Is the Pancreas an organ or gland?
Yup, you guessed it… it is a gland! This miraculous gland assists both the digestive system and the endocrine system. Here are the functions for each:
- Digestive System—The pancreas secretes enzymes that assist in digestion and nutrient absorption by breaking down carbohydrates, proteins, and fats (lipids) in the food matter as it enters the duodenum from the stomach.
- Endocrine System—The pancreas produces regulating hormones, including insulin, glucagon, somatostatin, and pancreatic polypeptide.
The pancreas also reduces the acid from our stomachs by creating creates sodium bicarbonate ions to break down Hydrochloric Acid (HCl).
Were you aware that this gland sits at the back of the stomach and is joined by ducts from the liver and gallbladder and releases into the duodenum portion of the small intestine.
Such an amazing and necessary participant in our digestive and endocrine regulations, what would cause it to become inflamed? Something called pancreatitis (itis = inflammation). How does this happen?
Well, the number one cause is long-term alcohol abuse. It may also be from hereditary pancreas disorder, cystic fibrosis, some autoimmune diseases, or taking certain medications. If pancreatitis becomes chronic, it may cause symptoms such as poor digestion and severe abdominal pain.[i]
To stress the importance of avoiding or reducing pancreatitis, listen to this fact: When the pancreas gets inflamed, the enzymes inside attack and damage the tissues within the pancreas itself, resulting in bouts of abdominal pain! OMG… that can’t be good!
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As always, contact your physician or healthcare provider should you have any concerns! Then, once you have been checked out and know whether you need further medical attention or just an adjustment to your lifestyle, you can explore what you can do for your pancreas.
First and foremost, adjust your lifestyle to reduce alcohol and change dietary choices to lower glycemic foods. Other than that, some of the following herbs may be helpful to reduce the burden on your pancreas and improve and better regulate your pancreas’ glandular functions:
- Burdock root
- Milk Thistle
- Red clover
- Cedar berries
- Gentian root
- Dandelion root
- Licorice root
- Olive leaf extract
- Gentian root, commonly used as a digestive aid, in some cases.
*Be sure to consult with an herbalist or your healthcare provider regarding the best herbs, usage, benefits, and potential risks for your condition.
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