Last summer, I told you about the problems I had with my gallbladder. I told you about why I had it removed and also why I now wanted it back. I recently learned that a friend was having some problems with her gallbladder and as a result had gone on a very low fat diet.
I later ran into her and her friend. We talked about gallbladder issues and I said that I wanted mine back. Her friend asked “Why? So you can eat whatever you want?” That’s when I realized that I hadn’t really gone into enough detail on why I wanted my gallbladder back. Here are some of the reasons:
- First and foremost, we have a gallbladder for a reason. It does more than simply store bile. The gallbladder functions primarily in a regulatory role by delivering a sufficient quantity of bile to the small intestine when a meal is consumed.
- In my case, there were some (ahem) digestive/elimination issues that I now realize were due to my gallbladder not functioning properly. In hindsight, they had been happening for a while before I started having pain from my gallbladder.
- Those (ahem) digestive/elimination issues are still a part of my life. I’m now trying various bile salt supplements to find relief.
- I will never know for sure, but I suspect that the gallbladder wasn’t even my problem. The problem was likely due to swelling of the bile duct.
- Even gallstones, in general, are not painful. Many people have them with no pain. The pain of gallbladder is more related to the bile duct being swollen and bile not being allowed to pass through it.
- Removing the gallbladder is usually simply treating the symptoms of a problem. We should ask “Why was the gallbladder causing problems?”
- Kudos to my friend for the low fat diet, but in reality even a low fat diet is only treating symptoms. And only partially because your small intestine still may not be getting enough bile to properly digest the fats you consume.
- We have body parts for a reason. It’s not necessarily the best option to remove them simply because a doc suggests it.
- Living without a gallbladder puts extra stress on the liver and the digestive system.
- Western medicine tends to treat each body part as a separate entity, yet they are all connected. For example, removing the tonsils used to be a routine procedure whenever there was infection. Yet, once it was learned that the tonsils were an integral part of the immune system, tonsillectomies became less frequent.
- According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, each organ system supports another organ system and they all work together in harmony. The liver/gallbladder meridian supports the heart and small intestine.
I had a specific gallbladder function test run a few weeks prior to having mine removed. They first injected a dye. Then after a period of time, they injected a substance known to stimulate the gallbladder to release its contents. Then they look for the dye in the small intestine. A normal gallbladder will release about 70% of its contents. Mine released only six percent. What was the cause of the problem? Was the gallbladder not working OR was the bile duct blocked? In my case we’ll never know.
NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug), food allergies, and food sensitivities are all capable of causing the bile duct – the connection between the liver and the gallbladder – to become swollen. When the duct is swollen, then bile cannot pass through. It is this swelling and the resultant malfunction that is the source of most gallbladder pain.
What would I do instead? Today, my first action would be to stop all NSAIDs and look at natural means of reducing inflammation. I know a lot more today about food and nutrition than I did back then. I had been on many different NSAIDs for several years before I began having gallbladder problems. And, I continued to take them during that last year before my gallbladder was removed.
It’s also likely that diet was part of the issue. So I would focus on two things. First thing would be fine-tuning my digestive health. Healing the gut is critical. The more I learn, the more I realize that pretty much every disease we have can ultimately be traced back to the gut and our digestion. So I would clean up the diet and also begin to determine if there were any undiagnosed food allergies and/or sensitivities.
Some people report no problems after having their gallbladder removed. Yet many report still having digestive issues in spite of removing “the problem.”
Thinking of having yours removed? If you like, contact me to talk about what to try first.