Do you know someone – friend, family member, or yourself – who has had their gallbladder removed? This procedure is increasingly common, and gallbladder disease is unfortunately on the rise among younger people, even teens.
The gallbladder is not a extra organ that you can easily do without. It is an important part of your digestive system, storing bile that is made by your liver until it is needed in your small intestine to emulsify fats. While you can survive without it, there are some important considerations to keep in mind.
Bile is a critical, soup-like digestive agent that emulsifies fats. Made primarily of water, bile also contains careful ratios of bile salts, cholesterol, fats, and bilirubin. Issues with a sluggish or “achy” gallbladder usually begin in the liver, where bile may be made with too much cholesterol, becoming thick, sludgy and prone to crystallization in the bile ducts or while housed in the gallbladder.
Rather than waiting for painful signs of sluggish bile, I recommend taking a proactive approach and listening to your body. Do you experience indigestion often? If so, you may have slow peristalsis, which slows the emptying of your gallbladder and allows more opportunity for crystallization.
Another clue about your bile system health can be found on your typical labwork where a marker called alkaline phosphatase is of note – if elevated (even within the reference range) it can be a sign that your bile system is getting congested.
Stools that are consistently lighter in color and that float are indicative of high fecal fat content, and most often suboptimal bile flow is part of the problem.
Even if the gallbladder has been removed, it is likely that the root cause of the dysfunction has not been addressed. if the liver is still producing sluggish bile, it’s likely a matter of time before you develop other downstream GI dysfunction. But what can you do?
I’m sure you will be relieved to hear that aid is available in D-Limonene. This is a natural remedy that has been studied in controlled, clinical studies. As the name suggests, D-Limonene is a simple extract from citrus oils, that you may have seen on food and beverage ingredient lists as “natural citrus flavoring.” It is also a “power” ingredient in household countertop cleaners because it effectively gets rid of caked-on grease.
Imagine what would happen if you applied this surfactant and emulsifying power to a sluggish gallbladder? Clinical studies have demonstrated that D-Limonene can dissolve gallstones. I recommend 1000mg once daily with food for a month to help clean out the bile system for those with the signs noted.
If you are one of the growing number who no longer has a gallbladder, your digestion would benefit from the addition of Bile Acid Factors to provide the emulsifying benefit of bile salts that are not as readily available. This supplement can be taken with meals that contain meats and fats.
Oh, I would caution you about googling gallbladder solutions if you are experiencing issues right now. Many sites will recommend large amounts of olive oil to heal a congested gallbladder. High intake of olive oil will typically increase gallbladder contractions, but until you begin to dissolve existing stones, more aggressive contractions could be painful or dangerous. Enjoy a few tablespoons of olive oil as part of a healthy diet until you’ve done some work to clean out your bile system.
What root issues are your symptoms signalling? The functional approach to evaluating your overall situation may benefit your efforts to improve your wellness.