You have a terrible pain and tenderness in the upper right area of your abdomen, a pain between your shoulder blades, you feel nauseous and ready to die. You sit, stand and lie down but cannot get comfortable. So you go to see your GP, who very helpfully informs you that you have Acute Cholecystitis and that the only cure is to have your gallbladder surgically removed. WHAT? Did you hear correctly? Sadly, yes you did.

The standard medical treatment for Acute Cholecystitis (an inflamed gallbladder, caused by stones forming in the gallbladder – the first phase – followed by a gallstone being expelled from the gallbladder during contraction and becoming lodged in one of the bile ducts – the second phase) is the removal of the gallbladder, an operation called a cholecystectomy. This is akin to removing your nose to cure the common cold! Another thing your GP probably won’t mention as he or she urges you to have surgery, is the increased risk of bowel cancer that the removal of the gallbladder can cause, as bile drips continuously into your digestive system†. This constant dripping also causes diarrhoea in some people. Removing the gallbladder may also cause higher blood cholesterol levels. But then, look on the bright side – you’ll never suffer from gallstones again!

But what I GUARANTEE your doctor won’t tell you – most probably because he or she doesn’t actually know – is that there is a natural and painless way to rid yourself of the gallstones and keep your gallbladder!

But first, a little background. Bile, which comprises water, bile salts, lecithin and cholesterol, is first produced by the liver and then secreted through channels within the liver into a small tube called a hepatic duct. From there it passes through a larger tube called a common duct, which leads to the small intestine. Then, except for a small amount that drains directly into the small intestine, bile flows into the gallbladder through the cystic duct. The gallbladder is a four inch sac with a muscular wall that is located under the liver. Here, most of the fluid (about 2-5 cups a day) is removed, leaving a few tablespoons of concentrated bile. The gallbladder basically serves as a reservoir until bile is needed in the small intestine for the digestion of fat. When food enters the small intestine, a hormone called cholecystokinin is released, signalling the gallbladder to contract. The force of the contraction propels the bile back through the common bile duct and then into the small intestine, where it emulsifies fatty molecules so that fat and the fatabsorbable vitamins A, D, E and K can enter the bloodstream through the intestinal lining.

The majority of gallstones are formed from cholesterol (which comprises only about 5% of bile) and grow because the liver begins secreting bile that is unusually saturated with cholesterol. The cholesterol then crystallises to form stones while in storage in the gallbladder. Around 15% of stones are formed from bile salts and are called pigment stones. Whilst cholesterol stones are usually green in colour, pigment stones are usually brown or black. It is possible to have a combination of both stones.

The formation of gallstones may be caused by a large number of factors: faulty (i.e. high levels of saturated fats or refined carbohydrates) diet; being over 40 years of age; having excess oestrogen from pregnancy, taking HRT or the contraceptive pill; obesity; sudden and rapid weight loss*; yo-yo dieting*; following a very low calorie diet*; fasting*; lack of exercise; food allergies (the most common of which are, in order of occurrence, eggs, pork, onions, fowl, milk, coffee, citrus, corn, beans and nuts)§; having diabetes, Crohn’s disease, cystic fibrosis or cirrhosis of the liver; the excessive consumption of sugar; taking cholesterollowering drugs or using diuretic drugs, certain antibiotics, anti-rejection drugs and prostaglandins – oh, and our old friend, stress.

A gallbladder that does not contract sufficiently to empty the bile regularly will encourage the formation of gallstones. Researchers believe dieting may cause a shift in the balance of bile salts and cholesterol in the gallbladder. Skipping meals decreases gallbladder contractions, as does eating meals that are extremely low in fat. A meal or snack needs to contain approximately 10 grams of fat to contract the gallbladder

Author: Penny Samuels

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you have regarding a medical condition.