You wouldn’t believe how many people I know who have had gallbladder issues in their lifetime. Sometimes, gallbladder removal is suggested, sometimes it’s just a diagnosis of a sluggish gallbladder, and sometimes gallstones is what the doctor ordered. No matter how you slice it, people typically find out there’s an issue with their gallbladder because it’s so painful they go to the emergency room. Since it is located just under your ribcage on the right side, that’s usually where most people feel it; however, many people experience pain in their right shoulder blade area! At the point when you want to head to the ER, it’s usually too late. So, let’s have a quick conversation about what the gallbladder is, how it can malfunction, and natural remedies for gallstones.
The very first thing I will mention is how important it is to have an appropriately-functioning stomach that is producing enough acid. Hydrochloric acid found in the stomach is essential to proper digestion and elimination of bacteria before it reaches the intestines. Without this important step, everything downstream suffers. How might you know that you are suffering from low stomach acid? Often times people will feel really full after meals and say they have a “heavy stomach.” Many people will also experience brittle nails and even sometimes hair loss! Ironically, one of the symptoms of low stomach acid is acid reflux. Having adequate stomach acid signal to the esophageal sphincter to close, and without that signal…HELLO reflux.
Let’s jump downstream a little. There is a hormone that senses fats and stimulates your gallbladder to release bile into the bile duct. When that bile is emptied into your intestines, it’s job is to emulsify fats. Interestingly enough, it has been shown that gluten sensitivity can seriously depress the production of that hormone that stimulates your gallbladder, called cholescytokinin. (Notice the first part of the word looks like Cholesterol? We will get to that.) When something like low stomach acid or gluten sensitivity are present, it can lead to sluggish bile, or technically speaking “biliary stagnation.” This eventually ends in glallstones (biliary stagnation). You guys know how big I am on gut health, and one other cause that can impair gallbaldder hormone signaling is damage of the little finger-like projections in your intestines called “villi.” Guess what causes villi damage? Chemotherapy, alcohol, medications, infections; it’s bad news, guys.
Without adequate fat breakdown, you will also see impaired assimilation of the fat soluble vitamins that accompany fats. Vitamins A, D, E, and K. Vitamin A is essential for your immune system, for you gut lining, you skin health, and so much more. Vitamin D acts as a hormone in the body and low in almost everyone with cancer and autoimmunity. Vitamin K deficiencies can be a part of arterial calcifications and bone density loss. This is real stuff!
If you eat a low fat diet, this can cause the issue of “use it or lose it.” It’s important to demand the process of fat digestion to keep the bile flowing. Having said that, if you are in a full blown gallbladder attack or suffering from stones, this may be the appropriate time to usher in the low-fat diet for a while. If you are caught in the midst of a gallbladder attack, try your best to avoid having your gallbladder removed. Having it removed can cause long-term issues with fat breakdown, fat soluble vitamin assimilation, hormone production, and even fatigue.
Here are a list of supplements to consider if you are having gallbladder issues or have had it removed:
- Ox bile- let a supplement help you breakdown those fats when eat meals with fat
- Vitamin D- letting this fat soluble vitamin get low can cause depression, autoimmunity, and cancer
- Hydrochloric acid (HCl and pepsin)- this will help you optimize stomach acid, which will allow things to function better downstream *This should be done under doctor supervision because there are times when you would not want to take HCl or would need to combine it with other things to take it safely)
- Phosphoric acid- this can help breakdown calcium gallstones naturally (if still have gallbladder)
- Malic acid-this can help soften cholesterol gallstones naturally and thin the bile (if still have gallbladder)
This is a huge issue in the United States, and I wouldn’t even be surprised with we started to see campaigns around “save the gallbladders.” You know, a play on “save the tatas.” It doesn’t feel really serious to have it removed at the moment, but it could have real long-term health consequences. I hope this was helpful!