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Gallstones look very much like their name says, stones. They are the most common gallbladder problem, often causing colic and jaundice.


Our experts explore causes, symptoms and lifestyle changes for gallstones, as well as recommend the best herbal remedies available. You can also use our Q&A service to ask a question about gallstones.

Causes of gallstones

Gallstones occur because of a poor diet and a sluggish liver.

They are more likely to form when bile production is insufficient and when the bile stays in the gallbladder long enough to thicken.

A blockage near the end of the bile duct is the most frequent cause of acute pancreatitis.

Symptoms of gallstones

The usual symptoms are:

  • pain (from light pressure to intense) under the ribcage on the right sometimes rising all the way into the right shoulder or back,
  • nausea
  • fever with chills
  • yellow and itchy skin
  • indigestion


Diet changes to prevent gallstones

  • A lot of essential fatty acids to support the transportation of cholesterol and to stimulate the production and secretion of bile. Essential fatty acids are found in natural, cold-pressed oils, such as flax seed oil and olive oil. 
  • Reduce your intake of saturated fats (from meat and dairy products). 
  • Favour high-fiber foods, especially water-soluble fibers (e.g. apple pectin, carrots, oat bran and dried beans) that help bind and eliminate cholesterol and harmful agents.
  • A minimum of 8 glasses of water (250 ml) per day to allow the fibers to function properly. 

Supplements for gallstones

Vitamin E and Vitamin C help prevent gallstone development because of their antioxidant action that contributes to the decrease the blood-cholesterol levels. 

Lecithin, found in soybean products such as tofu, is an essential ingredient of bile and emulsifies fatty substances.

In case of gallstones

When having a gallstones attack it is very important to quickly consult a doctor to make sure that there no rupture, which can be life threatening.  

During an attack, avoid solid food and drink distilled, reversed-osmosis or spring water and apple or beet juice.  When the attack is passed, slowly start on solid foods, beginning with grated raw apple and beets. A tablespoon of cold pressed olive oil can help to keep the ducts lubrified and reduce risks of blockage.

Some people pass small gallstones by alternating a lemon juice- Epson salt mix and cold pressed olive oil, followed by with hot cup of bitter herb tea such as yarrow, wormwood, chamomile or barberry. For this to be effective, bowels must be empty. Caution should be exercised because if the gallstones are big, they can rupture the gallbladder or a bile duct.

If gallstones are larger it is very important to follow your doctors recommendations to avoid severe complications.

Medical treatment includes surgical removal of the gallbladder, oral dissolution therapy (by medication: ursodiol), contact dissolution therapy (by medication: methyl tert-butyl ether or MTBE) and extracorporeal biliary lithotripsy (the breaking up of the stones through sound waves).

It is important to consider all options because removal of the gallbladder can cause permanent digestive upsets.

What to do after gallstone elimination

Once the gallstones are eliminated or the gallbladder removed it is important maintain the liver in optimal condition to either minimize the risks of recurrence or compensate for the absence of gallbladder. 
Stress, alcohol, medication, excess of processed foods and a lack of dietary fibers are unduly detrimental to liver health. An inadequate amount of fibers reduces the liver’s ability to eliminate toxins, since fibers transport toxic substances out of the

  • Margarines and commercial oils are not recognized as normal molecules by the body and must be transformed or eliminated, which creates extra work for the liver. 
  • Dairy products and meats can be harder to digest by an overloaded liver because of their high saturated fat content.  
  • Cold pressed oils and raw nuts supply good oils to the liver for the production of several hormones (e.g.. progesterone, estrogen, testosterone), the control of circulating fats (e.g. cholesterol and triglycerides) as well as the absorption and circulation of fat-soluble vitamins.
  • An inactive lifestyle tends to slow down intestinal transit, which hinders the elimination of toxins from the liver.

Half a lemon freshly squeezed in a cup of hot water every morning helps the liver to eliminate toxins. A small glass of fresh carrot juice also helps. Diaphragmatic breathing promotes better oxygenation of the liver. Rest and regular exercise are also an essential part of the program.
To activate the process of liver detoxification, a few good herbs can be useful. Boldocynara is a unique complex containing artichoke, milk thistle, dandelion, boldo and peppermint. Those plants are very effective to stimulate bile production and toxin elimination.  A 2-month treatment can reduce liver congestion, and a seasonal course can be used for prevention.  However, if the gallbladder was removed, it is important to start taking this remedy slowly, with a reduced dosage.

What do you think?

Have you found what you read useful? If so, I would love if you would leave your comment below. Thanks Sonia Chartier

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