Accessory Digestive glands - 88tuition

Accessory Digestive glands - 88tuition



The breakdown of food into nutrients and waste items occurs in the digestive system, which is a vital component of the human body. Among the organs involved in digestion, the digestive accessory gland stands out as one of the most critical and yet least known. The digestive accessory gland consists of various organs that work together to produce digestive enzymes, hormones, and fluids to facilitate the digestion process. In this article, we will explore the digestive accessory gland, including its functions, parts, and importance in the human body.

What are accessory digestive glands?

Accessory digestive glands are a group of organs and glands that work together to produce and secrete substances necessary for digestion. These glands are not part of the alimentary canal (the tube that runs from the mouth to the anus) but are instead located outside of it. They play a vital role in the digestion process by producing and secreting enzymes and other substances that help break down food and extract nutrients from it.

Digestive system

Functions of the Digestive Accessory Gland:

The digestive accessory gland comprises several organs, each with a specific role in digestion. Some of the functions of the digestive accessory gland include:

  1. Production of digestive enzymes: The digestive accessory gland produces several digestive enzymes, such as amylase, lipase, and protease, which break down carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, respectively.

  2. Secretion of fluids: The digestive accessory gland secretes fluids such as bile and mucus, which help in the digestion and absorption of nutrients.

  3. Regulation of hormones: The digestive accessory gland regulates the production and secretion of hormones such as gastrin, which controls the production of stomach acid.

Salivary gland

The salivary accessory glands are a group of glands that produce and secrete saliva, which is an important fluid that helps with the process of digestion. These glands are located near the main salivary glands in the mouth, and they produce additional amounts of saliva that supplement the flow of saliva from the main glands.

The salivary accessory glands include several smaller glands, such as the labial glands, buccal glands, and lingual glands, which are located in different areas of the mouth. These glands all play a role in producing saliva and keeping the mouth moist and healthy.

Salivary glands


The liver is often considered an accessory gland in digestion because of its important role in producing bile, which is a key digestive fluid.

Together with digesting enzymes, the pancreas also produces hormones that are crucial for regulating blood sugar levels. For instance, insulin reduces blood sugar levels by enabling body cells to absorb glucose from circulation. Insulin is produced by specialized cells in the pancreas known as beta cells. The pancreas also produces glucagon, which causes the liver to release glucose that has been stored there and raises blood sugar levels.

The liver is responsible for creating bile, but it also regulates blood sugar levels by storing and releasing glucose as needed. The liver also aids in the processing and detoxification of a variety of chemicals that the digestive system absorbs, such as poisons, alcohol, and narcotics.


The pancreas is considered an accessory gland in digestion because it produces digestive enzymes that are essential for breaking down carbohydrates, proteins, and fats in the small intestine.

Amylase, lipase, and protease are a few of the digestive enzymes that the pancreas makes and releases into the small intestine to break down carbs, lipids, and proteins, respectively. These enzymes aid in ensuring that the body can absorb and use the nutrients from the diet.

The pancreas generates hormones that are essential for controlling blood sugar levels in addition to digestive enzymes. For instance, insulin, which is created by specialized cells in the pancreas known as beta cells, lowers blood sugar levels by enabling body cells to absorb glucose from circulation. Another hormone made by the pancreas, glucagon, acts to increase blood sugar levels by inducing the liver to release glucose that has been stored there.

Liver, pancreas, gallbladder, and spleen

Digestive Disorders and Accessory Digestive Glands

  • Digestive disorders related to the accessory digestive glands can have a significant impact on the body's ability to digest food properly. One common disorder is gallstones, which can develop in the gallbladder. Gallstones are hardened deposits of digestive fluid that can cause blockages and inflammation in the bile ducts, leading to pain and discomfort.

  • Another common disorder is pancreatitis, which is inflammation of the pancreas. This condition can be acute or chronic and can cause severe abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting. Chronic pancreatitis can lead to the development of pancreatic insufficiency, where the pancreas is no longer able to produce enough digestive enzymes to properly digest food.

  • Liver disease, such as cirrhosis, can also impact the function of the accessory digestive glands. Cirrhosis is scarring of the liver that can lead to liver failure, which can affect the liver's ability to produce bile and impact the body's ability to digest fats.


The accessory digestive glands play critical roles in the digestive process, and their proper function is essential for maintaining a healthy body. From the salivary glands in the mouth to the liver and pancreas in the abdomen, each gland performs a unique function that is essential for proper digestion and nutrient absorption. Understanding the importance of these glands can help individuals maintain a healthy digestive system and prevent the onset of digestive disorders.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are some common symptoms of gallstones?

Common symptoms of gallstones include abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and fever.

2. Can liver disease be prevented?

Yes, liver disease can be prevented by maintaining a healthy diet, limiting alcohol intake, and avoiding exposure to harmful substances.

3. How can I improve my digestive health?

Improving digestive health can be achieved by eating a balanced diet, staying