7 Natural Techniques for Gallbladder Support
At seventeen, Tina already had “tummy trouble” for ten years.
Usually Tina couldn’t quite explain why she felt bad. Sometimes she would have pain in her right side, and sometimes she would have pain in her right leg or her right arm.
In addition, there could be heartburn, or horribly embarrassing flatulence, or diarrhea, or constipation. Sometimes, especially when she missed a meal, she would have unbearable nausea. Tina’s gastric distress was almost constant.
Furthermore, Tina’s mom Katy had had similar problems for 30 years or more. Her doctor had diagnosed her with “gallbladder disease,” but because she did not have gallstones, he would not recommend treatment.
Both Tina and Katy were given HIDA (hepatobiliary) scans, on which both mother and daughter had the identical low (low in this case meaning bad) score of 32.
If they had gallstones, doctors would have offered them surgery with a score as low as 40.
But because they did not have gallstones, Katy and Tina were told to go home and diet. Only when Katy’s pain was so bad she thought she was having a heart attack was she finally admitted to the hospital for gallbladder removal, cholecystectomy.
Sadly, Katy’s and Tina’s doctors did not tell them about natural methods that reduce, and sometimes eliminate, pain and discomfort associated with the gallbladder…
There are indeed natural techniques for gallbladder support.
Holiday Meals Are Often the Trigger for Gallbladder Attacks
Thanksgiving dinners and holiday buffets are often the setting for gallbladder attacks. The average stomach size of a teenager or adult is about eight cups, or two liters.
When we eat until we are merely full, the mass of food in the stomach presses down on the gallbladder for one to three hours while food is being digested. If we eat and eat and eat some more, the stomach may press against the gallbladder for six hours, eight hours, or even twelve hours.
In people who are obese, fat presses in one direction on the gallbladder while the contents of the stomach press in the opposite direction.
As a result, bile can’t be released to reach the small intestine to dissolve fats, so there is a queasy feeling that something is floating in your stomach while gas and watery stool pass through. The combination of overeating and being overweight leads to misery.
It may not seem fair, but if you have gallbladder problems, you need to eat lightly at holiday meals and focus on leftovers. Eating too much leads to pain. It’s as simple as that.
Having your gallbladder removed at least ensures that all that food won’t press down on gallstones, but you still have the same underlying problem.
Your liver can’t get bile to your small intestine to digest fat. You won’t have a gallstone attack, but you can still have a “gallbladder” attack—even when you don’t have a gallbladder!
So what can you possibly do to enjoy celebratory meals without painful cramps and embarrassing gas?
1. Don’t Overeat, but Don’t Go on a Crash Diet, Either
If you already have gallstones, overeating may make you feel miserable. But if you don’t already have gallstones, going on an extremely low-calorie crash diet may cause them. Low-calorie diets cause gallstones by shutting down the liver’s production of bile.
When less bile flows into the gallbladder, bile stays longer in the gallbladder. This allows it to form the crystals that can gather on a protein matrix to form stones.
Therefore, if you want to ensure optimal gallbladder support, do not overeat or go on an intense diet.
2. Eat Ginger or Take Ginger Supplements for Gallbladder Support
If you have a healthy gallbladder, a clinical trial tells us, you won’t notice a big change when you take a ginger supplement. That’s actually a good thing.
Ginger stimulates the liver to produce more bile, so fats can be digested. But it doesn’t stimulate the liver to produce so much bile that there could be pressure on the gallbladder or gallstones.
3. Enjoy Your Coffee for Gallbladder Health
Coffee is not required for gallbladder health, but there is epidemiological evidence that drinking at least one cup to four or more cups of coffee a day greatly reduces your risk of gallbladder cancer.
It is a great form of natural gallbladder support and is generally good for gallbladder problems because:
- Coffee stimulates the release of a hormone called cholecystokinin. This hormone tells your brain that your stomach is full (which is a good reason to end a meal with coffee). When you feel satisfied sooner, you eat less, and you put less pressure on your gallbladder.
- In addition, coffee stimulates your gallbladder to release bile. If you have a condition called cholestasis, this helps “pump out” your gallbladder and relieves nausea, bloating, gas, and abdominal cramps after fatty meals. Generally, if you don’t have gallstones yet, drinking coffee will help to ensure you never get them. If you have a previous history of untreated gallstones, however, this is a reason to drink coffee in small amounts and with caution.
- Coffee reduces the amount of cholesterol that is dissolved in the bile that flows through the gallbladder. Less cholesterol means fewer stones, which are formed from cholesterol.
4. Take Globe Artichoke Extract for Gallbladder Health
There is a very simple way in which globe artichoke extract reduces the burden of gallstones. It inhibits the production of cholesterol by the liver that becomes gallstones if bile is trapped in the gallbladder.
As a result, this prevents the formation of a kind of cholesterol-laden “sludge” that can turn into gallstones.
Globe artichoke extract will help lower your cholesterol at the same time it reduces the formation of gallstones.
What’s important to remember about globe artichoke extract is that it is a long-term treatment, not a short-term treatment.
Taking artichoke extract every day for weeks or months slowly ensures gallstones won’t form, but taking just one dose of artichoke extract won’t cure a gallbladder attack. By taking a supplement with globe artichoke extract every day, you can provide your body with natural gallbladder support.
5. Take N-Acetylcysteine to Prevent Gallstone Formation
We have to be honest about the scientific literature. There is a controversy over whether it is helpful to use N-acetylcysteine to break up gallstones. The evidence is that this supplement does not break up gallstones once they have formed.
However, it dissolves the matrix on which gallstones form so they don’t have to be broken up later. Therefore, you should take N-acetylcysteine to prevent gallstones, not to treat them.
6. Include Lipoic Acid in Your Daily Supplements for Gallbladder Health
Your gallbladder is a magnet for lipoic acid. It is so attractive to lipoic acid that doctors can even use it as a contrast agent instead of iodine of heavy metals.
Lipoic acid is anti-inflammatory, and the reduction of inflammation can reduce swelling in the gallbladder that traps bile and presses down on stones.
Therefore, taking a supplement with lipoic acid may help you find some relief as another form of gallbladder support.
7. Take Grapeseed Extract for Gallbladder Health
Grapeseed extract helps maintain the health of the gallbladder through its action on an enzyme called CYP7A1.
This liver enzyme increases the synthesis of bile salts that carry away LDL cholesterol.
Grapeseed extract is helpful in preventing gallstones, and it is also the supplement you need if you have had gallbladder surgery.
Remember, you can get gallstones even if you don’t have a gallbladder any more. Grapeseed extract helps you avoid the pain of “gallbladder” problems even after surgery.
Therefore, if you are looking for gallbladder support as well as pain relief, taking a natural supplement with grapeseed extract in it every day may help.