I often get many questions from those who find themselves having to “do life” without a gallbladder. But before I get into the article, let’s take a step back and look at the statistics concerning gallbladder disease. Roughly 25 million Americans suffer from gallstones, and almost a quarter of the nearly 1 million people diagnosed with gallstones each year will need to be treated, usually with surgery. GI diseases contribute tremendously to health care use in the United States. As of 2015, total expenditures for GI diseases are 135.9 billion dollars annually—greater than for other common diseases. (R) Unfortunately, expenditures are likely to continue increasing. From these statistics, living without a gallbladder usually comes without much instruction on how to do so.
For most people, the pain and other symptoms of a malfunctioning gallbladder eventually become unbearable. After several trips to the emergency room, the mention of surgery is often met with certain approval by the pain-ridden patient. However, this seemingly simple solution may or may not end the pain and discomfort of gallbladder disease. In other words, surgery is not always a cure-all. The probable after-effects of gallbladder surgery are usually never offered to the patient, which leaves the patient with the impression that all will be back-to-normal after surgery. But, for many, it doesn’t take very long to realize that all is “not well” and often begin to feel very betrayed by their surgeon and doctor who did not prepare them for “living without a gallbladder.”
The Importance of Your Gallbladder
Contrary to conventional medical opinions, the gallbladder is of use to the body. The gallbladder is a small sac underneath your liver that stores and secretes bile, a digestive fluid that breaks down fats. Gallstones form when the chemical compounds in bile become unbalanced — no one is sure exactly why this happens, but a diet high in fat often worsens the concern. Since your liver produces bile, it’s possible to survive without a gallbladder, but usually not without unpleasant digestive tract complications. Your gallbladder is like a pump. Without it, your liver is unable to secrete enough bile to digest a full meal properly. Many people experience diarrhea, gas, abdominal pain, bloating, indigestion, constipation, increased allergies, liver congestion, itchy skin, and autoimmune diseases. Some people suffer from dumping syndrome, in which food is “dumped” too quickly into the intestines from the stomach, causing an immediate need to have a bowel movement.
Things to consider BEFORE having gallbladder surgery
- Gallbladder surgery will not remove stones from the liver (intrahepatic bile ducts), so it will not solve all the concerns associated with intrahepatic stones.
- You will lose one crucial organ that GOD included in your body for a reason. Your gallbladder plays an essential role in the digestion of food. Your gallbladder holds bile produced in your liver until it is needed for digesting fatty foods in the duodenum of the small intestine.
- There is a definite probability that you will still suffer phantom gallbladder pain, even after your gallbladder is removed.
- Higher chances of developing chronic diarrhea after eating. It is estimated that at least 15-20% of people without gallbladder end up with chronic diarrhea or IBS (Irritable bowel syndrome). Many experience “dumping syndrome,” which means diarrhea immediately after eating a meal.
- Slightly higher chances of colon cancer.
- Higher chances of developing heat-related illness since the liver feeds the heart.
- Higher chances of developing cholesterol concerns.
- Higher chances of developing other chronic illnesses associated with poor liver function such as FMS, CFS, Cancer, Allergies, Depression, MS, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s.
- If you do not have a gallbladder, your liver must work twice as hard and accumulate twice as many stones. Liver cleansing is highly recommended to help support individuals without gallbladders.
Experiencing harmful symptoms after gallbladder surgery is often referred to as post-cholecystectomy syndrome. Post-cholecystectomy syndrome is an all-encompassing term relating to adverse symptoms experienced after a gallbladder removal procedure, some of which are:
- Fatty food intolerance.
- Flatulence (gas).
- Jaundice (yellowish tinge to the skin and whites of the eyes)
- Episodes of abdominal pain.
Natural Health Suggestions for Living Without a Gallbladder
A healthy diet is crucial. Eat low-fat, high fiber, organic, and healthy. (Healthy oils are important – see Bile Salts below.) Eliminate refined carbohydrates and hydrogenated oils.
Every four months, a liver flush/cleanse should be performed. People without their gallbladder may develop stones in the liver, which will lead to a sluggish liver. Remember that the liver flushes out toxins and is the main filter of the body.
Parasites can migrate into the biliary tract and create concerns such as recurrent pyogenic cholangitis, gall stones, and pancreatitis. I suggest two six-week courses of Paratrex™.
Without a gall bladder, digesting dietary fats will be difficult, at best. I recommend Cholocol from Standard Process. By consuming bile salts with each meal, they will ensure that your body does not miss out on adequately digesting nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids and other healthy oils. Without bile salts and my other recommendations, many people who have had their gallbladder removed tend to experience the usual signs of EFA deficiencies: poor nervous system function, irritability/depression, learning difficulties, heart disease, poor blood sugar control, weight gain, etc.
Organic Multi-Vitamin/Mineral Complex
intraMAX is the best organic, liquid foundational vitamin/mineral supplement that I have found. Everyone should be taking a foundational multi-vitamin mineral complex to support a healthy body.
Take 3-5 capsules at least 15 minutes before each meal. You will need to take enzymes for the rest of your life to help digest the good fats (Omega 3), essential for good health. I recommend Veganzyme, an advanced, full-spectrum blend of the most powerful digestive and systemic enzymes that support digestion, boost the immune system, and encourage functional balance throughout the body. VeganZyme – a digestive and systemic enzyme for healthy digestion.
Removing the gallbladder may reduce vitamin D and magnesium levels. The cause might be reduced and ineffective absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (D, E, A, and K). Those with compromised liver or digestive function are often found to be vitamin D deficient. Just about everyone is Vitamin D3 deficient during certain times of the year, and we are still learning about how Vitamin D3 plays a major role in just about every process in the body. I suggest trying Organic Vitamin D3.
Reduce chemical overload
Reducing chemical overload on the liver (pre-packaged food, personal care products laden with toxic chemicals, lawn products, perfumes, cosmetics, etc.) is important for its ability to fight toxic overload.
Drink only filtered water
Try to drink 1/2 of your body weight in ounces of filtered water every day. I suggest making up one gallon of distilled water with 2-3 tablespoons of raw, organic apple cider vinegar.
Use a Probiotic
Research suggests that the friendly bacteria in probiotics can help break down food, increasing digestion efficiency. More efficient digestion can also help reduce bloating that often accompanies gallbladder removal. I highly recommend the probiotic/prebiotic Floratrex, a superior blend of live and active cultures from 25 probiotic strains that support digestion and intestinal function and boost the immune system. This advanced formula provides 75 billion CFUs.
Reduce animal intake (meat and dairy)
Less animal protein will lower the risk of symptoms after gallbladder removal. When consuming animal products, make sure they are free-range, organic, and hormone-free.
Eliminate white sugar and white flour.
Consume a green juice drink every day.
Oregano Oil helps with pain and also with bile flow. Must take with food or on a full stomach. I recommend this Organic Oregano Oil.
Some people have found that activated charcoal helps with gallbladder removal symptoms as it helps to sequester bile acid.
(Chinese Gentian with Bupleurum) in the morning and Coptis with Bupleurum at night to stimulate bile flow.
Exercise daily for 30 minutes.
Walking is highly suggested.
UVB rays from the sun help your body manufacture vitamin D. However, it’s vital to understand that this process happens in your liver and kidneys. Those with a sluggish liver or compromised digestive function (gallbladder removal) often do not make vitamin D effectively. Before consuming any Vitamin D-3, I suggest getting a blood test to check your D-3 levels. If you are deficient, taking 5000 IU of a high-quality vitamin D-3 is a safe and effective dose for most people, but it’s always best to speak with a knowledgeable doctor first. You can also try to get 30 minutes of sunshine on as much of your body as is legal every day.
So your gallbladder is gone…that’s the past. It’s time to move on and educate yourself about living without a gallbladder. Following the above suggestions will ensure that your digestive system operates to its fullest and alleviate many of the side effects of gallbladder removal. You can feel good again after gallbladder surgery, but for most, it will mean committing to a total lifestyle change…one that will also be beneficial in supporting whole-body health.
As with most diseases, prevention is always the best solution, but when disease or illness occurs, remember that there are always solutions and always hope. Do your research and always get second opinions.