What is the gallbladder?
The gallbladder is a small pear-shaped organ situated directly under the liver in the right upper quadrant of the abdomen.
What is the function of the gallbladder?
Its main function is to collect and concentrate the bile that the body uses to emulsify fats to boost absorption. Problems with the gallbladder and biliary system are very common and consist of -
- Inflammation of the gallbladder and bile ducts
- Muscular spasms and/or poor contraction of the gallbladder wall
- Stones forming in the gallbladder and/or bile ducts
- Obstruction to the free flow of bile
What causes gallbladder problems?
- Production of toxic bile by the liver
- Inadequate production of bile by the liver
- Sluggish flow of bile
- Excess amounts of cholesterol in the bile resulting in stone formation
- Infection of the gallbladder
- Poor dietary choices with excess consumption of gluten, other grains, sugar, dairy products, fried foods and processed foods.
- The hormonal changes of pregnancy
- The oral contraceptive pill and some types of hormone replacement therapy
- Some types of blood disorders
What are the symptoms of gallbladder conditions?
- Indigestion and nausea after eating (especially fatty foods)
- Vomiting attacks
- Pain in the right upper abdomen, which often radiates to the right shoulder and back at the shoulder blade.
What causes gallstones?
High cholesterol loaded bile tends to encourage gallbladder sludge and stones. Generally speaking, the gall bladder becomes diseased or dysfunctional because the liver is producing unhealthy bile. The bile is either toxic or contains excess amounts of cholesterol.
What are the symptoms of gallstones?
The majority of gallstones stay in the gallbladder and cause no symptoms. However, if a stone moves it may obstruct the neck of the gall bladder or common bile duct giving rise to severe pain in the upper right side of the abdomen.
A stone in the common bile duct will frequently cause jaundice. Jaundice is a condition in which the skin and the eyes become yellow due to accumulated bile pigment. Some people with large stones in the gallbladder will never have any problems, and should not rush into surgery. In such cases, you may want to try and dissolve the stones gradually over several years by following the recommendations given below. Of course you will also be doing your liver a good service, as you will be removing the unhealthy fats from the liver.
Acute cholecystitis is when the gallbladder becomes distended and inflamed often with resulting localized peritonitis or sometimes pancreatitis. This usually follows obstruction to the neck of the gallbladder or cystic duct by an impacted stone. Acute cholecystitis classically affects females in the 20 to 40 year age group but may occur at any age. The pain in the central and right upper abdomen is continuous and severe and increases in intensity over 24 hours. It frequently radiates around to the back and may be associated with nausea and vomiting. Fever is usual. The presence of gallstones and acute cholecystitis can usually be confirmed by an ultrasound scan. Repeated attacks of cholecystitis may occur if the condition remains untreated.
- "Save Your Gallbladder Naturally and what to do if you've already lost it"
- "Raw Juices Can Save Your Life"
Generally speaking, the gallbladder becomes diseased or dysfunctional because the liver is producing unhealthy bile. The bile is either toxic or contains excess amounts of cholesterol. To improve gallbladder problems, we must improve the quality of the bile, by improving the liver function. Even after the gallbladder is removed there may still be problems in the bile ducts inside and outside the liver. This is because the underlying problem of toxic bile has not been corrected.
Indeed after gallbladder removal the following things may still happen –
- Stones and gravel may form in the bile ducts inside and outside the liver.
- The liver may develop fatty changes.
- Thus it is important to take extra care of your liver if you have gallbladder problems, or if you have had your gallbladder removed.
- The best eating principles are outlined in the book "Save Your Gallbladder Naturally and what to do if you've already lost it".
- Try to maintain a normal body weight. Include often - high fiber foods like raw vegetables and fruits, especially apples and pears, fish, chicken and grass fed meat.
- Avoid all dairy products and gluten.
- Avoid foods that contain high counts of bacteria, fungi and viruses – these are preserved meats, delicatessen meats, hamburger meats, smoked meats, and processed or junk foods. This is because these foods may trigger or exacerbate gallbladder infections.
- Avoid refined sugars and refined carbohydrates.
- Drink plenty of filtered water throughout the day – 8 to 10 glasses at least.
- Modest amounts of good fats, like hemp, avocado, coconut oil and extra virgin olive oil to ensure the gallbladder removes stored bile to allow new bile to enter the gallbladder.
Remember: Dairy products, margarine and deep fried foods are not suggested for those with gallbladder and liver problems!
Raw juicing is vitally important. Drink raw vegetable juice every day. Recommended juice recipes found in "Raw Juices Can Save Your Life" book are:
- 2 fresh dandelion or 2 cabbage or 2 kale leaves
- 1 medium carrot
- 1 inch (2.5 cm) slice beetroot with top
- 1 medium apple
- 2 Brussels Sprouts
- 2 turnip leaves - optional
- 1/2 inch (1.5cm) fresh ginger
- 1 large ripe tomato
- Wash, trim and chop and process all in juicer. For variety you may add a grapefruit, orange, lemon, lime, watercress or a red radish. You may dilute with water or cold herbal tea.
Liver Cleansing Juice
- 2 dandelion leaves or 2 spinach leaves or 2 large cabbage leaves
- 1/2 cup broccoli florets
- 1/4 cauliflower or 2 large Brussels sprouts
- 1 clove garlic or 1 small radish (optional)
- 1/2 cup parsley
- 1 green apple, whole
- 1 lime or 1 lemon
- Wash, trim and chop produce and process through juicer. This juice is high in Vitamin C and sulfur compounds to cleanse the liver.
This is a very strong mixture and may be diluted 1 part juice to 1 part water or you can dilute it with cold herbal or fruit flavored tea.
- Drink 8 to 16oz (250 to 500 ml) daily.
- You may sweeten this juice by adding the following - strawberries, carrot and a small amount of beetroot.
Juices made freshly from raw fruits and or vegetables have unique healing and rejuvenating properties.
Common questions about the gallbladder
Can I still do the Liver Cleansing Diet or follow Liver Cleansing principles even though my gallbladder has been removed?
Yes – in fact it is highly recommended, as even after the gallbladder is removed there may still be problems in the bile ducts inside and outside the liver. This is because the underlying problem of toxic bile has not been corrected.
I have been diagnosed or believe I have gall stones – should I do a gallbladder/liver flush?
No – this is not recommended as a first step.
These flushes using olive oil, lemon juice or apple juice etc. work by shrinking the stones and causing the gallbladder to contract forcefully to hopefully expel the stones to be passed in the feces. Alternatively, a teaspoon of good quality apple cider vinegar mixed with a teaspoon of honey in a small glass of warm water and sipped slowly during every meal can be taken to help dissolve the stones.
These flushes are best done after at least 6 months of following the principles in the book "Save Your Gallbladder Naturally" book and taking the recommended supplements to shrink and soften the stones before flushing. Once this has been done – the shrunken softened stones and remaining sludge may then be safely flushed out.
It is recommended to have an ultrasound of the gallbladder before undertaking the flush to make sure. The reason being that if the gallbladder is full of silent gall stones and a flush is undertaken – these stones may become impacted in the narrow bile ducts as they are flushed out. This may cause a tear in the duct.
Orthodox medical treatment
Gallstones which are not causing any symptoms require no treatment. Acute cholecystitis is commonly managed conservatively with bed rest, nil by mouth and intravenous fluids, plus an antibiotic. Strong analgesia (pain relief) is also usually needed. As repeat attacks are likely, surgical removal of the gallbladder (cholecystectomy) is recommended at some future date. This is also the preferred option for any gallstones which are causing symptoms.
These days, the operation is frequently done via a laparoscope (operating telescope) requiring only a very small incision ("keyhole surgery"). This means a much shorter hospital stay and much faster recovery. Other possible treatments for gallstones include the administration of bile acid preparations which can be used to dissolve certain types of stones. This takes anything from six months to two years, and after the treatment is stopped 50 percent of the gallstones recur, especially if you don't follow our dietary recommendations. For these reasons it is rarely advocated.
Shock-wave treatment (lithotripsy) can be used in some cases to break up the stones, followed up by bile acid therapy. The role of this approach is still being evaluated. In our experience, by using these dietary and natural therapy measures, surgery can often be avoided.
Recommended supplements for gallbladder conditions
- MSM with Vitamin C
Take 1 teaspoon twice daily in raw juices or water. MSM is an organic sulfur which assists in improving function of the liver, gallbladder and biliary system, and helps to reduce inflammation.
- Livatone Plus Powder or Capsules
Take 1 teaspoon twice daily in juices or 2 capsules twice daily with food - Improvement of liver function is vital. A good formula containing dandelion, St Mary’s thistle, globe artichoke, lecithin and taurine should be taken daily. Lecithin is helpful as it aids in fat digestion and increases the phospholipid concentration in the gallbladder. Patients with gallstones have an abnormally low phospholipid : cholesterol ratio in their bile. Increasing the phospholipid concentration may therefore inhibit the development of gallstones and possibly decrease the size of pre-existent stones. Dandelion will not only help to prevent gallstones but can actually help to dissolve them. Dandelion increases bile production and causes the gallbladder to contract to expel any small stones and gravel. It also increases the amount of cheneoxycholic acid, which over time dissolve the stones.
- Ox Bile
Take 1 capsule with each meal. This will help to thin the bile and can help dissolve stones. It improves digestion in those who don't have a gallbladder.
Take 1 to 2 teaspoons with breakfast to assist in removing excess fats and cholesterol from the body.
Take 1 capsule daily with food. Selenium will assist in reducing gall bladder inflammation and is a strong antioxidant.
The above statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease.