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Gallbladder, Gallstones & Gallbladder Sludge

Tell me about Gallstones

What to do if your gallbladder has already been removed

Gallbladder:  a membranous muscular sac in which bile from the liver is stored — called also cholecyst

The gallbladder is a small four inch long, pear-shaped sack located between the liver lobes directly under the liver. (see photo)  A small Y-shaped duct, called the common bile duct, carries bile from both the gallbladder and the liver to the small intestines.   The gallbladder's job is to store and to concentrate bile which the liver produces.  
Diagram of the Liver, Gallbladder and Bile Duct
When fats are taken into the digestive system, a hormone is secreted which cause the gallbladder to contract, thus releasing the bile into the stomach and small intestine. The bile's job is help food digestion by working on digested fats. Lecithin in the bile dissolves this fat into droplets so small that the enzymes can surround them and process them so they can pass through the intestinal wall into the blood which takes it to the cells where you body can use it.

Bile is a green blend which contains water, lecithin, acids, cholesterol, bile salts, and  minerals.  Bile is vital to health. 

Inadequate Bile Flow

Trouble starts when the diet is too high in refined sugar and starches and fats and too low in protein. When too little bile is formed by the liver and when  the gall bladder is too "lazy" (due to nutritional deficiencies) to empty its content, the fat can not  be readily absorbed.  

When not absorbed,  the fat then unites with calcium and iron from food (stopping these minerals from entering the blood where they can do some good), and forms a hard soap, then forms hard packed fecal matter and causes constipation.   

This persistent stealing of essential iron and calcium can bring on iron-deficiency anemia, osteoporosis (honeycombed bones) or osteomalacia (week and caving-in bones).   

Without enough bile, fats, which quickly melt at body temperature, cover the carbohydrates and proteins that is also being digested, making it hard to continue the digestion process. 

Then bacteria attack this partially digested mess, bringing on gas and discomfort, contributing to an smelly bowel movement and an equally foul breath.  Much of the undigested food is usually lost in the stools.  Poor elimination associated with gall bladder problems invariably indicates a major loss of vital minerals. 

Because the lack of bile acids prevents the absorption of  vitamin A, D, E, & K, and whatever fat has been broken down,  deficiencies are produced.    People with insufficient bile flow are usually so deficient in vitamin A that they have difficulty in driving a car at night, sewing, or doing other close work.   

Although a low fat diet is recommended to decrease these digestive problems (it keeps the gall bladder quiet until healing has occurred), when the gall bladder has to be removed  obviously a low fat diet cannot rectify this situation or increase the absorption of needed vitamins.  

There is a peril of a low-fat or no-fat diet.  (See Low Fat Foods)

Gall bladder sludge: Also called, biliary sludge, can be looked upon as a condition of microscopic gallstones,  although it is not clear at what size the particles should be considered gallstones. 

Gall bladder sludge  is composed of calcium salts and cholesterol crystals. Unless you flush it from your system quickly, it can lead to gallstones, or worse, painful pancreatitis and inflammation of the gallbladder. If it isn't resolved, surgical removal of the gallbladder is sometimes recommended by medical doctors. 

Gall bladder sludge can develop after fasting, rapid weight loss, certain medication, a high cholesterol level, drug or alcohol damage,  or pregnancy. 

Symptoms include pain in the abdomen, nausea, and vomiting just like gallstones.


1)  Eat a high fiber diet.  Eat more beans and fresh fruits and vegetables each day.  You can add oat bran to your cereal. 

2) Drink six to eight glasses of water a day.  It flushes the liver and dilutes the bile secretions that lead to gallstones. 

3)  Green juices.  Spinach, parsley - these are rich in chlorophyll, a pigment that has a natural cleansing effect.  An eight ounce blend of two ounces of green juice and two ounces of carrot juice, diluted with an equal amount of water.   You can also find fresh vegetable juices with this combo at your health food store such as Whole Foods



For Sludge:  

For healthy gallbladder:

Cholacol II:  Cholacol II supports healthy fat digestion:

  • Supports the body's normal removal of toxins

  • Source of bile salts

  • Supports gallbladder function

  • Helps enzymes break down fats, which can help with discomfort after eating a fatty meal

  • Supports healthy elimination.

To Order: Standard Process Cholacol II 90 T


Gall stones:

What is a gallstone?

Gallstones form when cholesterol and bile pigments become so concentrated that they form lumps inside the gallbladder.   Eighty to eighty-five percent of all gallstones are coated with layer upon layer of waxy-looking cholesterol, although many stones are coated with both cholesterol and bile pigments. A few are made exclusively of yellowish green bilirubin. a substance that is part of the hemoglobin in your blood.

What causes gallstones?

The incidence of gallstones in the American population is high and increases with age.  There is most definitely a familial predisposition to gallstones, but it is difficult to say whether there is truly a genetic factor since most family members usually have similar dietary habits.  Diabetics have a higher incidence of stone formation and women are more commonly affected then men and the incidence increases with pregnancy. 

As we said above, normally, the gallbladder is a storage compartment for the bile that you body needs to digest fat. You eat fat, the stomach sends it through to the small intestine, and your gallbladder squirts some bile onto your food to break up the fat.  Your body then finishes its digestive process, and everything heads for the exit.  But occasionally something breaks down during the eat-squirt-exit process and the gallbladder's sludge like contents crystallizes.   This provides the opportunity to layer thicker and thicker coats of cholesterol or bilirubin around a calcium speck, thus forming a gallstone. 

Exactly what causes this buildup of cholesterol or bilirubin on the calcium is not totally clear and there are many theories.  Supposedly, it is from a high fat-high cholesterol diet.  This popular belief may be far less popular and far less believable when evidence of animal experiments is presented.  

1) There is some evidence that a deficiency of vitamin E may bring this on. It was shown that animals given large amounts of cholesterol or saturated or unsaturated fats developed no stones as long as vitamin E is adequate.

Of course, today's fast food diet does not contain a lot of vitamin E. Check any of the nutritional listings from a fast food restaurant and see if there is any vitamin E listed.  

It is believed that in the absence of Vitamin E, Vitamin A is quickly destroyed and without Vitamin A millions of dying cells from mucous membranes covering the walls of the gallbladder slough off into  the bile, and that stones form around a base of organic material.  It appears that these dead cells catch and hold cholesterol.  

This theory about gallstone formation holds that dead cells from the gallbladders inner membrane act as a nucleus around which stones form.  But why doesn't this happen when vitamin E is plentiful?  Vitamin A protects integrity of skin and internal membranes.  However without enough vitamin E to guard it, vitamin A is attacked by oxidation, permitting membrane cells to die and drop into the bile  

2) Stones are formed when a grain or two of calcium arrives in the gallbladder and hangs around long enough to become coated with either cholesterol or bilirubin.  In other word, they form when there's too much cholesterol in your bile.  This excess forms tiny "seeds" that start out the size of a grain of sand, but can grow to the size of a marble, olive, or even an egg.     

3) Naturally occurring female reproductive hormones are known to encourage that process by delaying gallbladder emptying, such as during pregnancy and dieting.  

4) There is also research that shows that gallstones will also form when fat intake is low. The reasoning is that the gallbladder will not contract unless fat is taken in and if it does not do so, the bile salts will crystalize and combines with bile in the gallbladder to form stones.  The scientific name for the reason stones form is "biliary stasis."   

5) Another theory is that stones are less likely to form from cholesterol when there is a high content of lecithin, which homogenizes cholesterol - also fat - and holds it in this condition. 

6) Other research says that it appears that the problem underlying gallstones is related to a deficiency of hydrochloric acid or to a food intolerance. 

Gall stone symptoms

What are the symptoms of gallstones?

The American Medical Association Family Medical Guide (Random House) says that a million new cases of gallstones occur each year.  If blockage of bile flow persists for long, many complications can occur - obstructive jaundice, infection of the gall bladder and inflammation when the trapped bile stagnates.

People with gall stones may experience only fatty food intolerance with mild pain, acid reflux symptoms or diarrhea after a fatty meal.  The stone rarely cause symptoms if they remain in the gall bladder.

Gallstones cause symptoms when it interferes with normal gallbladder function by passing out of the gallbladder and getting stuck in one of the bile duct. 

Pain in the upper abdomen or near the shoulder blades, along with vomiting and nausea, occurs when the stone gets stuck in the gallbladder's duct.  The pain usually lasts a few hours, until the stone drops back into the gallbladder.  If it stays stuck in the duct, a stone can block the flow of bile and cause damage to the liver, pancreas or gallbladder. 

If the gallbladder becomes inflamed, it causes severe pain in the upper right abdomen (under the ribcage).  This may radiate around to the back.  This maybe be accompanied by fever, nausea, and vomiting.  This condition must be treated immediately.  If left untreated, inflammation of the gallbladder, called cholecystitis, can be life threatening. 

If a small stone passes out of the gallbladder it may lodge in the common bile duct causing partial or complete obstruction.   This symptoms are jaundice with yellow discoloration of the skin and eyes to a varying degree.

See your doctor when - you are experiencing sharp, unexplained pain in your upper abdomen, between your shoulder blades or in your right shoulder that lasts more than 20 minutes.   Your skin and the whites of your eyes turn yellow.

Other problems:

Occasionally, a person has the typical symptoms of gallstones, but may not have gallstones.  They will be found to have a dysfunctioning gallbladder.  Although no stones exist, the gallbladder does not contract normally in response to the ingestion of fats.  Symptoms are produced when eating. 

Gall Bladder Attack remedies

For inflammation of the gall bladder, eat no solid food for a few days.  Consume only distilled or spring water.  Then drink juices such as pear, beet and apple for three days.  Then add solid foods, shredded raw beets with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, fresh lemon juice and freshly made uncooked applesauce made in a blender or food processor.  

Lifestyle Recommendations

To support liver and gallbladder health avoids the excessive consumption of saturated fats  For additional kidney support, drink plenty of pure water and avoid excess consumption of foods high in oxalates or oxalic acid, such as coffee, chocolate, cocoa, tea, rhubarb, spinach, and other plant foods. 


Dr. Berg's Gallbladder Formula - Gallbladder Formula contains natural ingredients to help break down gallstones and provide bile salts for bloating and digestive stress.    

Click on the link for more information including a video, ingredients, reviews, how it works,etc. Dr. Berg's Gallbladder Formula  



If you've had your Gallbladder Removed -  read what to do about the problems 


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