The gall bladder is a small pear-shaped organ on the underside of the liver that is used to store bile. Bile is made in the liver and is stored in the gall bladder until it is needed to help the digestion of fat. Bile consists of bile salts, cholesterol and phospholipids. Gallstones are formed in the gall bladder when the proportions of these constituents change.
There are 3 types of gallstones: pure cholesterol stones, pure pigment stones containing calcium and mixed type containing pigments, calcium and cholesterol. They can vary in size from a few millimetres to a few centimetres. Some gallstones do not cause symptoms, whilst others irritate the gallbladder or pass into the bile duct and cause colic. The symptoms vary widely from discomfort to severe pain which mainly begins after food. In severe cases the patient can suffer from jaundice, nausea and fever.
Gallstones are seen in all age groups but they are rare in the young. The possibility of developing gallstones increases with age. The exact cause of gallstones in unknown, but people who suffer from diseases increased production of bile are at higher risk of developing them. Other people considered to be at increased risk are people who have relatives with gallstones; obese people; people with a high blood cholesterol level; women who take drugs containing oestrogen, eg contraceptive pills, HRT: people with diseases such as chronic intestinal inflammation (Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis).
Nutritional Supplements that could help. (Refer to the individual supplement for cautions in use.)
|Supplement/Herb||What it does||Dosage|
|Psyllium Husk Fibre/Oat Bran Fibre||Low fibre diets are linked to the development of gallstones. Gallstones are a rare condition among populations with high fibre intake. Diets that are low in fibre and high in fat and sugar lead to reduced bile synthesis and low bile acid concentration.||2 – 6g daily with large glass of water|
|Dandelion||A tonic to the liver, it enhances bile flow, thus improving conditions such as liver congestion, bile duct inflammation, hepatitis, gallstones, and jaundice.||250 – 500mg daily|
|Phosphatidyl-choline||Phosphatidylcholine, found in lecithin, acts as a lipotropic agent (see below). Fat and cholesterol build-up can compromise the liver’s capacity to function in detoxification, metabolism & bile production, and can also lead to the development of gallstones.||250 – 1000mgdaily|
|Lipotropic Nutrients||Choline, methionine and inositol are most common among a group of nutrients known as lipotroic factors, that prevent accumulation of fat and cholesterol in the liver. These nutrients are particularly helpful in any liver or gall bladder condition related to poor fat removal, including gallstones.||1000mg of each daily|
|Milk Thistle||Iincreases the solubility of cholesterol in the bile and may help prevent new stones forming and dissolve existing gallstones. Also suppportive to liver function.||1 75 – 525mg daily|
Diet and Lifestyle Factors
It is recommended that you follow a diet low in saturated fats, refined carbohydrates, sugar, fried foods and animal fats.
Avoid alcohol and coffee and make sure your diet includes lots of fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains, vegetable soups and juices.
To avoid recurrent attacks of severe pain and vomiting, avoid animal fats, dairy products, eggs, fried foods and any food with high levels of palm or coconut oil as they both have high levels of saturated fat.
Drink at least 2 litres of water daily.
Vegetarian diets are associated with lower incidence of gallstones, as prevention is better than cure, a high fibre vegetarian diet is worth considering if you are in a high risk group.
Homoeopathic Remedies which may help. (Refer to the individual remedy for guidance on the one that is most appropriate for you.)
- Calcarea carbonica
- Nux vomica
Suggested further reading:
- Gallstones explained
- Natural remedies