Gallbladder Disease



Now that I have Gallbladder Disease, how did I get it in the first place? A thorough understanding of this is what will help you to manage your gallbladder problem.

CAUSES or Risk Factors for Gallbladder Disease

Symptoms of Gallbladder Disease

Specific Gallbladder Diseases


  • Hypothyroidism
  • Hashimoto's Thyroid Disease
  • Low stomach acid
  • Food Sensitivities or Allergies
  • Gluten Intolerance
  • Brain degeneration
  • Overweight
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Lack of exercise
  • Pregnancy (due to excess hormones)
  • Estrogen intake and birth control pills(estrogen increases the concentration of cholesterol in the bile)
  • Chronic Heartburn
  • Frequent use of Antacids and PPIs
  • Atkin's Diet
  • Over age 40 and increase in risk as one ages
  • Female especially those who have had children
  • Ethnicity (Pima Indians and Mexican-Americans)
  • High triglycerides, high LDL cholesterol, decreased HDL cholesterol,
  • Alcohol intake
  • Family history of gallbladder disease (Heredity)
  • Cholesterol-lowering drugs, immunosuppressive drugs
  • Antidepressants which slow down gallbladder contractions
  • Very Low Calorie Diets
  • Diet high in saturated fats
  • Diet high in refined foods and sugars
  • Diet low in fiber (which is what the refined diets are) and not enough vegetables
  • Non-fat diets
  • Low-fat diets
  • Constipation
  • Diabetes
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Diseases such as chronic inflammatory bowel disease, Chron's disease (ulcerative colitis is contraversial) Hemolytic anemias, PCOS

The combination of a "civilized" diet, of saturated fats, fried foods, hydrogenated (or fake) fats and white sugar, white flour, highly-processed, nutrient-stripped food, along with a sedentary lifestyle tends to create an environment ripe for the formation of gallstones or other gallbladder problems.

Eating too many of the wrong fats puts you at risk, but people who eat no fat at all are also at risk. No fat in the diet means that the gallbladder works less frequently, which could cause stasis and bile thickening. Moderate amounts of the right fats, such as olive oil, are much better.

Although being female is an increased risk for gallbladder disease, according to a study published in BMC Gastroenterology 2002,(1) gallstones in children is on the rise. And men are not excepted either, although the ratio still tends to be 80% women to 20% men.


Regardless of the diagnosis of your gallbladder disease, most of the symptoms will be similar. This is one of the reasons it is hard to know exactly what is going on without several tests. The most common symptoms are indigestion, gas, bloating, burping, belching, especially (but not necessarily) following a meal. It usually is a meal containing fat but after some time it seems to be unrelated not only to fat intake but even food intake. It may progress to constant tenderness or discomfort (unrelated to food intake) under the rib cage on the right side. The symptoms are similar to those of a gallbladder attack but with less severity. For a complete list of symptoms relating to gallbladder problems go to general gallbladder symptoms.

Even if it does not seem to be connected to food now, if you can remember back, some symptoms of indigestion usually followed a meal. What caused or is causing the lack of fat digestion could be of various origin. A stone could be blocking the bile flow. The gallbladder could be distended due to stones or inflammation. There could be infection in the gallbladder causing tenderness or the tenderness could simply be due to stasis of bile causing distention. The gallbladder could be not emptying fully (biliary dyskinesia) and lack of bile causes improper fat digestion. Or the problem could start in the liver with stasis of bile there and the formation of sludge or tiny calculi slowing bile flow and causing it to thicken. Constipation and weight gain can also be symptoms of gallbladder problems.


Bile Reflux

Bile Reflux, just as it sounds, is similar to acid reflux but in this case it is caused by the upward flow of bile from the duodenum of the small intestine into the stomach and the esophagus. The pyloric sphinter is a valve at the base of the stomach that opens to allow the passage of food into the small intestine. It is also supposed to keep food and bile acids from backflowing into the stomach. The symptoms of Bile Reflux are similar to the burning pain of heartburn but also may include nausea and vomiting of bile. Weight loss may also be an accompanying symptom. Treatment often includes antacids which are only partially helpful. The fact that antacids do not relieve symptoms is often diagnostic of bile reflux. Drugs that bind bile salts are generally more effective. Left untreated, bile reflux can cause gastritis, ulcers and possibly stomach cancer.

Causes of Bile Reflux

Bile reflux can be caused by gallbladder surgery, but is more often a result of gastric surgery. The pyloric valve can also be obstructed by scar tissue or by an ulcer.

Biliary Dyskinesia

Acalculous cholecystopathy which means disease or condition of the gallbladder without the presence of gallstones. You might also call it functional gallbladder disorder or impaired gallbladder emptying. Some causes may be chronic inflammation, stress, a problem with the smooth muscles of the gallbladder or the muscle of the Sphincter of Oddi being too tight. Also, research shows that hypothyroidism contributes to biliary dyskinesia.

Symptoms - right upper quadrant pain in the absence of gallstones. Any gallbladder symptoms may accompany this problem as it results in lack of concentrated bile from the gallbladder to digest fats.

See our
Biliary Dyskinesia Kit for support with a low functioning gallbladder. Also read about Coffee Enemas for stimulating the vagus nerve.

If this is your diagnosis follow the thread to read about the connection between hypothyroid and gallbladder disease.


Inflammation of the bile duct itself. Chole = bile and angi = duct. Acute cholangitis is usually caused by a bacterial infection resulting from stagnation of the bile in the duct. Choledocholithiasis, a gallstone that gets stuck or lodged in the bile duct can create an obstruction that results in an infection. Less frequently, infections can evolve due to a stricture or narrowing of the duct itself such as in Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis (see below) or may accompany a cancer. Something blocks the free flow of the bile causing a stagnant condition which allows the bacteria to take hold. Consider Castor Oil Packs without heat and Oxicell to help to reduce the inflammation.

Symptoms associated with cholangitis are pain, fever, chills, jaundice, or yellowing, abdominal pain

Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis

PSC is a disease where the bile ducts of the liver harden, obstructing the flow of bile. It is characterized by inflammation, breaking down of and eventual hardening or fibrosis of the bile ducts within the liver and outside the liver both (intrahepatic and extrahepatic bile ducts.) It is most likely an autoimmune liver disease. Symptoms include itching (caused by bile backing up into the blood stream), jaundice (yellowing also caused by back of bile into bloodstream), tenderness in upper abdomen caused by inflammation to the ducts (cholangitis), possible fever and chills. This is a very serious disease. Along with medical intervention which often includes putting in a stent to help the bile to flow freely, consider Castor Oil Packs without heat to help with reducing inflammation and improving lymph flow. Glutathione cream in the form of Oxicell rubbed over the area may also help with symptoms of pain and tenderness.


Inflammation of the gallbladder. Acute cholecystitis is nearly always due to gallstones but may be due to infection (bacterial). It can also be due to chemical irritation. Chronic cholecystitis occurs with or without stones (acalculous cholecystitis is without). If there are no stones present the medical treatment used is often antispasmodics and/or laxatives. I use the products in the gallbladder attack kit for the pain in this case. Castor Oil Packs without heat are recommended for inflammation. Oxicell rubbed in over the area may also help to reduce inflammation.

Sugar Cravings?


Inflammation of the Gallbladder

Choledocholithias - Gallstones in the Bile Ducts

This can be very painful and symptoms may differ depending upon where the stone is and if it is blocking bile flow. It can block the neck of the gallbladder causing distention and inflammation (cholecystitis). In the common bile duct it can cause a backing up of bile into the liver resulting in obstructive jaundice or into the pancreas causing acute pancreatitis.

Cholelithiasis - Gallstones

Solid crystalline precipitates in the BILIARY TRACT, usually formed in the GALLBLADDER. Gallstones, derived from the BILE, consist mainly of calcium, cholesterol, or bilirubin.

Since the majority of symptoms relating to the gallbladder are caused by gallstones, there is a page dedicated that alone. If cholelithiasis or gallstones is your diagnosis, follow the thread from here to Gallstones where you can also learn about our Gallstone Kit. Otherwise, read on.

Cholelithiasis and Choledocholithias

Gallstones and Stones in the Bile Ducts


Impairment of bile flow due to obstruction in small bile ducts (INTRAHEPATIC CHOLESTASIS) or obstruction in large bile ducts (EXTRAHEPATIC CHOLESTASIS)

Symptoms - blocking of the secretion of bile results in the bile backing up into the circulation. This may result in jaundice and excess bilirubin in the blood which would make the urine dark and the stools pale or chalk colored. The excess of bile salts in the systemic circulation may cause intense itching and skin irritation. There may be fat in the stools and clotting time of blood may be impaired due to malabsorption of fats and Vitamin K which is a fat soluble vitamin that various clotting factors are dependent upon.

Gallbladder Cancer

The American Cancer Society estimates that about 8,750 people will be diagnosed with gallbladder cancer in 2006. Statistics show that it occurs 5x as often in Native American people in New Mexico than in whites. Women are more suseptible than men.

There are rarely any symptoms with gallbladder cancer early on. In fact, it is often only discovered when the gallbladder is removed for other causes such as gallstones. Otherwise, gallbladder cancer is often quite advanced by the time it is diagnosed.

If caught early, removing the gallbladder and affected tissues in bile ducts is the standard treatment.

Gallbladder Polyps

Gallbladder polyps are growths that protrude from the lining of the gallbladder. They're usually innocuous and rarely cancerous (malignant). 95% are non-cancerous. 10% are the result of inflammation.2. Most polyps are the result of cholesterol deposits.

Gallbladder polyps are usually asymptomatic and need no treatment. They may be found incidentally on an ultrasound of the gallbladder done for some other reason. There is rarely pain involved and any pain that is there is most likely due to something else such as gallstones.2. Occasionally, they may grow large enough to require surgical removal.

Porcelain Gallbladder

Porcelain Gallbladder is the calcification or encrustation of the gallbladder wall. It gets the name "porcelain" from it's blue color and brittle wall. A porcelain gallbladder is anot a very frequent occurance. However, gallbladder cancer is a risk for this condition. Removal is the treatment of choice.

(1)O Kleiner, J Ramesh, M Huleihel, B Cohen, K, BMC Gastroenterology 2002
Drawings copywrited @2006 by Darcy Cantrell

(2)Persley, Kimberly M., Current Treatment Options in Gastroenterology, 2005
Acalculous biliary pain: new concepts for an old entity.,Shaffer E.




Did You Know?

Constipation is a major contributing factor in gallstones. Read about how to treat constipation especially in gallbladder disease.

that lack of fat in your diet can also bring on a gallbladder attack?

Fats are important but it's the right fats that count. If you are in pain now, try the beet recipe which calls for some flax oil.

Research shows that a balanced diet igh in CIS unsaturated fats (essential fatty acids) may reduce risk of gallstones,
especially in men.(1)


I have had migraines on on the right side for years. Since I started your products they went away! J.W.

I have been using the gallbladder kit and it has been a lifesaver. My food doesn't sit in my stomach forever, I have more energy and I am loosing weight too. The doctor told me that I could deal with the pain or get my gallbladder removed. I am glad I found your site. I have not had an attack since I've been on your products and feel like my old self again - full of energy. I can't wait to try your weight loss kit. I am telling anyone that has a gallbladder problem about your products!

Newest birth control pill has higher risk for gallbladder disease than any other pill.
Yaz and Yasmin.

I have had migraines on on the right side for years. Since I started your products they went away! J.W.

I have been using the gallbladder kit and it has been a lifesaver. My food doesn't sit in my stomach forever, I have more energy and I am loosing weight too. The doctor told me that I could deal with the pain or get my gallbladder removed. I am glad I found your site. I have not had an attack since I've been on your products and feel like my old self again - full of energy. I can't wait to try your weight loss kit. I am telling anyone that has a gallbladder problem about your products!

Hi Debbie,

Well I'm sorry to be so slow, but I
do want to take a minute and let
you know that I have been real happy with the results of the products you outlined to help a sluggish Gallbladder.

I had been experiencing some pain, in both my back, right shoulder
blade and then at times when I ate the wrong things I would develop painful gas and discomfort in my upper stomach area.....When I realized it must be my gallbladder and not an ulcer .... I started
looking for relief.

I ordered the Gallbladder Starter Kit and started taking it 3 times a day
as suggested. Within a few days I had a lot of relief and within a week all the symptoms were gone. I do still take all 3 products at least once a day, and if I eat wrong or eat a
lot of heavy foods, then I usually
will take the 3 products twice a day, at lunch and dinner.

I think that I have avoided a lot of problems by using these products to get my gallbladder and liver back into shape.

Thanks for your great products and help.

A satisfied customer,

I live in Boise Idaho. I had my gallbladder removed 15 years ago
at the age of 20. About 4 years
ago I started having pain and
severe digestion problems (chonic diarehea with bright yellow liquid, pain and fatigue). After 2 years, weight loss, and a bunch of expensive tests, my gastro DR did
an ERCP and removed small stones and sludge. The procedure was terrible; I was kept in the hospital
for days because of nausea, vomiting and fever. I do NOT want
to have that procedure again. I
have felt good for 2 years but I am starting to have pain again with dizziness and fatigue. I am feeling hopeful after finding your website and seeing that I am not the only one who has continued to get

Glad to find your website. Have
been involved with Diet and Disease Prevention for over 25 years. Enjoy reading information from many sources and sharing with others. I use supplements in my counseling with a great emphasis on EFAs. Thanks for the good you do with your info online! Mary

Hi Debbie
Found your very useful website and have followed some of the suggestions with success in reducing finger eczema and dermatitis on my back. There must be a relationship of fat malabsorption to skin problems but I haven't found it. Have you seen any similar experience?

Answer: Yes. It is quite amazing what the body can do when it's working properly. Nutritionists will often treat the liver (usually cleanses) to treat the skin. Colon cleanses can produce similar results as well. Read some of Dr. Bernard Jensen's work. S.M.

I am very glad I found your website! I am 28, healthy weight and fairly active (if I have enough energy) but I have been having digestion problems for the past 3 years, getting worse very steadily. First Doc just wanted to label it IBS without tests, second was puzzled, third finally ordered a HIDA scan. And what do you know, my gallbladder only functions at 22%! I am being referred to a surgeon but surgery to me is the absolute LAST option! I would love to find recipes that are specific for gallbladder problems since I have to cook differently now!




Disclaimer: The statements in this website have NOT been evaluated by or sanctioned by the FDA. Only your doctor can properly diagnose and treat any disease or disorder. The supplements discussed herein are not meant to treat any disease but are for nutritional support of the body only. The user understands that the information in this website is NOT intended as a substitute for the advice of a physician or a pharmacist.

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