Do You Have Gallbladder Issues?

By Aimee Raupp, MS LAc

This article was reviewed AimeeRaupp.com’s editorial team & is in compliance with our editorial policy

 

Do you have issues with your gallbladder? Gallbladder stones which can cause biliary colic or a “gallbladder attack” are extremely common in Western developed countries. In the U.S. about 500,000 people have their gallbladder removed each year making gallbladder surgery one of the most common in America.

If you look at the Standard American Diet (SAD) it’s really no wonder. A diet typically high in processed foods, refined flours and vegetable oils and low in healthy fats like the SAD compromises ones ability to efficiently digest foods and then we run into issues with our gallbladders.

In today’s blog I want to share with you a “sort of” case study on a man who was suffering from intermittent and severe gallbladder colic. I say a “sort of” case study, as the person I will be discussing is my boyfriend. This fact matters (as you will see from the information to follow) as he did not come to me as a patient seeking advice or assistance. In fact, when we first met his plan was to have his gallbladder removed as that was what the western medical advice he received. And, then he met me… (chuckle, chuckle).

On and off for almost a year, as I learned, he was suffering from episodes of gallbladder “attacks”. They would last anywhere from one to four hours. His symptoms were in line of those described on various medical sites, “pressure or pain usually caused by stones pressing on the gallbladder sphincter as the gallbladder contracts. The pain is usually constant despite the name colic. It commonly radiates to the back and right shoulder. It can be associated with sweating, nausea and vomiting. It can be severe and then plateau over an hour or so as the gallbladder relaxes.”

None of these attacks were ever so severe that he went to the emergency room–he would just ride through them. However, he did consult with doctors about his situation.

For a little background on his lifestyle–he’s fit, exercises about 5 times/week, is in otherwise good health however he did have a tendency to eat more packaged and processed foods as well as “low-fat” or “fat-free” and artificially sweetened foods. As he was not a patient of mine, nor did he ask me for nutritional advice about his case, I offered no opinion on his situation. However, I did tell him that before he thought about getting his gallbladder removed he should consider some dietary changes and I gave him a copy of Chill Out and Get Healthy.

As he read through my book, he would ask me questions and I would then offer my advice. It went like this for a few months as his once a month gallbladder attacks continued. One day he said he noticed he would have an attack after eating what he referred to as “fake dairy”. Meaning his “light” ice cream, margarine or some kind of fake “low fat” cheese.

Being I didn’t want to “nag” him, I just told him to pay attention to what aggravated his symptoms.

Eventually he started reading labels and began avoiding products that contained high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). In fact, he noticed that he preferred the organic ketchup made with vinegar over the processed one made with HFCS. Another thing he noticed was that his favorite BBQ sauces (he’s a BBQ connoisseur) had molasses in them instead of HFCS.

When he asked me about eating fat, I told him what I thought: eating fat is healthy for us, it just depends on the fat. The fat topic brought on a good bit of healthy debate causing him to say to me at one point, “Your telling me to eat butter??” “Yes, eat pastured butter.” I responded. So he ditched his margarine for butter. He also ditched his “light” ice cream for the real thing.

What was interesting was that as his diet changed from fake “low-fat” foods to wholesome nutrient dense full-fat foods, he also began losing weight.

Now, I am aware that the western medical information out there does state that one with gallbladder issues/stones should avoid full-fat dairy products as well as animal meats that are high in saturated fat. But, as you all know–I am in the saturated fat is not bad for you camp. As well, after plenty of research and clinical experience, my educated medical opinion is that gallstones are not caused by saturated fats they are more likely caused by low fat and high carbohydrate diets.

{Quick aside: Yes, saturated fats can exacerbate a gallbladder attack–but they are not the cause of gallstones. But that topic will have to be in another blog as it’s far too exhaustive to cover here.}

After one of his more severe attacks (he was traveling when it happened so he didn’t go to see a doctor–which he probably should have) he started intensifying his gallbladder “diet” research. At that point he conferred with me and started drinking hot water with apple cider vinegar on a regular basis (I had him drink hot water and vinegar during one of his attacks and it helped subside the pain quite quickly). He even began drinking kale, lemon and apple shakes. Eating these types of foods decreased the frequency of his attacks.

At that point I also offered to put him on some Chinese herbs. He agreed. So, I had him start taking a classic Chinese herbal formula for liver and gallbladder issues. I also gave him a daily probiotic to take.

Another interesting thing he came across during his internet research was this “liver-gallbladder cleanse”. As stated on various websites the cleanse goes like this (this info comes from AmaluxHerbal.com):

Early in the morning on an empty stomach on a day when one is not working and not likely to be disturbed. Starting on an empty stomach taking one ounce of freshly squeezed lemon juice with one ounce of extra virgin olive oil on an hourly basis, 11 – 16 doses are taken in the course of the day. This method although very, very effective requires a strong stomach, an extreme love of olive oil, and because of the sometimes very strong taste of olive oil, a concentration capable of putting mind over matter in a very big way. This having been said many countless thousands of people have used this method and were extremely happy with the results.

He asked me what I thought of doing this type of “cleanse”. I was skeptical. I thought it could be too risky with him passing a large stone and truthfully I wondered if it was a legitimate treatment. I mean, if this type of cleanse worked like these websites claim it does–why don’t western docs recommend it? I know I’m a practitioner of an “alternative” medicine, but I still questioned this type of treatment.

Either way, he decided to go for it. And, I just supported his decision. So, one day he started drinking the olive oil. I stayed with him the entire time (just in case anything happened and I felt he needed medical attention). Wouldn’t you know, just as the website predicted he passed “stones” that looked just like the ones you see on the internet (however many websites claim these are not gallstones but a sort of soap biproduct your body makes in reaction to the olive oil).

We were both in shock.

Personally, I didn’t look at what he passed (some things should remain private 😉 ) but he told me about them.

OK…here’s where it gets interesting: it’s been 4 months and he hasn’t had an attack since. Granted, he’s been taking his Chinese herbs and his probiotics. He continues on a much healthier eating trend (although he still has his occasional pizza or chicken wings…everything in moderation, right?), he eats butter and bacon and full fat ice cream (all organic)and his new found love is kale. He’s dropped even more weight and overall feels so much healthier with more energy and mental clarity. And, just yesterday instead of croutons and ranch dressing on his salad he chose sunflower seeds and oil and vinegar. That’s my boy!

Whether or not it was his dietary changes, the supplements I put him on or the “liver-gallbaldder” cleanse he did–or all three of them combined or one over another–it really doesn’t matter as he no longer has gallbladder issues and he still has his gallbladder.

This whole process left me realizing that slow and educated lifestyle changes are what stick. As a practitioner, I have always known that my job is to empower my patients and be supportive and patient as I encourage them to make longstanding lifestyle changes. Watching the evolution of my boyfriends health has really brought that home for me.

If you have a gallbladder issue and want to talk to me more about what lifestyle and nutritional changes you need to make, reach out and we can discuss.

About Aimee Raupp, MS, LAc

Aimee Raupp, MS, LAc, is a renowned women’s health & wellness expert and the best- selling author of the books Chill Out & Get Healthy, Yes, You Can Get Pregnant, and Body Belief. A licensed acupuncturist and herbalist in private practice in New York, she holds a Master of Science degree in Traditional Oriental Medicine from the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine and a Bachelor’s degree in biology from Rutgers University. Aimee is also the founder of the Aimee Raupp Beauty line of hand-crafted, organic skincare products. This article was reviewed AimeeRaupp.com's editorial team and is in compliance with our editorial policy.

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