Gallstones are stone-like deposits that can develop in the gallbladder. They are usually made of either cholesterol or bilirubin and can grow to the size of a golf ball. They are most common in women over the age of forty with certain medical conditions. Gallstones may be symptomless for a time, but a gallstone attack may include severe pain in the upper abdomen and vomiting. Some people experience jaundice and fever during an attack. Gallstones are usually discovered by ultrasound, CT scan, or blood tests and treated by surgery or medication.
One surefire way to beat gallstones is to rear them off at the pass. Preventing gallstones is the single best method of attack. The best prevention technique is to control your weight. Obesity and rapid weight fluctuations can trigger gallstones. Monounsaturated fats from fatty fishes, avocados, olive oil, and flaxseeds may aid in preventing gallstones. A diet rich in fiber and low in sugar and carbohydrates will be your best eating regimen. It goes without saying that controlling your weight via regular exercise is imperative in gallstone prevention.
Certain health conditions make you more susceptible to developing gallstones. People with diabetes, cirrhosis of the liver, or who have had bone marrow or organ transplants are at an increased risk. Certain conditions that affect the liver’s production of bilirubin such as hemolytic anemia will also make you more likely to develop gallstones.
The body develops gallstones to protect us from free-roaming toxins in our bodies. If the toxins did not solidify, they could be absorbed by intestinal walls and cause damage to our bodies. Despite these protective benefits, too many gallstones can clog your digestive system and cause considerable pain.
Women are twice as likely to develop gallstones, especially if they are pregnant, on hormone replacement therapy, or using birth control pills. Hispanic and American Indian women tend to be more often afflicted. Obesity increases the risk for developing gallstones significantly; however, rapid weight loss is not recommended because the liver will secrete more cholesterol into the bile and could actually cause gallstones. Certain medications (statins to control cholesterol production, for example) may increase the amount of cholesterol in the bile.
While some risk factors are within your control, many more are not. Unfortunately you cannot control your age, race, or hormones. The most important way to prevent gallstones, particularly if you are in a high-risk category, is to control your weight. If you are obese, it is best not to allow your weight to fluctuate dramatically. If you are trying to lose weight, do so healthfully and slowly to avoid a sudden attack.
Many gallstones go unnoticed and do not require treatment. This may be the case with smaller stones. The occasional gallbladder pain can be controlled by making dietary changes. If chronic pain is experienced, your doctor may choose to remove your gallbladder. If surgery is not an option, some people find ursodeoxycholic acid helpful. This medication works to dissolve gallstones but can be slow to take effect and only works in about half of the people who take it. Finally, some people do lithotripsy – using shockwaves to break up the stones.
Expelling Gallstones Naturally
If gallstones are left untreated, they can continue to grow. Flushing them out is necessary to restore health. As an alternative to surgery (to be discussed with your doctor or naturopath before you start), a gallstone cleanse can be done at home. One cleanse recommends doing an apple juice fast a day or two before treatment. Begin your cleanse on a day like Friday – that way you don’t have to work the next day – as you might experience nausea and or vomiting and probably don’t want to be burdened with this while at work. Plus you will need to relax and let your body expel the stones.
The treatment involves drinking ¼ cup of olive oil followed by 1 to 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. This is to be repeated every 15 minutes until a half pint of the oil is consumed. Your first bowel movement might not occur until the next day. The stones will start to pass shortly thereafter. Make sure you drink plenty of fresh water and some multi-vitamins to allow your body to heal. Some people have trouble consuming so much oil and experience an upset stomach. Be sure to have some V8 pr pineapple juice on hand to calm your stomach. Some find that adding a bit of peppermint oil to the olive oil makes it slightly more palatable.
Stimulating the Gallbladder
Most natural treatments involve the stimulation of the gallbladder and subsequent flow of bile. Some find that dandelion and milk thistle are helpful. You can eat them raw, as a supplement, or even in a tea. Oregon grape seems to have similar benefits of improving bile production. Rosemary is also used to eliminate painful spasms in the ducts and increase bile production. Mint oil capsules have been used to break down smaller stones. Wild yam can not only increase the flow of bile but also ease the pain of attacks.
When you eliminate gallstones from your body, you will start to feel better. You will probably have more energy and feel less sluggish. Your skin might clear up, and your mood will improve. In order to maintain this vitality, it will be imperative to improve your eating habits.
When the gallbladder is blocked by too many gallstones, the bile must find an exit route. It can make its way to the pancreas and eventually the small intestine. The pancreas is not equipped to deal with bile though, and it can start to malfunction by causing hypoglycemia and eventually diabetes. Other problems associated with gallstones are chronic constipation and even hepatitis.
A Gallstone Prevention Diet
A diet high in fiber is an excellent defense against gallstones. Fiber reduces the absorption of acids and helps food pass smoothly through your system. The best types of fiber are found in vegetables and fruit. Apples, pears, beans, and berries are all high in fiber. Try to consume at least twenty-five grams of fiber per day and make sure that you drink plenty of water with it.
Coffee seems to be associated with less painful gallstones. Not just any coffee will do – it must be caffeinated. Also avoid excess sugars and carbohydrates if you are prone to gallstones. High levels of insulin in the blood may contribute to gallstones. Some people who use anti-inflammatory drugs like naproxen or ibuprofen find that they get fewer gallstones. It is important to take a multivitamin as a part of a healthy diet. People who don’t get enough of vitamins C or E or calcium tend to have more gallstones.
Foods to Avoid
There is a reason that vegetarians are less likely to get gallstones – fruits, vegetables, and grains are high in fiber and great for the digestive system. As I have mentioned previously, diet is perhaps the most important factor in gallstone prevention. Fattening foods – particularly those that are deep-friend and loaded with saturated fats – put you at a much higher risk of developing gallstones. Saturated fats are not only loaded with calories, but are also very hard on the body. These almost exclusively come from animal products: egg yolks, red meat, whole milk, and cheeses. Avoid these foods or eat them in moderation to mitigate your risk for developing gallstones.
Avoid carbohydrate-rich foods that are low in fiber. These might include: white bread, pasta, sugary cereals, white rice, and cookies. If you are going to indulge in carbohydrate-rich foods, be sure that you can get at least four to five grams of fiber per serving out of them. Choose whole grain breads and pastas over white, and use brown rice over white. If you are selecting a breakfast cereal, read the label carefully to ensure that you are getting your five grams of fiber per cup.
Remember that a gallstone is a symptom that your body is not functioning properly. The accompanying symptoms are gas, cramping, and even jaundice. If your organs are not functioning due to a buildup of gallstones, you cannot possibly achieve optimum health and longevity. If you suffer from gallstone, speak with your doctor about natural treatment options.
©2012 Off the Grid News