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How to Prevent Gallstones from Forming? | Natural Supplements for Gallstones

How To Prevent Gallstone Formation?

Gallstones are hard deposits made of cholesterol or bilirubin found in bile. Gallstones can develop in the gallbladder or bile ducts. Bile is produced by the liver and flows into the gallbladder to be stored and released to help with the digestion and absorption of fat . Gallstones are commonly formed due to excessive amounts of cholesterol in the bile which causes bile to thicken and crystallize.

Gallstones are formed in a variety of sizes, from tiny grains of sand to golf ball-sized particles. Often those small stones cause the most trouble. These little stones can leave the gallbladder and get trapped in the bile duct. Larger stones tend to remain in the gallbladder. Many people who have gallstones are never bothered by them and may not be aware of their formation.

Gallstones cause inflammation of the gallbladder which manifests itself in the form of dull pain and indigestion. Moving stones, however, result in acute and often severe pain if they block bile flow. Gallstones may result in inflammation of the gallbladder, liver, or pancreas and in rare occasions may become life-threatening.Gallstones are also linked to increased risk of certain cancers and cardiovascular diseases.


What is the gallbladder?

The gallbladder is a small pear shaped, muscular pouch beneath the liver, on the right side of the body. It is about three to six inches long. The gallbladder’s job is to receive, store, and dispense bile produced by the liver cells.

Bile moves through a network of small ducts within the liver. The connection of these small ducts forms the right hepatic duct (which drains bile from the right half of the liver) and the left hepatic duct (which drains bile from the left half of the liver). The junction of the left and right hepatic ducts forms the common hepatic duct. The common hepatic duct from one side is connected directly to the common bile duct and the duodenum (the first part of the small intestine); while from another side, it connects to cystic duct leading to the gallbladder. This entire system of ducts is called the biliary system.

The gallbladder stores bile, which is available to be used for digestion on very short notice. Between meals, the gallbladder is relaxed, but during meals, signals from the digestive tract stimulate contractions of the gallbladder and some stored bile is released into the common bile duct where it’s passed into the small intestine to mix with food.


What is bile?

Bile is a dark-green-to-yellowish-brown fluid which is continuously produced by the liver. It is a combination of cholesterol, bilirubin, bile salts and lecithin. Bile helps break down fat during the digestion process. Bile reaches the duodenum directly from the hepatic duct (from the liver) or from the gallbladder.

Bile in addition to being an important part of digestion, carries waste products from the liver to be eliminated through the digestive tract

The two main pigments of bile are bilirubin, which is orange–yellow, and its oxidized form biliverdin which is green. When mixed, they are responsible for the brown colour of the stool.


What are the gallstones?

Gallstones are hard deposits formed from bile components. Gallstones can be categorized based on their cholesterol content:

Cholesterol stones; are usually made up of more than 70 % cholesterol and are the most common type of gallstones.

Pigment Stones; are mainly made of bilirubin and formed due to high levels of bilirubin. Pigment stones contain less than 30 % cholesterol. Calcium salts are also found in higher concentrations in pigment gallstones.

Pigment stones usually form when there is increased level of bilirubin in the bile. Conditions such as liver cirrhosis, certain blood disorders, parasitic infections, and narrowing of bile ducts can cause increased bilirubin in the bile, contributing to pigment gallstones formation.

Mixed stones; are referred to the stones with the cholesterol content between 30% and 70%.

Majority of gallstones are cholesterol stones or mixed stones which are linked to diets consisting of high amounts of cholesterol and saturated fats. People with gallstones often have high levels of oxidized lipids in their blood.

At the very beginning stage of the stone formation, gallbladder muscles are weakened which reduces the gallbladder response to the signals from digestive tract to empty the bile. Therefore, the thicken bile and the cholesterol sludge remain in the gallbladder to create gallstones over time.

Gallstones are most found in the gallbladder, but they can travel from the gallbladder to the common bile duct, which is the largest duct in the liver.


What conditions are associated with gallstones?

The bile duct stones are much less common but can create more serious medical situations than just gallstones that stay in the gallbladder. Common bile duct stones can block the common bile duct, resulting in a serious infection known as cholangitis; inflammation of the gallbladder, pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas), and Choledocholithiasis occur when one or more gallstones trapped in the common bile duct. Biliary pain is the most common symptom of gallstone disease, which is commonly described as acute, severe pain in the upper-right or upper-mid region of the abdomen, radiating to the right shoulder or between the shoulder blades; and it may last for minutes to hours especially after eating.

Cholecystitis (inflammation of the gallbladder) causes biliary pain, fever, and nausea. In its chronic form causes digestive symptoms such as gas, bloating, nausea, and gag. These symptoms are usually worse after eating fatty foods.

cholangitis is Infection& inflammation of the bile ducts due to an obstruction, causing abdominal pain, fever, and jaundice.

pancreatitis is the inflammation of the pancreas due to blockage of the pancreatic duct. It symptoms include biliary pain , and potential life-threatening condition in which causes the inflammation of the lining of the inner abdominal wall (peritonitis).

Ileus is another rare condition that can be caused by larger stones. Ileus is the lack of intestinal movement that leads to a buildup with potential blockage of food material, and an intestinal obstruction. This means no food material, gas, or liquids can not get through.

Why do the gallstones form?

Gallstones can develop for several reasons involving genetic, ethnicity, gender, age, family history, diet, and environmental factors. When there is a critical concentration of cholesterol or bilirubin in the bile, slow gallbladder that does not empty the bile, liver diseases, blood disorders, aging, during pregnancy, rapid weight loss, fasting, obesity, high blood sugar or diabetes, high blood lipids, hormonal imbalance, hormone therapy, and certain medications increase the risk of gallstone formation.

High caloric foods, carbohydrates, saturated fats, and sugar along with low intake of fiber have been linked to increased risk, while consumption of polyunsaturated fats, fiber, fish, fruits and vegetables, and nuts have been associated with lower risk.

While gradual weight loss may reduce gallstone risk, rapid weight loss increases the risk of gallstone formation. Prolonged fasting and weight cycling often seen in inconsistent dieting are also contribute to higher cholesterol gallstone risk.

Evidently, food allergies and intolerances promote gallstone formation by triggering gallbladder inflammation and slowing gallbladder emptying. One week of the elimination diet helped to resolve the gallbladder symptoms in all participants. Suspected food allergens such as dairy (milk, cheese, and ice cream), wheat (gluten), soy, corn, preservatives, and chemical food additives, and Eggs, especially, may irritate the gallbladder. Your practitioner may recommend testing for food allergies.

Risk of developing cholesterol and pigmented stones increases with age, due to lower bile acid production which is leading to greater concentration of cholesterol in the gallbladder. Also, aging may also be associated with reduced gallbladder motility.

Additional hormone exposure through oral contraceptives and post-menopausal hormone therapy may increase the risk of gallstone formation. Data analysis suggests that that hormone therapy increased risk of gallstones. Estrogen seems to be responsible for this negative effect, and adding the progesterone to estrogen therapy does not reduce the risk. Topical bioidentical estradiol also demonstrated the same negative effect on bile cholesterol saturation and crystallization time after eight weeks of use.

Gallstones are more common during pregnancy due to decreased gallbladder motility and increased cholesterol saturation of bile. Added estrogen in the body can lead to an increased amount of cholesterol in the bile, while also reducing gallbladder contractions (cholestasis of pregnancy).

Individuals with iron-deficiency anemia are at a higher risk of gallstones than those with normal iron levels. This relationship has been verified in the reverse as well: gallstone patients have been found to be more likely to have low serum iron levels than healthy individuals . Iron deficiency may alter the activities of several liver enzymes, leading to increased cholesterol saturation in bile and increased cholesterol crystallization, and it also negatively impacts gallbladder motility. In addition, it is possible that gallstone disease contributes to iron malabsorption and poor iron status. Only those with iron deficiency should consider iron supplementation to reduce the risk of gallstones.

High levels of iron due to break don of red blood cells in certain diseases and also due to high intake of specially Heme iron or Iron from the red meat is associated with higher risk of pigment gallstone formation.

Several pharmaceuticals are known to increase the risk of gallstones, such as estrogens, oral contraceptives, anti-biotics, diuretics (used mainly to treat high blood pressure), and some blood cholesterol lowering agents.


Which natural medicine can help prevent gallstone formation?

Individuals with higher risk factors of ethnicity, age, family history, hormone therapy, or medical factors such as high blood lipids (cholesterol & triglycerides), high blood sugar, liver conditions like none alcoholic fatty liver, viral hepatitis, or history of some parasitical infections, slow digestion, dyspepsia, gas, bloating, and those with known silent gallstones, or the history of them may want to consider supplements to reduce their risk.

Vitamin C is necessary for the conversion of cholesterol into bile acids . The link between vitamin C deficiency and gallstones has been recognized decades ago. Low vitamin C level causes increased cholesterol saturation in the bile. In a group of candidate of gallbladder removal those who supplemented with vitamin C showed better bile consistency and delayed formation of further cholesterol crystals than those without vitamin C.

Supplementing with omega-3 fatty acids of high EPA and DHA may help prevent gallstones by improving bile composition and the gallbladder function.

A study looked at gallbladder function in individuals with obesity and high insulin levels found that those who took omega3 supplement or ate fish had a better gallbladder function than those who did not, concluding omega 3 helps lowering their risk for gallbladder problems.

Omega-3 helps to encourage the gallbladder to empty itself regularly, something that is considerably helpful if an individual also has high triglyceride levels which have been associated with gallstone development. Supplementing for roughly six weeks makes a difference in how the gallbladder is reacting.

Data from other studies suggest that supplementing with 3.7g omega 3 daily helped to reduce the ratio of cholesterol to phospholipids in bile; and lowered super saturation with cholesterol, thus helped to prevent precipitation of cholesterol crystals in bile of gallstone patients.

S-Adenosyl-L-Methionine (SAMe) is a natural compound and methyl group donor that supports the methylation cycle, glutathione production, and gene expression. Methylation is fundamental for the elimination of certain toxins. Chronic liver disorders and alcohol consumption inhibit the ability to produce an adequate amount of SAMe. SAMe supplementation helps to improve the bile flow. SAMe is also beneficial for women with an increased bile cholesterol saturation after starting oral contraceptives; supplementing with SAMe for two cycles has helped to reduce the bile cholesterol saturation in participants.

Curcumin helps reduce the possibility of gallstone formation by improving cholesterol and lipid metabolism. Curcumin has also been shown to improve gallbladder motility, reduce gallbladder inflammation, and normalize bile acid metabolism. Curcumin may also be helpful in recovery after cholecystectomy and reduces the need for pain relievers.

Milk thistle is often used as a natural treatment for liver conditions such as cirrhosis, jaundice, hepatitis, and gallbladder disorders. Silymarin is the main active ingredient in milk thistle. Silymarin provides both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits. Silymarin and silybin, its major active compound, have been noted to reduce bile cholesterol content in human, suggesting its potential value in gallstone prevention and treatment. Milk thistle in general is considered safe and well-tolerated .

Dandelion is regarded one of the finest liver remedies. It enhances the flow of bile, and helps improving liver congestion, bile duct inflammation, hepatitis, gallstones, and jaundice. Supplementing with dandelion root extract helps to increase bile production in the liver causing greater flow of bile to the gallbladder (choleretic effect). In addition, it causes contraction and release of stored bile in the gallbladder (cholagogue effect).

The active ingredient in Artichoke is cynarin, which like silymarin demonstrates significant liver protective and regenerative effects. It also creates a choleretic effect, with acts to decongest the liver.

The other most common natural medicine for the liver diseases is the artichoke (Cynara scolymus L., family Asteraceae. Cynarin is one of the important bioactive constituents of artichoke. Clinical treatments have confirmed the therapeutic properties of this plant, especially in hypercholesterolemia, digestive disorders and irritable bowel syndrome. Currently, the raw material is used for the production of medicinal preparations for liver failure, inflammation of the gallbladder, cholangitis, cholelithiasis and disorders of lipid metabolism. Furthermore, it was shown that extracts from artichoke leaves indirectly reduces hepatic cholesterol biosynthesis.

Cynarin compound stimulates bile secretion and helps to reduce blood cholesterol which in turn helps prevent gallstones forming, it said in a press release.

A high-fiber diet helps prevent gallstones. In several publications, it has been recommended for women to take 25 grams of fiber daily and men consume 38 grams of fiber.

Those who followed the high fiber diet accumulated less gallbladder sludge, which reduced their risk of developing gallbladder disease. This suggests that a high fiber diet can help prevent gallbladder disease in individuals who need to lose weight quickly, and perhaps overall.

Results from clinical studies have supported effectiveness of specific homeopathic remedies. However, a professional homeopath may recommend one or more of the treatments for gallbladder disease based on clinical experience considering totality of person's signs and symptoms including all the physical plus emotional status of the patient to choose appropriate treatment plan.

Some of the most common homeopathic medicines for gallbladder conditions are including; Colocynthis, for colicky abdominal pains which get better by pressure or bending. Chelidonium, for when the abdominal pain that radiated to the shoulder area. Lycopodium, for when abdominal pain gets worse with deep breaths. Remedies, doses, and potencies may vary depending on the stage of the condition.


What lifestyle and dietary factors would help to prevent gallstone formation?

Dietary factors are very important when it comes to preventing cholesterol gallstone formation. High calorie diets including high fat, sugar, refined carbohydrates, saturated fat, cholesterol, trans fats, fried foods, highly processed foods (doughnuts, cookies, white bread), High fat dairy products (milk, butter, cheese, ice cream), Processed meats (bacon, ham, sausage), and alcohol increase risk of gallstones and the related complications.

Diet rich in fiber, vegetables, plant based proteins, omega3 fats, , and legumes is associated with lower risks of gallstone formation.

In overweight individuals weight management strategies are very important to reduce the risk of gallstones; however, a rapid weight loss increases the possibility of gallstone formation.

Physical activity may help prevent cholesterol gallstone formation by improving the motility of the digestive system and by helping with cholesterol metabolism.

During pregnancy keeping a healthy diet rich in fiber, Good fats like omega3's and unsaturated fats, and low in refined carbohydrates, and saturated fat such as those found in animal products may help reduce risk of gallbladder symptoms. This can help keep you and your baby healthy. But always keep your healthcare practitioner informed if you do have symptoms that involve your gallbladder.


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