GALL BLADDER DISORDERS The gallbladder is a little pear-shaped pouch tucked behind the lobes of the liver. Its main job is to store up the cholesterol-rich bile that's secreted by the liver. Bile helps your body digest fatty foods. So when that piece of prime rib reaches the intestines, they send a message up to the gallbladder to send some bile their way. Once the bile saturates your steak, it becomes more digestible and easily makes its way through the rest of the digestive process.
At least that's the way things should work. But the reality is that many people, especially older people and women, will have some gallbladder trouble. Ninety percent of the time that trouble is in the form of gallstones. Gallstones form when the bile contains excessive amounts of cholesterol. When there isn't enough bile to saturate the cholesterol, the cholesterol begins to crystallize, and you get a gallstone. These tough bits can be as tiny as a grain of sand or as large as a golf ball. You may not even know you have gallstones unless you happen to have an ultrasound or X ray of your tummy. But the 20 percent of the time that gallstones do cause problems, it's excruciatingly painful.
Gallstones become a problem when they get pushed out of the gallbladder and into the tube that connects the liver and the small intestine. The tube gets blocked, and you get 20 minutes to 4 hours of indescribable agony. Pain usually radiates from your upper right abdominal area to your lower right chest, and it can even leave your shoulder and back in agony. Gallstones typically fall back into the gallbladder or make their way through the duct, leaving you feeling better. After you have an attack, you'll probably be sore and wonder what in the world happened.
Sometimes, though, the gallstones can get stuck in the bile duct. Symptoms of a stuck gallstone include chills, vomiting, and possibly jaundice in addition to the pain described above. Who's at Risk? Pregnancy, obesity, diabetes, liver disease, a sedentary lifestyle, a high fat diet, and certain forms of anemia can all increase the risk of gallstones. People who are overweight and lose and gain weight repeatedly are more susceptible to gallstones, as are women who have had two or more children. Lack of exercise is a significant contributor to the development of gallstones. In fact, according to the Nurses' Health Study, inactivity can actually account for more than half of the risk of developing gallstones. Women are twice as likely as men to develop gallstones, although the reasons are unclear. And people older than 60 years of age have a greater risk of gallstones.
Other risk factors include a family history of gallstones and taking hormones, such as birth control pills or estrogen.
Take heart. There are some specific things you can find in your kitchen to help you avoid a gallstone attack and even prevent gallstones from forming in the first place. What you eat has a great effect on whether or not you develop gallstones. Causes of Gall Bladder Disorders Acute and Intermittent Pain in the Abdomen The main symptom of gall-bladder disease is acute or intermittent pain in the abdomen. Indigestion, gas, a feeling of fullness after meals, constipation, and nausea are the other usual symptoms. Intolerance to fats, dizziness, jaundice, anaemia, acne, and other lesions may also occur. The main cause of gall-bladder disorders is overnutrition resulting from excessive intake of refined carbohydrates, especially sugar.
Overnutrition also leads to increased cholesterol secretion. Meals rich in fats may cause an attack of gall-bladder pain or gallstone colic. Other causes are chronic constipation, poor health, hereditary factors, and stress. The Chinese relate gall-bladder disorders with the emotion of anger.
Home Remedies for Gall Bladder Disorders
Gall Bladder treatment using Beet Fresh juice of beets, and the juices of carrot and cucumber in quantities of 100 ml each, are one of the finest cleansers of the gall-bladder. This combined juice has proved beneficial in the treatment of all disorders related to this organ, and should be taken twice daily. Gall Bladder Disorder treatment using Pear The pear is another excellent remedy for gall-bladder disorders. The fruit or its juice should he taken liberally by the patient with beneficial results. It exercises a special healing effect on all gall-bladder disorders, including gallstones. Gall Bladder treatment using Chicory The flowers, seeds, and roots of chicory or the endive plant are considered valuable in gall-bladder disorders. A decoction of about 30-60 ml of the flowers, seeds, or roots can be used three times daily with beneficial results in the treatment of these disorders. Endive or chicory juice in almost any combination promotes the secretion of bile and is, therefore, very good for both liver and gall-bladder dysfunctions.
Gall Bladder treatment using Dandelion Dandelion has a beneficial effect on the gall bladder. About 125 ml each of the juices of dandelion and watercress should be taken twice daily. Combined with a vegetarian diet, without much sugar and starch, these juices help to make the gallbladder normal. Gall Bladder treatment using Olive and Sunflower Oil An oil cure has been advocated by some nature cure practitioners for the removal of gallstones. Raw, natural, unrefined vegetable oils of olive or sunflower are used. The procedure is to take 30 ml of vegetable oil, preferably olive oil, first thing in the morning and follow it immediately with 120 ml of grapefruit juice or lemon juice. This treatment should be taken every morning for several days, even weeks, if necessary.
Home Remedies from the Cupboard
Coffee. New studies are finding that drinking a couple of cups of java a day can prevent gallstones. One study discovered that men who drank 2 to 3 cups of regular coffee a day cut their risk of developing gallstones by 40 percent. Four cups a day reduced the risk by 45 percent. Researchers are not sure what it is about coffee that helps reduce the risk of forming gallstones, but the effect was the same whether it was cheap, store-bought instant coffee or high-priced espresso. It might be the caffeine; however, teas and soft drinks containing caffeine did not produce the same effect -- and neither did decaffeinated coffee.
High-fiber cereal. People who eat a sugary, high-fat diet probably will have more problems with their gallstones. But adding in some fiber-rich foods and avoiding the sugary snacks and fatty foods can help you keep your gallbladder healthy. Grabbing some cereal in the morning will also get something in your tummy. Studies have shown that going for long periods without eating, such as skipping breakfast, can make you more prone to getting a gallstone.
Lentils. An interesting study found that women who ate loads of lentils, nuts, beans, peas, lima beans, and oranges were more resistant to gallbladder attacks than women who didn't eat much of the stuff.
Home Remedies from the Refrigerator
Red bell pepper. Getting loads of vitamin C in your diet can help you avoid gallstones, and one red bell pepper has 95 mg of the helpful vitamin -- more than the 60 mg a day the government recommends for men and women over age 15. A recent study found that people who had more vitamin C in their blood were less likely to get the painful stones.
Salmon. Research is finding that omega-3 fatty acids, found in fatty fish such as salmon, may help prevent gallstones.
Vegetables. Eating your veggies is a good way to ward off gallstones. One study found that vegetarian women were only half as likely to have gallstones as their carnivore counterparts. Researchers aren't sure exactly how vegetables counteract gallstones, but they believe vegetables help reduce the amount of cholesterol in bile.
More Do's and Don'ts
- Exercise! Staying active can cut your risk of developing gallstones in half.
- Lose some weight. Being overweight, even as little as 10 pounds, can double your risk of getting gallstones.
- Diet sensibly. If you are overweight, plan on shedding pounds slowly. Losing weight too fast can increase your chances of developing gallstones.
- Reduce your saturated fat intake. Too much fat in the diet increases your risk of gallstones. But don't cut back too drastically. You need some fat to give the gallbladder the message to empty bile. If you're trying to lose weight, don't go below 20 percent calories from fat.
- Eat a low fat, low-cholesterol, high-fiber diet. Multiple studies show this is your best bet for a healthy body and a healthy gallbladder.
Gall Bladder Disorder Diet Smaller gallstones can usually be cleared through dietetic cure. In cases of acute gall-bladder inflammation, the patient should fast for two or three days until the acute condition is cleared. Nothing but water should be taken during this period. After the fast, the patient should take fruit and vegetable juices for a few days. Carrots, beets, grapefruit, pears, lemons or grapes may be taken in the form of juice.
Thereafter, the patient should adopt a well balanced diet, with emphasis on raw and cooked vegetables, fruit and vegetable juices, and a moderate amount of fruits and seeds. Yoghurt, cottage cheese, and a tablespoon of olive oil twice a day should also be included in the diet. The patient should avoid meat, eggs, animal fats, processed and denatured foods, fried and greasy foods, refined carbohydrates, alcohol, products made With sugar and coffee, as well as spices, condiments, and pickles. The patient should eat frequent small meals rather than three large meals.
Other Gall Bladder treatment Application of hot packs or fomentation to the upper abdominal area. The pain of gallstone colic can be relieved by the application of hot packs or fomentation to the upper abdominal area. Warm-water enema, Physical exercise A warm-water enema at body temperature will help eliminate faecal acculumations if the patient is constipated. Physical exercise is also essential. Surgery becomes necessary if the gallstones are very large or in cases where they have been present for long.
Gallstones occur when one of the compounds in bile, particularly cholesterol, becomes so saturated that it forms a solid. If a gallstone lodges in the bile duct, it can cause severe pain, inflammation, infection, and sometimes even jaundice due to the backup of bile.
However, there are some herbal remedies to prevent and treat gallstones. Avoiding gallstone trouble is advised, and often can be achieved by healthy eating.
. About Gallstones
As with many health conditions, preventing gallstones is preferable to treating them after they have formed. Research indicates that a high-fiber, low-fat, low-cholesterol diet rich in vitamins C and E helps prevent stones from forming.
That's good news because items commonly found in simple gardens can help ward off gallstones. Vegetables and fruits, which tend to be high in fiber and vitamins, low in fat, and cholesterol free, are popular and healthy choices.
Herbal Treatments for Gallstones
In addition to preventative healthy eating, some herbs stimulate the gallbladder, promoting the flow of bile.
Dandelion and milk thistle are particularly useful. They contain bitter substances -- taraxacin in dandelion and silymarin in milk thistle -- that stimulate bile production.
Increasing the amount of bile produced decreases its concentration. And the greater volume is also more likely to flush out a stone.
These herbs can be taken as tea or tincture or eaten steamed. Trim the sharp edges off young milk thistle leaves. Mix them with dandelion greens and steam as you would spinach; you can even eat them raw.
Oregon grape enhances blood flow to the liver and increases bile production. It can be combined with dandelion and milk thistle in a tea. This blend is even more effective when mixed with herbs such as chamomile, marshmallow, and slippery elm, which have relaxing and soothing properties. This mixture will also help decrease gallbladder inflammation. Herbal Gallstone Tea Try this herbal tea to help ease the passing of gallstones.
- 1 teaspoon Oregon grape root
- 2 teaspoons marshmallow root
- 2 teaspoons dandelion leaves, dried (or 1 teaspoon root)
- 1 teaspoon peppermint
- 4 cups water Simmer roots in water for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and add dandelion leaves. Let steep 15 minutes. Strain.
Drink immediately or refrigerate. Use as a tea throughout the day, preferably after meals. Rosemary stimulates bile production, too, while also eliminating any spasms that might occur in the bile duct. It is well-known for aiding fat digestion and is often used as an herb in high-fat dishes. Its flavor helps to cut the richness of fat.
Several studies have shown concentrated mint oil capsules can, if taken for several months, help break down small gallstones. Wild yam is another herb that increases bile flow and is also said to lessen the pain of gallstones. Like rosemary, it is an antispasmodic herb.
An ultrasound is needed to definitively diagnose gallstones. A qualified health care practitioner should monitor herbal treatment of them.
Once stones have formed, they can cause urgent medical problems if they block the bile duct. In that case, surgery may be necessary.
But if surgery is not needed and the they are not serious, herbal remedies can be a healthy and effective treatment for preventing and helping with gallstones. However, eating healthily to avoid getting gallstones in the first place is always advised.
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