Bile, a liquid generated in the liver, is crucial to the digestive system. It helps the body to rid itself of the consumed fats. If bile contains too much bilirubin, cholesterol or salt, it forms tiny sand-like pebbles called gallstones. While small, these stones cause little or no pain. They can, however, grow too large to pass and result in excruciating pain.
Getting Rid of Gallstones Naturally
Consider gallbladder or liver cleanses. Some people swear by them, but many physicians discourage them, believing they do not work. Speak with your physician before attempting either procedure.
Eat a healthy diet, including apples, celery, pears, soy products, vegetable protein and whole grain. Choose monounsaturated fats for cooking.
Reduce consumption of meats. They contain cholesterol, leading to gallstone development and growth.
Eliminate white flour and sugar. They also create and grow gallstones.
Check for foods you are sensitive to. Culprits usually include dairy products, gluten and wheat. Elimination decreases the chances of gallstone development.
Take calcium and vitamins C and E. Research indicates they decrease gallstone susceptibility.
Getting Rid of Gallstones Medically
Determine whether oral dissolution is right for you. Medications can dissolve gallstones, but it may take several months, making it a poor choice for those suffering severe pain.
Consider lithotripsy. It uses a machine called a lithotriptor to send out high intensity sound waves that cause stones to fall apart, making them small enough to pass.
Check into contact dissolution therapy. This new experimental treatment is expensive and not available everywhere. It uses chemicals to dissolve the stones. Its effectiveness remains undetermined, and some doctors believe it poses a safety issue.
Determine whether a laparoscopic cholecystectomy is possible. Unlike a full cholecystectomy, this option is minimally invasive. The gallbladder and stones are removed through two or three small incisions in an outpatient procedure under general anesthetic. Healing time is quick (five to seven days) and hospitalization is minimal.
Submit to a cholecystectomy. This open surgery removes the gallbladder. Performed in a hospital or outpatient clinic, under general anesthetic, the surgery requires one to five days of hospitalization. Healing time is extended at 10 to 20 days.
Submit to a sphincterotomy with gallstone extraction. This surgery is required if stones get stuck in the bile duct. It is done laproscopically with an electrosurgical tool under general anesthetic. It may require several nights in the hospital.