Gallstones: The Treatment and Prevention


Healthy Living Blog

By Rachelle Tetreault, L,Ac


     Cholelithiasis is the actual presence of gallstones and affect more than three million people each year. Gallstones are formed by pigments and cholesterol in the bile which bind to each other. Most gallstones tend to be asymptomatic creating no issues. However, some may create pain such as biliary colic and other complications. These may include biliary tract obstruction, cholangitis, cholecystitis, and even gallstone pancreatitis if left untreated. Full treatment would require dissolving and draining of gallstones, relieving the symptoms and complications, and also preventing future gallstone issues.

Cholecystitis is the actual inflammation of both the gallbladder and bile duct. Both cholelithiasis and cholelithiasis usually occur together. The group affected the most are women over 30 to 40 years old and obese. X-ray results are not always accurate. Ultrasound is more reliable and has up to 95% accuracy in diagnosis. Other similar or differential diagnosis can be gastritis, peptic ulcers, or even pancreatitis.  Symptoms may include fullness and discomfort in the right hypochondriac region of the abdomen. There may be a low-grade fever, or constipation. An acute onset often shows itself by severe colicky type pain located in the upper right quadrant that may even radiate to the back and right shoulder. When lying supine position (face up) you can palpate below the rib area of the upper right quadrant for tenderness with inhalation. A positive response to Murphy’s sign and tenderness at the inferior right scapula can help diagnose.

Eastern Medicine looks at cholecystitis presentation as damp heat formation in the gall bladder. Cholelithiasis (stone formation) is the damp heat actually drying up the fluids in the gallbladder. This typically comes from diet and lifestyle. Foods, specifically greasy or fried, or spicy foods can play havoc on the gallbladder. Avoid eating red meat, shrimp, lobsters, oysters, margarine, soft drinks, commercial oils and process foods. Food allergies can also be the culprit for both inflaming and obstructing the bile duct.

For an active case, it is advised to avoid solid foods for a few days and if must then eat mostly bland foods. Drink distilled water and fresh juices. Liquid foods can be slowly introduced after three days. Taking 3 tablespoons of olive oil with lemon juice both before bed and upon rising helps eliminate some small gallstones. Increase certain foods like applesauce, beets, yogurt, fresh apples, and beets. Watermelon juice is an ancient tao food therapy along with beet top tea and watermelon rind. Also, one teaspoon of green tea powder in warm water up to three times a day is recommended. Celery, carrot, and water chestnut juices are also very beneficial.

Herbal formulas specific for cholecystitis and cholelithiasis would help not only the dissolving of the gallstones but also help facilitate the passage. The goal is to clear damp-heat in the liver-gallbladder meridian and also help move liver energy. It is often very useful post-surgery to help prevent formation of new stones. Typically, it is taken 2 capsules a day for three months and then one capsule per day for an additional six months. The herbs not only dissolve stones but increases the secretion of bile by the liver cells. Certain herbals relieve abdominal and epigastric pain and helps to unblock the channels.

Treatment can often be provided with herbals and acupuncture unless the size or number of stones are so plentiful where surgery may be the only treatment of choice. Also, the patient is evaluated for any acute onset with severe colic or deterioration of health. Certain acupoints are selected and usually include the gallbladder, liver, Ren, stomach, san jiao and urinary bladder meridians to help break up the stones and facilitate passage. Auricular points (on the ear) also have added benefits or acupressure seeds can be placed for the patient to stimulate throughout the day by simply pressing the ear seeds up to 4 times daily.

More preventative measures include detoxification of both the liver and colon for more long-term prophylactic treatment. Proper diet and food therapy as listed above. Fried foods and rich fatty foods are big culprits for the onset of stone build up so should be avoided. Sitz baths also are helpful to both decongest and detoxify the intestines. With onset of gallbladder colic, one should rest, fast, and keep warm. With patients who have had their gallbladder removed, it is imperative to take enzymes to help the breakdown of fat. This will not only improve overall circulation but improve overall digestion. Call today for your full assessment and let’s begin your journey to optimal health 772-353-1397