Oddi’s sphincter, named after Ruggero Oddi, an Italian anatomist who described this structure in 1887, is the muscular valve that regulates the flow of bile and pancreatic juice into the duodenum (beginning of the small intestine). Oddi’s sphincter is regulated by the nervous system and the blood by special messenger substances – digestive hormones.
When there is no food in the intestines, the Sphincter of Oddi valve remains closed. Bile is retained in the gallbladder and pancreatic juice is retained in the pancreas. Spasms or blockages of this valve can cause bile and pancreatic juice to back up.
If a tiny amount of bile gets into the pancreatic duct, serious problems can occur. The bile can activate digestive enzymes in the pancreas, and these enzymes begin to digest their own pancreatic cells, causing pain, congestion, inflammation, and even death of pancreatic tissue. This is called pancreatitis.
The blockages in Oddi’s sphincter muscle caused by tumors, large gallbladder stones or scars after inflammation must necessarily be operated on. The number of people with these problems is relatively small, but millions of Americans suffer from occasional transient sphincter of Oddi spasms with pain, nausea, and bloating. In most situations, their tests are normal and these people are labeled with acid reflux, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), stomach flu, food poisoning, or other illness.
Many of these patients have type III sphincter of Oddi dysfunction (SOD). According to statistical data, the prevalence of sphincter Oddi dysfunction in the general population is 1.5%. This may mean that 4.5 million people in the US have SOD.
A lack of proper treatment of sphincter of Oddi dysfunction can later lead to serious complications such as pancreatitis and gallbladder inflammation.
Sphincter Oddi dysfunction can affect children, women after the age of 40, obese individuals and people who have had abdominal surgery. For example, statistics show that nearly 20% of people who experience pain after gallbladder removal have sphincter of Oddi dysfunction.
Why does Oddi’s sphincter become spasmodic? The answer depends on many reasons if we consider the very complicated regulation of this sphincter by the nervous system and special blood messengers – digestive hormones. Here are some examples of what can cause Oddi’s sphincter to spasm:
• Stress, depression and anxiety
• Bad eating habits such as “eating on the go”, eating while watching TV, irregular diets, fad diets, fasting and wrong combinations of foods such as mixing fatty foods with starches and sugars
• Drugs, some medicines, alcohol and nicotine
• Hard, intense and repetitive “liver cleanse”
• Hormonal imbalance such as underactive thyroid or menopause
• “Aggressive” acidic bile containing sand, sludge, gallbladder stones and more
Usually we can see combinations of these factors in predisposed individuals with obesity, sedentary lifestyle and long-term stress.
The standard American diet, which is full of processed and acidic foods (meat, sugar, alcohol, animal fats, white flour, etc.), causes hyperacidity throughout the body. The Standard American Diet also leads to acidic conditions in bile and pancreatic juice. The bile becomes acidic and the amount of bile acids in the bile also increases. Bile acids are very aggressive substances; they irritate the wall of Oddi’s sphincter and cause muscle contractions – spasms.
3-4 liters of mixed pancreatic juice and bile travel through Oddi’s sphincter daily. The acidification of these liquids makes them very “aggressive”, corrosive and irritating to the surrounding tissues, especially Oddi’s sphincter. Considering that bile is a vehicle to remove toxic chemicals such as bile pigments, heavy metals, medicines, drugs, and poisons from the body, and that the bile ducts and gallbladder are often home to parasites, there is no question that the sphincter of Oddi this is an easy target for irritation. In addition, alcohol, unhealthy foods, irregular eating, and wrong food combinations wreak havoc on the normal functioning of Oddi’s sphincter.
The most common and noticeable symptom of sphincter Oddi dysfunction is pain in the upper abdomen. This is often felt as a sharp pain in the middle of the abdomen just below the rib cage. Pain can be severe, sending people to the hospital and requiring pain medication. In many cases, however, the pain can be mild and does not usually require pain medication. The symptoms of Sphincter Oddi dysfunction are divided into gallbladder pain and pancreatic pain.
Symptoms of Sphincter of Oddi Dysfunction Gallary Abdominal Pain include:
• Biliary pain in the middle or right upper abdomen
• Pain radiating to the back at the lower tip of the shoulder blade or right shoulder
• Pain, often accompanied by gas, nausea and vomiting
• Pain caused by fatty foods or alcohol consumption
• Pain of varying intensity and duration between 15 minutes and 4-5 hours
Symptoms of Sphincter of Oddi Dysfunction pancreatic pain include:
• Upper abdominal pain on the left or right side
• Pain that radiates directly through the abdomen to the back
• Pain, often accompanied by gas, nausea and vomiting
• Pain caused by improper protein/fat/starch/sugar diet combinations or alcohol consumption
Non-drug holistic approaches can be helpful. Holistic remedies to cure Sphincter Oddi Dysfunction Type III are used in many countries around the world.
Sphincter Oddi dysfunction type III healing program may include some measures:
• Healing Adapted Diet
• Drinking healing mineral water made from genuine Karlovy Vary spring salt
• European full body cleansing by restoring a healthy intestinal flora and colon hydrotherapy
• Anti-Candida program
• Herbal Medicine
• Nutritional supplements
• Chiropractic manipulations
• Visceral massage
• Relaxation, Meditation, Hypnosis, Custom Hypnosis CDs
Healing courses of alternative and holistic medicine can be used separately or as a supplementary approach to conventional medicine.
The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for the diagnosis, treatment and advice of a qualified, licensed physician.
Thanks to Peter Melamed Ph.D.