The gall bladder is a sac in the body that contains bile (a combination of cholesterol and other fats). Bile is necessary for emulsifying fats (making fats able to not separate in water) in the small intestine. The purpose of the gall bladder is storage of additional bile in case there is more fat in a meal than the liver can make adequate bile to process. The liver will make and store a certain amount of bile. However, if there is too much fat in the meal, the gall bladder is called upon to contract and release it’s contents through the common bile duct (shared with the liver) and into the small intestine.
Gall bladder dysfunction typically begins with food allergies. There is a strong link between wheat allergies and gall bladder problems. Symptoms we typically see include intolerance to greasy or deep fried foods, bloating, diarrhea, cramping, as well as chronic right shoulder pain, spasm, instability (right shoulder, right upper back or thoracic spine, right upper rib subluxations). Family histories of gall stones or fat intolerance can also clue me into the presence of gall bladder dysfunction.
Ultrasound and x-ray studies will show stones if they are present. Ultrasound may also show chronic inflammation (via a thickening of the bladder wall). However, biliary stasis may not be evident by any testing methodology. When I muscle test an individual that has biliary stasis or some other form of gall bladder dysfunction, typically they will show a need for things like magnesium, l-taurine, beet, liquid iodine, phosphatidylcholine,
Dr. Berglund has found in practice that by treating the patient with certain supplements and food elimination, I find that they respond very well. In other words, they don’t HAVE TO HAVE surgery.
It has been estimated that 85% of patients with gall stones are asymptomatic (they have no gastrointestinal problems or problems eating fatty foods). Gall stones are primarily made of calcium carbonate and/or cholesterol. These typically form as an end stage to long term gall bladder dysfunction (most often biliary stasis). They can range in size from gravel sized stones to those the size of a ping pong ball.
Biliary Stasis or Biliary Insufficiency
Biliary stasis is when the liquid portion of the bile is too thick. Most likely, it contains too high a percentage of fats and not enough of the broken down fats (bile acids). As this muscular sac is called on to release its contents into the small intestine, the watery bile (normal individual) is sprayed into the intestine and fats are emulsified. In the patient with biliary stasis, the thick fluid cannot "squirt down the bile duct and, consequently, this muscular sac goes into spasm trying to push/squeeze this thick pasty fluid out this thin tube.
One in every five American women has their gall bladders removed. Female hormonal balance is important because estrogen is fat dependent and contrary to popular belief, the gall bladder must process some fat daily in order to prevent infection or disease of that organ. Americans are always going for fad diets, getting their health information from the TV and popular literature instead of scientific data. Yo-yo dieting, or extreme low fat diets are good ways to lose your gall bladder. This is especially true if you are a woman. The true scientist knows that carbohydrates are converted into triglycerides (blood fat) by the liver and diets high in refined carbohydrates is another sure road to a sick gall bladder as well as heart disease. Doctors who make their livings removing gall bladders say that it’s an unnecessary organ or that t serves no purpose, it does however. Have an important role in your daily health and these doctors have been misinformed.
Huge numbers of Americans are suffering from gastrointestinal trouble that very likely originates in the gall bladder or is exacerbated by poor gall bladder function. The gall bladder stores and concentrates bile and then releases that bile on cue as needed to emulsify fats. Remember, over 70% of LDL (so called bad cholesterol) is pure triglycerides. In my opinion, without a gall bladder, digestion cannot function properly and the risk of colon cancer is greatly increased.
Recent Medical Studies on Gallbladder
Vitamin C for the Gall Bladder
A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine reports that vitamin C deficiency may make a person more susceptible to gall bladder disease. The study involved more than 13,000 people over six years. Women who had low blood levels of ascorbic acid were more likely to develop symptomatic gallstones. Men showed no such relationship. It is thought that ascorbic acid controls the conversion of cholesterol to bile compounds.
AIM, April 10, 2000.
Vitamin C Lowers Women's Risk of Gallbladder Disease
The gallbladder’s most important function is to store bile, a substance manufactured in the liver that helps the body digest fatty foods. Cholesterol is a normal component of bile; if too much cholesterol accumulates in the gallbladder, gallstones eventually result. Because estrogen is an important risk factor for gallstone formation (it increases the concentration of cholesterol in bile), women are at particular risk for the disease.
Experimental animal studies suggest that ascorbic acid (vitamin C) may play a role in preventing gallstones, an observation that led to a recent study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine. As part of the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 7,042 women and 6,088 men provided data on vitamin C intake and the incidence of gallbladder disease. Results showed that increasing serum levels of ascorbic acid were related to a reduced risk for clinical and asymptomatic gallbladder disease in women, but not in men.
Specifically, each standard increment increase in ascorbic acid level reduced the risk of a woman getting the disease by 13%.
Your chiropractor can provide you with more information on these results and suggest nutritional guidelines appropriate to your needs.
Reference: Simon JA, Hudes ES. Serum ascorbic acid and gallbladder disease prevalence among U.S. adults. The Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III). Archives of Internal Medicine 2000: Vol. 160, pp931-36.
Exercise Decreases Risk of Gallstones in Women
A report in The New England Journal of Medicine reports that regular exercise decreases the likelihood that a woman will need gall bladder surgery. This study spanned 10 years and collected data on 60,000 women, 3,200 of which required gall bladder surgery. Researchers say that women who spend at least 30 minutes each day for five days each week can reduce their risk of gall bladder disease by 30 percent. Even if one doesn't engage in a formal exercise program, just moving about seems to help. Women who spent 60 hours per week sitting (while working, driving or watching TV) doubled their incidence of surgery compared to those sitting fewer than six hours.
NEJM, September 9, 1999.
More Coffee, Fewer Gallstones
The Journal of the American Medical Association reports that gallstones occur less frequently in coffee drinkers. The study from Harvard University School of Public Health found a 45% decrease in men who drank four or more cups per day. Two to three cups per day were almost as good, producing a 40% decreased risk. Only caffeinated coffee will do, though. Decaffeinated coffee, tea with caffeine and soda did not inhibit gallstone formation much. Researchers assume this to be due to the lower levels of caffeine. The study involved 46,000 men over a 10-year period.
JAMA, June 9, 1999