Pancreatitis pain can be mild to severe. I can personally tell you from experience that you do not want to experience the severe form of pancreatitis pain but I’ll wager that if you are reading this blog post about pancreatitis pain that you’ve been there, done that.
Living with pancreatitis pain is not fun. Those who have never experienced it have no clue what pancreatitis pain is like but you do, don’t you? I do too. I didn’t want that pain years ago when I was really sick and I certainly don’t want it ever again. Memories of living with pancreatitis pain (acute) make me cringe. Pancreatitis pain wasn’t something I wanted to ignore because …
Acute pancreatitis pain can be simply unbearable. My chronic pancreatitis pain was nothing compared to the acute but what really bothered me was that I had read medical articles that stated advanced chronic pancreatitis pain could become severe and constant like the pain of acute pancreatitis. I wanted that as much I wanted to dance barefoot on red-hot coals.
Acute Pancreatitis Pain
I can remember one acute pancreatitis attack I was kneeling over the toilet when my wife came in (I was married at the time) and she asked me something, probably “what was I doing?”
I asked her “are my guts still inside me?” I actually remember asking her that exact question but according to her I wasn’t real coherent and obviously in severe pain so she got my ass into the car and she drove me to the ER.
This was just one of my many acute pancreatitis attacks and I can say, without doubt, you never want to experience severe pancreatitis pain. Sometimes it felt like something (remember Alien where that giant wormy thing pops out of people’s abdomens?) was trying gnaw a way out and explode from my abdomen.
Pancreatitis pain, especially when severe, is debilitating. Most people can’t even fathom what it is like; however if you can imagine the pain associated with pancreatic cancer you are most likely close because pancreatic cancer patients often suffer from acute pancreatitis. So one could say pancreatitis pain is similar to pancreatic cancer pain, which may or may not be true.
Normal medical protocol is to treat pancreatitis pain with opiates such as demerol, morphine and morphine derivatives. I’ve had demerol and it did absolutely nothing. It didn’t even take the edge off my pancreatitis pain but what did work for me was Ibuprofen.
I’ve talked with several people who have had demerol for different types of pain. It was used years ago to reduce or eliminate pain from surgery and people who had experienced demerol told me it was a wonderful time for them. They flew high in the sky for an hour or two and felt nothing but pleasure.
I thought ” how nice for them, isn’t doing shit for me!”
I was diagnosed with acute and chronic pancreatitis in 1979.
It took 7 ER visits and half a dozen other doctors to finally figure out what was wrong with me. I don’t want to go in to it in this article but let’s just say I found out why doctors call their business a “practice.”
Chronic Pancreatitis Pain
As I mentioned above my chronic pancreatitis pain was nothing compared to the pain I experienced with acute pancreatitis. I had twinges of pain in my upper abdomen. My abdomen was tender and even resting my arm across y upper abdomen was uncomfortable and caused nausea. Many people have back pain with chronic pancreatitis however I don’t recall having back pain other than during an acute attack.
The problem with chronic pancreatitis is that it can and usually does progress into the advanced stage in which chronic pancreatitis pain can become severe and constant. When I read that years ago I thought “how fun! I am really looking forward to severe continuous pain!” Well of course you and I both know that was horse puckey and the last thing I wanted was continuous severe pancreas pain like I had experienced with acute pancreatitis.
As the above video suggests there are surgeries that one can undergo that supposedly work to improve quality of life. Unfortunately with most of the available procedures any pancreatitis pain relief seems to be temporary with pain recurring in as little as 1 – 3 years and often being worse than before the procedure. There is one fairly new procedure TP/AIT (total pancreatectomy with an auto-islet transplant) that seems to be giving a few people, who qualify, a new lease on life. I’m not a fan of TP/AIT or any other pancreas surgery because I totally believe that if you are willing to do what is necessary (diet and supplements) that within 6 months to a year you could see such dramatic improvement in your condition that allowing a surgeon to gut you like a fish just doesn’t seem real wise. But you have to make your own choices and decisions.
The symptoms of my chronic pancreatitis seemed to lesson once I started drinking …
I was sicker than a dying dog for several years. Then …
I started drinking grapefruit juice.
I believe I started in early 1982 but get this …
My acute pancreatitis attacks stopped.
My pancreatitis pain was far less severe and 30 years later I find research on the internet that specifically states that flavonoids, found in grapefruit juice, STOP acute pancreatitis in rats and actually protect their pancreas. Ok …
So maybe, I am part rat!
All I know is that grapefruit juice stopped my acute pancreatitis and protected my pancreas long before it protected rats. You are most likely shakin’ your head thinking this guys a nut so here – READ THIS! Scientists discovered in 2004 what I discovered in 1982, that unsweetened, white grapefruit juice stops acute pancreatitis but …
At the time I thought it was my low-fat diet and the drug called Robinul that my doctor had prescribed starting to kick in. I wasn’t smart enough to realize that I’d been on that drug for about three (3) years already and it was most likely something else. Since my really low-fat diet was new (within about 6 months) I just chalked it all up to the diet and the drug. But …
The real winner was the grapefruit juice and …
Unsweetened, white grapefruit juice can be found at any grocery store. If you hate grapefruit juice you can take grapefruit seed extract which was actually used in the study above. Grapefruit Seed Extract
Fast forward about 12 years to 1994.
In 1994 I discovered antioxidants.
In fact I learned about several very special, highly anti-inflammatory antioxidants that are so powerful they literally stop pancreatitis pain and with diet allowed my pancreas to heal.
As it turns out the medical community stumbled upon my previous discovery as well and published the results of a study done by Pramod Kumar Garg, MD, DM, of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi in 2009. Dr. Garg states: “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.”
It took the good doctor 15 years more than me to figure out that certain, very powerful antioxidants help pancreatitis pain. Unfortunately the good doctor used antioxidants, such as selenium that can be toxic at high doses whereas I chose NON-toxic, highly anti-inflammatory antioxidants like grape seed extract, curcumin and vitamin C.
Taken in therapeutic doses those three supplements will help to control and in many cases (I’m a prime example) eliminate the pancreatitis pain and with an anti-inflammatory diet for pancreatitis allow the pancreas to heal. You may heal like I did and enjoy many pain-free years. So …
What you need to ask yourself is this: Is it worth the effort to change your diet and try some supplements?
If you said yes, then go get the supplements.
You can get grape seed, curcumin, vitamin C, pancreatic enzymes and a multivitamin/mineral formula at any good health store. Just make sure that the vitamin C, grape seed and curcumin are “standalone” products. You don’t want grape seed, curcumin or vitamin C that is mixed with a bunch of other crap that could be toxic when taken in large amounts.
Are You Serious About Healing Your Pancreas?
If you are serious about eliminating the symptoms of chronic pancreatitis (pain, nausea, malabsorption etc), stopping the progression of the condition, even healing your pancreas then I’ve compiled a list of posts for you to read, study, learn and then execute. Here’s your homework:
Healing after acute pancreatitis
Those are just some of the posts you need to read, study and learn from in order to eliminate pancreatitis pain and begin healing your damaged pancreas. This is a journey you will be embarking upon and it’s a journey without end for most of us until we die.
Don’t expect overnight results. It doesn’t work that way. I have heard some folks tell me that it took a lot less time than they expected. Others take longer and some give up. How important is it to you to feel good again?
Interesting article that illustrates (apparently) a very high success rate in treating chronic pancreatitis with radiotherapy: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19190609
If it’s this effective, I wonder why we don’t hear much about it……..”During follow-up (median: 39 months; range: 4-72 months), 12 patients had no further pain or flare-ups.”
That was 12 out of 15 patients. Of course there was a very high localized dose of radiation given to the pancreas, but the risk would seem to be MUCH less than surgery.
Thanks! That is a GREAT article. I have never heard of radiotherapy for CP. I learned something new. I can only guess that if it works real well it decreases their chance to make money on drugs, office visits, hospital visits, surgeries etc. You do realize that the surgeon fees alone on a couple of the more challenging pancreas surgeries are enough to buy a luxury car or even a house right?
Hello Paul, Thanks to your website I’ve been doing really well for several months now with only an occasional flare-up of manageable discomfort/pain or nausea. Well I made the same mistake you once made, I made myself some delicious vegetarian soup and put in some Tofurkey vegan sausage… yep. I didn’t read the fat content on the back. I put in the pack of four and when I ate the first bowl I bet I gobbled up 2 of them. I had a pretty bad attack that night (ended up on the couch in pain all night). I have gotten better but keep having flare-ups just when I think I can go back to solid food. I would like to know how much grapefruit seed extract I can take in one day? I can’t drink much grapefruit juice as it gives me reflux. Also, I am allergic to aspirin, tylenol and any nsaids… So I can’t take ibuprofen. The only thing I can take for pain is opiates. I always have a bottle of codeine cough syrup on hand and I only take for occasional headaches. Do you recommend this for my pancreatitis pain or is this a big no-no? I also read you said maybe diazepam could help and I have some of that too. I don’t take drugs often so I don’t know if they would help. Again THANK YOU for all you have done, you’ve given me so much help and I usually feel GREAT!
Hi Jayne glad to hear you have been doing well but sorry to hear you are not feeling to great now. I am not gonna be a lot of help with amounts of grapefruit seed extract because I have never taken more than one a day. I have read where grapefruit seed extract in larger amounts causes people stomach issues. Are you taking grape seed extract and curcumin? Curcumin is almost as good as NSAIDs but in high doses it can cause nausea and vomiting in some people. I’d be taking a lot of grape seed extract and some curcumin. I don’t recall mentioning the use of diazepam for pain. House M.D. popped it all the time for his leg pain but that was a TV show. Codeine may help but be careful with both codeine and diazepam. They are both addictive and can kill you in an overdose situation. Hope you are feeling better soon. 🙂
PS Do you think it’s ok to drink herbal teas with honey while healing from an attack? I particularly like Sleepytime by Celestial Seasons.
Herbal tea with honey should be fine. If not you’ll know.
Hey Healthy Guy,
Got an error when I attempted to reply to your post. My blood tests came back normal so, their thinking it’s my gall bladder and I have an ultrasound scheduled for this Friday. ODing on all the supplements and going to start eating a truck load of sauerkraut as I read it’s good for bile movement. Thank GOD pancreas is results look good as, we don’t want to go through that again. Don’t know why I got that error replying to your post!?
Hi John I had notification that my site was down for a short time. It happens. That could have been the cause of the error. That’s good news on the blood tests right? I hope they get you all fixed up so you can lead a nrmal life. THAT would be cool! So I’m rootin for ya! 🙂
Well had ultra sound and cat scan, both came back normal except still have pain in lower gut when doc applies pressure so…. Like I was thinking, my IBS came back meanwhile it took the doc 5 weeks to figure this out and put me on Flagyl. Hopefully waiting this long to get on the meds didn’t do any more damage and develop into Chron’s or colitis!?
Hi John – sorry to hear you are not feeling real well. Hopefully the antibiotic will do the trick and you’ll be well again soon.
Thank you for this info. Will let you know if it works for me. Had a pancreas attack last night that almost sent me to the hospital. Will be my 4th in several years. Cause unknown after all tests. I don’t drink but my doctors think I must be an alcoholic. Most cases are from excessive alcohol use. I’ve told them to test me, I just get “the look”.
So glad there is hope, this is so scary.
You are very welcome Pam. Sorry to hear you aren’t well. if the doc doesn’t see gallstones then you gotta be an alcoholic. Yeah right like there isn’t any other cause for AP lol. Don’t worry, there is always hope 🙂
Can I eat Campbell’s Cream of mushroom soup mixed with either white or brown rice?
Hi Timothy – I wouldn’t eat it but then there are reasons for that. #1 is I’m a celiac and it isn’t gluten free but that won’t or isn’t your problem BUT #2 the 6 grams of fat (cream and oil) in a 1/2 cup could be a problem. Oh rats I hit publish and forgot the link to the soup that shows the fat grams per 0.5 cup serving.
My husband has had pancreatitis for 3.5 yrs the first two years we had serious issues with pain Meds becuz that’s all his doctors kept giving him. Last year we went to a pin specialist who said his pain tolerance had altered from all the opiates so he gave him a small amount and said to make it last a year for really bad attacks, for his acute attacks he started taking ibprofine but now he has GeRD and ibprofine is bad for it. Is there a good suggestion that you tired that is not opiate that would help? And he does take curcumin, grapeseed, and other vitamins daily and he drinks ginger tea.
Hi Eternity330 – sorry to hear about your husbands illness. I know it sucks. I used to have reflux (GERD) but it turns out that the reflux was actually caused by celiac disease and once I went grain free that problem disappeared. The reason I said that was because I was taking Ibuprofen while having reflux issues. As far as I know GERD doesn’t cause death but pancreatitis sure can. So the risk vs benefit of using Ibuprofen to resolve the inflammation is positive. So the answer to your question is no. Tylenol, usually, isn’t near strong enough to handle the amount of inflammation and pain from pancreatitis and in large doses can kill a person from liver failure. The only suggestion I can think of is to increase the doses of grape seed extract and curcumin until his pain resolves. Be advised that curcumin can irritate the stomach in large doses so proceed slowly.
OMG, I’ll just thank you with wishing you a healing blessing for the rest of your life. The simple idea of a NSAID! DUH! and I’m a RN but I guess I was too close to the forest to see the tree. I had my first good nights sleep. That was a life changer. Now I’ll read the rest of your diet information etc. Thanks again for your blog turned web site. “D”
Hi Dora – You’re welcome! Glad to hear the NSAID worked. 🙂
Hi health guy, ive been glued to your page for the past few weeks reading all your words of wisdom and other peoples stories .
I havent yet been diagnosed with cp but im absolutely convinced i have it and im going out of my mind with worry. Been in and out the docs for about a year now and has pretty much been a waste of time so far. Normal bloods, ct and x ray. Seen 5 different docs and they all keep saying ibs! Ive got an appointment to c a grastro wastever their called on wednesday, only to talk apparently so probs have to wait another month or so for the actual endoscopy.
Anyways, all started with a dull ache in my stomach lasting a week or so, very mild ache. This came and went several times docs didnt seem too bothered so i put it down to diet. Early this year it went from this dull ache to a sharp stab, still mild but different. ive never had any severe pain other than the odd sharp pain here and there but generally mild pains in the upper left quadrant, side and back. About 3 weeks ago i started having the shits. To much information i know. But this is when i really started to worry and ultimately found u .
I began your low fat diet and after a couple days i was back to normal, better even! However still having the pains. Ive been on your diet for about 3 weeks now and ive recently started your supplements also. Im currently taking 1 cap of vit c and curcumin and just started taking 2 grapeseed extract. Still got the pains but i guess its early days.
If youd be so kind to answer ive got a few questions
1, am i going insane and the docs r right
2, should i buy some digestive enzymes myself and c how i get on, i heard they can help pains
3, im eating lean meat and fish and you mention about going vegan til pains have gone but im running out things to eat.
4, im wasting away, lost a stone infact, ive never eaten so much but i cant hit my calorie goal. How can i increase my calorie intake
My meals at the moment include, porridge with blueberries or jam, whole meal cereal, veg with chopped tomatoes and lots of veg, chicken or tuna sandwhich, salad wraps, toast, jacket potato and beans, cous cous. Pasta, rice, rice noodles.
U get the idea.
Sorry that ive written an essay. This website is my only lifeline and it brings me a lot of hope. Thank you for sharing your success. Would be delighted if u replied .
Thanks again, richard.
Hi Richard – Of course I’m gonna reply! sorry to hear you are ill and don’t yet know what is wrong. It sucks to be sick and not know why. I been there so I get it. Now to answer your questions.
question 1) am i going insane and the docs r right
answer: I don’t know are you lol just kidding – actually I don’t have enough info to say. And I can not diagnose or prescribe treatment because I am not a doctor. However what you have mentioned doesn’t really sound like regular pancreatitis. Is there any history of alcoholism or pancreatitis in your immediate family (father, mother, siblings)? If not it may be IBS/IBD
question 2) should i buy some digestive enzymes myself and c how i get on, i heard they can help pains
answer: at this point no. nobody is even sure what the problem is. i think the main issue is a proper concrete diagnosis.
question 3) im eating lean meat and fish and you mention about going vegan til pains have gone but im running out things to eat
answer: why would you ever run out of things to eat? my diet is way tougher than a simple low low fat diet. i’m also a celiac so grains don’t work for me. if i can find more than enough food to eat you should be in tall clover. You have almost every plant based food on earth to eat plus fish and skinless chicken
question 4) im wasting away, lost a stone infact, ive never eaten so much but i cant hit my calorie goal. How can i increase my calorie intake. It is hard to eat a lot of calories on a diet made to heal the pancreas. Most calories in a normal diet come from sugar and fat. I don’t know what weight a stone is was it a big stone or a pebble? Just kidding! No seriously I do not know what stone weight is.
Thank you so much for your speedy reply. I not sure if there is a history of pancreatitis in my family, maybe worth looking into.
As for alcoholism, ive always liked a drink but never concidered myself as a heavy drinker. Would only drink weekends and not that much when i did .
Is alcholic pancreatitis different some how?
Oh and a stone is 6.3 kg .
Think im just loosing weight because my diet has changed so much.
You’re welcome Richard. You asked: “Is alcoholic pancreatitis different some how?” It can be different in how it presents. It can actually present like mild chronic pancreatitis at first instead of blasting a body like with acute pancreatitis so often it is misdiagnosed as IBS, gastritis, etc etc etc. And … one doesn’t need to be an alcoholic or even a heavy drinker. One can simply be an occasional social drinker yet have the genetic predisposition to alcoholic pancreatitis. If one has the genetic variant you could alcoholic pancreatitis simply by having a couple beers a week or wine with dinner. Thanks for the help with the stone weight 6.3 kgs or 14 lbs
Mild chronic pancreatitis – this is what i feared. Sounds like i could be in for a long wait til diagnosis. So horrible being in limbo. Also i cant find many cases of mild symtoms.
Hopfully i can keep it mild if i follow your diet. So far ive gone vegan and have limited my fat to around 25g a day, im taking the same supplements u recommended and for just over a week ive been on 1 curcumin, 1 vit c and 1 grapeseed in the morning and another 1 grapeseed in the evening. Still having the pains here and there. Do u think i should increase my dose or give it a while longer?
Also im confused about the milk situation, if its low in fat why can u only tolerate a little bit per day? Im using low fat almond milk and im wondering if that is causing problems.
One more thing, im keeping to the diet but im struggling to get cooked veg in til the evening meal when im home, does this matter or would u recommend otherwise .
Thank you so much for you help,
Hold on Richard I didn’t say you had CP. I can’t diagnose nor prescribe. I am not a doctor. And self diagnosis isn’t good either. You need to get a diagnosis from a doctor and until then you are worrying and getting yourself all worked up over a condition that you may not have. Almost any digestive disease will respond, in some extent, to a low fat diet because it helps eliminate inflammation which is common to most disease.