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Causes Dietary Factors, Alcohol, Genetics, Infections, Smoking
See Also Endocrine Conditions, Diabetes, Chronic Alcoholism, Hyperlipidemia, Gallstones
Books Books on Endocrine Diseases
Articles Articles on Endocrine Conditions

Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas, which can range from mild to severe. The pancreas secretes insulin, glucagon and digestive enzymes which are normally activated in the gastrointestinal system. When the digestive enzymes become active within the pancreas, pancreatitis results. Pancreatitis may be experienced as an acute or chronic condition. Acute pancreatitis comes on suddenly and usually resolves within a few days with treatment, yet it can be life-threatening. Chronic pancreatitis needs to be managed closely and is often brought on by alcoholism or other underlying conditions.[1]

Naturopathic Assessment

Causal Factors

In order to stimulate the innate ability of the body to heal the causes of disease must be identified and addressed. Although alcoholism is the primary risk factor for pancreatitis, other factors need to considered.


  • Chronic and heavy alcohol consumption can lead to chronic pancreatitis.[2]


  • Certain infections (Ascaris lumbricoides, Cytomegalovirus, Coxsackie B virus, Mumps ).[3]
  • Scorpion bites [4]


  • Smoking increases the risk of chronic pancreatitis.[5]
  • Trauma
  • Trauma or injury to the area of the pancreas can contribute to pancreatitis. [6]

Medical Interventions

  • Prescription Medications
  • Certain drugs may lead to the development of pancreatitis including:[3] azathioprine, 6-mercaptopurine, pentamidine, didanosine, sulfonamides, thiazides, aminosalicylates and valproic acid.


  • There seems to be a family predisposition.[7]

Diagnostic Testing

  • Imaging
  • Abdominal X-ray, Abdominal ultrasound or CT scan

Related Symptoms and Conditions

Other conditions that increase the risk for pancreatitis include:


The complication of pancreatitis, especially acute pancreatitis can affect several organ systems including the lungs, brain, heart, kidneys and bowel. Some of these complications include:[12]


There are four types of pancreatitis:

  • Acute pancreatitis
  • Chronic pancreatitis
  • Pancreatic abscess
  • Pancreatic pseudocyst

The symptoms associated with acute pancreatitis include:[13],[1]

  • Abdominal pain, may radiate to the back
  • Mild jaundice (yellowing of the skin)
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Clammy skin
  • Weakness
  • Appetite loss
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Discoloration of the umbilical and flank region
  • Fatty stools

Chronic pancreatitis may exhibit with some of the symptoms above, or it may be asymptomatic.

Naturopathic Treatment

The goal of naturopathic treatment is to support and work in tandem with the healing power of the body and to address the causal factors of disease with individual treatment strategies. If acute pancreatitis is suspected it is important to seek medical care right away due to the high risks that can be associated with this condition.

It is always advisable to work with a naturopathic doctor before engaging in any treatment plan.


Lifestyle recommendations include:

  • During an acute pancreatitis episode it is important to avoid eating or drinking anything by mouth. IV fluids can assist in ensuring that a person does not become dehydrated.

To prevent pancreatitis and in the treatment of chronic pancreatitis.

  • Abstaining from alcohol consumption is strongly recommended.
  • Dietary recommendations to support weight loss if indicated. Diet should also be high in protein and carbohydrate to control for malabsorption, but low in fat.[14]
  • Ensure you drink adequate water.

Naturopathic Therapies

The prescribing of naturopathic therapies requires the guidance of a naturopathic doctor as it depends on a number of factors including the causal factors, a person's age, prescription medications, other conditions and symptoms and overall health. It is always advisable to work with a naturopathic doctor prior to taking any natural therapies.

Naturopathic Therapies for pancreatitis include:


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  2. 2.0 2.1 Clemens DL, Mahan KJ (Mar 2010) Alcoholic pancreatitis: lessons from the liver. World J Gastroenterol;Vol16(11):1314-20. PMID: 20238397.
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  8. Noel RA, Braun DK, Patterson RE, Bloomgren GL (May 2009) Increased risk of acute pancreatitis and biliary disease observed in patients with type 2 diabetes: a retrospective cohort study. Diabetes Care;32(5):834-8. PMID: 19208917.
  9. Braganza JM, Lee SH, McCloy RF, McMahon MJ (2011 Apr) Chronic pancreatitis Lancet; Vol377(9772):1184-97 PMID: 21397320.
  10. Malka D, Hammel P, Sauvanet A, Rufat P, O'Toole D, Bardet P, Belghiti J, Bernades P, Ruszniewski P, Lévy P (Nov 2000) Risk factors for diabetes mellitus in chronic pancreatitis. Gastroenterology;119(5):1324-32. PMID: 11054391.
  11. Whitcomb DC (May 2006) Acute Pancreatitis. N Engl J Med;Vol354:2142-2150.
  12. Waldthaler A, Schütte K, Malfertheiner P (2010) Causes and mechanisms in acute pancreatitis Dig Dis; Vol28(2):364-72 PMID: 20814214.
  13. Dains J, Baumann L, Schibel P (2007) Advanced Health Assessment and Clinical Diagnosis in Primary Care, ed 3. Mosby Elsevier
  14. Prousky Jonathan (2008) Principles and Practices of Naturopathic Clinical Nutrition, CCNM Press Inc.
  15. 15.0 15.1 El-Hashemy S (2011) Textbook of Naturopathic Family Medicine & Integrative Primary Care: Standards & Guidelines CCNM Press.
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 Kirk GR, White JS, McKie L, Stevenson M, Young I, Clements WD, Rowlands BJ (Apr 2006) Combined antioxidant therapy reduces pain and improves quality of life in chronic pancreatitis. J Gastrointest Surg;Vol10(4):499-503.
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