Often overlooked, the gallbladder is a small but important organ. Located beneath the liver, the gallbladder plays a major role in facilitating the digestion of dietary fats. Every day liver cells synthesize and secrete large amounts of bile, comprised of bile acids, cholesterol and other organic molecules, into the small intestine. Bile acids are critical for the digestion and absorption of dietary fats, the elimination of waste products and for the transport and absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. While the liver secretes a significant amount of bile acids each day, most are recycled through the bloodstream back to the liver to be reused multiple times during a single digestive phase.
Between meals, or during a fasting state, the gallbladder is tasked with the storage and concentration of bile. When stimulated by hormonal signals, the gallbladder transports and releases bile through the bile duct and into the small intestine to aid in lipid digestion. Although not absolutely necessary for human survival, the gallbladder doesn’t normally cause concern, unless gallstones form and the flow of bile is blocked. A blockage of the bile duct can result in painful inflammation, infection, jaundice and liver damage. While gallstones can take years to form and may remain symptomless, anyone who has ever suffered a gallbladder attack would likely never want to experience another.
A suspected episode of gallbladder attack requires medical attention. When gallstones block the bile duct, surgery to remove the stone(s) or the gallbladder is generally recommended. As well, a gallstone that becomes trapped in the bile duct can sometimes be removed with an endoscope. At times, simple stones may be dissolved with certain medications. The gallbladder may painfully expel a small stone through the bile duct as well. Problems occur when a stone blocks the bile duct and obstructs the flow of bile.
Common Symptoms of gallbladder problems include:
- Tenderness or severe pain in the upper right or center of the abdomen
- Sudden, intense abdominal pain lasting several hours or pain that worsens after a heavy meal
- Pain that may extend beneath the right shoulder blade or to the back
- Heartburn, indigestion or excessive gas
- Chills or low-grade to high fever
- Nausea or vomiting
When gallbladder removal is necessary, the liver will still produce enough bile for normal digestion. Most people adapt well and don’t experience digestive problems after surgery. Dietary medication is generally needed either short or long term. However, many individuals can return to a normal diet within a few months. During the adjustment period, it’s best to avoid high-fat, high-fiber and spicy foods. To support and protect proper gallbladder and overall healthy function, participate in regular physical activity, maintain a healthy weight, eat fresh, nutrient-dense, fiber-filled and antioxidant-rich whole foods, adequately hydrate, reduce refined carbohydrates and avoid unhealthy fried and fatty foods.
Professional Supplement Center offers these and other high quality supplements in support of gallbladder health and function:
Bilex by Douglas Laboratories®: This high potency formula provides specific ingredients that naturally support healthy digestion, gastrointestinal function, and the assimilation and utilization of nutrients. Ingredients include digestive enzymes, papain, ox bile powder and pancreatin. Free of yeast, wheat, gluten, soy, dairy, corn, sodium, sugar, starch and artificial coloring, preservatives and flavoring. Non-GMO formulation.
Ichol Plus by Genestra Brands®: This synergistic formula blends lipotropic factors, ox bile and botanicals in support of fat metabolism, assimilation of fat-soluble nutrients, stimulation of bile flow and the removal of toxic and metabolic waste. Free of wheat, gluten, yeast, corn, starch, sodium, sugar, dairy, antimicrobial preservatives and artificial coloring and flavoring.
Stone Free™ by Planetary Herbals: This unique botanical blend provides specific herbs traditionally used to support kidney, liver and gallbladder function. The comprehensive ingredients support normal fluid elimination and bile production, as well as aid in the detoxifying process.
Digestion GB by Pure Encapsulations®: This hypoallergenic formulation provides ingredients that promote liver and gallbladder health and stimulate the production and secretion of bile acids. Digestive enzymes are included to enhance fat, protein and carbohydrate digestion to complement pancreatic enzyme activity. Gluten free, Non-GMO formulation.
LV-GB Complex by Designs for Health®: This complex is formulated to support healthy liver and gallbladder function with vitamins, botanicals, amino acids and ox bile. Specific ingredients support optimal digestion and assimilation of essential fats and fat-soluble vitamins, as well as promote proper bile flow and elimination of toxins. Gluten free formulation.
Secretion of Bile and the Role of Bile Acids in Digestion: http://www.vivo.colostate.edu/hbooks/pathphys/digestion/liver/bile.html
Your Diet After Gallbladder Removal. https://www.everydayhealth.com/gallbladder/guide/diet/
Gallbladder Diet. https://www.healthline.com/health/gallbladder-diet
Gallbladder Disease. http://pennstatehershey.adam.com/content.aspx?productId=107&pid=33&gid=000066