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12 Home Remedies for Gallbladder Problems

©2007 Publications International, Ltd. Pregnant women are at increased risk for gallbladder problems.

The gallbladder is a little pear-shaped pouch tucked behind the lobes of the liver. Its main job is to store up the cholesterol-rich bile that's secreted by the liver. Bile helps your body digest fatty foods. So when that piece of prime rib reaches the intestines, they send a message up to the gallbladder to send some bile their way. Once the bile saturates your steak, it becomes more digestible and easily makes its way through the rest of the digestive process.

At least that's the way things should work. But the reality is that many people, especially older people and women, will have some gallbladder trouble. Ninety percent of the time that trouble is in the form of gallstones. Gallstones form when the bile contains excessive amounts of cholesterol. When there isn't enough bile to saturate the cholesterol, the cholesterol begins to crystallize, and you get a gallstone. These tough bits can be as tiny as a grain of sand or as large as a golf ball. You may not even know you have gallstones unless you happen to have an ultrasound or X ray of your tummy. But the 20 percent of the time that gallstones do cause problems, it's excruciatingly painful.

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Gallstones become a problem when they get pushed out of the gallbladder and into the tube that connects the liver and the small intestine. The tube gets blocked, and you get 20 minutes to 4 hours of indescribable agony. Pain usually radiates from your upper right abdominal area to your lower right chest, and it can even leave your shoulder and back in agony. Gallstones typically fall back into the gallbladder or make their way through the duct, leaving you feeling better. After you have an attack, you'll probably be sore and wonder what in the world happened.

Sometimes, though, the gallstones can get stuck in the bile duct. Symptoms of a stuck gallstone include chills, vomiting, and possibly jaundice in addition to the pain described above.

Who's at Risk?

Pregnancy, obesity, diabetes, liver disease, a sedentary lifestyle, a high fat diet, and certain forms of anemia can all increase the risk of gallstones. People who are overweight and lose and gain weight repeatedly are more susceptible to gallstones, as are women who have had two or more children. Lack of exercise is a significant contributor to the development of gallstones. In fact, according to the Nurses' Health Study, inactivity can actually account for more than half of the risk of developing gallstones. Women are twice as likely as men to develop gallstones, although the reasons are unclear. And people older than 60 years of age have a greater risk of gallstones.

Other risk factors include a family history of gallstones and taking hormones, such as birth control pills or estrogen.

Take heart. There are some specific things you can find in your kitchen to help you avoid a gallstone attack and even prevent gallstones from forming in the first place. What you eat has a great effect on whether or not you develop gallstones. Go to the next page to learn about natural home remedies that reduce your risk of gallbladder problems.

For more information about health problems associated with being overweight and how to combat them, try the folowing links:

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.

©2007 Publications International, Ltd. High fiber cereal can reduce the risk of gallbladder problems.

The following home remedies for gallbladder trouble are so quick and easy there's no reason not to try them -- especially because you'll find them in your very own kitchen.

Home Remedies from the Cupboard

Coffee. New studies are finding that drinking a couple of cups of java a day can prevent gallstones. One study discovered that men who drank 2 to 3 cups of regular coffee a day cut their risk of developing gallstones by 40 percent. Four cups a day reduced the risk by 45 percent. Researchers are not sure what it is about coffee that helps reduce the risk of forming gallstones, but the effect was the same whether it was cheap, store-bought instant coffee or high-priced espresso. It might be the caffeine; however, teas and soft drinks containing caffeine did not produce the same effect -- and neither did decaffeinated coffee.

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High-fiber cereal. People who eat a sugary, high-fat diet probably will have more problems with their gallstones. But adding in some fiber-rich foods and avoiding the sugary snacks and fatty foods can help you keep your gallbladder healthy. Grabbing some cereal in the morning will also get something in your tummy. Studies have shown that going for long periods without eating, such as skipping breakfast, can make you more prone to getting a gallstone.

Lentils. An interesting study found that women who ate loads of lentils, nuts, beans, peas, lima beans, and oranges were more resistant to gallbladder attacks than women who didn't eat much of the stuff.

Home Remedies from the Refrigerator

Red bell pepper. Getting loads of vitamin C in your diet can help you avoid gallstones, and one red bell pepper has 95 mg of the helpful vitamin -- more than the 60 mg a day the government recommends for men and women over age 15. A recent study found that people who had more vitamin C in their blood were less likely to get the painful stones.

Salmon. Research is finding that omega-3 fatty acids, found in fatty fish such as salmon, may help prevent gallstones.

Vegetables. Eating your veggies is a good way to ward off gallstones. One study found that vegetarian women were only half as likely to have gallstones as their carnivore counterparts. Researchers aren't sure exactly how vegetables counteract gallstones, but they believe vegetables help reduce the amount of cholesterol in bile.

Wine. Half a glass of wine a day can avert gallstone attacks. Scientists discovered that drinking half a glass of wine or beer cut the number of gallstone attacks by 40 percent. But don't go overboard. The study didn't find that drinking more than half a glass would offer any more protection.

More Do's and Don'ts

  • Exercise! Staying active can cut your risk of developing gallstones in half.
  • Lose some weight. Being overweight, even as little as 10 pounds, can double your risk of getting gallstones.
  • Diet sensibly. If you are overweight, plan on shedding pounds slowly. Losing weight too fast can increase your chances of developing gallstones.
  • Reduce your saturated fat intake. Too much fat in the diet increases your risk of gallstones. But don't cut back too drastically. You need some fat to give the gallbladder the message to empty bile. If you're trying to lose weight, don't go below 20 percent calories from fat.
  • Eat a low fat, low-cholesterol, high-fiber diet. Multiple studies show this is your best bet for a healthy body and a healthy gallbladder.

Now that you understand how the gallbladder works and the home remedies you can use to keep it healthy, you're on your way to looking and feeling better.

For more information about health problems associated with being overweight and how to combat them, try the folowing links:

ABOUT THE AUTHORS:

Linnea Lundgren has more than 12 years experience researching, writing, and editing for newspapers and magazines. She is the author of four books, including Living Well With Allergies.

Michele Price Mann is a freelance writer who has written for such publications as Weight Watchers and Southern Living magazines. Formerly assistant health and fitness editor at Cooking Light magazine, her professional passion is learning and writing about health.

ABOUT THE CONSULTANT:

David J. Hufford, Ph.D., is university professor and chair of the Medical Humanities Department at PennsylvaniaState University's College of Medicine. He also is a professor in the departments of Neural and Behavioral Sciences and Family and Community Medicine. Dr. Hufford serves on the editorial boards of several journals, including Alternative Therapies in Health & Medicine and Explore. This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.

 

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