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Herbs For The Pancreas

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Herbs For The Pancreas
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Although small and generally unnoticed, your pancreas forms a key role in the digestive and endocrine process. It basically has a 2 fold function: enzyme production for fat and protein digestion and insulin production for controlling your blood's glucose levels. [1]

If your pancreas malfunctions, nutrients from food become unavailable to your system. 3 major pancreatic problems may occur: Diabetes, which is due to insufficient secretion of insulin and is one of the most dangerous and common pancreatic disorders; acute or chronic pancreatitis which results in inflammation and tissue damage along the pancreas; [2] and the lethal pancreatic cancer which is the 5th leading cause of cancer death in America [3]and has a 100% mortality rate. [4]

Diet and lifestyle are currently thought to play a major part in restoring pancreatic health. Although studies on effects and mechanisms of herbs on pancreatic health are limited and some even inconclusive, promising preliminary studies can provide a basis on further research in addressing pancreatic disorders. These 10 herbal supplements may also help boost the health of your pancreas by strengthening it and protecting it from the 3 major disorders:

10 Herbs For The Pancreas


The rich silica content in horsetail helps in healing and rebuilding damaged tissues caused by inflammation from pancreatitis. [2] Moreover, one study that analyzed the effects of horsetail extracts in diabetic rats showed that after 5 weeks of treatment, the herbal extracts produced significant anti-diabetic activities and comparable regeneration of the pancreas. [5]


In traditional medicine, oregano has commonly been used to treat various ailments and shows promise for positive modulation of oxidation-linked disorders like diabetes because of its rich natural phenolic antioxidants. In 2004, researchers at the University of Massachusetts studied the anti-diabetic mechanisms of oregano extracts and found that they can inhibit porcine pancreatic amylase, supporting evidence of oregano's role as a potential anti-hyperglycemic agent to manage hyperglycemia and diabetic complications in the long term. [6]


This unique herb is part of the herbal formulation triphala which in 2007, scientists from the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute have discovered to have cancer-fighting properties to prevent or decelerate the growth of pancreatic cancer tumors. Doctors believe this is done by causing pancreatic cancer cells to die off naturally though a process known as apoptosis without causing toxic side effects. [3] During that same year, oral intake of aqueous extracts of the fruits of haritaki were shown to reduce elevated blood glucose by 43.2% and hepatic and skeletal muscle glycogen content by 75% and 62.9% respectively, suggesting its potential value for diabetic treatment. [7]


Phytopharmacological studies of various calendula extracts have exhibited anti-inflammatory, anti-viral and anti-genotoxic therapeutic properties. In 2006, scientists from Spain revealed that calendula extracts displayed activities that inhibit tumor cell proliferation from 70-100% when tested on a wide variety of human and murine tumor cell lines, including pancreatic cancer cells. This indicates the cytotoxic tumor cell properties as well as lymphocyte activation triggered by calendula. [8] Likewise, when pancreatitis results from alcohol abuse, application of calendula salve may help in preventing dehydration. [2]


Like calendula and haritaki, dandelion has been found to be effective against aggressive and resistant pancreatic cancer cells. In 2012, researchers from Canada discovered that dandelion root extract can induce apoptosis and autophagy to combat cancer cells without any significant effect on noncancerous cells. [4] Teas made from dandelion have also been known to flush out intestines and aid in recovery and healing of damaged pancreatic tissues. [2]


This herb has proven itself to be one of the best in promoting healthy pancreas. The roots of gentian works best in stimulating the pancreas, gall bladder and mucous membranes of the stomach which results to improved secretion of pancreatic enzymes, bile, stomach acid and digestive juices. [9]


Now considered as an endangered species, goldenseal is one of the most highly valued herbs today because of the medicinal and therapeutic benefits it brings. More than its ability to lower the level of blood sugar, goldenseal also helps in stimulating the beta cells of the pancreas which is beneficial to people suffering from diabetes.

Goldenseal is considered to have diuretic, antibacterial, antiseptic, detergent, laxative, tonic, stomachic, muscle stimulant, anti-inflammatory, emollient, detergent, and antispasmodic properties. According to research, goldenseal is capable of promoting the healthy functioning of the colon, spleen and the pancreas. Goldenseal also works by enhancing the production of bile. [10]

Cedar Berries

A native fruit growing wildly in American Southwest, cedar berries are powerful grape-like fruit that promises to offer large amounts of health-promoting nutrients which are beneficial to the human body. The seeds and pods of cedar berries are believed to be effective in improving the functions of the digestive as well as the pancreatic system of the body. By regulating the normal functioning of the pancreas, stabilized sugar level is achieved. This in turn helps people suffering from diabetes. [11]

Olive Leaves

Through time, many people have become more aware of the health benefits which olive leaves bring about. The leaves of olives actually contains powerful ingredients that help in improving the functions of the circulatory system, in detoxifying the blood, in eradicating free radicals as well as in lowering the level of blood pressure. In the long run, these benefits help in strengthening the functions of the thyroid, liver, and the pancreas.

Basically, the leaves of olives contain oleuropein, a chemical compound that serves as the anti-inflammatory agent within the pancreas. It helps in reducing swelling and pain associated with pancreatitis. Furthermore, its oleic acid content is useful in eradicating free radicals that impose significant cellular damage to the organ. Research further revealed that the use of olive leaves is beneficial in reducing one's risk for breast and pancreatic cancer. [12]


Licorice is considered an excellent treatment for many pancreatic disorders - especially in Traditional Chiense Medicine (TCM). According to research, licorice is fortified with anti-inflammatory compounds that work best in reducing the pain and swelling associated with pancreatic conditions like pancreatitis. [13]

Herbs For Pancreas - References:




[4] Selective induction of apoptosis and autophagy through treatment with dandelion root extract in human pancreatic cancer cells.

[5] The effect of Equisetum arvense L. (Equisetaceae) in histological changes of pancreatic beta-cells in streptozotocin-induced diabetic in rats.

[6] Inhibitory effect of clonal oregano extracts against porcine pancreatic amylase in vitro.

[7] Long-term effects of Terminalia chebula Retz. on hyperglycemia and associated hyperlipidemia, tissue glycogen content and in vitro release of insulin in streptozotocin induced diabetic rats.

[8] A new extract of the plant Calendula officinalis produces a dual in vitro effect: cytotoxic anti-tumor activity and lymphocyte activation.






Article researched and created by Cathy Ongking and Elfe Cabanas, © 2013

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