In Ayurveda, gallbladder disorder is known as Pittashmari.
The gallbladder is a small pear-shaped organ that averages three to six inches in length. It lies beneath the liver in the upper right side of the abdomen. It is connected to the liver and small intestine by small tubes called bile ducts. Bile, a greenish-brown fluid, is utilized by the body to digest fatty foods and assists in the absorption of certain vitamins and minerals. The gallbladder serves as a reservoir for bile. Between meals, bile accumulates and is concentrated within this organ. During meals, the gallbladder contracts and empties bile into the intestine to assist in digestion.
Major Types of Gallstones
1. Cholesterol gallstones are composed mainly of cholesterol which is made in the liver.
2. Pigment gallstones are composed of calcium salts, bilirubin and other materials.
3. Mixed stones are basically cholesterol stones which have been acted upon by the body’s bacteria and immune cells to break down the bilirubin. This causes a change in the chemical composition of the stones where they begin to resemble that of pigment stones to some extent.
Causes of Gallstones
It’s not really clear what causes gallstones to form.
Your bile contains too much cholesterol. Normally, your bile contains enough chemicals to dissolve the cholesterol excreted by your liver. But if your liver excretes more cholesterol than your bile can dissolve, the excess cholesterol may form into crystals and eventually into stones.
Your bile contains too much bilirubin. Bilirubin is a chemical that’s produced when your body breaks down red blood cells. Certain conditions, including liver cirrhosis, biliary tract infections and some blood disorders, can cause your liver to make too much bilirubin. The excess bilirubin contributes to gallstone formation.
Your gallbladder doesn’t empty correctly. If your gallbladder doesn’t empty completely or often enough, bile may become very concentrated and this contributes to the formation of gallstones.
Who is at risk for gallstones?
- People who are overweight
- Older persons of 60 years+
- Pregnant women
- Women who use hormone contraceptives and post-menopausal hormones
- Persons with a family history of gallstones
- Persons of American Indian or Mexican-American ancestry
- Persons with diseases of the small intestine or issues like Leaky Gut Syndrome
- Persons who have recently had significant weight loss
- Eating a diet that’s high in fiber, fat or cholesterol
- Persons having diabetes mellitus
Symptoms of Gallstone Disease
Approximately 80% of all gallstones are completely asymptomatic and “silent.” The chance that “silent” gallstones will become symptomatic is 2% for each year the stones lurk within you.
Symptoms of gallbladder disease occur when gallstones irritate the gallbladder. The most common indicators include:
- Severe and intermittent pain in the right upper abdomen. This pain can also spread to the chest, shoulders or back. Sometimes, this pain may be mistaken for a heart attack.
- Chronic indigestion, fever and nausea coupled with clay-colored stools can also be common gallstone symptoms.
- In a few people, it may also happen that you develop what doctors refer to ‘complicated gallstone disease.’ In such cases, the gallstones obstruct the flow of bile for longer periods of time or make their way into other organs (such as the pancreas). If any of the above scenarios are true, you may start to experience:
- High fever
- Persistent pain
- Rapid heartbeat
- Yellowing of the skin and whites of eyes (jaundice)
- Rashes on skin
- Foggy memory
- Loose bowel movements
- Low appetite
How are gallstones identified?
Nearly all gallstones can be easily identified by an ultrasound examination. This is a simple and painless procedure in which sound waves are utilized to create pictures of the gallbladder, bile ducts and their contents. This test is highly sensitive for identifying either gallstones or sludge within the gallbladder.
Classically, gallstone patients can be easily identified if they display signs like high fever accompanied by abdominal pain in the upper right quadrant usually following a heavy meal. However, diagnosis may not always be so easy as abdominal pain may not be specifically localized and other symptoms like nausea and vomiting are unexceptional.
In such circumstance, the common symptoms of fat intolerance cannot always be the final call. Murphy’s sign (pain under the right costal margin when palpated) can definitely be positive, but isn’t always a sure sign. Differential diagnoses may include IBS, peptic ulcers, pancreatitis and dyspepsia.
What are some complications of gallstones?
Most people with gallstones never experience any serious complications. However, sometimes one can experience complications like:
- inflammation of the gallbladder (cholecystitis) – this occurs when a gallstone gets lodged in the neck of the gallbladder
- inflammation of the bile duct (cholangitis) – this occurs when a gallstone blocks the tubes (ducts) through which bile flows from your gallbladder or liver to your small intestine
- inflammation of the pancreas (biliary pancreatitis) – this occurs when a gallstone blocks the pancreatic duct, a tube that runs from the pancreas to the common bile duct
- obstruction of the intestine (gallstone ileus) – this occurs when an abnormal channel (known as a fistula) opens up near the gallbladder, blocking the bowel
What are some gallstones herbal remedies to do at home?
- Recurrent painful attacks, if mild, can be treated with over-the-counter painkillers.
- Placing something warm on your stomach may be helpful, taking care not to scald the skin.
- The frequency of attacks may be reduced by a low-fat diet.
- Olive oil flush: Do a gallbladder flush by consuming 30ml of olive oil first thing in the morning. Follow this with 120 ml of grapefruit juice or lemon juice to simulate the gallbladder into releasing bile. This increased demand on the gallbladder to release bile works to push the stones out. This might cause you to have loose bowel movements. Don’t worry it is part of the detox process. Please consult with a medical practitioner before doing this.
- Drink the juice of beet, carrot and cucumber mixed in equal parts twice daily to naturally dissolve gallstones.
- Dilute half a glass of pear juice in half a glass of warm water. Add two tbsp. of honey and consume thrice a day.
- Drink peppermint tea if you have a gallbladder attack to help soothe spams and get instant relief from piercing pain.
Can gallstones be prevented?
Recent studies have suggested that persons at highest risk for gallstone formation, obese persons undergoing weight reduction, can virtually eliminate their risk for developing gallstones by taking KANCHANAR GUGGULU.
Cholagogues and Choleretics are the two most important traditional Ayurvedic medicines that can help in the prevention of gallstones. Let us understand what they are:
Cholagogues: These are herbs that have the ability to stimulate the gallbladder in order to make it contract. Aloe vera and castor are common examples of cholagogues.
Choleretics: These are herbs that stimulate the liver so as to make it secrete more bile than it usually would. Turmeric is the best example of a bitter herb that is a choleretic followed by dried ginger, black pepper, long pepper and asafetida.
Natural Cure for Gallstones
Here are some herbs, supplements, dietary and lifestyle recommendations as well as yoga postures that are excellent for gallbladder natural treatment.
|Ayurvedic Supplements (to be taken under physician’s guidance – Consult Now)||Gokshuradi Guggulu