The liver and gallbladder are organs associated with the digestion that occurs in the small intestine. The liver’s only digestive function is to produce bile, for export to the duodenum. It does this via the common hepatic duct and the common bile duct. The gallbladder is chiefly a storage organ for the bile and lies between these two ducts. It is approximately four inches long and is located to the back and just below the lower right side of the liver. In addition to storing of the bile until needed, the gall bladder concentrates the bile, with it being up to ten times as concentrated when it leaves as when it entered. The primary function of bile is the emulsification or breakdown of fats so that they can be absorbed and used.
Bile is the major means by which cholesterol is excreted from the body. In the event that the bile salts (these constitute part of the liquid called bile) are inadequate or the cholesterol is excessive, the cholesterol may crystallize and form gallstones. These gallstones can pool in the gall bladder—the cystic duct leaving the gall bladder—or the common bile duct which leads to the small intestines. Gallstones are a common disease process and are more common in females, individuals over 40, those who are overweight, and fair skinned people. Gallbladder disease is also increased when the diet is low in fiber, and water is not taken liberally. Common symptoms include fullness and burping after meals, heartburn, chronic upper right-sided abdominal pain to severe pain that radiates to the right shoulder, nausea, vomiting, and even yellowing of the skin. These symptoms are more noticeable several hours after a heavy meal that includes fried or fatty foods.
There are many lifestyle decisions that can help prevent gallstones. These include: decrease saturated fats as found in meat and animal products; consume monounsaturated fats and omega 3 fatty acids such as is found in olives, canola, and flax seed; eating nuts (peanuts, walnuts, almonds); diet high in fiber; consumption of vegetable protein; avoid a high sugar intake; regular exercise; maintain normal weight; avoid rapid weight loss; and liberal consumption of water.
Treatments include a wait-and-see approach with lifestyle changes, medical non-surgical removal of the stones, and surgical removal of gallstones. There are also natural remedies for treatment of gallstones. One is found in Jethro Kloss’s book, Back to Eden. The author has personally administered this treatment to one person with severe symptoms, and it was very successful.
May the Lord guide in our lifestyle decisions that so greatly affect our life, health, and relationship to Him.