Each year, about a million Americans have their gallbladders surgically removed because the organ has become inflamed (cholecystitis) or contains gallstones. The Western Medicine philosophy is “we don’t really need it.” But is that true?
What Does Your Gallbladder Do?
Until you are in pain, you probably never thought much about your gallbladder and what it does in the body. It’s located on your right side under your liver. It is about 2.7 to 3.9 inches long and 2 inches in its widest area, not very big at all.
The main function of the gallbladder is to store an enzyme produced by your liver called “bile.” Bile is made up of water, salt, cholesterol, lecithin, and bile pigments call bilirubin created by your red blood cells.
Your liver produces between 24 and 34 ounces of bile every day. This gets secreted into your bile duct and then into the small intestine. During a meal this bile is secreted into your intestines and between meals, it’s stored in your gallbladder.
When you eat a meal with fat in it, your gallbladder dumps some bile into your small intestine to help you break that fat down. This mixture of smaller fat molecules and other food molecules then gets further broken down by digestive enzymes secreted by your pancreas.
The gallbladder bile has four main functions. The bile in the gallbladder breaks down fat molecules (fatty acids), it also helps kill off bad microbes, helps with blood-sugar metabolism, and helps excrete waste products.
Signs Your Gallbladder is in Trouble
There are many signs that your gallbladder is struggling, here are just a few….
- Nausea after eating fatty foods
- Fatty and greasy stools
- Gas, abdominal pain, and bloating
- Headaches and migraines
- Pain between shoulder blades
- Itchy skin, yellow skin, and dry skin
- Weight-loss resistance
- Bitter taste in the mouth
- Poop that floats
If gallstones are present you may experience:
- Dull or sharp pain on right side
- Referred pain at the top, right shoulder blade
- Clay-colored stool
- Pain with a breath
- Nausea and vomiting
- Above symptoms after a meal or during the night
When your gallbladder is stacking up stones, and preventing proper bile flow, you will experience pain!
According to one hospital-based case-control study on 101 female cases and 204 control female participants, certain dietary and lifestyle patterns were identified as potential risk factors for gallbladder disease.
Refined grains, processed meats, high-fat dairy, sugary foods, tea, soft drinks, lots of red meat, lots of eggs, pickled foods, and rapid weight-loss, all lead to higher incidences of gallbladder disease.
One of the interesting findings is the connection between low thyroid function and gallbladder disease. If you are experiencing gallbladder issues, make sure and have labs done to check your thyroid function. Fixing your thyroid may very well fix your gallbladder problem!
Chronic inflammation can also create gallstones. Even after you’ve had your gallbladder removed, you haven’t removed the underlying problem of inflammation. It’s important to address that with diet and lifestyle. I
What’s even more concerning, that according to a review published in the British Medical Journal found that 50 percent of patients who had their gallbladder removed didn’t see improvement in their digestive complaints.
If you have had your gallbladder removed it’s very important to address the underlying cause with diet and lifestyle. Your liver is still producing bile, but it may be stacking up stones as well! It could also be very inflamed, have plugged bile ducts, and have sluggish bile production.
Number one is eating a low-inflammatory diet (grab your diet guide here Anti-Inflammatory Foods). Removing the offending foods that caused the bile duct obstruction such as high-fat dairy, high red meat diet, processed meats, fried fast foods, and high sugar foods is the first step.
Add bile healthy herbs and foods to your diet such as Apple Cider Vinegar, artichokes, lemons and limes, parsley, cucumber, celery, radishes, milk thistle, and dandelion greens.
Supplementing your diet when eating foods with fat can be helpful to break down the fat. Choline and lecithin can help break down fats. Taking digestive enzymes with ox bile in them during your meal can also be helpful for fat digestion. Supporting your liver on a daily basis with dandelion root extract, milk thistle, garlic, artichoke leaf extract, and oregon grape root (these often come in a formulation) can be beneficial to prevent bile duct congestion.
We have millions of people who take antacids, over-the-counter, and prescription. Often gallbladder disease is set up by taking these antacids. I’ve written a great article on “Why You Want to Stop Your Antacids” here Stop Your Antacids
Stomach acid is the “trigger” for starting the bile release into your small intestine. When you take an antacid, it blunts the signal to the gallbladder and your fat digestion is hindered.
You can support healthy stomach acid by avoiding ice-cold beverages right before or with a meal, taking Apple Cider Vinegar before a meal (or a hydrochloric acid supplement), don’t eat when stressed or on the run, eat a diet with moderate protein and fat and high in vegetables.
If you feel like you are heading for gallbladder surgery, but aren’t in a critical situation, consider a castor oil pack. I know, the thought of castor oil can gag you, but it’s an ancient healing art.
I’ve followed Dr. Marisol AKA Queen of Thrones, for a few years. She is by far the expert on castor oil therapy. She has created a “kit” to use at home so it’s easy to apply. You can order here Castor Oil Kits
If at all possible avoid gallbladder surgery. You need your gallbladder! It’s not a disposable organ as we have been lead to believe, it’s essential for proper fat digestion. Gallbladder disease takes time to develop so at the first “symptoms” get a good diet and cleansing program going so you can prevent having surgery.
Even after gallbladder surgery, people report biliary pain, pain attacks, continuous pain, pain related to food, functional dyspepsia, nausea, vomiting, abdominal bloating, reflux, diarrhea, constipation, functional bowel problems, fever, and jaundice. Removing the gallbladder may leave you worse than before!
No Gallbladder: Strategies to Improve Digestive Health After Surgery, Dr. Jockers, https://drjockers.com/no-gallbladder-strategies/?ck_subscriber_id=790605958
What Does It Mean When Your Poop Floats?, Dr. Marisol, N.D. https://drmarisol.com/what-does-it-mean-when-your-poop-floats/
Etiologies of Long-Term Postcholecystectomy Symptoms: A Systematic Review, 4/14/2019 https://www.hindawi.com/journals/grp/2019/4278373/