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First I’d like to say, I’m sorry you’re here. If you’re reading this, chances are you’re in a significant amount of pain and/or discomfort. I’m in that camp too, but I may be on the winning side of this thing…at least I hope. I hate to have to say this, but nothing in this post should be considered medical advice. I’m sharing an anecdotal account of my situation and, while I hope it helps you find relief, I’m not a doctor.
A couple of weeks ago I noticed a feeling of pressure on the upper, right side of my abdomen. It didn’t hurt, and I had no other symptoms of anything, but the pressure was noticeable and a few months prior I had bloodwork showing elevated levels of bilirubin. I was slightly concerned because I know that elevated bilirubin can be a sign of bile duct problems or liver problems. I made an appointment with my doctor, and after a physical examination, he didn’t seem concerned but ordered an ultrasound to rule out gallstones. The ultrasound was just a few days ago, and I haven’t heard anything of the results as of writing this post.
The very day after the ultrasound, the feeling of discomfort worsened and spread. My abdomen felt inflamed on the inside. I felt a tingling sensation between my shoulder blades, primarily on the left side. A new feeling of pressure came about on the left side. The pressure intensified to pain, but not severe pain. I also noticed that morning that my stool was pale in color. At that point I began to fall down the internet rabbit hole, searching for a home remedy that doesn’t require surgery. I’ve met many people that have had their gallbladder removed, and while I don’t know the details of their experience, I simply don’t want to have people poking around on my insides.
There are a handful of home remedies that come up in blog after blog, but I wanted to do a touch more research to get a better understanding of where and how these remedies came about. Many people recommend drinking fruit juice or olive oil over a period of time. I’m pretty sure I would barf if I drank olive oil, though. The first thing I searched for was ayurvedic treatments for gallbladder stones. I admit that I don’t know much about ayurvedic medicine, but I know that people in India have used it for more than 5,000 years and its focus for treating illness is through lifestyle practices and herbal remedies. I like the idea of using food as medicine. It seems as though anytime you take a prescribed medication, you have to take some other pill to ease the side effects caused by the first one. I digress. The number one item that is used for gallbladder problems in ayurvedic medicine is turmeric. Not surprising since turmeric is used to treat a host of issues in the body. A surprising list can be found at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92752/. You can find that book on Amazon.
The next thing I read about that seemed promising is milk thistle. Milk thistle is a flowering herb related to the daisy and ragweed family and is native to Mediterranean countries. It is sometimes used as a natural treatment for things including cirrhosis, jaundice, hepatitis, and gallbladder disorders. Lastly, I read that artichoke can help somehow.
Just like with everything you find online, there is conflicting research, not enough evidence, etc. regarding whether a natural remedy is beneficial. I generally take the “I’ll find out for myself” approach, since the world is run by politicians, bureaucrats, and other people just trying to cover their butts. There’s also a significant interest in protecting the wealth generated by the “healthcare system,” especially in the United States. Do I sound as disillusioned as I feel?
Without spending too much more time researching, I decided that I needed to try something soon. The doctor hasn’t called back and it’s the day before Christmas Eve, which means I likely won’t be hearing anything for several more days. I popped over to the local Sprouts market and picked up two artichokes and a 30ml bottle each of milk thistle and turmeric. I chose the liquid versions of these because I thought it might “work” faster. The directions on each bottle say to put 30 drops (yep, that’s a lot of tiny little drops) into a glass of juice or water up to 3 times per day. I put 30 drops of each into an 8oz glass of water and drank it. It tasted better than I imagined! I was amazed that I began to feel much better in a matter of hours. I steamed one of the artichokes and had it with my lunch, which was a seedy crackers and hummus (olive oil, right?), some little tomatoes, and a few dates.
I took the same amount of the milk thistle and turmeric mixture before bed and first thing the next morning. It’s Christmas Eve now, just a day after my experiment, and I still feel pretty awesome. It’s too soon to say I’m cured, but I’m extremely happy to have some relief.
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Thanks for reading, and I truly hope you find relief from your gallbladder symptoms. I’m going to continue taking these supplements for a while. Once I hear back from my doctor about the ultrasound, I’ll have a baseline from before taking the supplements. If I’m still feeling better 6 months or a year from now, I’ll have another ultrasound and compare the results to see if any gallstones were dissolved or otherwise minimized.
P.S. Here’s another resource I found interesting: The Growing Global Burden of Gallstone Disease | World Gastroenterology Organisation