The Fundamentals

The gallbladder is a pear-shaped sac on the underside of the right lobe of the liver that stores bile received from the liver. In the gallbladder, bile is concentrated by removing water, then discharged through the cystic duct. When bile contains more cholesterol than can be concentrated in the gallbladder, gallstones can form. The incidence of gallstones is twice as much in women as in men. Obesity increases the risk of developing gallstones. Symptoms may remain dormant until the gallbladder becomes inflamed and distended or unless the stone enters and is unable to pas through teh biliary ducts. The pain, which radiates to the back and right shoulder, usually occurs several hours after eating when the stomach is empty. Flatulence is a common sympton.

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hen bile in the gallbladder becomes oversaturated with cholesterol (or, rarely, calcium), the extra compounds may crystallize into gallstones. These may be as small as a sweet pea to as large as an egg. Probably half the people who have gallstones experience no symptoms. The problem occurs when during expulsion of a gallstone, it gets stuck in the bile duct. Symptoms then include severe pain in the upper right side of the abdomen that may radiate into the back and right shoulder, nausea, vomiting, bloating, or belching.
Approximately 20 million Americans have gallstones each year. Risk factors include diets high in fat, protein or sugar; high cholesterol; some food allergies; and obesity. The current favored treatment for gallstones is surgical removal of the gallbladder. Lithotripsy, another type of treatment, uses sonic shockwaves to break up the stones, while a third treatment calls for a long tube to be inserted into the gallbladder, and a strong solution administered which dissolves the stones.
If you prefer not to have surgery to remove gallstones, there are some herbal remedies worth a try. Dandelion root has for generations been used to treat both liver and gallbladder obstructions. It is also helpful in promoting bile production, which is a good thing--more bile means less chance of it being oversaturated by cholesterol. Milk thistle is an excellent herb to reduce the concentration of cholesterol already in the bile. Herbs that are known to be helpful with the digestive system are Cramp Bark, Fennel, and Ginger. These herbs tend to increase digestive enzymes which aid in the digestion of food.
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Note: This information is provided for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the use of a qualified health care professional. We strongly recommend the use of a physician for the diagnostic phase of any treatment. With an accurate diagnosis in hand, we believe the consumer, at that point, has a basic, unalienable right to seek out factual information on all therapeutic approaches, both orthodox and alternative, and choose those approach(es) that are right for them. Nonetheless, a "good doctor" should be considered a requisite starting point.

To U.S. Users: None of the products mentioned on this page have been evaluated by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration; therefore, they are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
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