You may be completely unaware of the name or existence of an important body part until it isn’t working properly. This is commonly the case with the sphincter of Oddi. However, if you have sphincter of Oddi dysfunction (SOD), you will know that something isn’t working properly! Unfortunately, a diagnosis of SOD often comes after months or more of suffering since SOD can be difficult to diagnose. Once you have an accurate diagnosis you can arm yourself with information and make decisions about how to treat this condition. While surgery and medication are typical treatments for SOD, natural remedies have been found to bring relief in many cases as well.
What is the Sphincter of Oddi?
The sphincter of Oddi is a muscular valve that opens and closes to allow bile and digestive fluids from the pancreas into the small intestines. If the muscle does not open, fluids can back up and can cause severe pain, vomiting, diarrhea, fever and chills. This back up of fluids can occur in the bile duct or the pancreas.
A diagnosis of Sphincter of Oddi Dysfunction is usually made after other conditions have been ruled out. A procedure (sphincter of Oddi manometry) can be done to confirm the diagnosis.
Sphincter of Oddi Dysfunction is most common among middle aged women, which makes hormone imbalance a suspected factor in this condition. Some women find that flare ups occur during menstruation. It is also common among those who have had their gall bladders removed. In fact, sometimes it turns out that a suspected gall bladder issue is actually sphincter of Oddi dysfunction.
How is Sphincter of Oddi Dysfunction Treated?
Sometimes pain medication brings relief, though this is usually only the case for those whose symptoms are mild.
For more serious cases, a sphincterotomy is sometimes performed. In this surgical procedure, the sphincter muscle is cut to allow a way for digestive fluids to pass freely into the small intestines. Unfortunately complications from this surgery are high (5%-15%.)
Are there Natural Remedies for Sphincter of Oddi Dysfunction?
A natural approach to dealing with SOD includes attention to good nutrition and eating habits, natural antispasmodics, digestive aids, and natural pain remedies.
Reducing stress on the digestive system and maximizing nutrition are the goals of dietary changes for SOD. Smaller meals are easier on the digestive system.
Avoid these foods:
- fatty foods
- greasy foods
- fried foods
- high fat dairy products
- spicy foods
Smaller meals are less stressful to the digestive system. Long periods of fasting however, can aggravate SOD. Ideally you will eat several small meals each day and perhaps a few nutritious snacks.
Foods to Include:
- lean meats
- low fat yogurt or milk kefir
- whole grains
Hydration is important. Water with a splash of fresh lemon and herbal tea are good choices.
Digestive Supplements for Sphincter of Oddi Dysfunction
If you have SOD, your digestive system is not working properly and the digestive juices that are usually released by the Sphincter of Oddi are not getting into your system. For this reason, digestive enzymes and HCL may improve your digestion and reduce your pain attacks.
Peppermint is an herb that helps digestion. It is also an antispasmodic herb. Peppermint tea or peppermint essential oil capsules can be taken with meals.
Natural Pain Relief for Sphincter of Oddi Dysfunction
Magnesium is a critical mineral that is commonly lacking in modern diets. Magnesium helps muscles to relax. The sphincter of Oddi is a muscle and it too needs magnesium. You may want to consider a magnesium supplement. Magnesium oil, which can be purchased in a spray, can be sprayed directly onto the skin where you are experiencing pain. It absorbs directly into the skin.
Lavender Essential Oil
1 drop of 100% lavender essential oil can be added to a glass of water. Slowly sip the water. Lavender essential oil is a natural relaxant.
Castor Oil Packs
Castor oil packs are relaxing and bring pain relief. Place the pack over the pained area. You will find information about making a castor oil pack on this page.
Chamomile is a relaxing herb. A warm cup of chamomile tea may help settle an attack down and bring relief.
Continue reading for remedies submitted from our readers and let us know what you tried!