(Health Secrets) Generally the gallbladder doesn’t cause too many problems or give us much concern. But it can be a scary experience to pass a larger gallstone. The pain may be intense enough to make a person faint. Passing a gallstone typically occurs within an hour of eating a meal.
A large gallstone that blocks a duct in the digestive track is experienced as a sudden, increasing pain in the right upper abdomen. This pain may also be felt in the center of the abdomen, or as traveling into the back under the shoulder blades and into the right shoulder. The pain can last from a few minutes to a few hours. In extreme cases, you may experience a yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes, as well as a high fever.
Most gallstones are extremely tiny, and are passed from the body without notice. They are pebble-like deposits of bile or cholesterol which have formed in the gallbladder as part of the digestion process. However if you develop a really large gallstone, which causes extreme pain as it passes through the body, you need to seek medical help immediately.
Common symptoms of gallbladder conditions
- Severe abdominal pain
- Pain that may extend beneath the right shoulder blade or to the back
- Pain that worsens after eating a fatty or greasy meal
- Pain that feels dull, sharp or cramping
- Pain that increases when you breathe in deeply
- Chest pain
- Heartburn, indigestion, excessive gas
- Feeling of fullness in the abdomen
- Vomiting, nausea, fever
- Shaking with chills
- Tenderness in the abdomen, particularly in the right upper quadrant
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes)
- Stools of an unusual color (often lighter, like clay)
A visit to your health practitioner can identify whether you have a temporary case of gallstones, or if you are on the way to developing gallbladder disease. It’s important to know where you stand so you can take the proper interventions.
Other gallbladder problems
Biliary colic is a severe episode of pain caused by gallstone blockage of the cystic duct. The gallbladder contracts against the blockage, causing spasmodic (or sometimes constant) severe pain. Biliary colic usually lasts only an hour or two.
Inflamed gallbladder is caused by gallstones, excessive alcohol use, infections or even tumors that cause bile buildup. Gallstone irritation may cause the gallbladder walls to become swollen and painful. Inflammation episodes may last for several hours, or even a few days. The sluggish inflamed gallbladder may be invaded by intestinal bacteria, and becomes infected. Inflamed gallbladder requires a visit to your health practitioner, particularly when fever is present. When a gallbladder actually ruptures, it is a surgical emergency.
Dysfunctional gallbladder or chronic gallbladder disease. The gallbladder becomes rigid and scarred from repeated episodes of inflammation and gallstones. Symptoms are constant and include abdominal fullness, indigestion, increased gas, and chronic diarrhea after meals.
Lifestyle, diet and home remedies
Eliminate fatty and greasy foods from your diet.
Avoid fatty beef or pork, and stick to lean protein sources such as fish, chicken and turkey.
Avoid peppers and chili peppers — spicy foods can lead to increased gallbladder attacks and intense pain.
Avoid condiments such as mayonnaise.
Avoid junk foods (chips, cookies and cakes) and high-fat diary products, such as ice cream.
Increase Vitamin C intake, which helps in breaking down gallstones to allow them to easily pass through your stool.
Increasing water intake per day will help in passing gallstones. Try to drink at least one glass of water every hour.
Eat foods rich in fiber—which helps regulates bowel movement.
Eat a healthy diet of whole foods, lose weight slowly (not abruptly), and maintain the healthy weight.
Application of hot pack (caster oil pack) in the upper abdominal area can relieve the pain.
Administer a warm water enema to eliminate fecal accumulations.
Physical exercise is needed to facilitate peristalsis.
Diet tips for inflamed gallbladder
Drink beet, carrot, lemon, grape, grapefruit, and pear juices.
Eat moderate amounts of cooked vegetables and add more raw or lightly cooked veggies.
Avoid eating processed foods.
Eat frequent small meals rather than having 3 larger meals a day.
Consult your health practitioner for an accurate diagnosis and treatment recommendations before beginning an herbal regimen. Certain herbs may help gallbladder disease, gallstones or other stressors on your gallbladder. Some herbs also improve liver function.
Herbs used for gallbladder conditions
Milk thistle in capsule or tablet form may help to prevent gallstones. A study found that taking 420 mg of the silymarin contained in milk thistle helps decrease the cholesterol levels in bile, which helps prevent gallstones from forming. The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends taking 80 mg to 160 mg of standardized milk thistle seed extract two to three times daily for liver and gallbladder support
Coffee helps prevent gallbladder disease. Two large studies published in The Journal of the American Medical Association showed men who consumed the most caffeinated coffee (more than four cups per day) had the lowest risk of gallbladder disease. In a separate study published in the journal Gastroenterology, researchers found caffeinated coffee protects against gallbladder disease.
Peppermint oil may help to dissolve gallstones. Preliminary studies have found that taking peppermint or other essential plant oils helps dissolve gallstones over the course of several months
An extract from globe artichoke leaves may support the gallbladder and liver. The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center reports the artichoke leaf may help gallbladder contraction, which pushes out the gallstones. Take 250 mg to 500 mg two to three times per day of standardized globe artichoke extract to support gallbladder function.
Turmeric is used in Germany for gallbladder pain. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center take 300 mg three times daily of standardized turmeric extract to support your liver and gallbladder.
Dandelion helps to treat gallstone related gallbladder pain. Dandelion root contains bitter compounds that stimulate bile production in the gallbladder and helps the body in processing fats.
Warning: certain herbs that help expel gallstones may be risky because the gallstones could lodge in the bile ducts and rupture.
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Photo by Kamoteus (A New Beginning)