Nutrition and Supplements
These nutritional tips may help reduce symptoms:
- Eliminate suspected food allergens, such as dairy (milk, cheese, and ice cream), wheat (gluten), soy, corn, preservatives and chemical food additives. Eggs, especially, may irritate the gallbladder. Your doctor may test you for food allergies.
- Eat foods high in B-vitamins and iron, such as whole grains (if no allergy), dark leafy greens (such as spinach and kale), and sea vegetables.
- Eat antioxidant foods, including fruits (such as blueberries, cherries, and tomatoes), and vegetables (such as squash and bell peppers).
- Avoid refined foods, such as white breads, pastas, and sugar.
- Eat fewer red meats and more lean meats, cold-water fish, tofu (soy, if no allergy), or beans for protein.
- Eat more fiber. Consider fiber supplements, such as flaxmeal (1 tsp, 1 to 3 times per day). Combine 1 heaping tsp. of flaxmeal in 8 oz. of apple juice for a drink high in fiber and pectin.
- Use healthy cooking oils, such as olive oil or coconut oil.
- Reduce or eliminate trans fatty acids, found in commercially baked goods, such as cookies, crackers, cakes, French fries, onion rings, donuts, processed foods, and margarine.
- Avoid alcohol, and tobacco. Some evidence suggests that people who drink caffeinated coffee have a lower risk of gallstones, though study results are mixed. Talk to your doctor before increasing your caffeine intake, as caffeine can affect several conditions and interact with medications.
- If possible, exercise lightly 5 days a week.
You may address nutritional deficiencies with the following supplements:
- A daily multivitamin, containing the antioxidant vitamins A, C, E, the B-complex vitamins, and trace minerals, such as magnesium, calcium, zinc, and selenium.
- Vitamin C, 500 to 1,000 mg daily, as an antioxidant and for immune support.
- Phosphatidylcholine, may help dissolve gallstones. May interfere with some medications, including anticholinergic medications used in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease and glaucoma, among others. Talk to your doctor.
- Alpha-lipoic acid, for antioxidant support. It's possible that alpha-lipoic acid could interact with some chemotherapy agents.
- Magnesium, for nutrient support. Magnesium can potentially react with a variety of medications, including some antibiotics, blood pressure medicines, diuretics, muscle relaxers, and others. Large doses of magnesium may result in dangerously low blood pressure and slow breathing. People with kidney disease may have problems clearing magnesium from their body.
- Taurine, for nutrient support. Taurine can potentially interact with lithium. People with a history of bipolar disorder should take taurine with extreme care.
Herbs are a way to strengthen and tone the body's systems. As with any therapy, you should work with your doctor before starting any treatment. You may use herbs as dried extracts (capsules, powders, teas), glycerites (glycerine extracts), or tinctures (alcohol extracts). People with a history of alcoholism should not take tinctures. Unless otherwise indicated, make teas with 1 tsp. herb per cup of hot water. Steep covered 5 to 10 minutes for leaf or flowers, and 10 to 20 minutes for roots. Drink 2 to 4 cups per day. You may use tinctures singly or in combination as noted. If you are pregnant or nursing, speak to your doctor before using any herbal products.
A gallbladder attack can be a medical emergency. Do not use herbs to treat gallbladder disease on your own. Work with a trained herbal practitioner under the supervision of your doctors. The following herbs are sometimes used to treat gallbladder disease:
- Green tea (Camelia sinensis), for antioxidant effects. You may also prepare teas from the leaf of this herb. Note: green tea extracts may contain caffeine. Look for decaffeinated products.
- Milk thistle (Silybum marianum), for liver and gallbladder detoxification support. Patients with allergies to ragweed or a history of hormone-sensitive cancers should take milk thistle with caution.
- Globe artichoke (Cynara scolymus), for support of gallbladder and liver function. Due to its ability to increase bile production, globe artichoke could trigger a gallbladder attack if there is bile duct obstruction. Talk to your doctor.
- Turmeric (Curcuma longa) standardized extract, 300 mg, 3 times daily for support of liver function. High doses of turmeric can have blood thinning effects. Care should be taken if you are on other blood-thinning medications.