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Gallstone Treatments (Conventional and Natural)

Updated on September 9, 2014
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INTRODUCTION

  • The gallbladder is a three to four inch pear-shaped organ located on the right side of the body directly below the liver [1]
  • One of the liver's function is to remove poisonous substances from the blood so as to be expelled from the body
  • The liver excretes all the gathered toxins mixed with a digestive agent called bile. Bile also comprises of cholesterol, bile salts, lecithin and other substances
  • About 1 pint of bile daily goes firstly to the gallbladder which holds it until food arrives in the small intestine. This is when the gallbladder releases the bile which passes through the cystic and bile ducts into th small intestine. Finally, the toxins are passed out of the body through the feces

Aetiology (Causes), Signs and Symptoms [1]

  • Abnormal concentration of bile acids, cholesterol and phospholipids in the bile can lead to gallstones
  • Presence of gallstones is known as cholelithiasis
  • When a stone is pushed out of the gallbladder and lodges in the bile duct, it can cause nausea, vomiting and pain in the upper abdominal region
  • When there are gallstones, there is a possibility that gallbladder inflammation (cholecystitis) may develop. This causes severe pain in the upper right abdomen and/or across the chest along with possibly fever, nausea and vomiting
  • Other symptoms of gallbladder disease include constant pain below the breastbone that shoots into the right or left shoulder area and radiates to the back
  • The pain can last from thirty minutes to several hours
  • Urine may be tea or coffee coloured and there may be shaking, chills and jaundice
  • Gallbladder attacks usually occur in the evenings and can occur sporadically
  • Daily abdominal pain may however be a problem unrelated to the gallbladder
  • Gallbladder attacks resemble a heart attack with severe pain in the chest area
  • Biliary dyskinesia refers to a condition in which all gallbladder disease symptoms are present but there are no gall stones
  • Gallbladder inflammation requires immediate treatment as it can be life-threatening
  • Pain in the upper abdomen that lasts for more than an hour may warrant the requirement to get an ultrasound to confirm signs of gallbladder disease
  • Women are twice as likely to develop gallstones as men
  • Is hereditary

What symptoms dis you experience with gallbladder issues

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PATIENT QUESTIONAIRE

Female in her early thirties, experiencing chronic indigestion and pains in the upper right pit of her stomach. Symptoms experienced include:

  • Bloating and fullness
  • Nausea or Vomiting
  • Pain or discomfort in the upper right belly that sometimes spread to right upper back or shoulder blade area
  • Symptoms indicative of gallstones blocking bile duct:

-pain with fever and chills

-skin or whites of eyes faint yellow in color

-Having stones in your bile duct increases risk of developing pancreatitis (swollen pancreas). Call your doctor immediately if one has sudden or bad pain in your belly orchest and you are unsure of what the cause is.


Patient questionairre health appraisal indicators:

  • Distress from fats or greasy foods such as nausea, dizziness, headaches etc
  • Flabby flesh (hangs) underarms and stomach
  • Indigestion occurs 2 to 3 hours after meals, fullness, bloating, sourness etc, Excessive lower bowel gas (flatulence)

CLINICAL TESTS

Tests and procedures used to diagnose gallstones include:

  • Tests to create pictures of your gallbladder. Your doctor may recommend an abdominal ultrasound and a computerized tomography (CT) scan to create pictures of your gallbladder. These images can be analyzed to look for signs of gallstones.
  • Tests to check your bile ducts for gallstones. A test that uses a special dye to highlight your bile ducts on images may help your doctor determine whether a gallstone is causing a blockage. Tests may include a hepatobiliary iminodiacetic acid (HIDA) scan, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP). Gallstones discovered using ERCP can be removed during the procedure.
  • Blood tests to look for complications. Blood tests may reveal an infection, jaundice, pancreatitis or other complications caused by gallstones.

Conventional Treatments

TREATMENT:

CONVENTIONAL[3]


• Pain medicine for first gallstone attack
• Second attack or if one has a bad attack, it may be recommended that the gallbladder be removed through laposcopic surgery
• Medicines are rarely used to treat gallstones. Bile acids can be used to dissolve gallstones though these are reserved for those who have symptoms of gallstones and for those whom surgery would be risky.
• Deoxycholic acid is used todissolve or fragment thegallbladder stones or lithotripsy (use of sound waves to break up stones)

NATURAL

DIETARY AND LIFESTYLE FACTORS [1]

  • Eat a diet consisting of 75 percent raw foods. Include applesauce, eggs, yoghurt, cottage cheese, fresh apples and beets, broiled fish
  • Eat protein from vegetable sources. This is especially important for men. Iron (called heme) in meats accumulates in men and is associated with a twenty percent increase in risk of gallbladder disease. Postmenopausal women too would benefit from eating a diet low in animal products.
  • Eat a diet comprising of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats and maintain a healthy weight will decrease the risk of developing gallstones by 18 percent
  • To cleanse the system, consume as much apple juice as possible for five days. Add pear juice occasionally. Beet juice can also cleanse the liver.
  • Avoid sugar and products containing sugar as people who consume an excessive amount of sugar are much more likely to form gallstones
  • Avoid all animal fat and meat, saturated fats, full fat dairy products, fried foods, spicy foods, margarine, soft drinks, commercial oils, chocolate and refined carbohydrates
  • Physical activity may reduce risk of gallstones
  • For acute attacks, Drink 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in a glass of apple juice. This should rapidly relieve the pain. If pain does not subside, seek emergency help as may be due to heart or gastroesophageal disease. Onecanalso use castor oil packs applied to the gallbladder area (apply cloth saturated in warm castor oil)
  • In gallbladder inflammation, avoid solid food for a few days and only drink distilled or spring water. Then drink juices such as pear, beet and apple for three days. Then add solid foods likeshredded raw beets with 2 tablespoons olive oil, fresh lemon juice and freshly made applesauce made in a food processor. Apple juice helps in softening gallstones
  • For gallstones, take 3 tablespoons olive oil with the juice of 1 lemon before bed and upon awakening. Stones often are passed and eliminated in stool. You can substitute lemon juice with grapefruit juice if desired.

HERBS AND SUPPLEMENTS

  • Alfalfa, 1000mg capsule or tablet form twice daily with warm water for 2 days; cleanses the liverand supplies necessary vitamins and minerals
  • Essential fatty acid complex or Kyolic-EPA from Wakunaga (important constituents of every living cell, needed for repair and prevention of gallstones;take as directed on label
  • Lecithin granules, 1 tablespoon three times daily before food or 1200mgcapsules three times daily (fat emulsifier, helps digestion of fats)
  • L-glycine, 500mg daily on an empty stomach taken with water or juice and not milk. Best taken with 50mg Vitamin B6 and 100mg Vitamin C to enhance absorption, helps in biosynthesis of nucleic and bile acids
  • Magnesium, 400mg daily, May reduce insulin levels that are associated with gallbladder disease
  • Taurine Plus , take as directed on label, required for formation of an important bile acid and may help prevent gallstone formation. Use the liquid form.
  • Vitamin A with carotenoids, 25000IU daily (do not exceed 10000IU daily if pregnant), helps repair tissues. Emulsion form is better as more easily assimilated.
  • Vitamin B complex 50mg three times daily with food plus extra Vitamin B12 2000mcg daily; all B vitamins are essential for proper digestion.
  • Choline 500mg daily and Inositol 500mg daily, important in cholesterol metabolism and liver and gallbladder function
  • Vitamin C with bioflavonoids; 3000mg daily; deficiency can lead to gallstones
  • Vitamin D, 400IU daily; gallbladder malfunction interferes with Vitamin D absorption
  • Vitamin E (d-alpha tocopherol form), 200IU daily; prevent fats frombecoming rancid
  • Multienzymecomplex, take as directed on label before meals; aids in digestion if too little bile is secreted from the gallbladder
  • Ox bile; take as directed on label before meals; needed especially if one has had gallbladder removal surgery
  • Fumitory, treat liver disorders, stimulate bile flow, half cboiling water poured over 1 to 2 teaspoons of fumitory dried leaves, steep for 10 minutes. Drink half anhour before each meal
  • Turmeric, helps with gallstones and reducing risk of developing gallstones. 1 to 2 teaspoons in 1 cup boiling water with honey to taste drunk two to three times daily

Prognosis

Eighty percent of gallstones do not produce symptoms and require no treatment. Our bodies will work fine without a gallbladder though bile will flow directly from the liver to the intestine. There may be small changes in how one digests food but it is not very noticeable. With the right diet and lifestyle, prognosis is good.

References

1) Phyllis A. Balch, Prescription for nutritional healing, Fifth edition, Penguin publishing, New York 2010

2) Diagnostic tests for gallstones, http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/gallstones/basics/tests-diagnosis/con-20020461, Accessed 27th August 2014

3) WebMD Medical Reference,Gallstones-Medications, Healthwise, July 15, 2011

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