What are Gallstones?

Hard deposits inside the gallbladder are referred to as gallstones. They can lurk inside the gallbladder and at times, it goes unnoticed for a long period. They comprise of salt, cholesterol and bilirubin (discarded RBC). They can be either very small in size or be as big as an apricot.

Preventing Gallstones

It is not possible to prevent gallstones from occurring, however, one may reduce the risks by:

  1. Adopting a balanced diet
  2. Taking meals in a timely manner
  3. Drinking adequate amount of water keeping the body hydrated
  4. Not losing over two pounds a week

Causes of Gallstones

  1. Individual Genes
  2. Weight
  3. Associated problems with the gallbladder
  4. Diet
  5. High content of cholesterol in bile (80% of the cases)
  6. Pigment stones due to medical conditions like anemia or cirrhosis
  7. Hardening or crystallization of the bile

Types of Gallstones

Cholesterol StonesPigment StonesMixed Stones
  1. Yellowish-green in color
  2. 80% Gallstone cases
  3. Due to high content of cholesterol (liver produces more cholesterol than what bile dissolves)
  1. Small & dark hard stones
  2. Made of excess Bilirubin (fluid stored by the gallbladder, coming from the liver)
  3. Conditions like Anemia or Cirrhosis are also responsible
  1. Combination of Cholesterol & Pigment Stones
Gallstones picture

Risk Factors for Gallstones

  1. Obesity
  2. High cholesterol diet
  3. Sudden weight loss
  4. Deficiency of fiber rich diet
  5. Diabetes mellitus
  6. Pregnancy
  7. Family history of Gallstones
  8. Above the age of 60
  9. Having Cirrhosis
  10. Medications for reducing cholesterol
  11. High estrogen medications

Gallstones Symptoms & Stages

A person may not experience any symptom when having a gallstone. A research conducted by the American College of Gastroenterology revealed that approximately in 80% of the gallstone cases, people do not feel any pain at all. However, some of the gallstones symptoms are:

Asymptomatic Stage
  • No Pain & usually goes undetected
Formation of Gallstones
Symptomatic StagePain when eating fast food, fatty meals or fried foods. Pain can last from 30 minutes to a few hours.
Complicated Stage
  • Excessive gallstone pain (gallbladder attack)
  • Back pain
  • Regular fever
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Jaundice
  • Acute Cholecystitis
  • Clay-colored stools
Gallbladder is blocked by the gallstone & bile movement is difficult. Needs emergency medical attention.

Diagnosing Gallstones

Doctors conduct physical examination that involves eye and skin checkups to detect any visible changes to the color. A yellowish tint may reflect jaundice. Some tests performed to diagnose gallstones include:

  • Ultrasound: Imaging method that takes images of abdomen and confirms the presence of gallstones.
  • Abdominal CT Scan: Imaging test taking pictures of liver and the region around the abdomen.
  • Blood tests: Tests done to ascertain the quantity of bilirubin in the blood. Helps in determining if the liver is functioning properly.
  • Radionuclide Scan: An important scan taking over an hour involves injection of radioactive substance inside the veins. It travels through the blood and into the liver. It further enters the gallbladder and helps in detecting any kind of blockage or infection inside any of the two organs.

How to get rid of gallstones? – Treatment

Depending on the damage, a doctor may opt for any of the following treatments:

  • Gallstones Removal through Surgery: A laparoscopic gallbladder is done by making 2-3 incisions inside the abdomen. General anesthesia is applied before making a small insertion using a lighted device to carefully remove the gallbladder. Just like the appendix, a person can live a healthy life even if the gallbladder is removed.
  • Gallbladder stone removal without surgery: Drugs that dissolve the gallstones is given to people who cannot be operated. It may take a few years for complete elimination of the gallstone. There are chances of regeneration of the gallstone in future.

Gallstones Surgery Side Effects

After a surgery, the bile becomes less concentrated as it does not pass through the gallbladder. The bile is rerouted from the liver to the small intestine and may have a laxative effect causing diarrhea. A post gallbladder surgery diet should include:

  • Low fat intake by avoiding high fat, fried and greasy food.
  • Include high fiber food as it facilitates better bowel movement.
  • Avoid intake of food or drink that can cause diarrhea. It includes high fat dairy products, high sugary food, and caffeine.
  • Have several small meals instead of large ones every day. Facilitates easier digestion.
Stitches wound gallstone surgery

Dissolve Gallstones Naturally: 8 Most Effective Ways

Passing gallstones or eliminating it completely is possible by following some home remedies mentioned below:

Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Acidic nature restricts the liver from producing excessive cholesterol.
  • Recommended during a gallstone attack.
  • Regular intake in an empty stomach for a few weeks helps in dissolving gallstones
Option1: One tablespoon with a glass of apple juice.

Option 2: One tablespoon with lemon juice & warm water.

Lemon Juice
  • Contains pectin that helps in getting rid of gallbladder pain.
  • Limits cholesterol formation & presence of Vitamin C makes it more water soluble
  • Promotes quick removal of waste product
Option 1: Squeeze 4 lemons & drink it in empty stomach. Drink a glass of water after a couple of minutes.

Option 2: Drinking 4 tablespoons of lemon juice mixed in warm water for a few weeks.

  • Supports proper digestion & smooth flow of the bile
  • Presence of Terpene dissolves the gallstones effectively
  • Can relax spasms & relieve acute gallbladder pain.
  1. Add peppermint leaves in a cup of boiled water.
  2. Steep for 5 minutes & strain
  3. Add a teaspoon of honey & drink for 4-6 weeks.
Vegetable Juice
  • Beet root cleanses the liver & strengthens the gallbladder
  • High water content in cucumber detoxifies the gallbladder & liver
  • Vitim C & other nutrients in Carrot is good for the immune system
  1. Extract the juice from a cucumber, a beet root & 4 small carrots.
  2. Mix & drink them for at least twice a day and for over 3 weeks.
  • Binds cholesterol inside the bile and prevents gallstones formation
  • Promotes easy bowel movement & eliminates the risk of congestion in gallbladder
  • Prevents constipation
  1. Mix a tablespoon of psyllium powder in a glass of water.
  2. Drink twice a day for 3-4 weeks & make sure to drink a lot of water daily.
Dandelion (Not recommended for diabetic patients)
  • Presence of Taraxacin supports easy bile excretion
  • Detoxifies & metabolizes the fat accumulated inside the liver
  • Supports better liver & gallbladder functioning
Option 1

  1. Mix a teaspoon of dried dandelion in a cup of warm water.
  2. Steep for 5 minutes and strain the water.
  3. Add honey and drink it twice a day for over 2 weeks.

Option 2

  1. Make herbal tea using Oregon grape root (1tbs), Marshmallow roots (2tbs) & 4 cups of water.
  2. Add 2 tablespoons of dried dandelion leaves & peppermint leaves after simmering for 15 minutes.
  3. Strain & drink it at least once a day for over 3 weeks.
Castor Oil
  • Anti-inflammatory property neutralizes inflammation & reduces pain.
  • Has a positive effect over the immune & lymphatic system.
  1. Warm a cup of cold-pressed castor oil in a pan.
  2. Soak cheesecloth in the oil & squeeze the excess oil.
  3. Place the cheesecloth over the right stomach just above the gallbladder.
  4. Cover it using a plastic sheet for about 60 minutes.
  5. Should be done thrice a week till one recovers.
  • Prevents gallstone attacks
  • Daily consumption can significantly reduce the chance of developing gallstones
  1. Drink ½ glass of wine during a gallstone pain.
  2. Daily consumption can reduce the chances of gallstone by over 40%

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