Treating the pain you feel: Good... - Chronic Pancreati...

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Treating the pain you feel

ChronicPancAdmin profile image

Good morning CP community! I hope the sun is shining where you are and you're able to go outside to enjoy it today.

As mentioned last week, management is an essential tool in helping to control your symptoms. When in pain, do any of your treatments help you manage your pancreatic pain?

14 Replies
ChronicPancAdmin profile image

madonbrew, KarenB12 I know we discussed pain last week and you had some great tips for managing it! Which of your treatments have you found to be the most effective at managing your pain?

madonbrew profile image
madonbrewPioneer in reply to ChronicPancAdmin

Hello 🌺

How are you all doing?

I think sitting up rather than lying down definitely helps…getting some extra pillows for bedtime so you can sleep a bit more upright!

Like one of the others suggested in another post…a hot water bottle can slightly help!

From a medicinal perspective…when it’s that really severe pain that, the one you can’t cope with anymore, then only morphine or something on a similar level helps, but obviously your doctor needs to prescribe you them and you might even be in hospital by this point.

I have found in hospital, one of the first things they do is put me nil by mouth and hook me up to a drip, to rest my pancreas. In doing so it gives the pancreas some ‘time off’ which in turn helps a bit with the pain. But that’s when in hospital and the medics are looking after you, keeping you hydrated and looking after diabetes etc too!

From a treating pain at home point of view, then I guess it depends on the severity. I used to have Oramorph but don’t generally get pain now as my pancreas has become like a basically dead organ. Personally I would speak to your doctors and see what pain management is available to you dependent on your personal situation.

Take care everyone!

Dee x

ChronicPancAdmin profile image
ChronicPancAdminAdministrator in reply to madonbrew


Thank you for taking the time to share your detailed and insightful pain management tools that help you to control your symptoms - they all sounds really helpful.

I hope you are enjoying the sunshine ☀️

madonbrew profile image
madonbrewPioneer in reply to ChronicPancAdmin

I’m loving the sunshine ☀️ although have been indoors lots as we’re getting a new kitchen so have been sorting lots and painting!

Hope you’re enjoying it too!

Dee x

madonbrew profile image
madonbrewPioneer in reply to ChronicPancAdmin

Ps…do you have your own story with pancreatitis? I just suddenly wondered. Please don’t feel obliged to answer! I was just wondering about your link.

ChronicPancAdmin profile image
ChronicPancAdminAdministrator in reply to madonbrew

Wow - a new kitchen sounds so exciting!

I don't actually have a link to pancreatitis personally. I am part of the HealthUnlocked team - here to help oversee the community, make people feel welcomed and offer any support (especially to do with the platform itself) that might be needed!

I hope that has cleared things up for you!

All the best


madonbrew profile image
madonbrewPioneer in reply to ChronicPancAdmin

Oh bless you! I thought that was the case but I have never been around at the beginning of a forum and just was wondering 😊

You certainly do make people feel welcome and do a great job!

I know…have never had a new kitchen where I’ve lived yet so it’s so exciting choosing everything how we want it!

Have a lovely evening!

Dee x

KarenB12 profile image
KarenB12Ambassador in reply to madonbrew

A brand new kitchen? 😮 How exciting! I've 'designed' other kitchens but never one for myself. Other than the mess and inconvenience, you must be having a blast


madonbrew profile image
madonbrewPioneer in reply to KarenB12

It is so nice…isn’t it funny how something like a new kitchen can improve your mood…I like having a project and seeing it coming together!

How are you doing Karen?

KarenB12 profile image

Because I've had chronic pc for over 36 years, I've had the opportunity to experience an ever-evolving landscape of pain and pain relief.

In the beginning, back in the early '80s, it was fairly common for dr.s to prescribe narcotics, including Demerol - which I was prescribed for pain after I left the hospital. In fact, I took that at home for over two years. That was when I was having attacks every other month. I'd spend a couple weeks in the hospital on IV pain meds, then they'd send me home with narcotics to help.

In the '90s, the drs decided I was on too high of pain meds with unwanted side-effects on other organs of the body and they changed me over to Oxycontin. (A drug that ultimately left me with more side-effects - addiction - than any of the other drugs had ever caused!)

Over the years, I've tried many alternative medicines to try and alleviate the pain, including Yoga, Meditation, Crystal work, even some pretty far-out remedies. Some were helpful, others not so much. But I believe pain is a VERY individualized function. What doesn't work for one person may be the needed relief for another.

Overall, I would have to second @madonbrew's comments. With pancreas pain, lying down can make it worse, so trying to stay in an 'upright' position can help. Even if it's only stuffing pillows behind your back and upper body, in bed. Lying flat increases the pain. (This is pretty common)

There are a number of 'distraction' therapies that can help. Even if they don't necessarily take away the pain, they can cause a distracting element that takes your mind off of it which in turn helps.

Things like the Hot Water Bottle - they don't really make the pain go away, but they can distract us from it making it seem less severe.

Another is a HOT bath. Often called water therapy, soaking in a hot bath helps to ease the tension in your body, relaxing the muscles around the pancreas - in turn easing the pain for a short period of time. Or, going from a hot bath to a cool one.

Getting out of the house and experiencing something new is another distraction therapy.

Massage is used for muscle and bone discomfort; improvement of circulation; reduction of swelling; relaxation; and pain control. It can be used as a complement to other treatments and as a stress reducer. Studies have shown that massage can improve the relaxation response and the general sense of well-being. That being said, you might need to find a masseuse willing to work with you sitting up or lying on your side as lying flat on your stomach is usually not an option. (It can be done in specialized chairs)

Food can be a cause of pain, particularly fatty or overly processed foods. That’s because consuming too much fat can cause your pancreas to release more digestive enzymes than it normally would. An excessive level of enzymes may lead to an attack. The more work your pancreas has to do to digest, the more pain, so avoiding certain foods like red meat, fast food (try to avoid this all the time) fried food, margarine & butter, full-fat dairy, and even refined flour, all things that make your pancreas work harder. Many of these processed foods do not have living natural enzymes. The absence of living enzymes in food forces the pancreas to work harder and produce more of its own digestive enzymes to digest food properly.

It's important to stay hydrated. Keep a water bottle or an electrolyte beverage with you at all times. Dehydration is a major symptom of pc.

Eat foods high in vitamins A, D, E, and K - those are most commonly found to be lacking as a result of pancreatitis. Try to eat between six and eight small meals throughout the day. This is easier on your digestive system than eating two or three large meals. (For diabetics, this should already be a given) 😉

Acupuncture and acupressure have also been found effective in pain control. I have not tried either of these techniques, yet.

And lastly, (as Dee also mentioned) if nothing else is helping, go NPO - Nothing by mouth.

NOTE: This is old-school teaching that Drs have followed for eons, thinking that 'resting' the pancreas was the key. But recent studies (2012-2019) find that nasogastric tube feeding was preferable to NPO. Even allowing patients to eat (orally) when they felt ready resulted in lower pain levels and earlier discharge than those who were kept NPO until their enzyme levels had leveled out.

So the 'proof' is out that we may not need NPO, and I can say from past experience, that I do better going to clear broth than I do going with nothing in my stomach. But the point is if you can't find anything else to relieve the discomfort, try going without food or water for a few hours or go to clear broth for a day. Often, a simple fast will help. That may be all you need to bring the pain level down to something more manageable.

There are foods that contribute to a healthy pancreas, even if yours - like mine - is already past the point of ever being 'healthy'. All these foods will assist your pancreas in various ways.

Garlic - naturally reduces the amount of sugar in the blood while stimulating the pancreas to produce hormones. Eating a clove or two of garlic raw on an empty stomach is the best way to benefit from its therapeutic properties. However, if this isn't palatable, consuming it with other food still confers benefits. Apart from aiding the pancreas, garlic treats intestinal parasites, improves circulation, and prevents infection.

Spinach - Spinach contains iron and vitamin B; the latter is essential for proper functioning of the pancreas. Other leafy greens, such as kale and Swiss chard, also offer this benefit. Spinach significantly reduces the chances of inflammation, which reduces the risk of pancreatic cancer. It also contains MGDG agents, which research shows substantially slow down the rate of cancer cell growth in the pancreas.

Broccoli - Broccoli contains sulfur, which helps detoxify organs like the pancreas. The cruciferous veggie is also rich in apigenin, which can reduce or prevent neuroinflammation and Alzheimer's disease. Broccoli is most effective raw or lightly steamed, as prolonged cooking can remove many nutrients. Several studies in past decades confirm the benefits of this food, especially for the prevention and management of type 2 diabetes.

Grapes - Red grapes are beneficial to the pancreas. They contain antioxidants such as resveratrol, which protect the tissues from damage. Resveratrol also helps prevent inflammation and reduces blood vessel damage. Grapes can improve carbohydrate metabolism and the transport of glucose into the cells, which can regulate hormone sensitivity.

Sweet Potatoes - Sweet potatoes are rich in a powerful antioxidant called beta-carotene, which contributes to pancreatic health by maintaining pancreatic cell and hormone regulation. The regular consumption of sweet potatoes introduces natural sugars into the bloodstream gradually, rather than suddenly, in spikes, as is the case with processed sugar. Corn, carrots, and oranges have similar glucose-regulating potential.

Blueberries - Berries are healthy in general, but specific compounds in blueberries encourage the self-destruction of cancer cells not just in the pancreas but in other organs as well. Blueberries are rich in antioxidants that prevent oxidative stress, leading to a reduction in free radical damage in the pancreas and decreasing the risk of pancreatic cancer. Eating fresh blueberries will reduce the possibility of inflammation and vascular damage from diabetes, as well, and several studies conclude they can also reduce the chance of developing type 2 diabetes.

Yogurt - The probiotics in yogurt help improve the quality of the digestive system, which directly impacts the health of the pancreas. Several studies suggest that yogurt might be the only dairy product that can foster a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. Consuming yogurt labeled as having "active cultures" is always best.

NOTE: Recent studies have proven that pancreatic cancer begins with abnormal gut microbiome! (See references:

Reishi Mushrooms - Used in traditional Chinese medicine for millennia, reishi mushrooms contain compounds that can soothe pancreatic inflammation and swelling. They are also highly valued for their antioxidant content, mainly phytochemicals that prevent free-radical damage; beta-glucan polysaccharides and triterpenes reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer. Among their other benefits, reishi mushrooms can prevent cancer cells from attacking healthy tissues in the body.

Licorice - Pure licorice was used for millennia as herbal medicine and is rich in amorfrutin, which can ease inflammation in the pancreas and help reduce blood sugar levels. Amorfrutin also reduces the chances of developing fatty liver and increases hormone resistance. Drinking licorice root tea is the easiest way to benefit from the root's many healthy properties.

Horseradish - Horseradish isn't just a tasty, spicy condiment. The root can also help with pancreas health, thanks to the concentration of glucosinolates. These compounds may reduce the growth of cancerous tumors and also help eliminate already-established carcinogens that could cause pancreatic cancer.

Lemon - Lemons are a great source of vitamin C and help the pancreas combat oxidization. Oxidative stress results in disease-causing cell damage in the pancreas. Studies show that vitamin C counteracts that damage by blocking this process and improving the immune defense of pancreatic cells. Lemons are also rich in magnesium, which aids in the creation of pancreatic enzymes and in dealing with the effects of inflammation.

Oregano - Although more research is needed, some studies suggest that the flavonoids in oregano can kill pancreatic cancer cells, thanks in part to two chemical compounds: luteolin and apigenin. Luteolin helps reduce inflammation in the pancreas by decreasing the risks of oxidation and scar tissue, especially in people with illnesses. Scientists also found that apigenin inhibited a special enzyme called GSK-3β. This enzyme prevents apoptosis, a process that leads to the death of cancer cells. Overall, integrating oregano into meals provides exposure to these flavonoids and may help strengthen the pancreas.

Calendula - Pancreatic β cells are responsible for creating and secreting insulin, the hormone helps the body use sugars properly, and its partner, amylin, which promotes satiety. In people with diabetes, the insulin-producing beta cells are affected and their ability to produce insulin diminishes, leading to hyperglycemia. These cells can also succumb to oxidative and nitrosative stresses that can further impair their function. Calendula naturally counteracts these stresses and even helps the pancreas to repair and regenerate, according to a study conducted in animal models.

Golden Seal - Native Americans have been using goldenseal for generations, not only to deal with infections but to boost the function and capacity of the pancreas and other vital organs, as well. Its active ingredient, berberine, is an anti-inflammatory alkaloid that reduces fasting blood sugar and makes insulin receptors more sensitive, in addition to strengthening pancreatic beta cells. Goldenseal is also a well-known antiseptic for minor wounds, which is especially useful for individuals with diabetes, who are at risk of wound infections.

I'm really sorry this is so long, but I felt the need to share.


madonbrew profile image

Wow Karen, that was a really informative post! I read it in two sittings but you have given some great advice and helpful tips!

Hope you’re having a good week?!


KarenB12 profile image

Thanks, Dee. I got a little carried away there. 🤓I wasn't trying to share any 'medical advice' - just sharing studies that are already out there.

We're all so different, with different symptoms, progressions, and even associated illnesses. There is no overall 'cure' that will work for everyone. But if someone can find even one natural or organic relief, there's benefit. About 3/4 of this list are things I've been using for the past few years, the others are from an online source.

I'm having a great week. My grandkids, 14 & 16 are here for 4 days. Some fishing, gardening, and relaxation (it's in the mid 90's here) are all we have on the schedule.


madonbrew profile image

Wow…in the 90’s! We don’t often reach that! We have had a nice little run of 25C…I think that’s about 77F, but we’re going back down to 18/19 for the next week I think ( I think 64ish F) Aww have a lovely time with your grandkids!

It’s really interesting to read what’s out there! Like you say, we’re all so different with different symptoms etc. It’s definitely good to hear what’s helpful for different people!

I met up with my sister for lunch today and looked for material to make a blind or curtains to match the kitchen. It’s very tricky trying to match up the colours! …lol, I’m m quite particular about these things!

Take care!

Dee x 🌺

Sofia_MC profile image

Flandy Another thread with good information.

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