G is for gallbladder – a storage organ for the bile produced by the liver. Bile is important because it emulsifies fats that we eat and aids in elimination of cholesterol from the body. Bile increases the normal action of the intestines and helps prevent parasitic infection. Bile also carries the toxins gathered by the liver out of the body.Gallbladder function can become impaired for a variety of reasons. One common reason is ingesting food and drink that causes the bile to congeal. Normal consistency of bile is that of a light oil. Coffee and chocolate contain substances that make the bile turn into thick sludge, leading to problems with digestion. And last, but definitely not least, parasitic infections can clog the gallbladder.When the gallbladder function is less than optimal, certain problems can occur. Symptoms of gallbladder problems include an inability to digest fats, gas or belching, nausea, foul smelling stools, pain in the upper right quadrant of the abdomen that may radiate to the right shoulder or the back, high cholesterol, and deficiency of the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. Note that food supplements that contain fat such as fish oil supplements or the fat soluble vitamins could cause burping or other digestive discomfort if there is a gallbladder (or liver) problem.Gallstones are a well known gallbladder problem. Gallstones are very common and occur in one in five women by the age of 60. They are half as common in men. Gallstones are more common in older people, particularly those that are overweight or those who lose weight suddenly. Women exposed to more estrogen through pregnancies, birth control pills, or estrogen replacement therapies have more tendencies towards gallstones. Eighty percent of people with gallstones have no symptoms. Symptoms occur an average of 8 years after the formation of stones begins.Natural remedies for gallbladder problems include dietary changes, herbs and other food supplements. High carbohydrate diets with plenty of sweets increase the chances of developing gallstones – so to prevent gallstones, it is best to eat a low carbohydrate diet with no refined sugar. High fiber diets help prevent gallstones too – so eat plenty of high fiber vegetables and/or take a fiber supplement. As for herbs, turmeric, red beet root, Oregon grape root, artichoke and gold coin grass help clean the liver and gallbladder along with thinning the bile and helping to dissolve existing stones. Enteric coated peppermint oil helps clean the gallbladder and is used throughout Europe. Lecithin is an emulsifier which helps clean the liver and gallbladder. There are many proprietary herbal formulas designed to clean the gallbladder.Gallbladder flushes can also be helpful. There are many recipes using olive oil and either grapefruit juice or tomato juice. There is even a recipe that uses Coke – although I think the more natural juice with some acid content would be better. I recommend using mini-flushes on a regular basis to help rejuvenate the liver and gall bladder. If you have had your gallbladder taken out and are still having digestive problems, consider using a supplement containing bile salts to normalize your digestion. Check out natural remedies for your gallbladder issues and see how good you can feel.
Margaret Durst owns The Green House, a vitamin, herb and health food store in Mason, Texas. www.naturalcowgirl.wordpress.com