A number of studies suggest that treatment with antioxidant supplements (such as selenium, beta-carotene, vitamin C and vitamin E) may improve the quality of life and reduce pain in patients suffering from chronic pancreatitis. Antioxidants help fight off free radicals, chemical byproducts thought to play a role in the development of pancreatitis.
It should be noted that, in a systematic review published in 2009, researchers analyzed 22 clinical trials and concluded that the data do not support a benefit of antioxidant therapy in the management of pancreatitis.
In an animal study released in 2008, researchers found that electroacupuncture (a form of acupuncture in which needles are attached to a device that produces continuous electric impulses, and then placed at certain points on the patient’s body) relieved pancreatic damage in rats with acute pancreatitis.
However, there is a lack of human-based research to support the use of acupuncture in the treatment of pancreatitis. What’s more, one study published in 2005 reports a very rare case of acute pancreatitis induced by acupuncture (most likely due to abdominal trauma). See Also: Acupuncture: What You Need to Know.
Although they haven’t been specifically studied in the treatment of pancreatitis, other alternative therapies (including meditation and breathing exercises) may help ease the stress of coping with pancreatitis pain.
Chinese Herbal Medicine
A 2007 research review found that herbs used in traditional Chinese medicine may help block the progression of severe acute pancreatitis, as well as promote healing of internal organs damaged as a result of the body’s inflammatory response to acute pancreatitis.
Despite this review’s findings, individuals with acute pancreatitis should not pursue treatment with herbal medicine until more studies confirm this treatment option’s safety and effectiveness.
Although Chinese herbs may hold promise in the treatment of pancreatitis, it’s crucial to consult your doctor if you’re considering the use of herbal medicine. It’s also important to work with a qualified herbalist rather than attempting to self-treat your condition.