What Side Is Your Pancreas Located On – The pancreas is a digestive organ located below the abdomen. It has a digestive (exocrine) part and a hormonal (endocrine) part. In this article I will focus on the digestive part.
The pancreas is unique among the gastrointestinal organs because it produces enzymes involved in digesting fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. These are produced in acini, small exocrine cell-lined areas that drain into ducts that carry enzymes to the small intestine.
What Side Is Your Pancreas Located On
Food is chewed and swallowed down the esophagus and enters the stomach within seconds. Here proteins are broken down by acid and an enzyme called pepsin. They are converted into peptides, which are short chains of amino acids. There is basically no digestion of fat or carbohydrates here. In 4-5 hours, food gradually leaves the stomach and enters the duodenum, the first part of the small intestine.
What Is Pancreatitis?
A lot is going on in the duodenum and most of it is done by the pancreas. The pancreas releases its various fluids into the duodenum. First, acid from the stomach must be neutralized to prevent duodenal ulcers. The pancreas releases bicarbonate, which quickly changes the pH from a strong acid to a very weak acid. Mammalian pancreatic enzymes are inactive in highly acidic solutions, so bicarb is also required for the enzymes to function.
The pancreas produces many enzymes. These include trypsin and chymotrypsin for protein digestion, amylase for carbohydrate digestion, lipase for fat digestion, and elastase for the breakdown of connective tissues such as tendons and ligaments. Stool levels of elastase and chymotrypsin are tests used to determine the digestive function of the pancreas. If stool elastase levels are less than 200 ug/mL, a diagnosis of pancreatic exocrine insufficiency is made. Fun fact – elastase is an enzyme unique to the human pancreas.
Diseases underlying EPI include cystic fibrosis, type I and II diabetes mellitus, chronic pancreatitis, chronic viral hepatitis, short bowel syndrome, hemochromatosis, partial surgical removal of the stomach or pancreas, pancreatic cancer, and celiac disease. I diagnose EPI in patients who have none of these serious conditions, but have intestinal bacterial overgrowth, hypochlorhydria (low production of stomach acid), adrenal gland imbalance, or biliary sludge (thick bile that does not flow easily through the bile ducts). Hormonal imbalances of estrogen, cortisol or testosterone can cause EPI.
Typical symptoms and signs of pancreatic enzyme deficiency include chronic diarrhea, weight loss, inability to gain weight and malabsorption of nutrients, and high levels of undigested fat in the stool. The classic stool is called steatorrhea – that is, fat flows. If this continues long enough it can lead to nerve, skin, blood, bone and hormone problems due to deficiency of fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K as well as essential fatty acids. Of course, protein and carbohydrates are more or less inadequately absorbed.
The Stomach, Gallbladder, And Pancreas: 3d Anatomy Model
Fortunately, like type 1 diabetes mellitus – which can be treated with insulin replacement because it is a deficiency of the hormone insulin – pancreatic exocrine insufficiency can be cured by replacing the deficient enzymes.
1) “Plant” Enzymes – These are actually derived from the fungus Aspergillus, although they do not contain any mold, yeast or fungus. They operate over a very wide pH range from about 2 to 12 (very acidic to very alkaline). For this reason, they can start working on the stomach and can be especially effective for people who make too little or too much stomach acid. They work best if taken before meals.
2) Enzymes of animal origin – These are derived from pig pancreas. They don’t start working until the stomach contents empty into the duodenum. They only work in a narrow pH range close to a neutral pH of 7. They are commonly known as pancreatin and pancreatic lipase. They work best when taken at the end of a meal.
3) Prescription Enzymes – These are derived from pig pancreas but are enteric coated so that the capsules do not dissolve until they leave the stomach. Unfortunately, enteric coating can contain phthalates and polyethylene glycol, which can be problematic. Other enteric coatings contain talc or carnauba wax and carrageenan, methacrylic acid ethyl acrylate copolymer, or polyvinylpyrrolidone (a water-soluble plastic).
Zollinger Ellison Syndrome
4) The fourth group of digestive enzymes are brush border enzymes. These are not actually pancreatic enzymes but are sometimes added to plant enzymes to increase their effectiveness. They are produced at the tip of the cells lining the intestinal mucosa and optimize the final stages of carbohydrate digestion after the pancreatic enzymes have done their work. Brush border enzymes have names such as sucrase, maltase, lactase and glucoamylase.
Different formulations of pancreatic enzymes can be difficult to compare. Unfortunately, there are many systems for measuring these ingredients and often you will see different systems between ingredients in any one product. Examples are AGU, HUT, USP, DU, PC, FIP, etc. For this reason, if you have been diagnosed with EPI, I strongly suggest trying several pancreatic enzyme formulations in order. Faeces, digestive comfort and overall nutrient absorption. Don’t give up if the first thing you try doesn’t help. It is essential to keep going until you find the right one.
Steven Sandberg-Lewis, ND, DHANP, has been in clinical practice for over 44 years with a focus on functional gastroenterology. He has been a professor since 1985, teaching a variety of courses but focusing primarily on gastroenterology and GI physical medicine. In 2019, Dr. Sandberg-Lewis co-founded Hive Mind Medicine, continuing her specialization in gastroenterology with a focus on reflux, SIBO, inflammatory bowel disease and functional GI disorders. He is currently working on his latest book, Let’s Be Real About Reflux: Getting to the Heartburn, written to help non-medical and medical professionals develop a better understanding of diseases affecting the gastrointestinal tract.
Hive Mind Medicine blog posts are for educational purposes only and are not intended as medical advice. Please consult your healthcare provider for personalized guidance. Click the Contact button below if you would like to schedule a meeting with one of our Hive Mind Practitioners. The pancreas is an organ of the digestive system and digestive system of vertebrates. In humans, it is located in the stomach behind the stomach and acts as a gland. The pancreas is a mixed or heterocrine gland, i.e., it has exocrine function as well as digestive function.
Diabetes And The Pancreas: Insulin, Complications, And Function
As a principle gland, it functions largely to regulate blood sugar levels, secreting insulin, glucagon, somatostatin, and pancreatic polypeptide hormones. As part of the digestive system, it acts as an exocrine gland that secretes pancreatic juice into the duodenum through the pancreatic duct. This juice contains bicarbonate, which neutralizes the duodenum from the stomach; and digestive zymes, which break down carbohydrates, proteins, and fats in food, remove the duodenum from the stomach.
Inflammation of the pancreas, also known as pancreatitis, is a common cause including chronic alcohol use and gallstones. Because of its role in blood sugar regulation, the pancreas is an important organ in diabetes mellitus. Pancreatic cancer can develop after chronic pancreatitis or from other causes, and it has a very poor prognosis because it is diagnosed only after it has spread to other areas of the body.
The word pancreas comes from the Greek πᾶν (pan, “all”) & meatus (krias, “meat”). The function of the pancreas in diabetes has been known since at least 1889, with its role in insulin production recognized in 1921.
The pancreas (shown here in pink) lies behind the abdomen, the body near the curvature of the duodenum, and the tail extends to touch the spleen.
Human Digestive System
The pancreas is an organ that lies in the abdomen in humans, extending from the back of the abdomen near the left upper abdomen. In adults, it is about 12–15 cmetres (4.7–5.9 in) long, lobulated and salmon-coloured in appearance.
Anatomically, the pancreas is divided into the head, neck, body and tail. The pancreas extends from the inner curvature of the duodenum, where the head surrounds two blood vessels: the superior mesenteric artery and vein. The body, the longest part of the pancreas, extends behind the stomach and the tail of the pancreas is attached to the spleen.
Two ducts pass through the body of the pancreas, the main pancreatic duct and the small accessory pancreatic duct. The main duct of the pancreas joins with the common bile duct, forming a small ballooning called the ampulla of water (hepatopancreatic ampulla). This ampulla is surrounded by a muscle, sphincter of Oddi. This ampulla moves to the descending part of the duodenum. The opening of the common bile duct into the main pancreatic duct is controlled by the sphincter of Boyd. The pancreatic duct runs into the duodenum with separate openings above the main pancreatic duct.
The head of the pancreas lies within the curvature of the duodenum and wraps around the superior mesenteric artery and vein. To the right sits the descent
Facts About The Pancreas
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