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Gallbladder Health Part II: Prevention and Natural Treatment of Gallbladder Problems

by drgangemi on August 1, 2012

Gallbladder Health:Natural Treatment & PreventionIt’s always easier to prevent a problem rather than treat it, and this is especially true when it comes to the gallbladder problems. But how do you know if your gallbladder isn’t functioning up to snuff? You don’t want to wait for a gallbladder attack to tell you something isn’t right. In Part I, I discussed some of those more subtle signs and symptoms that many people have that aren’t normal – but a warning that the gallbladder isn’t all too happy. Now here in Part II, we’ll look at how to lower your risk factors for a gallbladder problem. We’ll also consider some natural treatments that may help you out whether you’re at the point of just not feeling perfect or at the other end of the spectrum – about to have your gallbladder removed because you’re just sick of all the trouble it’s giving you.

Gallbladder Risk Factors: Lower Your Risk For Gallbladder Problems – (Prevention!)

The medical risk factors for the gallbladder are known as the 4Fs – Female, Fat, Forty, and Fertile. Though overweight fertile women are more susceptible for gallstones and gallbladder problems, there are many other risk factors even in those who aren’t fat, and for you guys too out there.

Diet is the number one reason for a poorly functioning gallbladder. Don’t let anyone tell you that diet has no relationship to the gallbladder. Ample research tells us that our diet not only affects every cell in our body but obviously those of digestion. Even before the insulin link to the gallbladder was discovered just a few years ago (discussed in Part I) many natural physicians recognized the importance of diet on metabolism. So – Dietary and Lifestyle Risk Factors:

1)      Bad fats – these include the obvious partially hydrogenated “trans” fats but also those refined polyunsaturated vegetable oils that so many think are good to eat – corn, soy, canola, safflower, sunflower, peanut, cottonseed, and grapeseed. Deep fried foods are especially terrible for your gallbladder. Stick with the good fats please – coconut, eggs, extra virgin oil, fish and flax, butter and heavy cream (moderation) and raw nuts and seeds (moderation thereGallbladder Problems & Fried Food too).

2)      Refined carbohydrates – these, along with the bad fats, are where the oxidation (free radical damage) and the inflammation comes from, and it can take its toll on the gallbladder because its effect on cholesterol. Read the cholesterol article I wrote for more on this. High fructose corn syrup – it’s the worst.

3)      Smoking – Unhealthy for your entire body and really takes its toll on the gallbladder too.

4)      Excess caffeine – yeah too much caffeine can stress out the gallbladder. How much is too much? That depends on the individual. For some it may be three cups of espresso and for another it may be one ounce of chocolate per day. If you’re having gallbladder problems just stop all caffeine until it’s better.

5)      Alcohol – again this is individualized but obviously too much alcohol is not healthy for your liver, gallbladder, or the rest of your body. Ladies – I don’t agree with those who say that it’s okay to drink two glasses of wine (red or white) per night. That’s excessive and I almost always see health problems with it. Stick to one max – and hopefully not every night. Pretty much the same rule applies to men too.

6)      Aspartame (Nutrasweet) and other excitotoxins (MSG) – this one is huge and I can’t tell you the number of patients I’ve seen who were diet soda addicts who had their gallbladder removed, (before seeing me), yet didn’t see any connection.Gallbladder Problems & Diet Soda

7)      NSAIDS – and other anti-inflammatories can take their toll on the liver and gallbladder. Other meds can too but NSAIDS more often, especially for chronic users.

8)      Birth control pills (BCP), hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and yes even the intrauterine device (IUD) – hormonal regulation and metabolism is a major factor when it comes to the liver and even the gallbladder – that’s why the “Fertile” is part of the medical risk factor. Estrogen dominance has a huge impact on the health of the gallbladder. Considering that estrogen and the mineral copper closely parallel one another, many women have copper toxicity problems due to estrogen dominance and then gallbladder problems because some of those bile salts are copper salts – that’s where the bile gets its green color from – copper! You don’t have to be on The Pill or taking hormones to have a gallbladder problem related to your hormones – it can be from inefficient hormonal detoxification. Guys too – you can have testosterone and estrogen problems.

  • And women who have gone the route of an IUD for birth control, (which I feel is the worst form of birth control ever; they’re always a problem but that’s a story for another time), then the copper or the hormones in the IUD will impact the gallbladder – and the impact won’t be good. I’ve seen women who have unfortunately had their gallbladder removed because of gallbladder problems resulting from their IUD, both copper and hormonal types.

Self Help For Your Gallbladder

If you’re having gallbladder problems and it’s not an emergency situation, (let’s all use common sense here – don’t wait if you’re in dire straits – again, discussed in Part I), then the first thing to do is to follow the advice I just mentioned – change your diet and lifestyle and assess your risk factors.

Lemons for Gallbladder ReliefLemons, Beets, and Ginger – Oh My!

Lemons and beets are great foods for your liver and gallbladder – they help to keep bile healthy and non-viscous. So eating these foods regularly can be beneficial.

During an acute and uncomfortable, “attack” you can try sipping some lemon juice. Take one-half of a fresh squeezed lemon and mix it with about 6oz of water and sip it (don’t gulp it down) over the next 30 minutes. If it works, keep doing it until you’ve received full relief. Ginger works well too for some people, but more for nausea. Try to use real ginger root not those rolled in a lot of sugar. You can add it to a smoothie or juiced drink. Though if you only have access to some Ginger Ale that may get you by.

Hot or Cold?

You can also try a cold pack over the area of your gallbladder – the upper right quadrant of your abdomen. Place the cold pack about half way over your ribs and half over the abdomen. Don’t put ice directly on your skin or you may burn – but wrap in a paper towel or put over your clothing. Leave the ice on long enough to get a “numb” feeling and depending on the relief you get from it. If any area of your skin in the upper right quadrant of your abdomen feels warm to the touch, that is exactly where you should try to cool it down.

Obviously with the recommendations here if you keep having to do the same things over and over (ice or lemon juice) then you’re not figuring out the problem and just getting by with temporary relief. If the pain gets worse and worse – either that same day or with each subsequent attack – you should seek medical attention – right? (Answer = yes)

The Liver – Gallbladder Flush

I’ll briefly discuss “the flush” since I know many will ask about it if I don’t. It’s called the gallbladder flush though some call it a liver flush too. Some say they’ve saved themselves from surgery by doing a flush and many feel a lot better by cleaning out their liver and gallbladder with a flush. Others think the flush does nothing but give you diarrhea. I’ll let you be the judge. There are plenty of flush recipes out there and I have my own which I share with patients and I will not share in detail here. Do I think they work? Definitely, but not all the time and they’re not as necessary as you may think. But if you’re at wits end, “What do you have to lose?” Well not much unless you lodge a stone in your duct during the flush (rare) then you’re off to surgery. In my fifteen years of practice I’ve only recommended the flush a few times because of the way I approach digestive problems – treating, advising, and figuring out why the patient is having a problem, so I rarely need to go the flush route to see improvements. (And I have never had to have a patient have their gallbladder removed either.)

Liver Flush, Gallbladder Flush: Gallstones

Yeah I hope hands were washed after…

Typically a flush is something like this: the patient drinks four glasses of pure organic apple juice per day for five days, then on the fifth day they fast briefly – 8 hours. Next they take a certain amount of magnesium or disodium phosphate. Finally they drink one-half cup of fresh squeezed lemon juice mixed with one-half cup of extra virgin olive oil just before bed. Then they sleep laying on their right side with their knees tucked into the chest for at least 30 minutes.  The next morning, they have a bowel movement where they may pass a number of green and brown pebbles/stones said to be stones flushed from the biliary system – and some people catch these in a colander and post them on-line for other to see (unnecessary but true). They may pass several very large stones or thousands or small pebbles – or nothing at all! Fun times.

That’s a general idea of a liver-gallbladder flush. Try it if you see fit but remember you still need to change your dietary and lifestyle habits to resolve your gallbladder problem(s) but hopefully you will not be another victim who is told they “definitely need to have their gallbladder removed but it’s okay because it’s not a necessary organ”.

 

 

101 Comments

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  1. Jill Bangerter permalink

    Thanks, Dr. G., for the great advice. It’s too late for me, but maybe others will be able to save their organ. I had been living a pretty healthy lifestyle and still lost my gall bladder to my gluten intolerance. No doctors could tell me why I always had indigestion and nausea, lack of energy, etc. I wish I had known then how to solve this problem. I could have avoided surgery and avoided Hashimoto’s. Jill

  2. Diane P permalink

    Hi Dr G, Thank you for your good sound advice. I was recently told that I have gallstones and should have surgery I do not want to have surgery I want to keep my green little buddy do you think a flush would be helpful for me. Thank you

    • That’s your call. I can’t advise you since you’re not my patient. I’m just providing the information. But think about it – if you covered everything else yet your gallbladder was still a problem – what would you choose: the flush or surgery? Does someone else want to answer this for Diane?

      • Diane Witte permalink

        Hi, Diane,

        I have not had gallbladder problems but I got the book The Liver and Gallbladder Miracle Cleanse by Andreas Moritz. After reading it, I’ve done the cleanse 3 times so far and have a 4th one scheduled. In the book, he explains what conditions the cleanse is good for (many more than the good doctor here said). He also gives very specific instructions on how to do it. He also explains why it should be done several to many times. I found the book to be a wealth of information and the cleanse is so easy to do. Just follow the instructions exactly.

        There are others out there with their own protocols, which I can’t speak about. FYI Andreas Moritz has a website; just do a search on him. There’s a lot of information there, too. Good luck.

        Namaste,
        Diane W.

  3. Natasha permalink

    Thanks Dr G. this is a really interesting article. My auntie recently had a gallbadder attack and has been told she has gallbadder stones. I am a big fan of the paleo diet and I’m trying to persuade her that it would be worth following. The only issue is that she has been told to avoid fats like eggs, butter and coconut, all of which feature a great deal in the paleo diet. Would eating paleo be beneficial tp her or should she avoid these fats?
    Also I wondered what your views were on herbal remedies like peppermint and milk thistle for gallstones treatment? Thank you very much for your help. Natasha

    • Yes that is the conventional way of treating with the gallbladder. Of course I don’t agree with it as people with gallbladder problems very rarely have them from eating those high fat Paleo-Type foods (I can say I’ve never seen it). It’s all the other things I mention, diet and hormones especially, that cause the problems. But once the problems are there then often that person just can’t go right into a high fat type of diet because their gallbladder is so stressed out, so for my patients I recommend they ease into it slowly per their comfort and tolerance level. I’ve never seen issues this way, only success.

      Milk thistle (silymarin) is more of a liver detox herb and I haven’t had much experience with peppermint so I can’t comment on that.

  4. Betty permalink

    Thank you for you’re articles, they have been very informative. Do you find that fatigue, stress or aggrivation occurs when someone is having a gallbladder issue?

  5. Vicky permalink

    Dr. Gangemi,
    Thank you for this article. I had begun to think all doctors just like to cut people! I had ultrasound screen done showing no stones, and a HIDA scan done and it showed 50% function – my doctor suggested removing the gallbladder. I am frequently nauseated, and have a lot of gnawing pain along the lower rib line. (Endoscopy didn’t show any hernias or ulcers). I am completely against taking out the gallbladder, but I have to do something because of the pain and nausea.

    Do these suggestions actually help restore function? I quit all coffee, sodas, high fats and refined carbohydrates last month, but the pain just seems to be worse. Or do you know other books/resources I could review? I’m new to NY and the practioners here seem to have the protocol of “if it hurts, remove it” and they don’t offer much guidance. Any suggestion would be apprectiated. Thank you again for your article!
    Vicky

    • Hi Vicky – often for women hormones are the reason for gallbladder problems. But it would be impossible for me to know that w/o seeing you or knowing more about you. But there is always a trigger. :)

  6. Elizabeth permalink

    Hi Dr. G, I have been having problems every since October of 2012. I was first told I had a Peptic Ulcer. After another Upper Endoscopy was performed, I was told I have a hiatus hernia and a Gastric tumor. I was reffered to another GI specialist and he said I had debris growing in my gallbladder and wants to do surgery soon. What do you suggest? If it was you,would you seek another opinion?

    • The gastric tumor could be serious so that needs to be looked into. Debris in the gallbladder is not uncommon (not normal) and most docs want to remove the gallbladder because they don’t know any other treatment. I don’t quite understand why the gallbladder would be more important than a tumor – that’s a bit strange. The hiatal hernia is often no big deal and most chiropractors and other manual therapists can help relieve/correct that, depending on the severity. I treat those often.

  7. Ardy permalink

    Hello Dr Gangemi, I just came across your site while looking for some idea what might be causing pain just under my right shoulder blade when I breathe deeply. No other symptoms except lots of burping. Can I assume this might be gallbladder problems? I’m sure you will recommend seeing a Dr, but want to learn as much as I can, and found your site to be very informative. Thank you, Ardy

    • Can’t assume anything without seeing you – could also be a shoulder, rib, diaphragm, or lung issue – among other things.

  8. Melinda permalink

    I had been experiencing digestive issues for a matter of months. I am a healthy fit 35 yr old woman. I had dropped 12lbs in 3 weeks, as I was having problems digesting anything I would eat. My doctor was convinced it was gall bladder, but testing wasn’t confirming that. After being sent to a specialist and sent for more testing they were still unsure of the cause. Upon seeing my doctor again, she was still under the belief the cause was gall bladder related, as the symptoms seemed to have been building over a few years. I went home from that visit and started doing my own research. I found your site!! After reading your 2 part gall bladder article, I immediately made an appointment with my OBGYN. I had my IUD removed, and 4 wks later all of my digestive issues were completely gone. Thank You!!!

  9. Kathleen permalink

    Great Articles, Dr G!
    I am a healthy/organic eater, long-time vegetarian who avoids fast/processed foods and has a low BMI – 19.5-20. Developed severe upper stomach/back pain with nausea one night and it’s been reoccurring for the past week and a half, all signs pointing to GB problems- usually at night (11-1am is the worst of course), often problematic after eating. I’ve cut out fat, dairy, gluten, soy, etc (never had ANY food issues before) and find I am still having attacks daily- though less severe than the initial ones but still causing me much pain. Ultrasound & Bloodwork were in normal range but little sis also had digestive pains (though a less healthy diet) and they just removed her gallbladder so they want to do the same for me. I am thoroughly opposed to surgery and even the HIDA scan (we have been trying to conceive for 6+months). I am taking harmonizing herbs from my Chinese medicine practitioner and sticking with fruits, cooked vegetables, broth, and rice/quinoa and taking as much R&R as possible, but I feel I’m stuck. What else can someone like me do to get my GB in balance? Any clue how this happened in the first place to a “healthy” eater?

    • Cutting out fat and eating a lot of rice and other carbs is one way to create or aggravate these digestive problems. I discuss this in these articles and throughout the DRG and SockDoc sites — the importance of fats. Especially important if you’re having conception problems.

      • Kathleen permalink

        Thanks Dr. On the contrary, I normally consume a fair amount of natural fats every day- lot of olive oil, nuts, avocado, organic dairy, fish oils. Though thin, I am not “fat-averse” in any way. I had intentionally begun to up my daily amounts of saturated fats from coconut oil/milk and whole organic milk to help with conceiving – a couple of extra servings a day. I think that is what triggered these gallbladder attacks. I have only cut out fat as an attempt to stave off these painful attacks that have been happening in the last 2 weeks. I’ve read all the GB articles. But how do I get back to consuming healthy fats (and a normal diet) when they’re causing so much pain?

        • It could be a number of things as I mention in the article. Really know way for me to know without seeing you.

  10. Liz permalink

    Hello there! I stumbled upon your blog through a search I was doing for Gallbladder issues. I am highly impressed with the amount of great information I have read. THANK YOU. You address the entirety of the problem, not just the symptom. I am a 36 year old, slightly overweight woman. I have had gall bladder issues (pain/discomfort after eating high fat foods, neck/back pain, occasional times where I am up vomitting at night, etc.) This past year during a physical, my doctor told me my liver enzymes were high, so he ordered an ultrasound of my liver, which looked fine, but they did see that I have gallstones. My doctor could not tell me conclusively that my high liver enzymes were from the gall stones, but didn’t seem to be worried about it. Are high liver enzymes associated with gallstones? Also, in the flush you discussed in the article above, you mentioned taking magnesium. Is there a certain amount of it you should take? Thank you!

    • The liver is where the bile is produced so if there is something affecting that then it could show up with the enzymes; often they are normal though.

      I cannot give you specific Mg amounts; there are so many “recipes” for the flush available.

  11. Shari permalink

    I was happy to read both of your posts to see that many of my symptoms fall in line with the gall bladder but realize also that my problems don’t fit in the “normal” range. I have severe right shoulder pain (chronic over the last 8-12 years comes and goes), severe pain off and on under my right rib cage for the last year (beginning in the front, now in the back almost exclusively), chronic diarrhea for the last 10 months, and inability to eat any fat (not even coconut)at all for the last six months without severe abdominal pain and instant diarrhea. I had an ultrasound 9 months ago and was told there were no gall stones so no gall bladder problem. I had done the “cleanse” of olive oil and fresh grapefruit juice about 3 months before and had only seen little green granule (salt/sugar) size evidence of stones so wasn’t surprised. I had a HIDA scan which showed a refraction of 11 2 months ago and a colonoscopy which indicated microscopic colitis only a month ago. I had been waking at 1-2 AM every morning for two weeks last month until I tried bile salts with every meal on my very limited diet which eliminated these “attacks”. My younger sister who eats much less healthy (no coconut or olive oil on salad, few vegetables and fruits, many fried foods and processed meats) had her gall bladder out two years ago and they told her it was black and had not been functioning for the last two years probably. She had most of the same symptoms I have including diarrhea. I have been taking entacourt and dicycline for the microscopic colitis for about three weeks now and the pain in my shoulder and back are getting worse. The diarrhea is some better and my doctors say it’s all this and removing the gall bladder won’t help. I would like to keep it if I can but what if it is not functioning like my sister’s. Is there a danger in keeping the gall bladder if it continues to decline and cease functioning?

    Thanks for your help!
    Shari

    • I believe there is no danger other than if you passed a very large stone to the pancreatic duct. It’s rare and you’d get very sick very quickly.

  12. Sam permalink

    Thanks for writing an article like this. I’ve had both types of iuds in. First was the hormonal one, my gallbladder started acting up 6 months before removal(had in for 3 yr.) Got preg. and had no problems with my gallbladder then had the copper iud with my second child. 3 months after insertion i stared having the problems again! Now its been a yr. and a half with the iud in and now they want to remove my gallbladder. I have done the flush twice which made my pain go away and felt better but comes back 3 months later. The flush made me have floating stools which i don’t know if its normal? But then I started taking vitamin b complex where i noticed my stools sinking?!! Now I don’t know what to choose to have my gallbladder removed or iud. Sometimes I think of having my gallbladder removed because i think its too late, my gallbladder is probably already damaged and their would be no point of removing my iud?!

    • Can’t make that decision for you but obviously removing the gallbladder is the symptom, the IUD is the cause. And you will/most likely are having other unrealized problems from the IUD. And note that if you remove the gallbladder you will still have a liver and bile ducts which can be affected in the same way the gallbladder currently is.

  13. jenn permalink

    Hello, do you think my gall bladder woul d function if i changed, my diet? I spoke to my surgeon and he said i have no stones, but my gallbladder is not functioning. So i need it removed. I would rather try something else..anything to keep my gallbladder. Please help. Thank you

  14. Cheryl permalink

    Thanks for this article. I have been experiencing pain under my rib cage on the right side since September. I had a copper IUD put in last summer. It caused terrible bleeding and, I suspect, a world of other issues. I removed it in December.
    I’ve had a gastroscopy performed to check for an ulcer etc. which came back clear (although I’m being checked for celiac). I had an ultrasound in September that showed no stones.
    I went for an ultrasound last week, and I’ve been called in for a follow-up (non-urgent) which I believe shows something or else they wouldn’t call me in.
    Well last night after eating lamb, I had the most intense pain in that same spot, terrible watery bowel movements at least 6 in a row, fever and chills. I’m very weak today (could be from the loss of fluid). I rarely eat fat, so the lamb was quite shocking to my system.
    I still am having the pain today and so I ended up in the emergency. They took my blood work, which was normal except for elevated Amalyse (133). They told me to come back if the pain gets worse.
    It hasn’t gotten worse, but it hasn’t gotten better and I’ve been sleeping the majority of the day.
    Eating soup made me feel very bad.
    I’m 28 years old, 5ft4in, 105 lbs.Non-smoker, non-drinker, very healthy eater. I think I have estrogen dominance because I also have ovarian cysts and they are suspecting endometriosis.
    I have been fat adverse for a long time. I cannot eat creams, deep fried food, heavy meats like steak, without feeling sick afterward.
    I guess my question is, can I have a gall bladder problem without stones? Should I be concerned if this pain doesn’t subside for days?
    Is hormone therapy, progesterone only pill, an option for improving gall bladder function?
    Can an autoimmune disease cause gall bladder issues?
    Since I had the copper IUD removed, would it still be affecting my gall bladder, does it take time to recover from copper overload?
    For me, diet, smoking, drinking, and bc pills are not the culprit. Thank you for your article and any insight you may have.

    • Sure an immune issue can trigger a gallbladder problem and you can definitely have a gallbladder problem w/o stones (as mentioned in the article). It can take a while to detox copper and some people won’t until they replace the proper nutrients that copper has displaced. Best idea for someone in your situation is to find a holistic doc who can help you through this.

  15. Shant permalink

    Thank you for this enlightening article.

    I have a Gallbladder Polyp of 4mm in size. Can surgery be avoided by following alternative treatment plans? May I know what are the options for me?

    Thank you

    • I can’t specifically advise you on that. If you’re trying to avoid surgery then you should seek out a holistic doc who deals with gallbladder issues like you have.

  16. ini eko permalink

    Thank you for this informative article although its quite late for me. I wish I saw it this time last year or better still earlier than 3 months ago when I took my gall bladder out.
    You have not however mentioned what should be done, if the gall bladder has already been taken out due to ignorance like mine (as I took the advice of the experts relied on at the moment)
    I am now in severe sharp pain in the upper right abdomen and the pain is getting worse as the days go by. I am eat everything and like you stated, I am a culprit of the sunflower and grapeseed oil which I thought was the best.
    How do I solve this pain problem or is it going to be like this for the rest of my life. I dread the thought of that.

    I appreciate your help and response.

    Thanks

    • You would still follow all the advice I share here, including removing those oils from your diet.

  17. jau permalink

    Dr G, good article.My Gallbladder is working 0% in hid a scan,i don’t have any stones.they said i have acute bilary dyskinsia.my stools are yellow and getting dysentry .is there any possibility to make it work again,I don’t like to go for surgery?
    Appreciate your suggestions on this.

    • I can’t comment on that without seeing you as it all depends on why you’re having the problem.

  18. pepijn permalink

    I’m just wondering if there is a size of gallstone that can’t be passed?

    I just got diagnosed with gallstones 4 days ago through an echo and want to try a flush, but I want to make sure I don’t end up lodging it and having an emergency operation. I’ll make sure I get imaged properly and the largest stone measured before I do anything.

    Great informative site by the way, much better information than most “specialist” sites I have visited. They basically only tell you “we don’t know why it happens” and “if you have stones, remove the gb”.. Quite disappointing really, I thought healthcare had come further than that.

    • I think that would be individual-dependent. If you look on-line there are definitely some “interesting” sites where people show their stones – some are huge!

  19. Rolaabla permalink

    It was great ,all what you said ws clear and direct ,thank you for the specific explanation u gave me great answers for my questions .it was fun reading all . Thank you please keep me posted .

  20. Mel permalink

    Hello. I was diagnosed with gallstones last August after passing out and being jaundiced – along with severe pain. My liver count was high (787). I’ve had a scan and a deep scan that confirms that I have hundreds of stones. My BMI was 54, but through diet and exercise , it’s now 34. I’ve been on the emergency list for months to get my operation but still waiting.

    I am extremely limited with what I can eat. I can only eat bananas on brown bread toast or lean ham sandwiches. Everything else starts an attack (even plain rice or podded peas). I am always exhausted. I physically force myself to the gym to keep an active lifestyle. I now have a new symptom – constipation. My bowels are usually regular (every day) but it’s been 4 days since any movement. I’m worried that my body isn’t getting enough vitamins / minerals etc and I’m just getting sicker. Even a multi vitamin caused an attack. I don’t see any way other than surgery for me, I just wish it would hurry up!

    • For someone in your situation I’d advise you seek some holistic practitioner who deals with these cases, if you’re interested in trying to keep your gallbladder.

  21. Karen permalink

    Hello, do you think my gall bladder would function if i changed, my diet? I spoke to my surgeon and he said i have no stones, but my gallbladder is not functioning He said it’s over working. My infraction no. was at 96 percent
    So i need it removed. I would rather try something else..anything to keep my gallbladder….I have a lot of symptoms for removal but I am sacred too, since there could be a chance to keep it ? been looking online for more answers.. everything I read has to do with stones that can be help… but nothing about without stones and a overworking gallbladder could it be helped , ??
    Please help , Thank you !!!

    • For someone in your situation I’d advise you seek some holistic practitioner who deals with these cases, if you’re interested in trying to keep your gallbladder.

  22. Nicole permalink

    Hello!

    Thank-you for all the great information! I was wondering if there is a correlation between the appendix and gall bladder? I had my appendix removed three years ago(perforated) and ever since I have had gall bladder pain. Initially, the doctor said it was air bubbles from the surgery, then after several months said it was scar adhesions(which do not make since,as all my incisions are by the bellybutton). I eventually had a Hida scan and my ejection fraction was 12%. So, of course, the GI and family doctor, recommend removal of gall bladder. I was is the best shape a my life when all of this started. I had run a marathon, eating very healthy. I have always been thin. Now, three years later, I am still suffering with chronic pain in R abdomen, and have become depressed, as if my body has failed me. I just find it coincidental that I had my appendix out and then, almost immediately, I had gall bladder issues. The doctors I have spoken with do not have answers and honestly, do not seem to genuinely concerned.

  23. lisa martineau permalink

    thankyou, your article has been VERY interesting,

    i am about to go for my fourth visit to upper gi surgery; they have continually advised/persuaded me to have my gall bladder taken out, as i have a stone in the wall of the neck.

    i would love to keep my gall bladder so much but i don’t know if i am being stupid, they have told me i could die if i don’t. I also have two tubes going from the gall bladder instead of one and my gall bladder is lower than normal. They are surprised how healthy the gall bladder looks, the walls have not thickened, but the gall bladder is grosely extended and the bile is thickened inside.

    Have you any advice or do you know of any specialists in the uk /bristol i could speak to? Someone whom may see it like you do. All the profesionals i have spoken to, believe hugely that we do not really need it anyway and can’t meet me on my level of thinking. I don’t know whom to trust really as they are so quick to take gall bladders out, i can’t tell if i am in a serious situation or not? i have had only two large episodes of pain lasting minutes after very fatty meals . . but i can feel my gall bladder swollen.

    thankyou love lisa x

  24. Becca permalink

    Here is my question-
    I am ready to begin my gallbladder flush. In your article, you mentioned 4 to 5 days of organic apple juice followed by a day if a partial fast and then the lemon juice and olive oil before bedtime routine. My question is – on the days of drinking the organic apple juice am I fasting from other foods or just eating my new diet of high fiber good fat eating?

  25. Julie permalink

    Thank you for the article! I’d been having some terrible pains for about 6 months and finally saw a doctor who performed an ultrasound and then another screening (no food for hours and then they monitored my gallbladder for 45 minutes, then injected something into me and monitored my gallbladder for another 45 minutes stimulating a fatty meal).
    I had no stones, but my gallbladder is only operating at 18%. My husband hates me to have surgery because of how hard it is for me to recover from it.
    After reading your article, I don’t feel as though I need my gallbladder removed. The doctor said that the tests didn’t indicate that I needed it removed at the time being, so I said, “No thanks,” and am trying a healthier diet to see if my symptoms subside. Your article really opened my eyes to things that I thought I knew, but now have had confirmed. In the past 6 months, I have stopped drinking diet soda and using any type of artificial sweetener, as well as cutting out HFCS.
    Thanks again for making sense when it comes to the gallbladder!
    Julie, 27
    Kansas

  26. Jenn permalink

    Thank you for the article. I can not find an answer to my question… Hoping you can help. I do not have stones, but my hida scan claims function at 11%, can function be restored or am I trying to save the last 11% function that I have by making more natural choices as recommended in your article? Looking forward to your help with this question. I can not find any research that claims function can be restored? My little green organ needs help :(

  27. Hi Dr. G.:

    I have been diagnosed with a porcelain gallbladder and have been told I need to have my gallbladder removed because it leads to cancer if it is not removed is there any way to save it?

  28. Barbara permalink

    Thanks for the very informative article. I have had gallstones for at least 15 years (discovered during an ultrasound during pregnancy.) I had my first intense attack a month ago after many years of on and off digestion issues. Because of the level of pain, ulrasound results and spike in liver enzymes after the attacks, my GP referred me to a surgeon. Before I go through with the operation, I decided to check with a naturopathic doctor. He has put me on a low fat, low dairy, high veggie, no alcohol diet along with daily bile salt supplements, psyllium and probiotics. I still take a proton pump inhibitor due to a lot of acid in my stomach, but I think this alternative diet is promising. Have you ever heard of bile salt supplements triggering a gallstone attack? Thanks for the lemon and water idea. I will try it next time.

    • I use bile salts often when indicted. I could see them causing a problem if they are not what your body needs but rather more of detox of the gallbladder, in which case I would use other supplements. Actually, beets are very good for detoxing the gallbladder and “thinning” out the bile.

      • Barbara permalink

        Thanks for your reply. I stopped using the bile salts and haven’t had any problems in a few weeks. I’ve added beets to my diet. I’ll let my naturopathic doctor know about your site! He’s a specialist in digestive issues.

  29. preety k permalink

    Hi Dr G. Your articles are very helpful. I was diagnosed with 1 gallstone abt 2 yrs ago. Its 1.1cm. Since Jan13 ive had 4 gb attacks and the pain was worse as I have gastric too. I want to do the flush but because of frequency of the pain im not able to. My dr has suggested the removal of gb but I do not want. Please advise the foods tht I can take to keep the attacks frm happening so often.

    • All the info I can and will give w/o seeing a patient is in the two articles. Thanks for understanding.

  30. upasna permalink

    hello dr.g
    m 25 yr old girl and i have diagnosed wid a gal stone of 16 mm few days before as i had an ultrasound generaly.. i didnt have any pain so far. but hv little gastric problm if i eat heavy food.for dat i take aloe vera juice..which used to n still help…bt now as i have diagonosed wid gb stone. so doc has said to remove my gb.. bt i dnt wanna go for surgery…so tell me where i can have complete detailed information of natural flush u mentined in ur article…pllzzzzzzz help asap.will dis flush be helpful for such big stone..i need help to all d detailing of flush…

  31. Mary permalink

    Dr. G, Thank you for posting about this. Your answers have been helpful and supportive. I have always been a big girl but I have noticed that I go through spurts where I gain a massive amount of weight (40-60lbs) usually over the course of 4-5 months. I have noticed something strange about my gall bladder attacks. I reach a high weight that exercise doesnt seem to help and then I have awful pain sometimes for days and then I always lose weight after I pass the stone. Does having stones have anything to do with causing weight gain? I have done this cycle three times where I have gained weight while I have attacks and then one day it stops and I begin to drop all the weight.

  32. Hello, I have just been to my MD for stomach bloating and pain. I had an ultrasound that showed ‘sludge’ in my gallbladder. My doctor has told me I need to make some changes before it gets worse. I eat generally healthy, organic, no red meat- sometime sweets and treats, but not often. Is ‘sludge’ the before gallstones? or is it something totally different? Is there specific changes I should make?
    Thanks for any and all advice. I have contacted a Naturopathic Doctor, but unfortunately can not afford that at the moment.

  33. suchitra permalink

    hi sir my father suffering frome gallbladder stone from 7 yrs his hard patient pls advice me hou to remove that and how to contect u.

  34. button permalink

    Hi there and thanks for the awesome articles. I have some symptoms which have been ongoing for about 2.5 years now. Mostly I BURP! And I have right shoulder pain when I have what I think is a mini attack. No stones in the ultrasound, been seeing a chiropractor here in LA who has given me standard process stuff. Changed my diet a bunch. I’ve gotten better but not all the way-maybe 50% and I’ve been seeing him for about 6 months now and it’s stayed this way for a while. Do you know anyone over here in LA who you would recommend? Also, I started taking digestive bitters and have found them to be quite helpful. What do you think of those? Can they help your GB heal over time? I feel like my GB problems are affecting my hormones or vice versa. How do you know what’s at the root? You mentioned it could be hormones at the root but doesn’t fat absorption affect cholesterol which in turn affects hormonal production??
    thanks!!
    button

  35. chrystal permalink

    My Dr. Said I dont have gallstones after my HIDA I think it was called… she said my gallbladder was not filling. Not functioning ..and it needs to be removed. Can this be caused by the Mirena IUD ? My symptoms (vomiting bile everyday & complete exsaustion every day) started a couple months after I had the implant . And get worse evevery day it seems.

  36. Please kindly let me know your thoughts. May 20 about 3 months ago had ongoing nausea. Intern put me on Elavil and nexium. slight improvement but bad constipation. Went off meds after ultrasound showed polyps in gallbladder. I had been taking Vagifem estrogren suppository but will stop based upon the link you have seen. The nausea started after eating a fried meal, which was rare for me. I will try the diet. Do you think this will cause the nausea to go away or anything you can recommend for that. I was already having no eggs, dairy, beef, or gluten due to food sensitivities so now I am even more restricted. Any ideas and your best guess if nausea will go away. Thank you.

  37. Susan permalink

    After an acute attack a few years ago, I realized that palm oil, especially hydrogenated palm oil, was the death knell for me. So I have to avoid it by reading labels.

    Also, I analyzed my eating patterns and decided I would stop drinking beverages of any kind, even water, with my meals. I learned that I had to drink at least 1 hour before, or 1 hour after meals, but NOT while eating. The reasoning being that since my gall bladder has been compromised, I would be DILUTING the gastric juices and bile salts with water/liquids, rendering them ineffective. I also find that adding too much milk to my coffee NEUTRALIZES the acids that are critical to digestion, especially if you like to eat a piece of cake/cookies with your coffee.

    And, an apple a day really does keep the gall stones away due to Pectin and soluble fiber. Almond flour is good for baking paleo desserts, and the heat during baking, breaks down the oxalates.

    I have not had another attack for years now, but I will experience an occasional bout of heaviness when I forget and have a piece of cake with coffee and lots of creamer, both with hydrogenated palm oil.

    Eating pineapples, papaya and mango after a heavy meal helps, as well as fresh, raw greens and veggies because the natural enzymes help us digest the food.

    Hope this helps.

  38. V Subramanian permalink

    Dear Dr Gangemi,

    I am from India. Recently i have been diagonized that my galbladder is having 4 mm galbladder polyps and I am advised to remove the galbladder. Can I have any medicines to cure. I see your valuable advises thru email to me

  39. Wendy permalink

    Could you comment on WHY something like lemon juice or ginger eases a gallbladder attack? What’s happening that these things can bring improvement? Thank you!

    • Ginger acts as an anti-inflammatory. I’m not quite sure of the reason behind the lemon juice.

      • Lisa permalink

        Lemon Juice causes the GB to constrict, and sqeeze out the excess bile, etc.

  40. nahid permalink

    Hello Dr. Drgangemi

    i am suffering with 2.6 mm size of gallbladder polyps , please help me
    how i can cure without surgery .
    i will wait for your response………

    Kind regards,

    Nahid

  41. Solimar Caruso permalink

    Hello Dr. Gangemi, about two weeks ago I had a GET and there is a delay shown on my digestive system. Then I also had a gallbladder ultrasound which revealed no stones and a gallbladder scan test with the chemical injected through my veins. That revealed that my gall bladder is working at 11% only. I don’t experience any pain but I’m always throwing up. Is there a way for me to get my gallbladder working at at least 90% again and avoid surgery????

    They just prescribed raglan pills to try to help me out. I am taking them four times a day but no change yet. Any hope for me????

    • As I have to advise everyone with such issues (see other comments), I cannot personally help you without seeing you in person. If you hope to save yourself often unnecessary surgery, you will need to find a holistic practitioner who knows how to deal with such cases – often an acupuncturist, chiropractor, or naturopath, sometimes medical doc.

  42. Pauline permalink

    I would love to hear more about how the copper IUD causes gall bladder problems. I believe you when you say there’s a link – it would explain an awful lot about how I got into the mess that I’m in – but I don’t really understand what the mechanism is, and you haven’t really explained in much detail. Is there any chance of another blog post on that?

    • Perhaps in the future. The short version is due to two reasons: 1) there’s a copper-estrogen relationship and 2) copper is a component of our bile salts.

  43. Matt Newell permalink

    Hello Dr. G! Thank you for your ongoing contributions to better health. Many folks that have had their gallbladder a removed are advised to eat a “low to no fat diet”. Naturally low-fat food is one thing, but the general population seems to seek out packaged marketed low-fat food that end up being high in sugar, sodium, etc. Are their natural high(er) fat foods such as coconut oil, avocado, olives, fish, etc. that would be better tolerated by someone without a gallbladder?
    Any input is appreciated. Cheers!

  44. tima permalink

    Dear Dr Gangemi,
    I understand this is an old post, but hope you may still respond…
    Though I’ve been trying to follow paleo/primal diet, I’ve been having issues digesting/processing the fat… I’m one of those unfortunates that almost bit the bullet from gallstone issues, including the stones in the duct and pancreatitis, etc … So I had the emergency surgery, but experience all sorts of digestive issues and weight gain as a result. What’s your general advice for someone trying to follow paleo, but having issues because of no gallbladder?
    Thanks in advance.

    • My advice is to find a holistic doc who can help you figure out why you’re having problems.

  45. Linda permalink

    Hi Dr. Gangemi:

    Have been reading on your website for months now, catching up on lots of back posts. Thanks for such great information! Searching I have yet to see anything new come up regarding the IUD and issues related to gall bladder, etc. Will you be following up on that anytime soon, or can you refer me to some info regarding the IUD? Birth control seems to be a minefield of trouble, and would love to see someone with your background address it – it is so important to quite a large proportion of our population! Thanks!

    • I will have an IUD article up soon; just saw 2 more cases of Paraguard problems in the past few weeks. IUDs = ALWAYS a problem.

  46. Richard permalink

    I don’t have a comment as much as it is a question. I’ve had gallstones for over twenty year…..twice had attacks. I’m trying to handle them through diet. Most recently I’ve been studying nutrition on the Internet which is confusing to me. On some sites people highly recommend beets for gallstones and gallbladder. Yet others say beets are high in oxalates that form gallstones. “One must eat a low oxalate it” yet if I look at the foods that are low in oxalates they are also high in fats! Onions are warned to never eat, ditto eggplant, yet on some sites they are grouped with potatoes which are supposed to be safe. Most sites recommend a low animal protein diet and plenty of vegetables yet there are vey few vegetables that are low in oxalates……. I’m confused as to who to believe….I’m just trying not to take the path of removing a body part but instead address the causes.

  47. rosemarie permalink

    hi Dr. G,I HAVE BEEN DIAGNOSE A 19.MM GALLSTONES,My dr.told me to undergo a surgery,but i dont want coz im scared..what will i do?is my gallsbladder is at risk? im 31 yrs old..and i have used IUD for 8 years.

  48. Julie Go permalink

    Hi Dr. G. I,m 43 and i just had my whole abdomen ultrasound and they saw polyps in my gallbladder. could you send me the complete recipe for naturally removing the polyps thanks much.

  49. Bella permalink

    what if my gallblader has already been removed. any advice? how to i take vitamin D and ensure its proper absorption. what else should I take to compensate. I also have difficulty losing weight since gallblader removal surgery. thank you!

    • Cases like this are too complex to discuss via email; would require an office visit or phone/Skype consult.

  50. Rose permalink

    I am a female in late 50′s. Have had fibromyalgia for about 15 years. I’ve had pain under my right side, which I thought was my liver. I recently saw a doc who said that the herpes family virus that causes fibromyalgia destroys the gall bladder, and I’d probably have to get it out. (I don’t have herpes, but my husband had the fever blisters) I am against this. Have you ever heard of this? I am currently taking an antiviral, celebrex, and flucozanole. I’m also doing a protocol for removing toxins from the bile by taking cholestyramine.

    I would appreciate your thoughts on this.

    • Yeah I’ve heard of this. I don’t agree; plenty of people carry the herpes virus. Medications are a major stress to your gallbladder – you should talk to your doctor about that.

  51. Valerie permalink

    Hi Dr. My mum had a gall bladder attack. Now ok. And might get a EDCR endoscopy flush gall stones removal. Have u heard any success on the endoscopy flush/ bad experience on after effect.
    Would you recommend it. Or should she just go naturopath for natures cure.
    Thanks

  52. Meg permalink

    I like your humor and wisdom, Doctor. Do you think diet and lifestyle change can make many small gallbladder polyps go away? Thank you!

  53. Maria S permalink

    Is unrfined Sunflower Oil ok?

    Thank you in advance. I understand that this article’s old, and I’m not sure if you’ll see my question.

  54. Crissy permalink

    PLEASE HELP WITH QUESTION. Hi, I actually did do a flush, not exactly the same, but very similar and was able to totally remove the stones and I never had the horrible horrible pain again! That was 15 years ago. I’m writing now to ask you a question! My friend is suppose to have hers removed in 2 weeks. 3 doctors told her to do this, and that her gall bladder is no longer functioning. It isn’t from stones. So what could I recommend to her because she is in much pain and can’t eat. Should I tell her to do the flush anyways?? She is a smoker, and I’m certain she had a poor diet like I did too. But if she doesn’t have stones, then would the flush even help? Thank you!

  55. Lydia permalink

    I love this article and information on gallbladder health and care. I’m in a dilemma with mine right now and would love your insite. December 2013 I finally went to the ER with severe right upper abdominal pain and uncontrollable nausea and vomiting. I was diagnosed with liver failure, suspected secondary to gall bladder disease. A liver biopsy didn’t give them definitive answers, ultrasound showed a “thickened, inflamed gall bladder and inflamed liver, with a lot of sludge backup in the gallbladder”. I was in the hospital on IV nutrition only for about 2 weeks before I was able to tolerate any food at all and they could wean me off the IV and send me home. They said they suspected the BC pill I was taking to deal with endometriosis was part of the problem, so I went off the pill and when I was able to go home, I stated working with a homeopath to cleanse my liver and gallbladder, and balance my hormones. I was doing OK until about 3 weeks ago when the excruciating pain in my right side returned again. After a few days of trying many things (a flush, essential oils, lemon juice, ice packs, etc), the pain only got worse so I finally went in. The doctor ordered another ultrasound when my bloodwork came back with elevated liver values again. The ultrasound revealed a very enlarged, inflamed gall bladder with a lot of buildup and an inflamed liver again. My doctor sent me to a surgeon who ordered a hydascan to check the function of my gall bladder. No stones where noticed on the ultrasound. During the few days while I was waiting for the hydascan I went on a “lemonaid” cleansing diet to try to flush out my liver and gall bladder of toxins and hopefully clear it out. The hydascan results where not promising. They could not get my gall bladder to empty. First they tried just having me eat a higher fat meal to see if that would work, when that test failed they gave me a hormone that was suppose to stimulate it to contract. But again, nothing. They did an ultrasound immediately after that showed even more bile in the gall bladder then before. The surgeon is now telling me that my gall bladder is not functioning at all, and is, of course, advising me to have it removed.

    I am a very careful eater and always have been, most of my diet is lean meats, fresh greens, and whole grains. I avoid processed carbohydrates as much as I possibly can, I don’t drink, smoke, and don’t take any prescription drugs anymore (I haven’t since February). I also don’t drink caffeine or soda, and avoid processed sugars. The surgeon I have seen was surprised at the results saying at my age (29) with as much as I do to keep myself as healthy as I can, he has never seen this. He said it’s rare he sees a gall bladder that doesn’t respond to a hydascan at all, especially when no stones can be detected. He also suspects that my liver problems are a result of my gallbladder backing up into the liver due to not emptying like it should.

    I’m at a loss of what to do. I’m waiting to hear back from my homeopath to get her advice on this situation, but in the mean time the pain is getting worse by the day, and getting any degree of relief is getting harder since I don’t want to take narcotics or NSAIDs – especially with my liver values already elevated, I don’t need any more stress on my liver!

    I had a laparoscopy in February to try to deal with the endometriosis surgically since I no longer wanted to use any form of birth control to deal with it – My heart stopped during the surgery, which makes me even more hesitant to agree to another surgery.

    I’m at a loss – Nothing I have tried to attempt to improve my gallbladder function has worked.

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