Gentian root (tincture) – one of the most potent herbs for enzyme production stimulation and chronic exhaustion.
      Usage: up to 10 drops under the tongue or in little water 20-30 minutes before a meal
    • Dandelion root (tincture) – strengthens and improves the functions of pancreas and spleen
      Usage: up to 10 drops under the tongue or in little water 20-30 minutes before a meal
    • Gymnema sylvestre (G. sylvestre)increases in intracellular calcium, stimulates pancreas and insulin secretion via regeneration of the cells in the pancreas [srs]
    • Turmeric (Curcumin, ginger family) – reduces inflammation by deactivating relevant enzymes and reverses lipid peroxidation. Same applies to Ginger root, however, Curcumin appears to be more potent
      Usage: 150-500mg before bed, 2 hours after meals. Do not exceed the dose and take 1-3 day breaks.
    • Whole leaf aloe vera juice (concentrated) before meals to stimulate gastric acid production and pancreas activity
    • Cinnamon – Department of United States Agriculture estimates that one teaspoon of cinnamon a day could help an individual with a type II diabetes with a blood glucose reading of 150 mg/dL to bring the glucose levels down to 107 mg/dL
    • Other herbs – cedar berries, goldenseal, echinacea, olive leaf
  • Flavonoids
    • Grape seed extract (GSE) – significantly reduces chronic inflammation from oxidative stress allowing the pancreatic cells to regenerate [srs1][srs2] Usage: 100mg 2 times a day. Turmeric and grape seed extract combo can be used long term with great results.

Improving digestion one step further

The following should only be considered if the above supplements and lifestyle adjustments did not produce results in 2-4 months.

  • Digestive enzymes (replace pancreas secretion of enzymes, may create dependency)
    • Pancreatin / Pancrelipase
    • Wide spectrum digestive enzymes to help with pancreatic insufficiency
    • Pancreatic enzyme products (PEPs) are extracts of porcine pancreas that contain 3 pancreatic enzymes (ie, amylase, protease, and lipase). Lipase, however, plays the paramount role in therapy.
  • Pancreatic glandular supplements support pancreas function to produce enzymes

Consult with your doctor if you decide to proceed with any of the above recommendations.