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Got a gallbladder problem? There are natural alternatives to surgery

Gallbladder problems are common. Every day we receive dozens of calls and emails from people seeking help for their gallbladder condition. Between 10 and 15 percent of Americans will develop a gallbladder problem at some point in their life.

Gallbladder surgery is big business. It is one of the most commonly performed hospital procedures. In many cases, patients are rushed into surgery prematurely, when a more natural solution exists. In many cases, diet changes and nutritional supplements can restore the health of the gallbladder, preventing the need for surgery. Of course this depends on how severe the problem is and how long the gallbladder has been unwell.

Unfortunately gallbladder removal leaves some patients much worse off. Some people experience chronic discomfort and digestive problems after losing their gallbladder. The risk of developing liver problems is also higher in those who have had their gallbladder removed.

Luckily there are ways to overcome these problems, but ideally you would keep your gallbladder and dissolve any stones naturally.

What are gallstones?

Gallstones form when bile stored in the gallbladder hardens into stone-like objects. This process usually takes years. In fact the estimated growth rate of gallstones is approximately 2 millimetres per year.

Normal bile is made up of a combination of water, cholesterol, lecithin, other fats, bile acids, bilirubin, waste products and proteins. If the concentration of cholesterol in the bile becomes too high, relative to bile acids, cholesterol can precipitate out and form stones. Gallstones can be as small as a grain of sand or as large as a golf ball.

There are several types of gallstones:

  • Cholesterol stones
  • Pigment stones – these are formed from calcium bilirubinate (a component of bilirubin) and appear black or brown.
  • Mixed stones – some people have both types of stones in their Gallbladder

Cholesterol stones are by far the most common type, accounting for 80 percent of all gallstones. They are made of hardened cholesterol and look yellow-green in color.

Common symptoms of gallstones

Gallstones are incredibly common, and many people do not realize they have them.

The most common signs and symptoms of gallbladder dysfunction include:

  • Indigestion, particularly after eating rich fatty meals or dairy products
  • Abdominal bloating or a feeling of excessive fullness after meals.
  • Reflux or heartburn, also known as GERD
  • Diarrhea or loose, urgent stools after some foods
  • Abdominal cramps or other pain after a meal
  • Discomfort behind the right shoulder blade, or top of the right shoulder
  • Moody, irritable disposition
  • Low tolerance to alcohol
  • Sweating feet or excess sweating in the body in general
  • Bad breath and coated tongue
  • Fatigue after eating.

Natural ways to help overcome gallbladder problems

  • Include plenty of foods specific for helping the liver and gallbladder function. They include beets and beet leaves, fresh green leafy herbs such as are mint, parsley, cilantro and arugula.
  • Increase the amount of sulfur rich foods in your diet, such as garlic, broccoli, cabbage and Brussels sprouts.
  • Taking digestive enzymes at the beginning of your meals may reduce symptoms. A good digestive enzyme supplement will combine enzymes with betaine hydrochloride (hydrochloric acid) and ox bile.
  • Some people need additional ox bile. If you have several stones in your gallbladder, or very large stones, or if your gallbladder is inflamed, you are probably not secreting enough bile into your intestines each time you eat. That can cause indigestion, feeling unwell after oily meals and it can lead to a deficiency of essential fatty acids. Taking ox bile with each meal can help to reduce these symptoms, and it can help to soften gallstones and reduce their size.
  • Take a good liver tonic twice daily; ensure it contains St Mary’s Thistle, dandelion root, globe artichoke and the sulphur bearing amino acid taurine.
  • Find out if you have any food sensitivities. In the vast majority of cases, food intolerance aggravates gallbladder problems. The most common problematic foods are gluten, wheat, dairy products, eggs, soy and nuts. You can try an elimination diet or you can see a naturopath or nutritionist to help you identify problem foods and come up with alternatives.
  • Sip one tablespoon of organic apple cider vinegar mixed in a quarter of a glass of warm water before meals.
  • Increase your intake of omega 3 fatty acids – Suitable sources are oily fish, good quality fish oil supplements, walnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds and hemp seeds. Keep oils in the fridge.
  • Another healthy fat to include in your diet is organic, cold pressed coconut oil. It is mostly comprised of medium chain fatty acids, which do not stress your gallbladder because they do not require bile for their digestion.

There is a great deal more information in our book Save your Gallbladder and what to do if you’ve already lost it.

Gallblader Book

The above statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease.


  1. Hi, I had my gallstones removed but the doctor still insist removing my gallbladder because my eyes are still kinda yellow under the eyelids but I’m not in any pain but he says to remove it will save us dangers of more stones being developed’ please advice.

    • Hi Edian,

      Sometimes the gallbladder has to be removed to prevent a medical emergency which can occur eg. if gallstones obstruct the bile duct. Jaundice (yellow colour in the sclera of the eyes) may be an indication of bile duct obstruction. We recommend you ask your doctor for an ultrasound scan of the liver and gallbladder to check for any abnormalities or a HIDA scan to check the function and identify any abnormalities of the gallbladder and bile ducts. Following the advice in the Save Your Gallbladder book – changing your diet and taking LivaTone Plus and NAC to reduce inflammation and improve bile quality to prevent bile sludge and stones forming is recommended for long term health. If it is necessary for the gallbladder to be removed, the book has advice to help you live a healthy life without a gallbladder.

      Kind Regards,
      Jessah Robinson
      Nutritional Consultant for Liverdoctor.com

  2. I have gallbladder issues. I will be seeing a surgeon about my options. I am not excited about surgery.

    • Hi John,

      We suggest you read Dr Cabot’s book: ‘Save Your Gallbladder Naturally’. It contains an excellent diet plan for people with gallbladder issues.

      Have you had a HIDA scan?

      Dr Cabot recommends

      Ox Bile 1 to 2 caps at the beginning of each meal to enhance bile flow.

      Livatone Liver Tonic 2 caps twice daily to tone and boost the gallbladder’s function.

      NAC 2 caps twice daily at least two hours away from food, if any upset occurs take with meals. This supplement works well with Livatone Liver Tonic to get your liver better faster.

      We also recommend a diet free of gluten, dairy, processed food and take-out meals. Low sugar is encouraged and definitely no high fructose corn syrup.

      Kind Regards,
      Jessah Robinson
      Nutritional Consultant for Liverdoctor.com

  3. just came from the hospital . no gallstones but full of sludge is there a diet I can do to avoid surgery ? in a lot of pain.

    • Hi Duane,

      Firstly, we recommend you have a HIDA scan done to check your gallbladder function.

      We recommend you follow the eating guidelines in Dr Cabot’s book: ‘Save Your Gallbladder Naturally’.

      Dr Cabot recommends

      Livatone Plus 2 caps twice daily to improve liver function

      Ox Bile 1 to 2 caps in the middle of meals three times daily to improve bile flow

      These supplements can be purchased here: https://shop.liverdoctor.com

      Kind Regards,
      Jessah Robinson
      Nutritional Consultant

  4. My doctor said my gall bladder is only functioning at 25%. Is there any coming back from that or is surgery the only option? Several women in my family have had theirs removed, I was hoping to keep mine if possible. I’ve been dealing with attacks for close to 15 years, and I have managed to lessen the frequency and the amount of pain by (mostly) watching my diet. Is there any hope? I also have IBS with annoyingly frequent diarrhea almost immediately after meals, did I mention it’s annoying? I’ll do what I have to do, but I thought I would ask someone whos not just in it for the sole purpose of surgery. Thank you! :}

    • Hi Yolanda,

      Dr Cabot says that 25% gallbladder function is able to be function adequately and it’s function may be improved.

      Please avoid all gluten, sugars, high fructose corn syrup, processed foods and especially highly treated fats and oils.

      Good fats are encouraged, like avocadoes, cold pressed olive and nut oils in dark glass bottles.

      Dr Cabot recommends you begin taking

      Livatone Plus – 2 capsules twice daily, to improve liver function.

      N-Acetyl-Cysteine (NAC 600mg) – 2 capsules twice daily well away from food, if any upset occurs take at the beginning of your meals. As you will see from the attached pamphlet this supplement works well with Livatone Plus to get your liver better faster. This supplement hastens liver healing. This supplement is the precursor nutrient of glutathione; the body’s strongest anti-oxidant.

      Glutamine Powder – 1 teaspoon in water twice daily to calm, soothe, and heal your gut lining and resolve Leaky Gut in conjunction with an anti-inflammatory diet.

      Kind Regards,
      Jessah Robinson
      Nutritional Consultant for Liverdoctor.com

  5. Linda lee Martinez

    Had my galbader removed but still have pain after eating and feel sluggish

    • Dear Linda,

      I recommend you follow the guidelines in the above article and this article: https://www.liverdoctor.com/what-to-do-if-you-dont-have-a-gallbladder/
      You should take Ox Bile 1 – 2 capsules at the beginning of each meal to replace the bile that can no longer be delivered from your gallbladder to help essential fat absorption. Take Livatone Plus caps 2 twice daily to improve liver function.
      These can be purchased from http://www.liverdoctor.com.
      You need to eliminate or reduce grains, dairy and processed foods.
      For more information see our book: ‘Save Your Gallbladder Naturally and What to Do If You’ve Already Lost It’.

      Kind Regards,
      Jessah Robinson
      Nutritional Consultant

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