(NaturalNews) Imagine having excruciating upper abdominal pain that often gets worse when you eat or drink and lasts from hours to days. In fact, the pain may eventually be continuous. According to the National Institutes of Health ( NIH), these are some of the symptoms people experience when they suffer from chronic pancreatitis (CP) .
Drugs may provide a bit of relief but the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases notes that in CP cases involving persistent pain, surgery or other procedures are sometimes recommended to block the nerves. Bottom line: no known medical therapy other than these extreme measures has been found to adequately relieve CP pain in most people – until now. A study just published in Gastroenterology, the official journal of the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) Institute, concludes for the first time that antioxidant supplements are effective in relieving pain and reducing levels of oxidative stress in patients with CP.
In a placebo-controlled, double blind trial, 127 CP patients received either placebos or antioxidants. At the end of six months, those in the antioxidant group had experienced far fewer pain-filled days than those in the placebo group. The chronic pancreatitis subjects who took antioxidants also took fewer pain pills. What's more , 32 percent of CP patients who took antioxidants became pain free. Pain relief began to be noticed after about three months of taking antioxidants.
"Abdominal pain, the predominant symptom in patients with CP, is difficult to treat. The main reason for a largely ineffective medical treatment is that the mechanism of pain in CP is not well understood," Pramod Kumar Garg, MD, DM, of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, and lead author of the study, said in a media statement. "We are encouraged by our findings, as significant improvement was noted with antioxidants in respect to all the parameters of pain in this study. In addition, reduction in pain resulted in fewer man-days lost, thus providing functional employment gain to the patients. The findings should spur further research in this exciting area."
The scientists also measured indicators of oxidative stress and found they first increased and then decreased after supplementation with antioxidants. That suggests, the researchers concluded, CP must involve a state of heightened free radical mediated injury -- and that injury can apparently be reversed in many people with antioxidant supplements.
The pancreas is a large gland located behind the stomach and next to the gallbladder. It produces digestive enzymes and hormones, including insulin and glucagon, that help regulate blood sugar levels. Pancreatitis often begins as a sudden attack. Gallstones, alcohol abuse and genetic mutations can cause CP but sometimes the cause is not known. CP is a progressive inflammatory disease which can lead to scarring and loss of function of the pancreas. As a result, people with CP can lose too much weight, experience frequent diarrhea, and develop diabetes or vitamin deficiencies. Symptoms of pancreatitis usually start with severe pain in the center part of the upper abdomen going through to the back.
Sherry Baker is a widely published writer whose work has appeared in Newsweek, Health, the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, Yoga Journal, Optometry, Atlanta, Arthritis Today, Natural Healing Newsletter, OMNI, UCLA’s "Healthy Years" newsletter, Mount Sinai School of Medicine’s "Focus on Health Aging" newsletter, the Cleveland Clinic’s "Men’s Health Advisor" newsletter and many others.