The pancreas is a small organ that lies close to the liver and stomach. It produces many chemicals (enzymes) that are important in keeping the body healthy. Examples of these chemicals are insulin, glucagon, and enzymes. The enzymes function to help with the continued digestion of food. As food leaves the stomach and begins its journey down the small intestines, bile and the enzymes from the pancreas are released into the small intestines. Among these enzymes are lipase and amylase, which are both important in digestion. A lack of these enzymes sometimes occurs because of lack of proper development of the panaceas in the womb or because of trauma or accidents that may have damaged the pancreas.
A lack of the pancreatic enzymes will result in a problem with digestion often referred to as malabsorbtion syndrome. An individual with malabsorbtion syndrome often takes food into their bodies, but they are unable to absorb the nutrients from the food. Some of the more common signs of malabsorbtion syndrome are diarrhea, weight loss, and lack of energy accompanied by a healthy appetite. The individual often stays hungry, even though they are eating large amounts of food simply because they cannot absorb the food they are eating. By supplementing the pancreatic enzymes, either as a pill prior to eating or as a powder placed over the food before the meal, the symptoms of malabsorbtion can often be alleviated.