From regulating blood sugar levels to restoring damaged tissues, this list of beneficial herbs will help you better understand and take care of your pancreas!
What is the role of your Pancreas in the body?
The pancreas is actually a gland which creates juices that help break down foods in the digestion process. The digestive juices created by your pancreas travel via little ducts that empty into your small intestine. On average, your pancreas makes around 8 ounces of digestive juices every day. These juices are filled to the brim with enzymes to help the digestive process work smoothly. The pancreas is also involved in:
- Promoting the production of hormones that support and regulate blood sugar levels
- Digestion of starches/carbohydrates and the breaking down of proteins
- Digestion of fats and the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (A, E, D, and K)
- Supporting the immune system by fighting off parasites in the intestines
- Modulating the intestinal inflammatory processes in the intestines
- Reducing swelling of the mucous membranes
- Transporting harmful waste products
- Improving circulation and dissolving blood clot-forming deposits
Pancreatic cancer begins when abnormal cells in the pancreas grow and divide abnormally and form a tumor
These changes can be inherited or they may be due to something we were exposed to during our lifetime. Researchers have noted a few precursors to be aware of which may increase the likely hood of pancreatic cancer:
- Hereditary – having a relative who was diagnosed
- Acute or chronic pancreatitis
- Obesity – diets high in red and processed meats
- Over the age of 60
Signs and Symptoms of Pancreatitis
Digestive health problems are to be taken seriously. The best thing is to be proactive regarding intestinal and pancreatic health. If digestive pain or intestinal issues go on for long periods of time the outcomes can be very serious and hard to treat. A shortlist of concerns to be aware of would be:
- Experiencing frequent bouts of intestinal pain
- Jaundice – the build up of bilirubin causing the eyes and skin to turn yellow or orange
- Tenderness in your abdomen
- Bad smelling bowel movements and/or bowel movements that are yellow or orange
- Gas and stomach bloating, Indigestion and cramping in your Abdominal region
- Diarrhea, loose stools, loss of appetite and weight loss
- High blood sugar
- Recent on-set of Diabetes
If you have one or more of these symptoms, it does not mean you have pancreatic cancer. It’s most likely that your body is expressing these symptoms because of another underlying issue. It’s essential to speak with your doctor to get to the root of the cause and treat if needed.
Pancreatic cancer is not easy to detect
The most important thing a person can do is be proactive. Know your family history and get genetic testing early on so you are aware of the possibilities. Address your diet early on in your life. Healthy lifestyle changes can improve a vast array of complications that may arise during our life journey. For more in-depth information and a great support team go to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.
On to the Mighty List of Beneficial Herbs!
The good news is, adding herbs to your diet supports the digestive process and can add a little creativity to your menu. Many people ignore their pancreatic health until something goes wrong. Protecting this little gem nestled among our gallbladder, spleen, and liver is important. This can be done with a few simple changes and a few additions to your diet.
We encourage you to be creative and incorporate this list of foods and herbs into your recipes. Help restore your pancreas and aid in digestion.
When the recipe calls for 3-4 garlic cloves, do you stick to that amount? With a smirk, we agree a few extra won’t hurt! Besides making our pasta with a little extra “zing,” this herb decreases the amount of sugar in the blood while bumping up ample insulin levels. Achieve these goals by eating 2-3 crushed up garlic cloves per day by dunking cloves in your tea or “spicing” up your dinner.
You don’t have to hike into the wild to find this beneficial herb. It is known as one of the most therapeutic and medicinal properties on the planet. Goldenseal lowers blood sugar levels and aids the general function of the pancreas. It’s also known to be an anti-bacterial, laxative, antiseptic, tonic, muscle stimulant, anti-inflammatory agent, and antispasmodic. It’s truly “a mouth” of benefits!
Tell your pancreas to get on a “full-body” detox with olive leaves. When taken regularly, this extract will aid in healthy liver, thyroid, and pancreas function. It has anti-inflammatory properties that will help lessen pain and swelling caused by pancreatitis. Some studies have shown olive leaves may help hold back the growth of cancer cells if taken consistently. Quite literally, it makes cancer sells “leaf” you alone! Pun intended!
This savory kitchen staple goes well in many things. Acting as a natural phenolic antioxidant, sprinkle it on your breakfast eggs or dash in a dinner dish. This healthy property makes it valuable to treat oxidation caused by diabetes. It’s believable that oregano has a robust antihyperglycemic property that handles long term complications arising from diabetes.
We’re not talking about the backside of a pony here! Horsetail is an essential herb abundant in silica, which aids in the health and restoration of damaged tissue. When the pancreas has damage due to inflammation, make a call to your local pharmacy or vitamin shop.
Gentian is a beautiful flower that doubles as a pancreatic health promoter. The roots help get the pancreatic juices flowing to create a healthy digestive system.
Found in southwest America, these berries look similar to grapes and possess nutrients to help the entire body. Seeds and pods help regulate the pancreas’ normal function, thus promoting blood sugar levels’ stabilization.
A common remedy in India, haritaki is believed to prevent cancerous tumors in the pancreas. Some studies suggest that taking haritaki extract may lower blood sugar levels, which adds value to diabetes people.
How we wish people wouldn’t spray dandelions that are wild and free in the backyard! This familiar yellow weed is known to hold an effective fight against pancreatic cancer cells. Some studies suggest dandelion root extracts may cause cancer cells to die while not affecting normal cells. Brew up some dandelion tea to flush out toxins in the intestines and restore damaged pancreatic tissues.
Licorice root dates back to traditional Chinese medicine. It is laden with anti-inflammatory properties that will reduce pain and swelling. It’s an excellent remedy for various disorders associated with the pancreas. It is common to find licorice root in a tea form at local brew shops or grocery stores.
Healer for centuries, calendula offers antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties and anti-genotoxic compounds. It’s known for its effectiveness when fighting off cancer. The bright orange and yellow flowers are reason enough to keep this healer in the home.
Go ahead! Make a “sour face,” it’s good for the pancreas. This powerful fruit helps keep the pancreas running smoothly by stimulating the release of vital digestive enzymes. Squeeze a bit into your water or top a salmon; it will add health benefits for years to come!
Your pancreas is small but mighty! Please do not ignore it until something goes wrong. It is vital for the endocrine and digestion process and can easily be overlooked. Do your best to take good care of yourself and your pancreas. Please always remember that if you have any health concerns, consulting your doctor is essential, and under no circumstance should you replace or adjust your medication without consulting a profession health consultant.
For local recommendations, check out our nutrition and meal planning within the directory. Interested in a professional Functional Nutrition appointment, we recommend Dr Carsrud DC, MS, DABCI, DCBCN at Lakeline Wellness Center. Dr Carsrud has led health podcasts for Peoples Pharmacy, and is often invited to speak at medical conventions. As a doctor, he is dedicated at finding out the root cause of your concerns respecting the fundamental interconnections that maintain optimal function for the body and mind.
Related read: Essential Oils for Blood Sugar Levels