Gallbladder Basic Functions, Signs, and Symptoms Basic Functions ► store bile produced by the liver ► secrete bile to digest fats ► detoxify the liver ► lubricate the intestines for bowel movements The duct of the gallbladder can become thick with "sludge." This congestion inhibits normal function and eventually leads to the development of stones in the gallbladder itself. Signs and Symptoms ► difficult to digest fatty foods ► pain in upper right side after eating ► constipation (or IBS symptoms) ► liver congestion (allergies, sugar handling issues, elevated cholesterol, wake 1-3 am, elevated blood pressure)
► shoulder pain (referral pain) If the congestion is great enough then a gallbladder attack may occur. After eating, the gallbladder is triggered to contract which contributes bile to aid in the digestion of fats. That contraction can be painful if the duct is fully blocked. This may lead to biliary colic (painful spasms that typically end up at the hospital). Treatment Current standard of care has doctors removing the entire gallbladder regardless of the severity of the congestion or stone formation. If the gallbladder is compromised, cancerous, or necrotic (beginning to die and may be infected) then removal may be necessary. However, from my clinical experience, most of the time removal is not necessary. Risks Associated with Removal ► can no longer digest fats properly leading to IBS and fatty acid deficiencies (can't fully absorb them) ► cause was not addressed so sludge build up may continue leading to more symptoms, pain, and even deformities of the duct requiring further surgery ► liver function compromised as detoxification pathway destroyed Integrative Approach ► identify causative factors and reduce/remove (possibly dietary) ► use supplements or botanical medicines to thin out the sludge and improve bile flow ► manual manipulation can clear the gallbladder to the sphincter of Oddi (where the duct opens into the duodenum) ► acupuncture to stimulate the gallbladder and liver function ► support liver function to decrease likelihood of recurrence For mild cases increasing consumption of beets and dark leafy green vegetables while decreasing processed carbohydrate foods may be effective. Gallbladder Flushes These are dangerous and aggressive. The strategy is to force violent contractions of the gallbladder to dislodge stones. However, this may cause rupture and result in a medical crisis. I do not advice these approaches.
Holistic & Integrative Medicine