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What You Need to Know About Your Gallbladder

There are almost 900,000 cholecystectomies per year in the United States. A NY Times article from the 1990s noticed how increasingly common this surgery was now that there was a laparoscopic option and said that “Gallbladder surgery is now about as common as hysterectomy, which is second only to Caesarean sections.” It does seem that the United States is quicker to cut than to try to preserve function of an organ. Many times it is quite easy to get a cholecystectomy performed if ultrasound shows sludge or gallstones present. One study found that gallbladder removal has increased by 35% since 1990. But conventional medicine does not consider the function of the gallbladder and how that effects the rest of the body. They see the gallbladder as nonessential. There was a study comparing delayed cholecystectomy versus early cholecystectomy and found no improvement with delay, but what were they doing when they delayed? A low fat diet for the patient? Conventional medicine has no other tools they use if there isn’t a medication or surgery to solve the problem they will say “watchful waiting” delayed cholecystectomy will include antibiotics and fluids but is that doing anything to address why the sludge was there to begin with? What happens when the gallbladder is removed and there is no place for the sludge to go? Does the body stop making it just because there is no organ for bile storage anymore (the function of the gallbladder)? No. The problem is not fixed and is thus passed onto other organs to deal with in the future. In fact, there is a diagnosis for that…post-cholecystectomy syndrome. This is the persistence of biliary colic despite gallbladder removal. As well, we see protein and fat digestive problems, fatty acid malabsorption, diarrhea, increase in food intolerances, and more. Have they looked at the rate of keratosis pilaris post gallbladder removal? Or the rate of elevated liver enzymes post gallbladder removal? Or how the increased burden on the liver might lead to poor estrogen metabolism thus eventually leading to worsening hormonal issues, cysts, fibroids, etc. leading to increased incidence of hysterectomy?

It is all connected. Your gallbladder is important and conventional medicine being quick to remove this organ is not benefiting the health of our people, especially women. There are times when a gallbladder does need to be removed such as if a gallstone is blocking the common bile duct or if the organ is septic. But the vast majority of cholecystectomies are not done for this purpose.

The gallbladder’s main purpose is to store cholesterol rich bile that is secreted by the liver, this is needed to help the body digest fats in the diet. Gallstones can form with the presence of excess cholesterol. This can be diet related, but it can also be related to liver congestion. If your gallbladder is not working you are not able to remove toxins from the body as well. This might lead to weight gain, IBS type symptoms, fatigue, acid reflux, increase in headaches/migraines, hormone imbalances, gas and bloating. This will not go away if gallbladder is removed and will just hasten the timeline of worsening symptoms and the body will express itself elsewhere.

There are ways to support the gallbladder and prevent the need for gallbladder removal. Gallbladder flushes are quite common, but I am not convinced they are helpful long term or that taking in that much fat in the form of olive oil is actually producing gallstones instead of just clumps of oil. At any rate, there is no quick fix for gallbladder issues, but there are solutions that with time and care can reverse gallbladder issues and lead to improved health overall. You might find once this function has been restored, better and more frequent bowel movements, more energy, blood sugar stability, better hormone balance, and more.

1 | SUPPORT THE GALLBLADDER AND LIVER. Supporting the gallbladder/liver with dandelion root tea, coffee enemas (as long as no large gallstones present), milk thistle, digestive enzymes, better mealtime practices such as slowly chewing your food allowing for more digestive juices to be present and better digestion overall, castor oil packs over liver/ gallbladder, etc. One supplement that is helpful for stimulating bile flow (thus better movement through gallbladder and less sludge) is artichoke extract. There is a very specific one that my friend and frequency medicine practitioner Dr. Charlie Fagenholz uses and I have personally found to be very successful for gallbladder issues. This one is from Amazon but is shipped by a small business so is not like typical amazon supplements where there is a third party supplier. This supplement could be very helpful for someone with gallbladder issues, hormone imbalances like painful periods, PMS, etc. It is best to start slow with it at 1 capsule per day, can increase to 3 capsules per day but listening to the body is important. Typically it is just needed for 2-3 months.

  • Favorite less messy castor oil packs. I like to start very slow with these, 20 minutes or so a few times a week then moving to daily then eventually to overnight. You might find better more consistent bowel movements as well as deeper sleep. (Use code: nursemomma for 10% off your purchase!)

  • Favorite digestive enzymes from Vervita. Gastrodigest II

2 | HYDRATION. Hydration is important for there to be good flow of bile. Many are walking around chronically dehydrated, tired, dry skin, and slow bowel movements. Adequate hydration with minerals is crucial for many things, including gallbladder function.

Favorite minerals to ensure hydration: Quinton minerals, Jigsaw electrolyte powders (both can be found on my Fullscript, pinch of Redmond salt in water, sole water add 1 teaspoon per day to water, herbal infusions etc.

3 | GALLSTONES. If gallstones are present, BodyGuard Supreme or chance piedra is very helpful. This herb has been used for a long time in South and Central America and is a potent liver detoxifier, anti-oxidant, and is helpful for gallstones and kidney stones, as well as helping patients with EMF sensitivity. This herb shouldn’t be used during pregnancy or those on blood pressure medicine or who struggle with low blood sugar. Otherwise it can be very helpful to break up gallstones and improve biliary sludge.

4 | DIET. Eating more beets, dandelion greens. Including healthy fats in your diet like coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, grass-fed butter, etc. Avoid inflammatory oils such as vegetable and canola oil as this will increase liver congestion and has been implicated in insulin resistance, metabolic dysfunction, and heart disease. Avoid fried and processed foods.

5 | During an acute attack, Super Phospho-zyme liquid (1-2 droppers) has been shown to improve abdominal pain and cramping.

6 | Phosphtidylcholine is a fat emulsifier and an essential component of bile. Body Bio PC is the brand of choice, the soft gels are preferred as the liquid can be a potent detoxifier and would want to start very slow.

7 | OX BILE. This can “take the place of” bile in your body to get things moving and prevent sludge. This is helpful if you have already had your gallbladder out or if your gallbladder is starting to act up. I use Seeking Health 125 and would take with meals and before bed but starting very slow.

Overall, changing diet and limiting processed food, eating organic foods to limit pesticide exposure, increasing movement (not strenuous exercise but walking as often as possible) will be foundational to healing. It is important to note that there are gallbladder emergencies and if you are concerned, severe abdominal pain especially along with fever, seek medical evaluation right away.

If you have already had your gallbladder out consider ox bile and digestive enzymes with every meal. You will need to simulate gallbladder function and this will be very helpful along with the other liver supporting things such as castor oil packs, coffee enemas, dandelion, etc.

PLEASE NOTE: This is not meant to diagnose, treat, or cure any condition. These things are supportive in nature. This is not meant to be medical advice, this is meant to be educational. Please speak to your healthcare provider before changing anything in your healthcare routine.

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