Yes, Your Gallbladder is an Important Organ.
The gallbladder is a lot more important than most people realize. Every organ in our body has an important role in contributing to our overall health. So, simply removing an organ almost never addresses the underlying root cause of the problem. At Red Mountain, we help many patients with gallbladder issues, and since the patient’s problems typically do not stop after the gallbladder is removed, we help a lot of those patients also. The gallbladder does not just one day decide to malfunction and cause pain; there is definitely an underlying problem that needs to be addressed. Have you had your gallbladder removed or have gallbladder issues? If so, do you know the root cause?
Functions of the Gallbladder:
The gallbladder concentrates and stores bile from the liver and the enzyme lipase from the pancreas, which aid in the digestion of fat and rinses bacteria off the lining of your small intestine. The gallbladder also plays a pretty big role in our bodies ability to detoxify. The gallbladder helps the liver by acting like a trashcan. The trash is moved out quickly and efficiently with the help of bile from the gallbladder. So, the gallbladder helps in detoxification of many things that include: xenobiotics (prescription drugs, food additives, pesticides), hormones (estrogen, thyroid, etc), and heavy metals (cadmium, mercury, lead, etc).3,4
Removal of the gallbladder:
The procedure to remove the gallbladder is called cholecystectomy and is sadly a very common procedure. In the US, approximately 700,000 people per year have a cholecystectomy and are one of the most common operations in the UK with around 60,000 performed yearly. 2 Now, there are life-threatening conditions where the gallbladder needs to be removed, but that is the rare exception and most times it can be prevented. The problem with the gallbladder can arise from various things, but typically what we see in our office is due to an excess of estrogen in both men and women.
Your bile should have a consistency of olive oil or dish soap. An excess of estrogen in your body will thicken the consistency of the bile to that of molasses. When your bile is like molasses it compromises its ability to function and can cause gallstones to form. As I mentioned earlier, if your gallbladder acts as the liver’s trash can and the trash is not being emptied, that would definitely cause a problem. Imagine in your house if your kitchen trashcan was not able to be taken out and the trash continued to pile up. Day after day more and more trash. To say the least, it would disrupt the flow and how your household functioned! The same idea goes along with your gallbladder. When there is too many hormones, toxins, or heavy metals the consistency of the bile thickens, which reduces its ability to empty the trash. The trash keeps coming and starts to pile up compounding the problem.
A big contributor to high levels of estrogen in our bodies is from environmental toxins. At the molecular level, environmental toxins look very similar to estrogen and that is exactly how our bodies perceive them. So, if someone is being exposed to toxins, they will typically have higher levels of estrogen (xenoestrogen) and is going to tax the gallbladder. This is where we see many men having problems with low testosterone. Our bodies only want a certain level of sex hormones and it does not matter if it is from testosterone or estrogen.
Signs and Symptoms that your gallbladder is not working well:
Before a person starts to experience intense gallbladder pain or gallbladder attacks, there are some early signs that can help you identify that your gallbladder is not functioning properly.
Referred pain on the top and back of the right shoulder and on the right side of your torso, which can wrap around to the back.
Burping and feeling bloated. after eating meals that are higher in fat. You might also see your stool float instead of sinking.
Constipation – if there is not enough bile coming from the gallbladder to the small intestine, food and fat will not be metabolized and the food will sit there until this is accomplished.
Sleep Issues – The acupuncture meridian clock can be a useful tool in accessing issues with specific organs at certain times of the day. The gallbladder works more between 11am and 1am, so if you wake up during that time or can’t fall asleep until after 1am, there is a good chance there is a problem with the gallbladder.
Gut infections – as I mentioned above, the bile helps keep unwanted bacteria off of our gut lining. If you have gallbladder issues, then you are more susceptible to gut infections especially Small Intestine Bacteria Overgrowth (SIBO). 1
Deficiencies in fat soluble vitamins such as A, D, E, and K
A gallbladder attack is described as a person experiencing pain in the upper right side of the abdomen, below the right shoulder, or between the shoulder blades and can be accompanied by nausea and vomiting. If those symptoms increase in severity, then you should seek medical attention.
As long as the bile salts stay a healthy consistency, the gallbladder will continue to function optimally. Below are some recommendations to help keep your gallbladder happy and healthy.
Diet by far is the most important thing you can change to help your gallbladder. Stay clear of:
Refined carbohydrates, which increase free radical damage and inflammation.
Polyunsaturated oils – canola, corn, cottonseed, peanut, grapeseed, safflower, soy, and sunflower.
Trans Fats, known as partially hydrogenated oils
Excess caffeine or any caffeine can bother the gallbladder
Alcohol – ultimately, it is not good for the liver or gallbladder
Aspartame (Nutrasweet and Equal) or MSG which are excitotoxins and can be found in a lot more things than you think especially diet soda, gum, and numerous sugar free items.
Birth Control – as I mentioned earlier, excess estrogen plays a huge factor on gallbladder health.
At Red Mountain, we recommend to our patients what we call a gallbladder garnish. This consists of diced, peeled, or shredded raw beets with raw lemon juice. This is to be eaten with all meals and snacks. The lemon juice and beets are great for the gallbladder and helps keep the bile salts a healthy consistency. Try to eat 4oz of this garnish daily.
Taurine – Helps increase bile flow and bile production, helps to convert glutamate to GABA, and supports the mitochondrial health of our cells.
Lipo-Gen – This formula provides nutrients, which help the liver and gallbladder process fats more effectively and increases the quantity of bile.
Trancor – Helps support glutathione production in the liver and provides high doses of taurine to improve bile flow.
Dr. Nicholas Grable
Monte MJ,Marin JJ, Antelo A, et al. Bile acids: chemistry, physiology, and pathophysiology. World J Gastroenterol. 2009 Feb 21; 15(7): 804-16.
Laparoscopic Gallbladder Surgery. Everyday Health. https://www.everydayhealth.com/gallbladder/laparoscopic-gallbladder-surgery.aspx
Stieger B. The Role of the sodium-taurocholate cotransporting polypeptide (NTCP) and the bile salt export pump (BSEP) in physiology and pathophysiology of bile formation. Handb Exp Pharmacol. 2011;(201):205-59.
Hagenbuch B, Dawson P. The sodium bile salt cotransport family SLC10. Pflugers Arch. 2004 Feb;447(5):566-70.