What are the best supplements for pancreas health? Hopefully I can answer the question completely because people are using that particular question as a search term to find this blog. I may as well make it easy for them! Naturally I’m geared into talking about the best supplements for pancreas health in terms of how they affect pancreatitis but I’ll try to include other factors as well.
The Best Supplements For Pancreas Health
For those with pancreatitis  or diabetes  and pancreatic cancer ,  the best supplements for pancreas health are: Grape seed extract, curcumin, vitamin C and grapefruit seed extract. The interesting thing to note is that these same supplements can also be very beneficial for those who have arthritis, heart disease and many forms of cancer. Again the reason is simple. ALL of those conditions have one thing in common. Inflammation. It has been found that inflammation is either the cause or highly contributes (type 2 diabetes) to the manifestation of the disease. In this post I’ll cover each one of the supplements and give you reasons why they are best (something I may not have done before) so that you can get an idea why I use them and why they work. So let’s get started!
Grape Seed Extract
One of the best supplements for pancreas health is grape seed. Grape seed extract is my favorite supplement, period. It’s incredibly powerful. In high doses it kills cancer cells. Grape seed contains large amounts of polyphenol flavonoids called OPC’s (oligomeric proanthocyanidin complexes). Most polyphenol flavonoids have one thing in common. They reduce inflammation. If you are even considering that I may be full of horse apples read what a NY medical center has to say about the efficacy of grape seed extract and OPCs. When the medical community begins to recognize something as possibly life changing chances are it’s either poison and will kill you or in this case, which is rare, actually good for you!
Since pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas grape seed extract works to reduce that inflammation. It also helps with nausea  and I am guessing it helps with nausea simply because it reduces the inflammation . When the inflammation is resolved most people see their symptoms resolve as well or at least are given relief.
In one very small study of three (3) chronic pancreatitis patients grape seed extract was found to be beneficial in one patient. “Treatment with narcotic analgesics and pancreatic enzyme supplements had failed to control their symptoms. The addition of a commercially available IH636 grape seed proanthocyanidin extract (commercially known as ActiVin) to their treatment regimen led to a reduction in the frequency and intensity of abdominal pain as well as resolution of vomiting in 1 patient .” That translates to a 30% success ratio in that particular study. So IF that holds true throughout larger populations it would seem that grape seed extract, by itself, could help a lot of chronic pancreatitis sufferers. BUT …
I use a cocktail of three (3) supplements. Grape seed, curcumin and vitamin C. There is a reason for that. ALL three supplements fight inflammation. All three supplements have DIFFERENT chemical compositions and very likely address inflammation via different modalities. So if grape seed alone helps 30% on average what will the cocktail of THREE highly anti-inflammatory supplements do? IF just HALF of those who used the cocktail properly, in dosages that were right for them (depends on damage) and 50% saw resolution of pain, nausea and vomiting would that not be a good thing? What if they also followed a strict low-fat, pancreatitis diet? What if that total regimen resolved the inflammation and symptoms in as many as 75% of chronic pancreatitis sufferers? How cool would that be?
Ok, I got a little off track, derailed by thoughts bouncing around in my brain but hopefully you can see where I am headed with this. Anyway just another note about grape seed extract. Grape seed extract enhances the action of vitamin C and vitamin C enhances the action of grape seed. Vitamin C also fights inflammation. THAT is why vitamin C is an important member of the cocktail. That is also WHY you should use vitamin C in combination with grape seed extract. Vitamin C is necessary for our good health. Primates (apes, monkeys, gorillas etc), guinea pigs and humans are the only animals that do NOT manufacture vitamin C internally and must get it from food sources. Without enough vitamin C humans develop scurvy.
High dose vitamin C may be helpful in reducing cancer risk. Linus Pauling (chemistry Nobel Prize recipient) hypothesized that high dose vitamin C (5g – 10g per day) could possibly help prevent cancer  and heart disease.
What I find totally unbelievable is that the combination of grape seed and vitamin C may NOT be a good idea for those who have hypertension. In one study of 69 hypertensive individuals the two supplements in combination caused a slight increase in systolic blood pressure. The study used a dose of 1000 mg of grape seed per day and 500 mg of vitamin C. Those who took only vitamin C saw a drop in blood pressure . It is interesting to note that low dose grape seed 150 – 300 mg per day lowers blood pressure according to a study at UC Davis.
I take about 600 – 700 mg of grape seed and 1980 – 2310 mg of vitamin C every day. Now Foods Grape Seed contains both grape seed and vitamin C. I just smoked a cig and took my blood pressure. Smoking ALWAYS increases blood pressure and it was 125/82. That reading is about 10 mmHG higher in both systolic and diastolic pressure than normal for me. But again smoking does that, not the grape seed and vitamin C combination. I’ve tested the smoking thing before and I’d wager if I took it again 30 minutes to an hour from now it would be 10 points lower for both just as it was in the other “tests” to see what effect smoking had on my personal blood pressure readings. Yes, I’m kinda nerdy. 🙂 However …
IF YOU are hypertensive it may be something to consider. You’ll need to choose what is more important resolving the inflammation of your pancreas and the resulting pancreatitis symptoms or a couple mmHG increase in your blood pressure. It’s not as if the combination of grape seed and vitamin C causes hypertensive crisis, which would be totally dangerous. That simply isn’t even close to a possibility unless you have severe, uncontrolled high blood pressure.
Curcumin is a component (curcuminoid) of the East Indian spice turmeric. It has be shown to relieve pain as well as NSAIDS, reduce inflammation and perhaps kill cancer cells. There are several problems with curcumin.
First the human digestive system doesn’t absorb curcumin well. Adding some black pepper to your diet helps curcumin absorption.
Second, large doses can make some people nauseous and vomit. It is best to stay under 1000 mg per day to avoid those symptoms. 500 – 1000 mg of curcumin per day coupled with the grape seed and vitamin C make an absolute killer inflammation reducer when it comes to pancreatitis.
The third problem with curcumin is that it increases bile flow. This is NOT a problem UNLESS you have gallstones or SOD (Sphincter of Oddi dysfunction).
As long as you do NOT have gallstones or SOD curcumin is one of the best supplements for pancreas health and that is why I use it in my cocktail.
Grapefruit Seed Extract
Grapefruit seed extract is not to be confused with grape seed extract. They are two different extracts from two different fruits but grapefruit seed extract has been shown in one study to protect rats from acute pancreatitis. This is enormously compelling. If you have ever experienced acute pancreatitis you’ll understand why this is so compelling. In fact it explained why my acute pancreatitis attacks stopped out of the blue for no apparent reason after I started drinking grapefruit juice in the early 1980’s. So I have first hand experience that grapefruit juice and/or extract does infact protect the pancreas and stops acute pancreatitis.
NOTE: There is a major problem with grapefruit, grapefruit juice and grapefruit seed extract. They ALL interact poorly with a large number of prescription drugs. Some combinations can be lethal so check with your doctor and pharmacist if you are taking any kind of prescribed medication BEFORE you buy grapefruit seed extract, eat grapefruit or drink grapefruit juice.
There you have them. The four best supplements for pancreas health especially if you have pancreatitis. If you have pancreatitis and haven’t tried them do so. Couple them with a good pancreatitis diet and you may see improvement you never dreamed possible ever since you became ill.
1 – Beneficial effects of a novel IH636 grape seed proanthocyanidin extract in the treatment of chronic pancreatitis – read here
2 – Postprandial blood glucose response to grape seed extract in healthy participants: A pilot study – read here
3 – Gallic acid is an active component for the anticarcinogenic action of grape seed procyanidins in pancreatic cancer cells. – read here
4 – Grape-seed procyanidins inhibit the in vitro growth and invasion of pancreatic carcinoma cells – read here
5 – Grape-seed procyanidins modulate inflammation on human differentiated adipocytes in vitro – read here
6 – Vitamin C – read here
7 – The combination of vitamin C and grape-seed polyphenols increases blood pressure: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial – read here