Is Your Gallbladder Unhealthy?

Gallbladder problems are common and gallstones affect 15 per cent of adults over the age of fifty. So how do you know if you might have gallstones, why do some people get gallstones, what does your gallbladder do, and what can you do to improve gallbladder function?

Gallbladder problems are common and gallstones affect 15 per cent of adults over the age of fifty. So how do you know if you might have gallstones, why do some people get gallstones, what does your gallbladder do, and what can you do to improve gallbladder function?

Symptoms suggestive of a diseased gallbladder

  • Nausea after eating
  • Floating stools
  • Constipation
  • Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)
  • Gallbladder pain in the right upper abdomen, especially after eating a large or fatty meal.
  • Weight gain

Tests

  • Liver function blood test with elevated   GGT, CPK and AST enzymes.
  • Abdominal ultrasound demonstrating gallstones and / or “fatty liver”.

Gallbladder function

Your liver produces 0. 8 to 1 litre of bile per day. Bile is green-brown in colour and consists of cholesterol, bile salts, bilirubin, and other toxins and waste products. These toxins can be chemicals, pesticides, heavy metals, herbicides like glyphosate, and hormones such as oestrogen.

The bile is stored and concentrated in the gallbladder. Eating triggers your gallbladder to contract and send bile through the bile duct into your small intestine where it helps digest and breakdown the food. Bile also improves bowel function thus preventing constipation and “rinses” bacteria off the lining of the small intestine.

Factors that reduce bile production and gallbladder function

  • Stressful lifestyle
  • Hormone imbalance
  • Lack of stomach acid
  • Toxins such as herbicides and pesticides
  • Refined and processed foods.

Gallstones

Gallstones are becoming increasingly common. About 15% of people aged over 50 years have gallstones. If too much cholesterol accumulates in the bile it crystallizes out as stones, either by itself, or mixed in with bile pigments. This can form a sludgy gravel or stones. The components in bile can crystallize and harden in your gallbladder, leading to gallstones. Eighty per cent of gallstones are made of cholesterol. The other 20 percent of gallstones are made of calcium salts and bilirubin and are known as pigment stones.

Symptoms of gallbladder disease

Most gallstones do not cause problems and are found incidentally on an abdominal ultrasound. Up to 80% of people will never experience biliary pain or complications. However, not everyone is so lucky. Indigestion and severe gallbladder pain that is experienced in the upper abdomen are symptoms of underlying gallbladder problems.

Nutritional supplements to help improve bile quality and prevent gallstones

  • Vitamin B12
  • Methyl Folate
  • Betaine (trimethylglycine)
  • Choline
  • Taurine
  • Digestive enzymes
  • Liver herbs

 

Dr Peter Holsman

PS This advice is for general educational purposes only. Please book an appointment for individualised assessment and treatment.

Dr Peter Holsman is a qualified Medical Practitioner, Naturopath and Professional Speaker based in Melbourne. An expert in his field with over 30 years experience, he specialises in treating people with fatigue related illnesses including digestive problems, anxiety, stress, depression, chronic fatigue syndrome, menopause, thyroid and adrenal hormone concerns.