Complementary Medicine - Cam
About This Condition
Although small in size, gallstones can cause big discomfort. What can you do to keep your gall bladder healthy? According to research or other evidence, the following self-care steps may be helpful.
About This Condition
Gallstones are hardened formations, composed primarily of cholesterol, that develop in the gallbladder.
Gallstones are commonly associated with bile that contains excessive cholesterol, a deficiency of other substances in bile (bile acids and lecithin ), or a combination of these factors.
Gallstone attacks cause extreme pain in the upper-right quarter of the abdomen, often extending to the back. This pain can be accompanied by nausea and vomiting.
Healthy Lifestyle Tips
People with gallstones may consume too many calories1 and are often overweight.2 , 3 Obese women have seven times the risk of forming gallstones compared with women who are not overweight.4 Even slightly overweight women have significantly higher risks.5 Losing weight is likely to help,6 but rapid weight loss might increase the risk of stone formation.7 Any weight-loss program to prevent or treat gallstones should be reviewed by a doctor. Weight-loss plans generally entail reducing dietary fat, a change that itself correlates with protection against gallstone formation and attacks.8 , 9
In women, recreational exercise significantly reduces the risk of requiring gallbladder surgery due to gallstones. In a study of over 60,000 women, an average of two to three hours per week of recreational exercise (such as cycling, jogging, and swimming) reduced the risk of gallbladder surgery by about 20%.10
Use of birth control pills significantly increases a woman’s risk of developing gallstones.11 , 12
The right diet is the key to managing many diseases and to improving general quality of life. For this condition, scientific research has found benefit in the following healthy eating tips.
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Our proprietary “Star-Rating” system was developed to help you easily understand the amount of scientific support behind each supplement in relation to a specific health condition. While there is no way to predict whether a vitamin, mineral, or herb will successfully treat or prevent associated health conditions, our unique ratings tell you how well these supplements are understood by the medical community, and whether studies have found them to be effective for other people.
For over a decade, our team has combed through thousands of research articles published in reputable journals. To help you make educated decisions, and to better understand controversial or confusing supplements, our medical experts have digested the science into these three easy-to-follow ratings. We hope this provides you with a helpful resource to make informed decisions towards your health and well-being.
3 Stars Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
2 Stars Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
1 Star For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.
1. Sarles H, Gerolami A, Cros RC. Diet and cholesterol gallstones. Digestion 1978;17:121–7.
2. Kern F Jr. Epidemiology and natural history of gallstones. Semin Liver Dis 1983;3:87–96.
3. Misciagna G, Centonze S, Leoci C, et al. Diet, physical activity, and gallstones--a population-based, case-control study in southern Italy. Am J Clin Nutr 1999;69:120–6.
4. Stampfer MJ, Maclure KM, Colditz GA, et al. Risk of symptomatic gallstones in women with severe obesity. Am J Clin Nutr 1992;55:652–8.
5. Maclure KM, Hayes KC, Colditz GA, et al. Weight, diet, and the risk of symptomatic gallstones in middle-aged women. N Engl J Med 1989;321:563–9.
6. Thornton JR. Gallstone disappearance associated with weight loss. Lancet 1979;ii:478 [letter].
7. Everhart JE. Contributions of obesity and weight loss to gallstone disease. Ann Intern Med 1993;119:1029–35.
8. Scragg RKR. Diet, alcohol, and relative weight in gall stone disease: a case-control study. BMJ 1984;288:1113–9.
9. Morrison LM. The effects of a low fat diet on the incidence of gallbladder disease. Am J Gastroenterol 1956;25:158–63.
10. Leitzmann MF, Rimm EB, Willett WC, et al. Recreational physical activity and the risk of cholecystectomy in women. N Engl J Med 1999;341:777–84.
11. Thijs C, Leffers P, Knipschild P. Oral contraceptive use and the occurrence of gallstone disease—a case-control study. Prev Med 1993;22:122–31.
12. Grodstein F, Colditz GA, Hunter DJ, et al. A prospective study of symptomatic gallstones in women: relation with oral contraceptives and other risk factors. Obstet Gynecol 1994;84:207–14.
13. Heaton KW, Emmett PM, Symes CL, Braddon FEM. An explanation for gallstones in normal-weight women: slow intestinal transit. Lancet 1993;341:8–10.
14. Marcus SN, Heaton KW. Intestinal transit, deoxycholic acid and the cholesterol saturation of bile—three interrelated factors. Gut 1986;27:550.
15. Watts JM, Jablonski P, Toouli J. The effect of added bran to the diet on the saturation of bile in people without gallstones. Am J Surg 1978;135:321–4.
16. McDougall RM, Kakymyshyn L, Walker K, Thurston OG. Effect of wheat bran on serum lipoproteins and biliary lipids. Can J Surg 1978;21:433–5.
17. Leitzmann MF, Willett WC, Rimm EB, et al. A prospective study of coffee consumption and the risk of symptomatic gallstone disease in men. JAMA 1999;281:2106–12.
18. Kratzer W, Kachele V, Mason RA, et al. Gallstone prevalence in relation to smoking, alcohol, coffee consumption, and nutrition. The Ulm Gallstone Study. Scand J Gastroenterol 1997;32:953–8.
19. Pixley F, Mann J. Dietary factors in the aetiology of gall stones: a case control study. Gut 1988;29:1511–5.
20. Pixley F, Wilson D, McPherson K, Mann J. Effect of vegetarianism on development of gall stones in women. BMJ 1985;291:11–2.
21. Singh A, Bagga SP, Jindal VP, et al. Gall bladder disease: an analytical report of 250 cases. J Indian Med Assoc 1989;87:253–6.
22. Jayanthi V, Malathi S, Ramathilakam B, et al. Is vegetarianism a precipitating factor for gallstones in cirrhotics? Trop Gastroenterol 1998;19:21–3.
23. Lee DWT, Gilmore CJ, Bonorris G, et al. Effect of dietary cholesterol on biliary lipids in patients with gallstones and normal subjects. Am J Clin Nutr 1985;42:414.
24. Andersen E, Hellstrom K. The effect of cholesterol feeding on bile acid kinetics and biliary lipids in normolipidemic and hypertriglyceridemic subjects. J Lipid Res 1979;20:1020–7.
25. Misciagna G, Centonze S, Leoci C, et al. Diet, physical activity, and gallstones—a population-based, case-control study in southern Italy. Am J Clin Nutr 1999;69:120–6.
26. Breneman JC. Allergy elimination diet as the most effective gallbladder diet. Ann Allerg 1968;26:83–7.
27. Capper WM, Butler TJ, Kilby JO, Gibson MJ. Gallstones, gastric secretion and flatulent dyspepsia. Lancet 1967;i:413–5.
28. Toouli J, Jablonski P, Watts JM. Gallstone dissolution in man using cholic acid and lecithin. Lancet 1975;ii:1124–6.
29. Tuzhilin SA, Dreiling D, Narodetskaja RV, Lukahs LK. The treatment of patients with gallstones by lecithin. Am J Gastroenterol 1976;165:231–5.
30. Holan KR, Holzbach T, Hsieh JYK, et al. Effect of oral administration of ‘essential’ phospholipid, 8-glycerophosphate, and linoleic acid on biliary lipids in patients with cholelithiasis. Digestion 1979;19:251–8.
31. Nassuato G, Iemmolo RM, et al. Effect of silibinin on biliary lipid composition. Experimental and clinical study. J Hepatol 1991;12:290–5.
32. Somerville KW, Ellis WR, Whitten BH, et al. Stones in the common bile duct: Experience with medical dissolution therapy Postgrad Med J 1985;61:313–6.
33. Werbach MR, Murray MT. Botanical Influences on Illness: A Sourcebook of Clinical Research. Tarzana, CA: Third Line Press, 1994, 166–8 [review].
34. Simon JA, Hudes ES. Serum ascorbic acid and gallbladder disease prevalence among US adults. Arch Intern Med 2000;160:931–6.
35. Simon JA. Ascorbic acid and cholesterol gallstones. Med Hypotheses 1993;40:81–4.
36. Simon JA, Grady D, Snabes MC, et al. Ascorbic acid supplement use and the prevalence of gallbladder disease. J Clin Epidemiol 1998;51:257–65.
37. Gustafsson U, Wang F-H, Axelson M, et al. The effect of vitamin C in high doses on plasma and biliary lipid composition in patients with cholesterol gallstones: prolongation of the nucleation time. Eur J Clin Invest 1997;27:387–91.
Last Review: 02-05-2013
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The information presented in Aisle7 is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2014.
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