Have you been feeling bloated and sluggish lately? Are you suffering from reflux or indigestion? A sluggish gallbladder could be to blame.

Every time you eat a meal that contains some fat, your gallbladder is triggered to contract. Bile is required for healthy digestion. Your liver manufactures bile. It gets stored and concentrated in your gallbladder.

Sometimes, if the liver is not healthy, the bile produced may be overly thick. This makes it difficult for the gallbladder to contract properly. If it can’t contract fully, old bile may remain in the gallbladder too long. Stagnant bile can lead to the formation of gallbladder sludge. Eventually, sludge can turn into gallstones. It’s possible to have gallstones while not having any symptoms. Eventually though, the gallbladder may become so clogged and congested, that symptoms develop.

What happens if you can’t produce enough bile?

  • Reduced ability to absorb fat-soluble vitamins – these are vitamin, vitamin A, vitamin K and vitamin D and essential fatty acids, and fat soluble antioxidants, such as beta carotene. If you are lacking in these nutrients you can suffer with dry and dehydrated skin.
  • Poor elimination of toxins via the bile (these are eliminated in bowel actions)
  • Poor breakdown and excretion of fats. This means you’re more likely to develop high cholesterol.

No wonder you will find yourself feeling uncomfortable after eating. You will also find that you have problems controlling your weight even though you are not eating more than normal. You will also have a higher risk of developing a fatty liver.

To produce healthy bile you need healthy liver cells and healthy bile ducts. To get the extra spurt of bile you need during a meal you need a gallbladder that is functioning well.

A study reported in the British Journal of Surgery found that 40% of patients who had their gallbladder removed did not get relief of their symptoms.

Over 60% of gallbladder surgeries are unnecessary and in many patients removing the gallbladder does not relieve symptoms.

I have seen patients who have had their gallbladder removed and think that they will never have problems again. Unfortunately, they often grow more stones in the bile ducts higher up inside their liver and the same pain recurs. Stones higher up in the bile ducts can lead to chronic painful liver cysts.

The most accurate way to measure the function of your gallbladder is called a HIDA scan, which your doctor can order. A HIDA scan is a nuclear medicine imaging test that tracks the production and flow of bile from your liver via your bile ducts and gallbladder and thence to your small intestine.  The HIDA scan uses a radioactive tracer to enhance the bile ducts and gallbladder and how well the bile is flowing into the small intestine. A HIDA scan can measure how well the gallbladder is ejecting (squirting out) bile.

It is a very useful test as it shows how well your liver, bile ducts and gallbladder are working. An ultrasound scan only shows the shape and size of the liver and gallbladder and if there are any stones but an ultrasound scan will not show if the bile ducts and gallbladder are functioning well. Thus you can have a normal result on your ultrasound scan but your bile ducts and gallbladder may still be functioning very poorly and indeed may be diseased.
A HIDA scan, which stands for Hepatobiliary Imino Diacetic Acid scan, shows pictures of your liver, gallbladder, bile ducts and duodenum. The HIDA scan gives a percentage of bile ejection from the gallbladder. Normal ejection fractions range between 33 and 40%.

Tips to improve a poorly functioning gallbladder:

  • Take a supplement of ox bile. This will help to supplement your bile level if you are not producing enough, or if your gallbladder is not ejecting enough. Ox bile also helps to make your bile more thin and liquid, thus reducing the risk of gallstones. It can help to break down bile sludge, reducing the risk of future stones. It is also wonderful for reducing indigestion, gas and nausea following an oily meal.
  • I have formulated Livatone to give your liver cells and bile ducts the extra help they desperately need. LivaTone contains the most important liver herbs – Milk Thistle, Dandelion and Globe Artichoke combined with taurine, which is an amino acid your liver cells need to make healthy bile. Extra ingredients are vegetable powders and psyllium fiber. Psyllium can bind cholesterol and toxins and carry them out of your body via the bile. LivaTone also contains lecithin to help keep cholesterol soluble.
  • Take a magnesium supplement such as Magnesium Complete or Magnesium Ultrapotent powder to help the gallbladder to contract
  • Drink a raw juice of ginger, carrot, mint, basil and orange each day.
  • Pour two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar into a small glass of warm water and sip it before your meals.

Sometimes the gallbladder is so diseased that it must be removed to save your life. But be vigilant, as after your gallbladder is gone your liver and bile ducts will need extra support. Otherwise you may get a fatty liver or more stones in your bile ducts much higher up in your liver.

It is important to remember that your liver is the most important cleansing and fat burning organ in your body- don’t take it for granted that it will continue to be healthy in this toxic day and age!

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