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Myths and facts about gallbladder disease

Gallbladder problems are incredibly common. They often go hand in hand with liver conditions such as fatty liver, being overweight or being a diabetic. They are also much more common in women than in men. This is mostly because of the effects of the female hormone estrogen on the bile within the gallbladder. It makes bile thicker and more prone to forming sludge. Sludge in the gallbladder can eventually form into stones.

There is a lot of information about gallbladder problems on the internet. Some of it is very good, while other information is entirely incorrect, and can even be harmful.

Having treated several hundred patients with gallbladder problems, I would like to share with you the most common gallbladder myths and truths that I’ve encountered. It’s possible that what you think will help your gallbladder, could actually do it harm.

Myth – You need to follow a low fat diet to prevent or shrink gallstones.

Fact – The opposite is true. A low fat diet actually encourages the formation of stones for three reasons:

  1. Excess carbohydrate is converted into fat in your liver
  2. Low fat diets promote bile stasis
  3. Gluten can interfere with gallbladder contractions;

thus all three factors promote gallstones. You need to eat some fat in order to flush the gallbladder clean and avoid stagnation of bile. Sugar is a bigger problem for the gallbladder than fat is.

Myth – People with gallbladder disease should avoid saturated fat.

Fact – Many commonly consumed saturated fats are composed of short and medium chain fatty acids. These fats do not require bile for their digestion therefore do not place a strain on the gallbladder. For example coconut oil and ghee are saturated fats predominantly composed of medium and short chain fatty acids respectively, and are okay to eat.

Myth – A gallbladder flush is the best way to get rid of gallstones.

Fact – A gallbladder flush is not for everyone. If you are already in pain, it can make the pain significantly worse, and even lead to an emergency trip to hospital where you’d likely return without your gallbladder.

Myth – It doesn’t matter if your gallbladder is removed. It’s not an important organ and you can be perfectly healthy without it.

Fact – Yes, it’s true that you can survive quite well without a gallbladder, but you are at greater risk of developing certain liver conditions. You will also have impaired fat digestion and probable deficiency of fat soluble nutrients such as vitamins including vitamins D, K, E and A, as well as essential fatty acids. Taking an ox bile supplement can largely help to counteract this problem.

Myth – Having your gallbladder removed will stop the pain and then you can eat whatever you like.

Fact – This is not the case for many people. Some people experience even worse symptoms after their gallbladder is taken out. Either way, removing the gallbladder does not address the underlying metabolic abnormalities that caused a person to develop stones in the first place.

Myth – You can’t do a liver detox if you don’t have a gallbladder.

Fact – Yes, you can do a liver detox and it is critical to take good care of your liver in order to avoid developing stones within the liver and other liver disorders. Fatty liver disease is very common in those who have had their gallbladder removed, and a good liver tonic like Livatone can help to reduce this risk.

Myth – It is normal and expected that you’ll have digestive problems such as irritable bowel syndrome or diarrhea after having your gallbladder removed and it’s just something you’ll have to live with.

Fact – No it isn’t. There are ways to ensure good digestion and help you be symptom free.

Gallstones are not always caused by an abnormality of the gallbladder; they are caused by problems with the liver and digestive system, which promote the production of unhealthy bile, which is then more likely to form stones. Digestive problems can also interfere with the ability of the gallbladder to contract, thus further encouraging stone formation and inflammation of the gallbladder.

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

8 comments

  1. I am a 69 year old woman, Ive had gallstones for years with no symptoms. They did a ultra sound on my gallbladder and said they didn,t like the way it looked. I still didn,t want to have it removed, then he did a scan and it was funtioning at 7 %, so they feel it needs to be removed. Problem is i have A-fIB and take a 325mg asprine daily also on plavix daily. The surgeon said if i dont stop the plavix i will bleed out on the table and they cant do anything about it. If i stop the plavix i could have a cardiact event. My Cartiologist always said dont let them take you off plavix, but because its gallbladder he gave me cardiac clearance and oked it to get off plavix. I was confused so the surgeon got me an appointment with my heart Doctor and said we will have a 3 way confrence between us . He said had you rather fight a bear or a snake? I really dont know what to do. would anything help besides removal? Thank you

    • Hi Brenda,

      We recommend you ask your surgeon what is causing the low gallbladder function as there may be other issues besides gallstones.

      Natural treatments to improve the quality of bile and liver function may help. Have a look at this article for further information: http://www.liverdoctor.com/liver-problems/gallbladder/

      Sometimes the gallbladder itself may be inflamed or have other abnormalities such as polyps or tumours, and depending on the severity of the condition, removal may be necessary.

      Kind Regards,
      Jessah Robinson
      Nutritional Consultation for Liverdoctor.com

      • Hi Brenda,

        If you are concerned about pausing your medication you should get further clarification from your cardiologist.

        Kind Regards,
        Jessah Robinson
        Nutritional Consultant for Liverdoctor.com

  2. I have Biliary sludge and I am prepared for operation.
    Does biliary sludge get metabolised on strict low fat ,vegetable diet
    after six months?
    Please advise.

    • Hello Mr Arvind,

      To reduce gallbladder sludge we recommend you avoid grains, dairy, processed food and take out meals.
      There is an excellent eating plan in Dr Cabot’s book: ‘Save Your Gallbladder Naturally’.
      Dr Cabot recommends you take
      Livatone Plus 2 caps twice daily to improve liver function
      Super Digestive Enzymes 2 caps at the beginning of your meals to reduce symptoms.
      Selenium 1 tablet daily to support good bile quality and healthy bile ducts in the liver.
      These supplements can be purchased here: https://shop.liverdoctor.com
      We recommend you read this article: https://www.liverdoctor.com/liver-problems/gallbladder/

      Kind Regards,
      Jessah Robinson
      Nutritional Consultant for Liverdoctor.com

  3. Ich bin Novia Tri Lestari . Ich komme aus indonesia . ich wohne in Tasikmalaya . Ich bin 18 Jahre alt. Ich gehe zur Schule in SMAN 3 Talaimaskya. Ich aufstehen 5 uhr . Und dann ich habe Frühstück . zum Frühstück esse ich reisbei . Danach, ich fahre in die schule mit dem mottorad um 06.30…

    • Hi Novia,

      Apakah Anda memiliki pertanyaan kesehatan Anda membutuhkan nasihat tentang?

      Salam,
      Jessah Robinson
      Konsultan gizi untuk Liverdoctor.com

  4. I love the way you have structured this important information. It will help those unsure about gallbladder disease become more informed. I think a healthy diet is so crucial to maintaining a healthy gallbladder. Maintaining a healthy weight, eating a balanced amount of good fats, and eating lots of fiber to keep the digestive tract functioning normally are all ways people can stay healthy. Thank you for clearing up so many of the misconceptions people have about gallbladder disease. The more people that know the truth, the healthier everyone can be.

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THESE STATEMENTS HAVE NOT BEEN EVALUATED BY THE FDA AND ARE NOT INTENDED TO DIAGNOSE, TREAT OR CURE ANY DISEASES.