Gallbladder acting up - what to do?

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Gallbladder acting up - what to do?

Postby Anonymous » Mon Nov 10, 2003 8:31 am

Greetings all,
This weekend, my wife suddenly got some serious pains in her upper abdomen, which she described as worse than labor. It came is sharp stabs every minute or so and got so bad she was just writhing doubled over in pain. So.. we went to the hospital.
Diagnosis: Biliary Colic. (gallbladder attack)[xx(]
They took an ultrasound to confirm the presence of gallstones, and explained that is is becoming increasingly common for post-partum women to have gallbladder problems 1-2 months after delivering, as the body's metabolism is changing and the hormone levels are swinging back to normal.
Luckily, there were no stones visible, but there was some "sludge" in the gallbladder [their words] and this was causing the pain as bile ducts were getting clogged up.

Treatment: no-fat diet for the next week. Basically rice, steamed veggies and dry toast. no eggs, no dairy except skim milk, etc. EEK! After this week of letting the gallbladder recover we can start introducing things like eggs, nuts, yogurt, extra-lean meats in SMALL doses, and other low-fat items.
Further attacks in the near future = SURGICAL EXTRACTION!

This diet of course is standardized for the masses, but we already eat lots of veggies, have organic home-grown eggs & chickens, and sip on herbal infusions pretty regularly. Our diet conforms pretty much to the 'low fat' diet described in her booklet we received, but we still eat steak periodically and use olive oil in salads and cooking almost everything. We've been told olive oil is the WORST offender and should be removed from the diet immediately.[?]

The wife already takes burdock root tincture to help tonify the liver, as well as dandelion root. Drinks nettle and oatstraw infusions (we are out of red clover currently), and avoids soft drinks and coffee except for the occassional ginger-ale.

My question is <b>what sorts of things could we try in terms of healthy foods or herbal potions to help stave off the dreaded Scalpel??</b> Has anyone gone through gall bladder problems and lived to tell the tale?

I should also add that she is breastfeeding our 6week old son, so any suggestions would have to be safe for baby as well.

My mother had hers removed after serious problems while pregnant with me, and she said she did the bland diet for a few months but then got it taken out and can now eat anything she desires. No problems, and I see her feasting on McDonalds when we visit. (I know, I know, but you can only tell your parents so many times that McD is horrible![V])

A secondary question would be: What exactly do we use that gall bladder for anyway? I know it produces bile which helps break down fats & oils. The doctors say <i>"that excess fats cause it to flare up and "work too hard". Removing it does nothing overall since the undigested fats just pass through the gut and are excreted." </i>
I tend to think that since this little organ is inside us, it must be doing SOMETHING good, right? I am doubting the medical advice that removing it is beneficial since it does not do anything in the long-term anyway!??![?][?] Any thoughts? Advice?

Postby Justine » Mon Nov 10, 2003 9:54 am

hi. On page 122 of Susun's Healing Wise book, she suggests chickweek poultice for gallbladder pain....

I will be sending healing prayers for you and your wife and new babe.
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Postby Justine » Mon Nov 10, 2003 10:09 am

hi again. Using the six steps of healing right now would be great, that way you can put the idea of surgery on the very back burner as an option but not the immediate solution...

Did a quick google search and found what I would consider some pretty helpful info..seems the gallbladder is really a very important part of our body..I like the olive oil and lemon treatment...and if you are into chinese herbs the rest sounds interesting too, though maybe a wee bit heroic...though much less so than the option of, I found the notes that once the gallbladder is removed then stones may pile up in the liver to be a convincing enough argument to avoid removing the gallbladder, not to even mention the risk of a compromised auto-immune system and allergies, hives, arthritic, and anemia...

here are some passages from the webpage:

"Gallbladder problems
Gallbladder operation is the most common operation in North America. Every year, more than half a million people in the United States and more than 50,000 people in Canada undergo surgery to remove their gallbladders because of gallstones. Approximately 80% of all gallstones show no symptoms and may remain "silent" for years. Once symptoms arise, they persist and increase in frequency. The most common triggers for gallbladder attacks are caffeine, chocolate, eggs, dairy products (especially ice cream) and greasy or deep fried foods. Symptoms may include right upper quadrant abdominal discomfort or sharp pain, gas or fullness after a heavy meal. The pain can also spread to the chest, shoulder, neck or back. In addition to these symptoms, stones expelled from the gallbladder during contraction may become lodged within the bile duct leading to infection of the bile duct or gallbladder.

Different approaches to gallbladder problems in conventional medicine all carry unwanted risks. The most common treatment, surgery, has as many as 10% of patients coming out of surgery with stones remaining in the bile ducts according to the U.S. National Institute of Health . Bile duct injury is another risk. According to the Society of American Gastrointestinal Endoscopic Surgeons, "complications of Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy are infrequent, but include bleeding, infection, pneumonia, blood clots, or heart problems. Unintended injury to an adjacent structure such as the common bile duct or duodenum may occur and may require another surgical procedure to repair it. Bile leakage into the abdomen from the tubular channels leading from the liver to the intestine has been described."

The other treatment in conventional medicine is gallstone dissolution by different drugs such as chenodeoxycholic acid (Chenix), ursodeoxycholic acid (Actigall), methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE), and ethyl propionate. These drugs only work on smaller cholesterol stones and may cause diarrhea, hepatic injury and increase in plasma cholesterol level, nausea, pain or fever [References 2 and 3 at the end of this section]. MTBE administration (intragallbladder instillation) is an invasive procedure. [see References 1,2,3 at the end of this section].

Alternative to gallbladder surgery
An alternative to surgery and gallstone removal by chemical dissolution is gallbladder flush. Traditional European folk remedy recommends the use of olive oil and lemon juice to flush the gallstones. A major concern is that if the stones are too big, they may not easily come out or may even get stuck on the way out. Traditional Chinese medicine recommends the use of "Gold Coin Grass (GCG)" (botanical name: Herba Lysimachiae, Chinese sound translation: Chin-chien Tsao) to crush and soften the stones so that they will come out slowly. This tends to take a relatively long time. However, centuries of experience has shown that Gold Coin Grass (GCG) can be taken safely without side effects. In most cases, alleviation of gallbladder pain is experienced within a few days of using Gold Coin Grass (GCG) in tincture form. This is a significant benefit. I have found from my own experience and that of many of my clients that a combination of the following steps to be the most effective and efficient.

The gallbladder stores, concentrates and secretes bile which is produced in the liver. The bile is necessary in the intestine for the digestion and absorption of fat. It is also important for lubricating the intestinal wall. Once the gallbladder is removed, the bile lost its storage space and tends to accumulate in the liver. The result is reduced bile flow because the liver does not contract to squirt the bile into the intestine like the gallbladder does. The reduced bile flow usually causes indigestion, constipation or diarrhea. When the accumulated bile becomes congested in the liver, it weakens the liver functions and may even lead to depression. According to Chinese medicine, depression is a sign of blocked liver energy. The combined effects of liver congestion and intestinal sluggishness may also cause sleep disorder, insomnia, or bad breath. Furthermore, the reduced bile flow could weaken the spleen and pancreas so much that diabetes may result. The spleen is connected to the gallbladder by nerves. When the gallbladder is removed, the spleen is out of balance and becomes weakened.

Auto-immune diseases and allergies may also be the result of gallbladder removal because they are often caused by weak liver and spleen. Other health problems that may be experienced after gallbladder removal include itchy skin, arthritis or anemia. Allergy and arthritis are associated with weak liver and spleen. Itchy skin is usually caused by weak spleen if rashes (inflammation) are involved. If there are no rashes, it may be caused by bilirubin (one of the major components in bile) crystalizing under the skin. When excessive bilirubin is in the blood due to excessive bile carried to blood circulation from the liver, bilirubin may crystalize because it has low solubility in blood. Excessive bile in blood is usually the result of stagnant bile flow caused by liver congestion or some kind of blockage.

It is not uncommon for people who have their gallbladder removed to have gallstones in their liver. When the bile that is produced in the liver cannot be stored in the gallbladder anymore, it tends to get congested and become stagnant in the liver. When the bile is stagnant in the liver for too long, it becomes too concentrated; then cholesterol and bile pigments may crystalize to form stones in the liver similar to what happens in the gallbladder."

To read more from this webpage visit ... allbladder
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Postby Lannie » Mon Nov 10, 2003 2:54 pm

Hi, Nate -

Justine's post about the Gold Coin Grass sounds promising. I have no personal experience with gall bladder problems, but I have read a few things about them, so I'll go ahead and repeat it for what it's worth.

One method that is supposedly very effective is simply to take two tablespoons of linseed oil (I can't help but think olive oil would work just as well), and lie on your left side for 30 minutes. Apparently the stones will slip down into the intestines then and be "shat out" (so sorry!). However, if they are too large, then that might constitue another problem. If your wife has no visible stones, then they're probably small enough to be eliminated this way.

The other method was milkweed root (asclepias) and marsh mallow (althea). Mix equal parts of milkweed root and marsh mallow, steep a teaspoonful in a cup of boiling water and drink 3 cups during the day and one right before bed. This method claims the gallstones will be expelled and the liver and gallbladder cleaned within just a few days.

Like I said, I haven't tried either of these methods, but the book I got them from hasn't steered me wrong yet. [;)] I know the oil wouldn't hurt the baby, but I don't know whether either the milkweed or the marsh mallow would. I would think not, but I'm not sure.

I hope she doesn't have to have surgery, because in my opinion, we have gallbladders for a reason, and shouldn't be just cutting them out. I'm sure you can get rid of this problem using herbs of some sort. [:)]

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Postby naturenz » Mon Nov 10, 2003 9:35 pm

The gall bladder drains the liver of toxins, so yes we do need it. The main cause of stones is if one becomes deficient in Vitamin C or magnesium and has excessive oxidized cholesterol.

This is a gall bladder flush that Naturopaths recommend over here in NZ. Gall bladder surgery is one of the most frequent operations done over here. This flush that we recommend will prevent such an event occuring.
Choose a day like Friday or Saturday for the cleanse, so that you can rest the next day and not have to think about work. Take no medicines, vitamins or herbal preps on "the day". Eat a non fat breakfast and lunch which means no tahini or any oil. Fruit with chlorella and pollen is OK. Raw vege salads with lemon juice, baked potatoes or rice, steamed veges are also ok.
2.00PM: Do not eat after 2 o'clock. If you do you may feel quite ill later on

<u>Epsom salts:</u>
Mix 2Tablespoons of Epsom Salts with 3 cups filtered water in a jar. This makes 3 servings of 1 cup each. Refrigerate.

4.00PM and 6.00PM
Drink one serving of the Epsom Salts. You can add 1/8tsp Vitamin C powder or Stevia if desired. You may also wish to rinse your mouth afterwards with water.

Drink another serving of Epsom Salts, 1 cupful. You haven't eaten since 2PM but you wont feel hungry. Try to do this timing fairly close to the schedule.

9.45PM: or thereabouts
Pour about 1/4cup olive oil into a liter jar. Squeeze out pink grapefruit and/or lemons to 1/2 to 3/4 of a cupful. Add to olive oil. Close the jar tightly with the lid and shake hard until watery. Some people have successfully done the program on less oil and juices, use your discretion. Go to the toilet if necessary.

Drink the oilve oil/cirtus brew. It may be easier to drink through a large straw. Drink the brew standing up. Get it down within 5 minutes, 10 the most. A warm lemon drink with Stevia may be taken in between sips and after.

Lie down immediately!!
The sooner you lie down the more stones you'll get out. Be sure to have all your chores done so you can go right to bed after the drink. Lie flat on you back with your head up hight on the pillow. Try to keep perfectly still for at least 20minutes. Visualize the gall bladder expelling many stones out through the intestines, quite comfortably.

At first morning toilet, check your poop very carefully for any stones. They may be green or brown and may be from sand size up to fairly large stones. Some people have reported stones the size of a thumb nail, some even larger.

Next morning
You may eat. Start with some fruit juice. Half an hour later, have some fresh fruit. By an hour or two later, eat normally, but lightly. Some folks do the gall blader flush once or twice a year for maximum health benefits.

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Postby Therese » Mon Nov 10, 2003 11:44 pm


First off, let me say that I hope your wife is feeling better.

Seems like there's been some pretty thorough responses so far, so I'm just going to relate my personal experience...

When my son was about 4, I had one episode of gallbladder attack. I never had any problems with my gallbladder before that, although I always felt I had rather "sluggish" digestion (which I still do seem to experience). I had been feeling rather "unwell" for a couple weeks previous. Same deal with me, pains in the middle of the night, even so bad that I was vomitting. Doctor sent me for ultrasound and found "sludge." THEN doctor sent me to...not a gastroenterologist...but a surgeon. Well, guess what the surgeon told me? I wasn't going to go under the knife that quickly.

I decided to consult with a gastroenterologist and he said he thought I'd have another attack...maybe 2 months...maybe 2 years...but I could wait and at that time have the gallbladder out. mother had a gallbladder attack at almost the exact same age that I was when I had mine. She never had hers out...went on a bland diet for a period of time etc. etc....and never had another attack. So, I decided to wait it out...and now it's been seven years and I haven't had another episode.

Moral of the story...wait it as healthfully as possible...and follow the other good advice here. I don't know...sometimes these things just "happen"...seems to be that an isolated episode may be more common than we know, because so many people just opt to have surgery immediately.

Best of luck to you and your wife...
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Postby Anonymous » Tue Nov 11, 2003 4:57 pm

Yes, you can avoid surgery on your gallbladder. I unfortunately was not aware of alternative health and I had mine removed a year ago. I continued to have pain, indigestion, diarrhea and all of that after surgery. It's amazing how many gallbladder surgeries are done every year and how many lucrative that business is to surgeons. You will never hear a medical doctor discuss this easy alterative treatment. I discovered the gallbladder/liver flush that was described previously by another poster. I was searching for treatment for my liver. It was hurting daily and the pain and diarrhea, nausea was increasing everyday for months after the surgery. I finally did my first flush in June. I have done 8 flushes since June and over 1500 liver stones, like wax have come out, from bb to walnut size. Most were pea size and dime size very commonly. My health has improved. I no longer feel the pain in my back, shoulders, liver area or my rt foot. (I had pain up and down the liver meridians, and it was quite unpleasant at times.)
I am happy that I took charge of my health. I am tincturing liver herbs like dandelion, burdock, ginger, garlic, milk thistle, etc to help it recover. I drink water with lemon in it every morning. I only take oils that are good for my body. That is olive oil, flax seed oil, and virgin coconut oil. Avoid hydroganted oils at all cost. Your gallbladder needs healthy oils every day.
Check out for more information. They are a little far out for me on some subjects, but the liver flush forum is very informative. Good luck to you.
PS, I found that the flushes do best on a full or new moon.

Postby karen joy » Tue Nov 11, 2003 5:03 pm

Nate, I sure hope your wife is feeling better!!!! And so hard too with such a little one to care for (if only we could count on friday or saturday with no work to follow : ))

I don't know the answer, but would like to think out lound hear and maybe someone can fill in the many blanks. Based on how I use the Wise Woman Tradition, here is how I think.... If our gallbladder has excess sludge that is causing pain, then probably healthy functioning it would somehow be able to process this "sludge" to a manageable state. So rather tahn see our gall bladder as malfunctioning and needing removal or even seeing is as dirty needing cleansing, I would first want to know if there were a a way to feed it nourishment to help it function better and move the ? in the best way possible. Does this make sense? So then my questions are: Why is there sludge? how does the all bladder process stuff so it moves through well? How can we nourish the gallbladder to do its job more efficiently?

So I know I only added more questions and thoughts and didn't offer much help perhaps!

I had experience with the world of gall bladder/liver cleanses/detoxes and wound up feeling so incredibly sluggish and sick -- then was told this was the "healing crisis", getting worse before better, meaning I must have been real toxic and this was the toxins moving through me. I trust the women here and their advice, so perhaps there is more to this. I just personally feel cautious. And here though the cleanses recommend oils that your doctor strongly advises against!!

I also realize this is a time sensitive thing, both with your wife's discomfort and with the threat of surgery looming above.
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Postby Justine » Tue Nov 11, 2003 7:50 pm

has any one died of a gallbladder stone? I wonder if the threat of surgery is really looming..or is it just a means to income and not as necessary as they say?? life w/o a gallbladder sounds to be no fun (so glad you have found good relief Flowerchild59, you must be so relieved, I so know how unending pain feels...yuk!!!)

I can hardly imagine that olive oil could be bad for anything or anyone..that i find very hard to believe...sounds like a fib..

I will continue to send healing prayers your way, Nate and family.
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Postby LadyB » Tue Nov 11, 2003 8:33 pm

All through this I just keep thinking of Chickweed TINCTURE....the supreme fat emulsifier......give our friend the gallbladder just a little HELP and let it get its act back together. We KNOW the liver goes fubar with hormone surges, but it doesn't mean it's not WORKING, it just means it has a LOT of work to do. I consider the gallbladder just its sidekick.

I also feel a lot of trepidation at doing the whole epsom salt thing while NURSING.....easy does it, folks.

Nate, my dear, if you can't easily find FRESH chickweed tincture, I have SCADS of it...give me a holler via Email......LadyB
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Postby naturenz » Tue Nov 11, 2003 9:07 pm

I wouldn't want to do the gallbladder flush either when breastfeeding. It wouldn't do for the epsoms salts to work through the breast milk to the baby.
I was just sharing what alot of naturopaths describe to do for gallbladders over here in NZ. It always seems to work.

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Postby Anonymous » Mon Nov 17, 2003 2:45 pm

I don't have much to add, except a resounding THANKS for all the insights and suggestions.

We have not tried any of the flushes yet, since we were waiting until a good weekend came along, and I recently was stuck home from work dancing with pheumonia/sinus-infection. Geez, when it rains it pours, eh? Luckily, we are both on the mend now.
Since the initial attack, my wife has been VERY good at keeping her healthy low-fat diet, and we use olive oil in cooking with no horrible disasterous side effects. Slowly been moving from a super-bland diet of rice & beans, dry whole grain toast, etc. No further attacks, so we think she's in the clear.

LadyB, I had some chickweed up until this weekend, when 6 inches of snow pretty well froze my largest patch. I'd love some tincture if you have enough to share! I planned on gathering a batch myself until *I* got sick too, and now its all wilty this morning.[:(]

For now, she is still keeping the option of surgery open, after some hearty self-reflection. Apparently, the same pain she felt has reared up semi-often previously, but never as intense, so she's kinda nervous about a recurring attack someday when she might be driving with the baby and not be able to get help by herself. Before now she chaulked it up to heartburn or too much spicy food even though she LOVES tai cuisine, but upon further review it may be these foods bring on a gall bladder attack. Her first foray into fats again brought a tiny twinge, so she's still cautiously considering the knife.
I'll keep you all posted on events as they transpire.
Thanks again for the support and suggestions!

Postby Leaf » Mon Nov 17, 2003 6:43 pm

Oh Maebius,
I'm afraid I can't give you any good advice about this... thanks for letting us know how things are there now.

I just wanted to wish you, your wife and baby lots of good luck and healing energy!

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Postby karen joy » Thu Nov 20, 2003 12:26 pm

Yes, thanks for keeping us updated. It sounds like your wife has a good feel for what she would like best for herself, this is great!!
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Postby Anonymous » Thu Jan 01, 2004 2:12 am

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I am so glad I found this forum!!! For six months I have been awaiting a second biliary colic attack. My first one sounds similar to what your wife suffered. I, however, am over 50 years old.

Ultrasound confirmed multiple stones (small) but HIDA scan revealed the gall bladder IS functioning normally and the GB wall is not thickened, which was a good sign. gastroenterologist kept insisting that although my symptoms were somewhat atypical, ie., no vomiting, etc., and pain was predominantly in region of navel at first, then spreading for 2 hours to entire upper and mid abdomen, I should have the gall bladder out immediately. He, the second opinion gastroenterologist I consulted, AND a surgeon who supposedly is a wizard with laparoscopy, all tried to hurry me under the knife.

After carefully researching this surgery on the web, via books, and by talking to people who've had it, I find that I agree surgery should be the LAST resort, not the first. I have changed my diet significantly but still eat chocolate.

I wondered why the gastro docs were in as big a hurry for me to have the surgery as was the surgeon, but here's the deal: with so many people having the GB removed, there are many, many, who are not happy with the outcome. They still have various digestive complaints and the mere presence of stones and an attack or two is NOT resolved by the surgery.

Then there are those who suffer for months/years/the balance of their lives, with upper and/or lower digestive complaints and need to run back to the gastro docs for treatment, tests and meds. No WONDER all these docs are in a hurry for us to have surgery.

Of course, I agree with your wife in that little twinges occurring frequently do somewhat encourage me in the direction of surgery, BUT I fully intend to wait for the second or third big attack, at least.

I work with an attorney who is also a registered nurse. She is married to a physician/surgeon and she told me NOT to have the surgery now. She said that, frankly, I wasn't sick enough, and that the GB is there "for a very good reason." We can always take it out but we can't put it back! The fears my doctors tried to instill in me were met with disgust by this nurse/attorney co-worker. She said "of COURSE the surgeon and others want you to have surgery. That's their JOB!" I figure this lady ought to know what she's talking about since she worked in the medical field for years and her hubby is a physician/surgeon!

So...along with your wife, I am waiting and hoping that lots of time passes without a second major attack. Supposedly the more time that passes, the less chance of another big attack. Naturally if I had attacks over and over I would have surgery to prevent major infection, pancreatitis, etc. We DON'T want this surgery in an emergency situation; it's much more difficult.

Give my best to your wife -- I hope we all have a great 2004 and can stay surgery-free!



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