What is the gall bladder?
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 gall bladder?
Its main function is to collect and concentrate the bile that the body uses to digest fats. Problems with the gall bladder and biliary system are very common and consist of –
- Inflammation of the gall bladder and bile ducts
- Muscular spasms and/or poor contraction of the gall bladder wall
- Stones forming in the gall bladder and/or bile ducts
- Obstruction to the free flow of bile
What causes gall bladder 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 gall bladder
- Poor dietary choices with excess consumption of gluten, other grains, sugar, dairy products and fried 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 gall bladder 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.
What causes gall stones?
Sometimes crystals precipitate out of the bile to form gallstones. 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 fat and bacteria.
What are the symptoms of gall stones?
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 gall bladder 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. It 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.
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 fat and bacteria. To improve gall bladder problems, we must improve the quality of the bile, by improving the liver function. Even after the gall bladder is removed there may still be problems in the bile ducts inside & outside the liver. This is because the underlying problem of toxic bile has not been corrected.
Indeed after gall bladder 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 gall bladder problems, or if you have had your gall bladder removed.
- The best eating principles are outlined in the book “Save your Gallbladder and what to do if you’ve already lost it“
- Try to maintain a normal body weight. Include often – high fiber foods like raw fruits and vegetables, 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 will trigger or exacerbate gall bladder infections.
- Avoid refined sugars and refined carbohydrates.
- Drink plenty of filtered water throughout the day – 8 – 10 glasses at least.
Remember: Dairy products, margarine and deep fried foods are not suggested for those with gall bladder 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:
- “Gall Stones and Biliary Problems” juice on page 93
- “Liver Dysfunction” juices on page 116
Juices made freshly from raw fruits and or vegetables have unique healing and rejuvenating properties.
Common questions about the gall bladder:
Can I still do the Liver Cleansing Diet or follow Liver Cleansing principles even though my gall bladder has been removed?
Yes – in fact it is highly recommended as even after the gall bladder 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 gall bladder/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 “Liver Cleansing Diet” principles 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 gall bladder before undertaking the flush to make sure. The reason being that if the gall bladder 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.
- Take1 teaspoon twice daily in raw juices or water. MSM is an organic sulphur which assists in improving function of the liver, gall bladder and biliary system and helps to reduce inflammation.
- 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.
- Take 1 to 2 teaspoons with breakfast to assist in removing excess fats and cholesterol from the body.
- Take 2 capsules twice or three times daily – Olive leaf is a natural antibiotic helping to fight infection.
- Take 1 tablet or 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.