A small note of apology on the amount of time elapsed since my last blog entry. It seems that co-founding a (fastly) growing kombucha business forced me to neglect some of the things I loved to do for the things I urgently needed to do…but at least just in the short-term. I am happy to let you know we have recently hired for some support and I have a little room to breathe again…or shall I say…bite
Today’s blog is all about the gallbladder. I mean seriously—of all the organs contained in our gorgeous bodies–who wants to discuss THE GALLBLADDER!? Truth is, the gallbladder is an extremely important organ. Its function is to store a sometimes mushy substance called bile, which our liver makes to help us digest fats. Basically, when we eat anything with fat, our liver calls on our gallbladder to “give up some of that funky stuff” so it can break fats down into more usable pieces. Without bile, we couldn’t digest fat, causing serious havoc on our entire gut.
By far the biggest problem with the gallbladder is its proclivity to gallstones. Gallstones form for several reasons, including genetics and a high cholesterol diet. No matter the reason for them, one can’t really feel them until they’ve grown too big or hard to pass easily AND they are common. In fact, it’s estimated that 10-20% of adults over the age of 25 have plenty sitting in their gallbladder right now…just waiting for a little calcium or bilirubin to make them go from small and soft (like an over-cooked pea) to big and rock hard (like an over-sized marble). You know this has happened when you start to feel intense sharp pain in your central to upper-right abdomen. Sometimes it passes (and I don’t mean just the pain here) within an hour, but sometimes it doesn’t—either way, you’re likely to end up in front of your Doctor within a day or two. Stones can be serious, particularly when they don’t pass at all. Also, women are twice as likely than men to experience stones.
Usually when Doctors discover a stone, they recommend the removal of the entire organ itself through laparoscopic surgery. There are 2 reasons for this: 1) the gallbladder is thought by the medical profession to be “inessential” to normal digestion—remember, it doesn’t MAKE anything, it just stores bile for when your liver needs it; 2) If you’ve had a calcified gallstone, you’re likely to have multiple episodes in your near future with heightened intensities. So, they “simply” take it out. More than 750,000 people choose to do this every year in the US, making it one of the most common surgeries performed.
This is a perfectly fine solution for some—including my very healthy sister and friend–who both recently had the surgery. Their livers still make bile—it’s just that now bile constantly “drips” down into the gut from the liver instead of being stored by the gallbladder—and they can digest normal amounts of fat just fine. Besides the trouble they have with extremely large high fat meals, most people who undergo this surgery feel relieved that they won’t have to experience another stone and consider themselves healed.
But what if the idea of organ-removal doesn’t “mesh” with you? Especially in Los Angeles, being around so many holistic healers and naturopaths has taught me that the Western way ISN’T the only way (n’or the right way necessarily). Many people—including a customer of ours (let’s call her “Crystal Clear” for today) who I interviewed a while back on the subject—have experienced full healing by taking the “alternative” route. In fact, many of these individuals claim that taking the long road to treating the gallbladder has helped them heal many other aspects of their health they didn’t even think were related, including weight issues, depression, constipation, and chronic fatigue.
Since I am a firm believer in telling both sides of the truth, and since there is way more information on the Internet around getting the surgery, I thought it would be interesting and responsible to share bits of my dialogue with Crystal on her more natural approach to healing her gallbladder. To give you a little background on Crystal, she is a relatively healthy, very active, and lean woman who was in her mid-30’s when she had her first “attack” (just like her mom). Here are the highlights, and in some cases, the responses are paraphrased:
Q: After being told you had a 1.2cm stone in your gallbladder, a size your surgeon claimed was dangerous and “impossible to pass through a 3mm duct,” what drove you to explore other options?
A: Well, I just knew I wanted to do my research before I did anything crazy like take out an organ. There was something intuitively wrong with the thought of removing a body part I was born with. The first thing I did was type into Google: ”can a 1.2cm stone pass through a 3mm gallbladder duct” and immediately what came up was my first piece of evidence that there were alternative options.
Q: What came up?
A: A host of YouTube entries, a book written by Andreas Moritz called “The Liver and Gallbladder Miracle Cleanse,” and a book called “The Amazing Liver and Gallbladder Flush.”
Q: I imagine you read everything. What did you uncover?
A: Everything got answered when I read this book. Everything I didn’t understand about my body—that I just assumed was normal aging or something I ate the night before—became clear. I learned that a stone that big (and even bigger) can pass naturally! Sure, it would just take a lot of time, flushes, and efforts to change behaviors on my part. Most importantly, I learned that my problem was my liver and that–even though attacks were now representing in my gallbladder–removing the gallbladder wouldn’t do anything to heal me, because it’s actually all stemming from my liver.
Q: Were you able to heal yourself?
A: I am proud and happy to say that I am healthier than I have ever been before in my life—even healthier than I was at 21…and I still have my gallbladder. I was able to completely rejuvenate my insides. My back pain and shoulder pain is gone. I have no more lethargy. I truly believe the liver is the second brain. I feel so healthy.
Q: Congratulations! How were you able to heal yourself?
A: The process is extremely important and detailed, and repeating it step-by-step would be irresponsible in an interview. But, I would refer anyone with these issues to buy this book and read it.
Q: Enlighten us—especially the 750,000 that will opt for gallbladder surgery this year–what kinds of things did you engage in to “heal” yourself?
A: First, you must flush. The most urgent thing I had to do when I had such a big stone that was wreaking havoc was to flush, and because of that I had to flush several times. But, it’s actually best to flush BEFORE you have such a big stone, so you can prevent an attack from even happening in the first place. This is why if you have gallstones in your family or feel something weird and chronic going on in your gut you have to buy this book!
Q: What is a “flush?”
A: Well the actual flush takes about 24 hours. It’s a process of drinking a concoction of liquids, including olive oil and grapefruit juice to help stone removal. Let me put it this way—after doing the proper preparations and then taking the drink, I had released over 100 stones into the toilet, and that was just the first flush. For my condition I had to do several more flushes to get it all out, but for others it can be cleared in 1-2 flushes.
Q: Enough said. Ok, so this stuff worked for you clearly. What other kinds of things do you do to upkeep your liver’s health?
A: It’s all in the book. But some of the things I swear by are skin brushing (a technique of brushing your skin on legs and arms in a motion towards the heart to remove dead skin cells and increase circulation), drinking raw kombucha (Health-Ade of course!), shots of apple cider vinegar, and increasing my raw food intake.
Q: Wow. Congratulations on your self-healing. What kind of advice would you give people exploring other options?
A: I would say two things. First, don’t eat it if you can’t digest it. Just eat real food and stop eating when you’re no longer hungry. Second, don’t take this information lightly. It changed my life.
For more information on how Crystal improved her life through healing, email me to connect you to her. Also, click here to visit Andreas Moritz’ page on healing the gallbladder. I don’t know for sure, but unlike what most of medicine says, maybe the gallbladder is not so “insignificant” after all?
Daina Slekys Trout, MS, MPH is a Nutritionist and co-founder of Health-Ade kombucha, in Los Angeles, CA. EMAIL Daina your health questions and she’ll be happy to help! (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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