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Gallbladder Disorders

  • Cholecystitis
  • Cholelithiasis

  • Definition

    The gallbladder is a small organ located directly under the liver. It acts as a bile reservoir, concentrating the bile that the body uses to digest fats. Bile contains cholesterol, bile salts, lecithin, and other substances. Cholecystitis is the inflammation of the gallbladder. It may be acute or chronic. Cholelithiasis is the formation or presence of calculi or bilestones (gallstones) in the gallbladder or common duct of the gallbladder.


    Acute cholecystitis is almost always caused by gallstones. Other causes may include bacteria or chemical irritants. Chronic cholecystitis can occur with or without stones. But not all patients with gallstones experience cholecystitis.

    Gallstones are concretions formed in the gallbladder or bile ducts. Traditionally gallstones have been classified according to their composition. This information was then used to demonstrate the cause of the stone formation. This is no longer considered valid. Generally the core of all gallstones contains a mixture of cholesterol, bilirubin, and protein.


    In acute cholecystitis there is fever, gradually developing or sudden pain in the upper abdomen, nausea, vomiting, visible jaundice in about 25% of patients. Frequently pain is referred to back or right shoulder. Approximately 10% of the patients do not have pain. In chronic cholecystitis symptoms are usually less severe than in acute cases, but recurring stones may or may not be present.

    Gallstone symptoms include digestive disturbances, heaviness in right upper abdomen, and tenderness on pressure over the gallbladder. Gallstone colic occurs when a stone obstructs the bile duct. Jaundice is flow of bile is obstructed. Pain may be associated with vomiting and sweating. If distended, the gallbladder is palpable. Treatment may include surgery. See the doctor, whether acute or chronic condition.

    Stones may remain dormant and give little distress unless inflammation and distention of the gallbladder take place or unless it enters and is unable to pass through the biliary ducts, when colic ensues. The pain usually starts several hours after eating and when the stomach is empty (often after eating fried or fatty foods). Flatulence is a common symptom. If left untreated, the inflammation of the gallbladder can be life threatening.

    Often a patient with gallstones will have no symptoms.


    Herbal Medicine Formulas and Recipes
    Chinese Formulas
    Ayurvedic Formulas


    Alfalfa, 10 tablets 3 times per day, is a liver cleanser, rich in vitamins and minerals. Lecithin, 1 tbsp. before meals or capsules as directed on the label, aids fat (cholesterol) digestion and is a fat emulsifier. Multienzymes (containing ox bile), taken with meals (Caution: if heartburn is present, use pancreatin after meals. Do not use products containing hydrochloric acid (HCL)). Unsaturated fatty acids, taken as directed on the label. Vitamin A, 25,000 IU capsules daily (emulsified vitamin A is more easily assimilated. Vitamin B complex with B12 and choline, 500 mg. per day, is important in cholesterol metabolism and liver and gallbladder function. Inositol, 500 mg. per day, usually comes added to the vitamin B complex. Vitamin C, 3,000 mg. per day (a lack of vitamin C can cause gallstones). Vitamin D, 400 IU per day (gallbladder malfunction interferes with vitamin D absorption. Vitamin E, 600 IU per day, prevents fats from becoming rancid.


  • TB
    • Allspice, Carolina
    • Aloes
    • Anise
    • Baldo leaves
    • Balsam fir
    • Barberry, root bark
    • Birch, leaves
    • Bitterroot
    • Bittersweet
    • Boneset
    • Buckthorn bark
    • Cactus, prickly-pear
    • Calamint
    • Capsicum
    • Carrot, wild
    • Cascara sagrada
    • Castor bean
    • Catnip
    • Celandine
    • Centaury
    • Chamomile
    • Cheese plant
    • Chicory
    • Cleavers
    • Clover, red
    • Comfrey
    • Corn silk
    • Cramp bark
    • Dandelion, roots (note dandelion should not be used with inflammation or blockage of the common bile ducts!)
    • Dock, yellow
    • Elm bark
    • Eyebright
    • Fennel, seed
    • Flaxseed
    • Fringe tree
    • Gentian
    • Ginger, root
    • Goldenseal
    • Goose grass
    • Hops
    • Horsetail
    • Indian sage
    • Indigo, wild
    • Lavender
    • Licorice, Russian
    • Liverwort
    • Lobelia
    • Mayflower
    • Milk thistle, fruits
    • Milkweed
    • Marshmallow
    • Milfoil
    • Mugwort
    • Nettle, stinging, leaves
    • Olive oil
    • Onion
    • Parsley
    • Peppermint
    • Queen of the meadow
    • Radish, black or Spanish
    • Rosemary
    • Rhubarb
    • St. Benedict's thistle
    • St. John's wort
    • Sassafras bark
    • Shepherd's heart
    • Shepherd's purse
    • Smartweed
    • Speedwell
    • Toadflax
    • Turmeric
    • Twitch
    • Violet
    • Wafer ash
    • Wahoo
    • Wallwort
    • Witch grass
    • Yam, wild


    For inflammation: Eat no solid food for a few days, only distilled or spring water. Then begin to drink juices such as pear, beet root juice, and apple juice for 3 more days. Then add solid foods: shredded raw beets with 2 tbsp. of olive oil, fresh lemon juice, and freshly made uncooked applesauce.

    For gallstones: Use 3 tbsp. olive oil with the juice of a lemon before retiring and upon awakening. Many stones pass in the stool with this technique. Look for them! Grapefruit juice can be used instead of lemon juice. Try a castor oil pack on the gallbladder area. Soak a multifolded cotton flannel cloth in castor oil; heat to very warm but not hot enough to burn the skin. Place the pack on the gallbladder area, cover with plastic and a light towel and apply a heating pad to retain warmth. Leave in place for one hour. Apply pack twice a day or more if desired.

    With gallbladder diseases, do not overeat. Obesity and gallbladder disease are related. The female who is forty and overweight and who has had children is more likely to suffer from these disorders.

    Avoid surgery if the stones show up on x-ray but are without symptoms. A gallstone may slip into a bile duct, which drains the gallbladder and the liver. If this occurs, then extraction or surgical removal might be needed. Sometimes stones can be fragmented without surgery. Bile acid preparations used to dissolve stones work very slowly and can be used only on small stones.

    Eat 75% raw foods. Include each day in the diet: applesauce, eggs, yogurt, cottage cheese, broiled fish, fresh apples, and beets. Avoid sugar and products containing sugar. Avoid all animal fat and meat, fried foods, spicy foods, margarine, soft drinks, commercial oils, coffee, chocolate, and refined carbohydrates.

    For 5 days consume as much pure apple juice as possible, pear juice occasionally and beet juice (beet juice will cleanse the liver). Rapid weight change may cause gallbladder problems.


    For gallbladder problems the following tea is recommended:
    Alder buckthorn bark (1 part)
    Restharrow root (5 parts)
    Yellow gentian root (5 parts)
    Peppermint leaves (10 parts)
    Steep 1 tsp. in 1/2 cup boiling water. Take 1 to 1 1/2 cups a day, in mouthful doses.
    For gallstones, here is a tea to assist in passing small stones and gravel:
    St. Benedict thistle
    Birch leaves
    Witch grass
    Mix in equal parts. Steep 1 tsp. in 1/2 cup boiling water. Take 1 to 1 1/2 cups per day, unsweetened, in mouthful doses.

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