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Natural Treatment of Gallbladder Disease: How Naturopathy Can Help

Updated: Jan 4, 2023

When it comes to treating gallbladder disease, conventional medicine isn’t the only option.


A naturopathic doctor can provide natural treatment for gallbladder disease.


Keep reading to discover the benefits of natural remedies for gallbladder symptoms and gallbladder diseases.

Table of Contents

What Is Gallbladder Disease?


Cholelithiasis (gallstones) represents the most common affliction of the gallbladder, impacting over 20 million Americans already, with approximately one million new cases every year. Most of these new incidents involve a trip to the hospital and almost half lead to cholecystectomy (removal of the gallbladder).


Over 80% of gallstones are cholesterol-based. They develop slowly and painlessly over the years as the liver releases excessive amounts of cholesterol, causing the bile to thicken into a sludge-like fluid which eventually calcifies.



While stone formation itself is often slow and painless, when an obstruction of the bile duct prevents the outflow of bile this can lead to severe pain from spasms of the gallbladder or inflammation of the gallbladder itself.


If the common bile duct going from the liver/gallbladder to the small intestine becomes blocked (choledocholithiasis), the stage is well set for a bacterial infection.


These secondary incidents often lead to a trip to the hospital where the underlying gallbladder disease is discovered.


What Causes Gallbladder Disease?


The diet is a major contributing factor to disorder of the gallbladder.


High-fat diets and foods like onion, pork, and eggs tend to be major irritants.


Low stomach acid, be it from the use of proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) or the body's response to stress, further increases the risk for gallbladder dysfunction.


During child-bearing years, gallbladder disease is 2-3 times more common in women than in men. This is because higher levels of estrogen can lead to decreased motility of the gallbladder and more cholesterol in the bile.


Use of birth control pills, hormone replacement therapy, and pregnancy all increase the chances for gallbladder issues.



Why You Should Consider Seeing a Naturopathic Doctor for Natural Remedies for Gallbladder Symptoms


If you'd like to keep your gallbladder and try to avoid invasive and sometimes unnecessary surgery to remove it, seeing a naturopathic doctor is a great place to start!


Whether it's finding the appropriate diet for your body via a Food Intolerance Evaluation or otherwise optimizing general digestive function, an ND will also explore other potential factors impacting gallbladder function like hormone levels, motility, thyroid and liver health, and medication use.


In addition to taking a thorough history and physical examination to get the fullest understanding of what processes are at play, lab work and imaging can help provide even more insight.


Because the gallbladder plays such a crucial role in the breakdown of dietary fats and fat-soluble vitamins (A, E, K, and D), an ND will also likely be on the lookout for signs and symptoms of those deficiencies.


In most instances, especially if stones are the concern, an ultrasound will be ordered. More advanced imaging options such as the HIDA scan may be employed for concerns over bile flow, as in the case of duct obstruction, leakage or cholecystitis (inflammation of the gallbladder).


It is also important to work with a doctor to determine the appropriateness and safety of potential interventions. Liver and gallbladder flushes, for example, can be beneficial in some instances; however, they should not be attempted without proper preparation or oversight from a doctor.



Gallbladder Disease: Natural Treatment Remedies Used in Naturopathy


There are many natural remedies for gallbladder disease.


Let’s walk through some of the natural remedies we implement at Pacific Clinic of Natural Medicine for gallbladder issues.


Dietary Changes


Diet is likely the first place a naturopath will look to make an impact.


The use of digestive support from plant-based enzymes can help with the breakdown of fats and reduce the body's digestive burden while bitter herbs help stimulate the digestive system, particularly the flow of bile.


Homeopathy


There are a host of herbs and homeopathic remedies with a particular affinity for supporting the gallbladder itself, the liver as a whole, improving motility, reducing the frequency and severity of spasms, and even over time the dissolution of stones.


Hydrotherapy can be extremely beneficial for gallbladder disease, particularly castor oil packs. Nightly applications may help lower inflammation, soften stones, and support the healthy flow of bile.


Traditional Chinese Medicine


Other considerations might include checking for misalignment of the thoracic vertebrae to ensure the liver and gallbladder are receiving proper signals from the nervous system, as well as helping on a mental-emotional level in addressing the specific emotions.


Traditional Chinese Medicine has been shared with us as being connected to these organs.


Book a Complimentary Consultation Today for Gallbladder Disease Natural Treatment


If you have concerns about your gallbladder, there may be alternative options to surgery.

Call today to schedule a complimentary consultation to see if we can help.



References

  1. Pizzorno J, Murray M. Textbook Of Natural Medicine. St. Louis, Mo.: Churchill Livingstone/Elsevier; 2006.

  2. Bass G, Gilani SN, Walsh TN. Validating the 5Fs mnemonic for cholelithiasis: time to include family history. Postgrad Med J. 2013;89(1057):638-641.

  3. Tsai CJ, Leitzmann MF, Willett WC, Giovannucci EL. Prospective study of abdominal adiposity and gallstone disease in US men. Am J Clin Nutr. 2004;80(1):38-44.

  4. Diehl AK, Haffner SM, Knapp JA, et al. Dietary intake and the prevalence of gallbladder disease in Mexican Americans. Gastroenterology. 1989;97(6):1527-1533.

  5. Novacek G. Gender and gallstone disease. Wien Med Wochenschr. 2006;156(19-20):527-533.

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