Dr. Joseph Mercola
with Rachael Droege
The New York Times regional newspaper interviewed me about gallbladders
and I thought it would be useful to review this common problem.
I have seen many hundreds of patients who have had their gallbladders
removed and I don't recall anyone ever telling me that their surgeon
advised them to do something to compensate for removing this important
Just about every one of them was told they didn't need their gallbladder
and that it was perfectly fine to have it removed. This is reprehensible
ignorance as it condemns the patient to a lifelong deficiency of
essential fatty acids.
Why? Because after your liver produces bile, which emulsifies fats
for improved fat digestion, half of it goes to the small intestine,
and the other half is stored in the gallbladder until it's
About 500,000 gallbladders are removed each year in the United
States, typically due to gallstones, which affect about 15 percent
of Americans. Gallstones form when bile is in the gallbladder too
long and it collects and settles. Although most gallstones dissolve
naturally and produce no symptoms, if one ignores warning symptoms
and does not address the reasons why their gallbladder is not functioning
properly, then the disease can progress to the point where the pancreas
is inflamed or the gallbladder is seriously infected and may have
to be removed to save a person's life.
Signs of Gallbladder Disease
If you have any of the following symptoms then your gallbladder
may not be functioning properly:
Pain when pressing on the gallbladder, which is directly under
the last rib on the right on the same plane as one's nipple.
This is usually due to gallbladder "sludge" (thick
Stone on a gallbladder ultrasound.
Greasy stools that are loose and tend to float to the top
of the toilet bowl. This indicates improper fat absorption.
As I said in my interview, regular
exercise is one of the best things you can do to address
gallbladder dysfunction. This is a great proactive prevention
step but most people don't worry about their gallbladder until
they have a problem. Unfortunately, by that time exercise alone
is not going to cut it.
At that time a gallbladder
flush may provide some relief and once the symptoms abate
an aggressive cardiovascular exercise program can serve to permanently
improve the gallbladder.
It is also imperative that you clean up your diet. One has
to stop eating sugars, reduce or eliminate the grains and eliminate
all fluids but water. You can consult my nutrition
plan to make sure you're eating enough healthy foods.
Further, the gallbladder is frequently infected when it is diseased
so large amounts of high-quality
probiotics will also be helpful in correcting the problem.
What to do if You've had Your Gallbladder
High-quality fats--especially omega-3
fats -- are essential for good health and if you don't have a
gallbladder you will have an impaired ability to absorb them. Trying
to digest fat without bile is like trying to wash greasy dishes
without soap--it doesn't work very well. If your gallbladder
is removed then you need to compensate by providing an increased
level of fat digestive enzymes (lipase) to compensate for this.
Unless you receive a gallbladder transplant, which is unlikely,
then you'll need to continue taking the enzymes for the rest
of your life to ensure that fats can be absorbed and used by the
body for their many important functions.
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