By Peter Melamed PhD
Sphincter of Oddi is a key strategic muscle valve from where bile and pancreatic juice run into the duodenum; the beginning of the small intestine. An Italian anatomist, Ruggero Oddi, discovered this valve in 1887. Spasms or, opposite, open this valve in inappropriate time and that leads to numerous liver, gallbladder, duodenum and pancreas disorders. This condition is called the sphincter of Oddi dysfunction (SOD). Many patients with this issue have type III Sphincter of Oddi Dysfunction (SOD), where there is pain, nausea, vomiting but tests are normal. According to medical statistic, the prevalence of sphincter of Oddi dysfunction in the general population is 1.5%. It means that 4.5 million people in the US may suffer from SOD.
A lack of proper treatment of sphincter of Oddi dysfunction can eventually cause serious complications, like pancreatitis and gallbladder inflammation. Many researchers point out that the sphincter of Oddi dysfunction is the main reason for liver and pancreas diseases and for chronic pain after gallbladder removal.
The sphincter of Oddi controls movement of the liver and gallbladder bile and also pancreatic juice into the duodenum. Normally, the sphincter of Oddi opens when semi digestive food comes into the duodenum from the stomach. At that point, gallbladder contracts and a large amount of the concentrated gallbladder bile is discharged into the duodenum, to digest this food. Generally, when there is no food in the gut, the sphincter of Oddi is closed. Liver constantly releases bile in the bile duct. If the sphincter of Oddi is closed the pressure inside the bile duct goes up; therefore, bile from the liver redirects right into gallbladder. Gallbladder expands in size like a balloon, due to the large amounts of bile it is getting.
Autonomic nervous system and blood messengers; digestive hormones regulate this extraordinarily complex work. Unhealthy eating habits, acid-formed foods, alcohol, stress, fasting, “harsh” liver cleansing, several medications, recreation drugs, etc cause negative impact on the regulation of the proper work of the sphincter of Oddi.
By medical research the proper regulation and function of the sphincter of Oddi is broken down for 15-20 percent of people after gallbladder removal. Without gallbladder, spasm of the sphincter of Oddi leads to the backup of bile and pancreatic juice, which increases the pressure inside the bile duct. In its turn, the high pressure inside the bile and pancreatic ducts cause pain, inflammation and, in some situation chronic pancreatitis. Sphincter of Oddi dysfunction can be aggravated by using painkillers, which can lead to contraction of the sphincter.
Blockages of the sphincter of Oddi by tumor or gallbladder stone happen relatively rare. However, the temporary spasm of the sphincter of Oddi may occur often. The sphincter of Oddi dysfunction leads to pain in the center or right part of the upper abdomen. Pain usually radiates to the middle back, or the right scapulae or shoulder.
Patient can complain of the bloating, nausea and vomiting. Frequently, pain takes place after heavy and fatty meals and alcohol consumption; it lasts from 20 minutes to 4-5 hours. Severe pain and vomiting can bring the person to the emergency room and can require the use of painkillers. In many cases of the sphincter of Oddi dysfunction type III, the testes are normal.
Why does the sphincter of Oddi become spasmodic? There are some examples of what can cause spasm of the sphincter of Oddi:
- Anxiety, depression and stress
- Some poor eating habits such as overeating, wrong combinations of foods such as mixing fatty foods with starches and sugars
- Dieting, fasting “eating on the go”, eating while watching television, irregular diets
- Drinking of the alcohol, smoking, drugs, some medication
- Hepatitis, fatty liver, Candida-yeast overgrowth, parasites
- Congestion, inflammation, infection of the gallbladder
- Intensive, harsh, and repetitive “liver cleansing”
- Hormonal imbalance, for instance, reduced thyroid function or menopause
- “Aggressive” acidic bile with sand, sludge, gallbladder stones
- Acidic changes in the pancreatic juice, etc
Usually we can see combinations of these factors in predisposed individuals with anxious behavior, overweight issues, and sedentary lifestyles. The Standard American Diet that is full of processed and acidic foods (meat, sugars, alcohol, animal fats, white flour, etc) causes whole body acidity. The whole body acidity leads also to acidic conditions in the bile and pancreatic juice. Bile becomes acidic and the amount of precipitated bile acids in the bile increases. These bile acids are extremely aggressive substances; they irritate the wall of the sphincter of Oddi causing muscle contractions – spasms.
3-4 liters of mixed pancreatic juice and bile travel through the sphincter of Oddi daily. Acidification of these fluids makes them very “aggressive,” corroding and irritating the surrounding tissues, particularly the sphincter of Oddi. It is known that bile is a vehicle for removing toxic chemicals such as heavy metals, bile pigments, cholesterol, drugs, medications and various poisons from the body. The bile ducts and the gallbladder often harbor parasites, which also cause irritation and inflammation of the bile ducts and the sphincter of Oddi.
No wonder, the sphincter of Oddi is an easy target for irritation.
The common reason for spasms of the sphincter of Oddi is irritation of this valve by the “aggressive”, acidic bile and pancreatic juice. It is not commonly known that liver and pancreas are alkaline glands. They produce alkaline bile and even more alkaline pancreatic juice. Alkalinity of bile and pancreatic juice is the core of the proper digestion. Contrary, acidic biochemical changes in the bile and pancreatic juice make them extremely “aggressive”, corroded, and irritated. More information and medical explanation how acidity destroys pancreas, gallbladder and sphincter of Oddi can be found in Biotherapy EBook “Healthy Pancreas, Healthy You”.
Why does gallbladder removal increase chances for the sphincter of Oddi dysfunction?
An answer is simple. Toxic, acidic liver bile is concentrated in the gallbladder, so gallbladder suffers first. Without gallbladder, toxic, acidic liver bile constantly irritates the bile duct and sphincter of Oddi causing irritation, inflammation and spasms. Twenty percent of people without gallbladder eventually suffer from symptoms of the sphincter of Oddi dysfunction.
As soon as bile and pancreatic juice become acidic, and extremely “aggressive”, they irritate, and corrode duodenum causing rough movement of its wall. Spasmodic contractions of the duodenum walls lead to the wrong way traffic or bile/pancreatic juice reflux. Reflux moves these aggressive liquids into the stomach causing stubborn heartburn, inflammation, ulcers, and even cancers.
The most common symptom of sphincter of Oddi dysfunction is upper abdominal pain. This is often experienced as a sharp pain in the middle of the abdomen right below the rib cage. Pain can be rigorous in nature, causing people to get help from the ER, and require pain medication. Frequently, pain may be mild and usually does not require painkillers. Symptoms of sphincter of Oddi dysfunction are divided as biliary pain and pancreatic pain.
Biliary abdominal pain in the sphincter of Oddi dysfunction can include:
- Biliary pain felt in the right or middle part of the upper abdomen
- Pain radiates on the back at the lower tip of the scapulae or right shoulder
- Pain is often accompanied by bloating, nausea and vomiting
- Fatty food or alcohol intake trigger the pain
- Pain is varied in the intensity and can last from 15 minutes to 4-5 hours
Pancreatic abdominal pain in the sphincter of Oddi dysfunction can include:
- Pain is located in the upper abdomen on the left or right side
- Pain radiates right through the abdomen to the back
- Pain is frequently accompanied by bloating, nausea, and vomiting
- Pain is precipitated by improper food combinations of protein/fat/starch/sugar foods or consumption of alcohol
High body’s acidity is a culprit for the sphincter of Oddi dysfunction. Hence, the purpose of natural holistic treatment has to be focused on the core of the problems which are whole body’s acidity and acidity of bile and pancreatic juice.
We do not need sophisticated tests to determine, is the body acidic or not. Measurement of the saliva and urine pH with litmus paper at home can prove acidic condition of the body, especially if saliva and urine pH are less than 6.6.
How can individual normalize the alkaline condition of bile and pancreatic juice naturally?
It can be done only by use of minerals and bicarbonate from food and water. They naturally neutralize the whole body acidity. Individual can get minerals also by taking alkaline minerals, as the dietary supplements, for example, cellular magnesium-potassium, or drinking healing mineral water.
European doctors have used healing mineral water for centuries. Balneology; treatment with healing mineral water is part of education in a number of European medical schools. There are many healing mineral spas in Europe that use this method. Most popular and medically investigated mineral water is water from hot thermal spring in Karlovy Vary; the small Czech town.
Karlovy Vary healing mineral water has attracted millions of patients all over the globe for hundreds of years. In 17th century, water was distributed by barrels and bottles. Demand of Karlovy Vary water was so strong; therefore, the mineral salt had been manufactured there since, by vaporizing the spring mineral water in 1764. It was an excellent choice for people who could not go to Karlovy Vary or would like the healing practice to continuie at home. Dissolving genuine Karlovy Vary spring salt in water at home creates mineral water with the same healing benefit.
Great number of medical papers confirmed the healing actions of this water in various digestive and metabolic disorders. European doctors proved that drinking Karlovy Vary healing mineral water makes bile and pancreatic juice alkaline, and less “aggressive”. It naturally improves digestion, lessens the pains and cramps, and reduces gas and heartburn. This water can soften the gallbladder stones and expel them; it also is very helpful for people with the sphincter of Oddi dysfunction, chronic pancreatitis, hepatitis and for people after gallbladder removal.
What are the other options to make the bile and pancreatic juice not as much as irritated for the sphincter of Oddi?
The oldest way to reduce digestive problems is herbal medicine. Chinese, Ayurvedic, European herbal formulas offer many herbs for healing digestive disorders. Some of them increase the amount of bile, promote natural elimination of bile, and diminish spasms and pains. The good example is peppermint tea. Biotherapy medical practitioner can adjust the herbal remedies for any digestive problems including the sphincter of Oddi dysfunction.
Certainly, food is the cheap, safe, and powerful medicine for the sphincter of Oddi dysfunction.
Alkaline-formed foods, full of natural digestive enzymes is necessary. For instance, some raw, vegetable blends or juices are excellent for these reasons. Warm vegetable soups are also useful for a variety of digestive problems. Numerous persons with the sphincter of Oddi dysfunction suffer from Candida-yeast overgrowth, SIBO-small intestine bacterial overgrowth, food sensitivity, and allergy. Proper diet changes are necessitated to correct these conditions.
Stress and anxiety can initiate spasm of the sphincter of Oddi. Exacerbation of the sphincter of Oddi dysfunction can be seen mostly during mental or physical stress. Meditation, relaxation, medical hypnosis and listening to the custom hypnosis CDs to home, acupuncture, massage are some natural approaches to relieve stress. By the way, acupuncture is widely used by doctors all over the globe for the sphincter of Oddi dysfunction.
Stomach pain after alcohol consumption is typical for sufferers from the sphincter of Oddi dysfunction. Hence, it would be helpful to stop drinking for one to three months, to improve the situation. By medical literature, the alcohol destroys the normal function of this muscle valve.
At Biotherapy Alternative Medicine Clinic we developed a special program for withdrawal from alcohol.
By the opinion of many researchers and doctors, strategic position of the sphincter of Oddi involves it in lots of digestive diseases and disorders including chronic pancreatitis. On the other hand, the sphincter of Oddi dysfunction may lead to various digestive symptoms. Natural, alternative treatment of the early stage sphincter of Oddi dysfunction can avoid serious problems in the future and improve the quality of life.
Biotherapy licensed medical professionals can create a custom healing program especially for you to alleviate pain and problems with digestion.
The healing program of the sphincter Oddi dysfunction type III includes some actions:
- Healing Customized Diet
- Drinking healing mineral water prepared from genuine Karlovy Vary spring salt
- Anti-Candida Program
- Herbal Medicine
- Nutritional Supplementation
- Visceral Massage
- European Whole Body Cleansing through the Restoration of Friendly Intestinal Flora and Colon Hydrotherapy
- Relaxation, Meditation, Hypnosis, Custom Hypnosis CDs
Healing courses of alternative and holistic medicine can be used separately or as complementary approaches to traditional medicine.
Currently, there is no easy and safe test to diagnose early stage of the SOD type III. For that reason, any pain in the upper stomach area following heavy meals and alcohol can be the alarm bell of the sphincter of Oddi dysfunction.
By the opinion of many researchers and doctors, strategic position of the sphincter of Oddi involves it in lots of digestive diseases and disorders. Conversely, the sphincter of Oddi dysfunction leads to various digestive symptoms. Natural, alternative treatment of the early stage sphincter of Oddi dysfunction can help avoid severe problems in the future and improve the quality of life.
The information on this article is presented for educational, informational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for the diagnosis, treatment, and advice of a qualified licensed professional.