Acute inflammation of the pancreas, i.e. pancreatitis, is a very unpleasant disease, which is typical among those who drink a lot of alcohol. In this article, we will get to know pancreatitis, the endocannabinoid system in the pancreas and the possible effect of CBD to support the treatment of pancreatitis.
Functions of the pancreas
The pancreas is a gland located in the digestive system, whose main tasks are the secretion of hormones and the secretion of digestive enzymes into the digestive tract.
The pancreas is located behind the stomach in the small intestine and is roughly pear-shaped. (1)
What is pancreatitis?
Pancreatitis is caused by pancreatic fluid that has leaked into the tissues due to too early activated digestive enzymes. It is easily detected through a urine or blood sample and is almost always a situation requiring hospital treatment. (1,2)
The most common cause of pancreatitis is alcohol. There are also other reasons for it, such as gallstones, but almost all cases are caused by long-term excessive alcohol use. Being overweight and smoking also increase the risk of developing pancreatitis. (1,2)
Pancreatitis affects approx. 5,000 Finns every year and 2-3% of them die from complications caused by it. (1,2)
Mild pancreatitis refers to pancreatitis occurring for the first time, which usually heals on its own within a few weeks. Even mild pancreatitis should be taken seriously, because it recurs very easily if the lifestyle that led to it is not changed. (1)
Chronic pancreatitis refers to pancreatic failure resulting from heavy alcohol consumption, which is the result of repeated pancreatitis. Chronic pancreatitis also causes most of the time diabetes, as the ability of the pancreas to produce insulin decreases. (1)
Symptoms of pancreatitis
The symptom of pancreatitis is a belt-like, severe, abdominal pain that occurs in the upper abdomen and sometimes also radiates to the back. Symptoms also include nausea, vomiting and fever. Symptoms may worsen during the day and ease again at night. (1,2)
A healthy lifestyle is the only way to prevent pancreatitis, as it is caused by alcohol and gallstones. If the change in lifestyle is challenging for one reason or another, you should make some kind of plan for yourself, with the help of which, for example, you can monitor your own alcohol consumption and try to reduce it. If necessary, you should also ask for at least emotional support from loved ones, such as friends and family members.
Stress alone is not the cause of pancreatitis, so avoiding it is not really a way to prevent it. Stress in itself is hard on the body and it weakens e.g. resistance and optimal functioning of the body.
Effect of diet
In itself, the diet does not affect the development of pancreatitis, but it may even prevent it through detours. Pancreatitis caused by gallstones can be avoided by changing the lifestyle that causes gallstones. Gallstones are caused by e.g. overweight and overweight can be controlled with sufficient exercise and a healthy diet.
Avoiding certain foods during and after pancreatitis may make you feel better, because due to inflammation and recovery, some foods may not be digested properly. You should avoid high-fiber food, pay attention to the amount and quality of fat, and avoid foods that are generally difficult to digest, such as cabbage, beans, etc. reduce eating. You should monitor how you feel and reduce the foods that clearly cause symptoms. (3)
Alcohol is the biggest risk factor for pancreatitis and its moderate use is a prerequisite to avoid inflammation. Almost without exception, anyone who has consumed alcohol regularly and for a long time will experience at least mild pancreatitis. The strength of the alcohol has little to do with it, as pancreatitis can occur as a result of heavy consumption of both strong liquors and milder beers.
Care and home care
If the pancreatitis is caused by gallstones, the treatment is a quick operation that reopens the blocked bile duct.
The treatment of pancreatitis caused by alcohol is hydration and drug therapy, but the most important thing is to immediately stop or at least drastically reduce the use of alcohol, because pancreatitis recurs very easily. The more mild pancreatitis is behind, the more susceptible it becomes chronic and eventually causes failure, which is even a fatal disease. The pancreas may also become gangrenous, the removal of which requires surgery. (1,2)
The endocannabinoid system and the pancreas
Endocannabinoid system acting throughout the body monitors that all body processes are working properly. The system in question is found in all humans and almost all animal species, and its task is to act as the so-called as a back gate that guides the body’s functioning towards balance.
The endocannabinoid system consists of three parts; endocannabinoids, cannabinoid receptors and enzymes that break them down.
Among the body’s cannabinoid receptors, the CB1 receptor is mainly found in the brain and is responsible for e.g. from the release of various neurotransmitters. CB2 receptors are found in the pancreas and it has its own important functions there.
Endocannabinoids also affect the body through other receptors, and in functions related to the pancreas, it seems that the TRPV receptor family of receptors and GPR receptors are also involved in the functions. (4)
CBD oil and pancreatitis
According to some studies, cannabis use may contribute to acute pancreatitis, but CBDhas been found to have a mitigating effect on it. (5,6)
CBD does not necessarily cure or treat pancreatitis, but it may have an alleviating effect on the associated symptoms. CBD oil may have an anti-inflammatory effect and may relieve pain. CBD has been detected to increase appetite and relieve intestinal diseases, thus it may also ease symptoms related to eating. CBD also has potential anti-nausea effects.
Due to these properties, CBD can also be suitable for relieving symptoms caused by pancreatitis in dogs.
Pancreatitis also occurs in dogs, but understandably it is not caused by excessive alcohol consumption. There are two types of pancreatitis in dogs, acute and chronic.
Symptoms of acute pancreatitis are sudden onset symptoms which include e.g. vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, abdominal pain, fever and fatigue. The symptoms can be very strong.
The symptoms associated with chronic pancreatitis are similar, but mild and almost imperceptible. Sometimes it can also be completely asymptomatic. (7)
Canine pancreatitis can be caused by many reasons, but typically it is caused by excess weight, fatty food, medications, or physical injury, such as a blow to the stomach. It is treated with painkillers and hydration. Healing depends on the intensity of the symptoms and the individual situation. (7)
Pancreatitis is more common in certain dog breeds and these include e.g. terriers, cocker spaniels and miniature schnauzers. (7)
Pancreatitis is an unpleasant disease, mainly caused by excessive alcohol consumption, which may even lead to death. The only way to prevent its onset is to use alcohol in moderation and after mild pancreatitis to stop using it completely. CBD oil may be helpful in relieving the symptoms of pancreatitis, although it cannot cure it by itself.
- 2022. Terveykylä.fi. Pancreatitis. https://www.terveyskyla.fi/vatsatalo/ylävatsa/haimatälätä. Referenced 13/03/2023.
- P. Mustajoki. 2020. Duodecim Health Library. Pancreatitis. https://www.terveyskirjasto.fi/dlk00017 . Referenced 13/03/2023. 2022. Terveykylä.fi. Pancreatitis. https://www.terveyskyla.fi/vatsatalo/ylävatsa/haimatälätä. Referenced 13/03/2023.
- Tays. 2019. Diet of a pancreatic patient. https://www.tays.fi/fi-FI/Ohjeet/Potilasohjeet/Vatsaelinsairaudet/Haimapotilaan_ruokavalio(46272). Referenced 13/03/2023.
- Cortes-Justo E., Ramirez-Garfias S. and Flores-Vilches A.. 2023. The function of the endocannabinoid system in the pancreatic islet and its implications on metabolic syndrome and diabetes. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9815253/. Referenced 13/03/2023.
- Sly M, Clark K, Karaghossian G, Narang VK, Gill M and Ragland AS. 2021. Cannabis-Induced Pancreatitis in a Young Adult Male. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8312169/. Referenced 13/03/2023.
- Jaiswal V. et al. 2022. Acute pancreatitis as a rare adverse event among cannabis users: A systematic review. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9239618/. Referenced 13/03/2023.
- Hilasvuori S. 2021. Own animal clinic. Canine pancreatitis. https://omaelainklinikka.fi/koiran-haimatulehdus/. Referenced 13/03/2023.