The gallbladder is a small organ located below the liver, which acts act as a reservoir for bile, which is utilized to help our bodies digest cholesterol and fats. As a result, it can often be highly sensitive to the foods we eat, and can be prone to inflammation, as well as the formation of “stones” (formed when cholesterol becomes crystallized and mixes with the bile).
Although people who have small gallstones may not even realize it, others can suffer pains so severe that they describe them as feeling as though they are “having a heart attack, or as if a “sword was penetrating them from the center of their chests right through to their backs.” This kind of agony can happen either when something triggers the organ to go into spasms, or when the bile ducts become blocked by the “stones.” Additional symptoms of gallbladder “attacks” can include sharp pains in the abdomen and upper arms, as well as nausea, vomiting, and even fever, especially right after eating fried foods.
While castor oil packs placed on top of the gallbladder area have been found to help push small stones through the ducts, many people have found they have equal or better success by drinking a mixture consisting of 3 three tablespoons of olive oil with either lemon juice or grapefruit juice before going to bed and again upon rising in the morning. It is also important for those suffering from a gallbladder attack to keep to a bland diet for a few days. Recommended menu includes drinking unsweetened tea, graham crackers or plain toast, and applesauce (fresh apples are also OK), and cottage cheese. Small portions of broiled fish are also fine. It is also important to cleanse the liver, colon and improve gallbladder function by consuming as much apple, pear and/or beet juice as possible for as long as 5 days. At the same time avoid all fried and/or spicy foods, meat (including meat fats), coffee, butter or margarine and any products containing sugar, including chocolate. Those who favor holistic approaches may also find herbal supplements such as parsley flakes, alfalfa, fennel, cramp bark, dandelion root, ginger, horsetail, peppermint oil and wild yam helpful in keeping their gallbladders healthy.
Note: Despite the above suggestions, there are times when gallstones remain lodged in the bile ducts and must be either fragmented or removed surgically. Readers should also consult their doctors before going on any special diets or herbal regimens.