11 Benefits Of Turmeric In Pancreatitis [UPDATED]

Our pancreas produces digestive enzymes and insulin that controls blood glucose levels in the body. When the pancreas gets inflamed, the condition is called pancreatitis.

The condition can be acute or chronic and leads to tissue death around the pancreas and bleeding. The body is unable to absorb required nutrients and long term pancreatitis can cause diabetes or malnutrition.

Symptoms include upper abdominal pain (mild or severe), fever, sweating, nausea and vomiting, rapid heart rate, abdominal tenderness, weight loss and rapid breathing.

Excess alcohol consumption, gallstones, drugs, infections, high triglyceride levels, cystic fibrosis or other hereditary diseases are some causes of pancreatitis.

Treatment options depend on the type of pancreatitis and could include medications, surgery, alcohol de-addiction, complementary or alternative therapies, improved nutrition through diet or supplements and use of certain herbs.

So how can turmeric help in this condition? Let us find out.

What is turmeric?

Turmeric or Curcuma longa is a rhizome (a swollen underground stem) of the family of some popular spices, Zingiberaceae.

It has been an integral part of many Asian cuisine and traditional medicines since time immemorial. Its bright colour and flavour brings a new dimension to the dishes.

Moreover, turmeric is cherished for its medicinal properties in the traditional medicine, such as its antiseptic properties and pain relieving action.

There are a number of compounds identified from turmeric that give it medicinal properties. The most important of these compounds are the curcuminoids, especially curcumin.

The other nutrients found in turmeric are Potassium, Sodium, Iron,Vitamin C, Vitamin B, sugars, proteins, α-linolenic acid and many more.

11 Benefits of Turmeric in Pancreatitis

The constituents of turmeric enable it to have anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, anti-microbial and anti-cancer properties.These properties can be very useful in case of pancreatitis.

1.Turmeric can reduce pancreatic inflammation

turmeric powderThe initiation of pancreatitis goes hand in hand with the start of inflammation triggered by the causing factors of this disease.

This inflammation is mediated by various pro-inflammatory molecules such as cytokines.

Curcumin from turmeric is known for its significant anti-inflammatory action in various inflammatory diseases.

The anti-inflammatory response of curcumin is mediated by suppression of the pro-inflammatory molecules such as cytokines, TNF-α etc. This is done by decreasing the expression of these molecules through interference in various molecular mechanisms.

Curcumin also works by increasing the activity of PPAR-γ (an anti-inflammatory molecule) in the cells.

These mechanisms are found to be responsible for reducing the inflammation in pancreas, making turmeric an effective agent against pancreatitis.

What does it mean?
It means consumption of turmeric can be beneficial in decreasing the inflammation in pancreas. This can prove to be very effective way of the treatment and prevention in this disease.

2.Turmeric can relieve pain

Abdominal pain is the primary and most common symptom of pancreatitis. Therefore, pain management is an important part of its treatment.

Turmeric is long known for its pain relieving properties. It has been found that the essential oils of turmeric have anti-nociceptive (suppression of pain signals) action.

Curcumin exerts anti-nociceptive effect through Potassium-ATP channels (cell signalling elements) to suppress pain signals.

What does it mean?
It means intake of turmeric can be used to relieve the pain associated with pancreatitis.

3.Turmeric serves as an anti-oxidant

The role of oxidative stress is also a factor in triggering the inflammatory response in the pancreatic cells. The over-production of free radicals leads to series of reactions that cause inflammation.

The attenuation of oxidative stress is also an approach in the pancreatitis treatment.

Various components of turmeric possess anti-oxidant activity. These are capable of scavenging the free radicals and reduce oxidative stress.

Curcumin has been found to be effective in decreasing oxidative stress in pancreatitis patients.

It was found to significantly reduce the level of oxidative markers like malonydialdehyde (MDA) and increase the level of glutathione (an anti-oxidant) in the blood.

What does it mean?
It means use of turmeric in diet can decrease the oxidative stress in the body. At the same time, it can improve the anti-oxidant status of the body which is useful in the treatment and prevention of this disease.

4.Turmeric can prevent tissue damage in pancreas

Pancreatitis is characterized by the damage of the pancreas tissues caused by the attack of enzymes produced by it.

Depending on the severity of the damage, the fatality of this disease is decided. Permanent tissue damage can even cause death.

Turmeric has a potential of preventing pancreatic tissue damage. The anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant action of curcumin helps in slowing down the damage.

It acts on the pro-inflammatory molecules which lead to the activation of the stellate cells of pancreas. These stellate cells are responsible for inflammation, fibrosis (thickening of tissues) and related tissue damages.

What does it mean?
It means consumption of turmeric can be beneficial in preventing the damage to the pancreatic tissue. Preventing this damage can treat as well as delay the progression of pancreatitis.

5.Turmeric can stimulate insulin production

There is impairment in insulin production in case of pancreatitis as the cells are damaged and hence, cannot produce insulin.

If insulin is not properly produced, the carbohydrates are unable to metabolize, making blood sugar levels high and causing diabetes.

Turmeric has anti-hyperglycemic effect, i.e. it can reduce blood sugar levels. It is also capable of stimulating insulin production.

Curcumin can improve the functioning of pancreatic cells by regulating certain gene expressions and controlling inflammatory responses.

What does it mean?
It means intake of turmeric is effective in controlling the insulin imbalance in the body associated with pancreatitis. It stimulates the production of insulin and also reduces blood sugar. This can prevent the development of diabetes.

turmeric for pancreatitis

6.Turmeric can improve digestion

Pancreas is responsible for secreting various digestive enzymes. In the case of pancreatitis, the ability of pancreas to produce these enzymes is affected.

As a result of this, digestion of food eaten by the pancreatitis patients is not proper causing the digestive disorders.

Turmeric is also known for its digestive stimulant properties.

It has been confirmed that various properties of turmeric is effective in treating a number of gastrointestinal disorders.

What does it mean?
It means pancreatitis patients can take turmeric to avoid the digestive problems caused by this disease.

7.Turmeric can decrease gallstones and prevent their formation

Gallstones are found to be the most common cause of pancreatitis. These stones often block the bile duct posing obstruction to the pancreatic enzymes to reach small intestine.

This leads the enzymes to stay in the pancreas and cause damage to the pancreas tissues.

Turmeric has been found to be an effective dietary measure against the gallstones.Studies have shown its efficacy in reducing the size of gallstones.

The reduction in gallstone size can prevent the obstruction of bile duct thus can be an effective way of preventing pancreatitis.

Curcumin is also found to prevent the induction of cholesterol gallstones as a result of their hypolipidemic (lipid reducing) action.

However if suffering from active gall bladder obstruction consult a health physician before taking turmeric. (Read Does turmeric cause gallstones?)

What does it mean?
It means dietary intake of turmeric can be useful to decrease the size of gallstones as well as its formation. This can help in avoidance of the onset of pancreatitis caused by bile duct obstruction.

8.Turmeric can prevent alcohol related damage

Heavy alcohol consumption is another common causative factor of pancreatitis.

Metabolism of alcohol in the body can produce free radicals and also interfere with various metabolic and signalling pathways. These actions result in injury to the pancreatic cells, influencing their ability to produce digestive enzymes and hormones.

In a study, curcumin from turmeric has been found to suppress the abnormalities caused by heavy alcohol consumption.

Thus, turmeric has a potential to avoid the destructive effects of alcohol on the pancreas.

What does it mean?
It means turmeric can be used to prevent the destruction of pancreatic cells by alcohol. However, it does not mean that one can continue to have alcohol and rely only on turmeric to save from its ill-effects.

9.Turmeric can reduce triglycerides and cholesterol

Although rare, but high level of triglycerides and cholesterol are also causes of pancreatitis. These can induce gallstone formation or may result in inflammatory responses in the pancreatic cells.

Curcumin from turmeric is known to reduce the lipids and cholesterol levels in the body in various disorders.
Therefore, turmeric can be effective against cholesterol and triglycerides induced pancreatitis as well.

What does it mean?
It means turmeric intake can maintain the level of triglycerides and cholesterol in the body. This can be helpful in prevention of pancreatitis induced by them.

10.Turmeric protects from drug side-effects

Pancreatitis can also be caused as a result of side-effect of a number of drugs.

Turmeric has found to be efficient against drug-toxicity as well. Its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant activities help in ameliorating the inflammatory responses induced by the drugs.

It also prevents drug-induced pancreatic cell damages.

What does it mean?
It means turmeric consumption can be beneficial in preventing the damages to pancreas induced by various drugs. This can help to avoid drug induced pancreatitis.

11.Turmeric can prevent infections

A number of microorganisms (viruses, bacteria or fungus) have found to cause pancreatitis induced upon their infection.

Turmeric is a well known agent against a variety of microorganisms. Its components interfere with the various essential metabolic pathways of these organisms, killing them.

Turmeric also works synergistically with antibiotics and can act against antibiotic resistance.

It has been found that infection of the bacteria Helicobacter pylori can lead to pancreatitis. Curcumin has shown its efficacy against many ailments associated with the bacteria.

What does it mean?
It means turmeric consumption can guard the body against infections which lead to pancreatitis. The anti-microbial activity of turmeric is effective against a large number of infectious agents.

Dosage of Turmeric for Pancreatitis

Turmeric and turmeric powderThere is no specific dose of turmeric prescribed in case of pancreatitis. Turmeric is known to be safe in diet and its dietary intake can be beneficial in this disease.

However, turmeric has a poor absorption in the body. (Read How to improve turmeric’s bioavailability?)

To increase the absorption, turmeric can be consumed in the form of Golden Paste (consists of black pepper and healthy fats along with turmeric).

Find the recipe of Golden Paste using turmeric powder here. If using fresh turmeric rhizome, find the recipe here.

Turmeric consumption should be started with quarter or half a teaspoon per day for a week. If no gastric side-effects are observed, the intake can be gradually increased by quarter or half a teaspoon per week.

1-2 teaspoon twice or thrice a day is recommendable (specifically 1 teaspoon thrice a day).

Taking turmeric in on an empty stomach should be avoided. (Read Does Turmeric cause acid reflux?)

Its intake should also be avoided at the same time of taking medications. A gap of 3-4 hours should be maintained. (Read Black pepper in GP: Does it cause drug interaction?)

The ideal dose of turmeric differs from person to person; some may require less while some more. The dose depends on what suits you and how much can be tolerated by the stomach.

There are some delicious ways of taking turmeric in the form of Turmeric milk and Turmeric tea.

To spot some good organic brands of turmeric, check our recommendation on best organic turmeric brands.

Turmeric supplements can also be opted for, but consultation of a medical practitioner prior to it is important.

Precautions

Turmeric consumption in diet is considered very safe. The cuisines that have regular use of turmeric have never encountered any adversity on account of turmeric.

However, some precautions are necessary especially in the case of turmeric supplements. (Read Side effects of Turmeric)

Turmeric intake should be avoided on empty stomach. Turmeric may cause acid reflux therefore it should not be consumed in on an empty stomach. (Read Does turmeric cause acid reflux?)

Turmeric should not be taken with certain medications. Turmeric may interact with may medications such as blood sugar reducing drugs, anti-depressants, stomach acid reducing medicines etc. The interaction of turmeric with these can affect their action and may also pose adverse effects.

People suffering from bleeding disorder should avoid turmeric supplements.Turmeric has blood thinning activity therefore, doctor consultation is important before taking its supplements. However, small amount of dietary turmeric is safe. If skeptic please consult a herbalist prior. (Read Is turmeric a blood thinner?)

People at the risk of gout or kidney stone should limit turmeric intake.Too much of turmeric is known to pose risk of developing kidney stones and aggravate gout. (Read Is turmeric safe in gout? Does turmeric cause kidney stones?)
Turmeric consumption should be discontinued prior to surgery.

Turmeric has blood thinning action which can cause problems in blood clotting after surgery. Therefore, it should be discontinued about 2 weeks before a surgery.

Pregnant and lactating women should avoid turmeric supplements.

If suffering from gall bladder obstruction avoid turmeric supplements.

Conclusion

Turmeric is quite evidently a wholesome approach towards pancreatitis.

The wide range of biological properties of turmeric is capable of preventing and treating this disease. Turmeric has a holistic action that works by suppression of the symptoms, alleviation of damages and counter-action on the causative factors.

Consumption of turmeric, with other lifestyle changes that can reduce the risk factors of pancreatitis, has a great potential and positive implication in the fight against this disease.

 

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