Gallstones Fact Sheet by LeanMachine
Please note - this article is out of date and needs correction, please check back in a few days
What is the Gallbladder?
Our gallbladder is located just under the liver on the right side of the body, and it's purpose is to store bile, a yellowish brown liquid required to correctly digest fats.
After eating a meal containing fat, the gallbladder contracts, feeding bile to the small intestine to aid fat digestion.
It is small and pear-shaped, but does not actually create the bile – this is done in the liver, the body's greatest chemical manufacturing plant.
The liver creates many things the body needs apart from bile, such as over 55,000 individual enzymes, and if just one of these enzymes is missing, problems can manifest.
If a man-made chemical plant could be manufactured to replicate the production of all of the chemicals produced in the liver, it would cover 500 acres!
Why do we need bile?
We need bile to neutralise stomach acid, as the intestine needs a more alkaline environment to break down fats, and the bile is very alkaline.
The bile also acts as a natural laxative to prevent constipation.
Can we live without a Gall Bladder?
Yes we can, but not quite as well. Instead of receiving the bile only when we need it via the Gall Bladder, the liver simply dribbles bile continuously into the intestine with no control.
This can lead to digestive upsets, leaving us short of bile after eating (especially eating fatty foods), and too much bile the rest of the time, so surgical removal should be a last-resort option.
How much Bile do we have?
The liver makes about 750 ml (about 3 cups) of bile every day, but the gall bladder can only store about 250ml (1 cup) of bile.
How do Gallstones form?
Components of bile include water, cholesterol, fats, bile salts, proteins and bilirubin.
Some of these components, but especially the cholesterol and bilirubin can crystallise into gallstones, which can be tiny, barely visible to the naked eye, usually hundreds or even thousands,
or very large, up to several centimetres diameter, usually one or just a handful. In any case, the greater the amount of stones in total volume, the less room there is to store the bile.
The result of this is that digestion of fats may be incomplete, and also the bile can back up into the liver, causing liver congestion.
What do gallstones look like?
Gallstones are not hard, as the name "stones" implies, but rather a rubbery texture, usually green in colour, and will usually float in the toilet bowl.
They can be soft enough to pass down the bile duct, even very large stones.
How many people have gallstones?
We all have gallstones, but most people have no symptoms.
Symptoms of gallstones?
Minor symptoms include bloating, belching, intolerance to fatty food, indigestion, gas, etc.
More serious cases are when a “gallstone attack” can occur, usually after a fatty meal, and often after eating chicken.
Attacks range in severity, sometimes including vomiting and/or nausea, but often include a steady pain lasting from half an hour to several hours, felt in the upper abdomen, often on the right hand side,
but sometimes felt between the shoulder blades in the back, often on the right hand side or even under the right shoulder.
When to call the Ambulance
Medical emergency symptoms include yellow colouring of the skin or whites of the eyes, fever, sweating, chills, and medical assistance should be sought immediately.
Women suffer more than men, and pregnancy increases risk even more.
Birth control medication or hormone therapy, age over 60, non-caucasian races, obesity, people who fast or “crash diet” or who lose weight very fast.
Standard Medical Treatment
The doctor will usually order an ultrasound scan to determine the size and extent of the stones, or if there is something more sinister such as cancer of the bowel, gall bladder, liver, etc.
The next step is normally surgical removal of the gallbladder. Usually this can be done using the "keyhole" method, but sometimes the patient will require opening up with a major incision.
How to avoid or recover from Gallstone attacks
- Eat less red meat, chicken and pork, and eat more fresh fruits and vegetables to reduce the amount of bile we require, and to help prevent stones forming.
We need not go vegetarian, as there are beneficial things in meat such as CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid), B-group vitamins, etc.
Vegetarians and especially vegans will need supplementation of B-12 and other B-group vitamins for health.
- Eat an apple every day. This may very well keep the doctor away! The pectin in apples is good for our entire digestive system, and if stones do form, they will be softer and more easily excreted naturally
- Drink apple juice daily, but this is not recommended long-term as the insulin-spiking can increase risk for excess fat storage and diabetes. Real apples are better than juice, organic when you can get them as apples are a heavily sprayed crop
- Reduce any excess body fat by eating natural, unprocessed foods, start or increase exercise, being careful not to lose too much fat too fast as this may actually bring on an attack
- Take vitamin C supplements which help convert cholesterol to bile
- If you are on any prescription medication, birth control or hormone therapy, speak to your doctor about gallstone risk and alternative treatments
- Add some coffee to the diet, as this increases bile flow, but more than one cup a day may not be beneficial
- Add some lecithin and/or safflower to the diet, which may reduce gallstone formation
- A cup of Dandelion Tea every day may reduce formation of stones
Cleanse the liver
The liver may be congested if there have been gallstone symptoms for some time.
It may be beneficial to cleanse the liver before attempting a gallbladder flush.
There are many liver cleansing formulas available at health stores, but a sensible, natural diet free from processed foods should keep the liver clean,
with the occasional serve of cleansing herbs or supplements such as Milk Thistle or Dandelion.
This is one of many methods available.
For 5 days, drink 4 cups of apple juice, one at each meal and one before bed. This will help soften any stones,
and some smaller stones may be flushed during this time.
On the 6th day, there are some options.
For mild cases:
Consume 1 cup of olive oil to help the gallbladder release a large amount of bile, hopefully flushing out the stones.
For more severe cases:
Eat nothing at the last meal of the day.
Instead, take a teaspoon of Magnesium Sulfate (Epsom Salts) in a glass of warm water, repeating the dose after 2 hours.
This helps by dilating the gallbladder ducts and will lead to elimination of much of the contents in the intestinal tract,
so don't plan on going out that evening!
After another 2 hours, drink a glass of half olive oil and half lemon juice.br />
The oil helps lubricate the stones and the passage, and the lemon juice increases alkalinity to help flush the stones.
After going to the toilet, examine the bowl contents before flushing. Stones may be apparent as green coloured objects floating in the water.
Many people will get rid of dozens or even hundreds of stones.br />
Perhaps not a pleasant experience, but compared to having the important gall bladder surgically removed, it's a breeze.
LeanMachine is not a doctor, but has been able to help many people who have been failed or made worse by the medical system.
Any advice presented here is of a general nature, and individual advice should always be sought from your professional medical practitioner.
Note that if their advice is simply antibiotics or surgery, it may be time to find someone more professional,
however if any unusual bowel pain is not relieved in a few days, other problems such as cancer should be ruled out first by your doctor.
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LeanMachine is not a doctor, and everyone should consult with their own health professional before taking any product to ensure there is no conflict with existing prescription medication.
LeanMachine has been studying nutrition and health since 2011 and has completed many relevant studies including:
Open2Study, Australia - Food, Nutrition and Your Health
RMIT University, Australia - Foundations of Psychology
Swinburne University of Technology, Australia - Chemistry - Building Blocks of the World
University of Washington, USA - Energy, Diet and Weight
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, USA - Health Issues for Aging Populations
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, USA - International Nutrition
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, USA - Methods in Biostatistics I
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, USA - Methods in Biostatistics II
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, USA - Principles of Human Nutrition
TUFTS University, USA - Nutrition and Medicine
TUFTS University, USA - Lipids/Cardiovascular Disease I and Lipids/Cardiovascular Disease II
Technical Learning College, USA - Western Herbology, Identification, Formulas
Bath University, England - Inside Cancer
WebMD Education - The Link Between Stroke and Atrial Fibrillation
Leiden University Medical Center, Netherlands - Anatomy of the Abdomen and Pelvis
LeanMachine has now read thousands of studies, journals and reports related to health and nutrition and this research is ongoing.
Updated 16th May 2018, Copyright © 1999-2019 Brenton Wight and BJ & HJ Wight trading as Lean Machine abn 55293601285