I’ve Had My Gallbladder Removed – What Do I Do Now?
The gallbladder is a small, pear-shaped sac on the underside of the liver, on the right side of the abdomen that holds approximately one half cup of yellowish-green fluid called bile. The liver produces liquid bile and it then moves it into the gallbladder where it becomes 4-12 times more concentrated than it was in the liver.
Approximately 700,000 people in the United States had their gallbladders taken out last year. The number of these surgeries has increased in the decades since laparoscopy was introduced. Because of the popularity of laparoscopic surgeries, many people believe that gallbladder removal surgery is simple and safe. Though the procedure is not particularly risky, complications after surgery occur on regular a basis.
Doctors refer to these complications as post-cholecystectomy syndrome (PCS). Cholecystectomy is the removal of the gallbladder and syndrome refers to the group of symptoms that can result after a cholecystectomy. PCS may occur even after a surgery that is performed by a brilliant surgeon with perfect surgical technique who has performed a surgery without complications.
Uncertain diagnosis and emergency surgery are risk factors for developing future complications. In most cases, the longer the symptoms have lasted before the surgery, the greater the risk of developing problems. If the cholecystectomy is performed to treat gallstones, approximately 20-29% of patients develop PCS. Younger patients have an increased possibility of developing PCS.
The deciding factor for gallbladder removal is the presence of gallstones and severe inflammation. Surgery can remove the gallbladder but surgery alone cannot eliminate all of the actual causes of the stones and inflammation. Also, removal of the gallbladder causes additional problems for digestion, proper work of the pancreas, liver, and colon.
What are essential functions of the gallbladder, and why it is important to have a healthy gallbladder?
• The most important function of bile is that together with pancreatic enzymes it helps the body digest fats. When semi-digested food moves from the stomach into the first part of the small intestine (the duodenum) it is the signal for the gallbladder to contract. Large amounts of the concentrated bile releases through the bile ducts into the duodenum for digestion of fatty foods.
• Bile aids in removing harmful fat-soluble toxins, heavy metals, pigments, bile acids and cholesterol from the body.
• Concentrated gallbladder bile has antimicrobial properties that help to keep the duodenum from harmful invaders such as bad bacteria, parasites, and yeasts.
• In a perfect and normal state, alkaline bile neutralizes acidity and creates the most positive condition for the pancreatic enzymes to digest food.
• The gallbladder also serves as a buffer reservoir to prevent high pressure in the bile and pancreatic ducts.
• Bile from the gallbladder stimulates the peristaltic movement of the intestines.
• Concentrated gallbladder bile aids in digestion and assimilation of the fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D, E, and K.
Once the gallbladder has been removed, all these functions are diminished or impaired. Improperly digested food is collected in the small intestine where it harbors an overgrowth of bad bacteria and yeasts. This causes constant fermentation of food, which creates gas and irritation of the small intestine. Indigested food spoils inside the GI-tract while the body struggles to get rid of this toxic material.
Our body has only two openings for this: either the mouth or the anus. Therefore, in an attempt to throw out poisons through the mouth, one suffers from belching, heartburn, nausea and vomiting. As undigested food moves through the intestinal tract diarrhea, constipation and lower abdominal pain occur. Doctors call this condition Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth.
With no gallbladder to collect the acidic bile from the liver bile constantly leaks into the intestine, even when no food is present. It irritates the linings of the duodenum creating spasmodic contractions of the intestinal walls which leads to “wrong way traffic” – refluxes. The corroded, aggressive mix of bile and pancreatic enzymes flows into the stomach causing heartburn, inflammation and ulcers. When these aggressive bile acids from the liver move down into the colon it causes diarrhea, colon inflammation, or even colon cancer.
This resulting indigestion leads to inner toxicity and deficiency of the vital nutrients with psychosomatic symptoms such as depression, anxiety, low tolerance to pain or IBS, fibromyalgia, food sensitivity and food allergies.
This variety of problems and symptoms require a range of treatments. Once a gallbladder has been removed, a number of drug-free, non-surgical alternative approaches can be very beneficial in reducing the consequences of gallbladder removal.
The goal is to reduce the body’s acidity, lessen cramps and pains, improve the quality and quantity of the liver bile, decrease inner toxicity, restore proper digestion, replace nutritional deficiencies, etc.
It is important that a person suffering from gallbladder problems eat a healthy diet of alkaline organic foods, eats often, and in small portions. Many persons who have had gallbladder surgery have a problem with the digestion of fatty foods. Undigested fats cause oily, liquid, foul-smelling stools. For that reason, trans-fats, animal fat and fried foods should be avoided.
People without a gallbladder often suffer from food sensitivity and food allergies that require a restricted diet, especially during attacks. Keep away from alcohol, white flour, sugars, sodas, and spicy food. Drinking 8-12 glasses of water daily thins the bile, flushes out the toxins and decreases the whole body’s acidity. Drinking clean and purified water, fresh diluted vegetable juices and blends, herbal teas and healing mineral water is recommended.
Healing mineral water has a long tradition throughout the globe including Europe, Israel, China, and Japan. Yet despite its popularity among people in Europe, this kind of healing is basically unknown in the United States and Canada. The most popular drinking healing mineral water is from Karlovy Vary – one of the most famous spas in Europe. The Czech town of Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad) has been an eminent worldwide healing resort since the 1700s.
Demand for this water was high, so Czech doctors began to manufacture the salt from the evaporated thermal spring water. European doctors have used Karlovy Vary mineral water for healing people after gallbladder surgery for more than 100 years. Since then, hundreds of clinical texts and articles have been published, illustrating the healing effects of the water prepared from Karlovy Vary spring salt on both animals and humans without gallbladders.
Karlovy Vary healing mineral water lessens digestive disorders, strengthens the digestive system, normalizes the acid-alkaline balance, and helps with the proper metabolism of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. Its most important action is the improvement of liver function by increasing the production and flow of bile, promoting peristalsis of the intestines, and preventing stagnation of food in the digestive tract.
Another alternative approach for post-cholecystectomy syndrome is acupuncture. Two thousand years ago doctors in the Orient knew about the importance of the gallbladder. From the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) standpoint, the functions of the Gallbladder are that it:
Stores and excretes bile
Governs decision making
Works in conjunction with the liver
According to TCM, the liver and the gallbladder both play an essential role in the smooth flow of Qi (energy) throughout the body. In order to have a healthy life, which is a function of the liver, one needs good decision-making skills, which is a function of the gallbladder.
Many scientific articles about the normalizing action of acupuncture after the post-cholecystectomy syndrome have been published in recent years. Acupuncture can help alleviate abdominal pain and various symptoms such as nausea, heartburn, belching, diarrhea, low mood and energy, insomnia, fibromyalgia, etc.
Other alternative medicine approaches for post-cholecystectomy syndrome may include herbs, nutritional supplements, probiotics, colon hydrotherapy, medical hypnosis and more.
So, you have had gallbladder surgery – your gallbladder is gone. Now is the time to educate yourself in improving your health and eating healthier. Following the suggestions above can help you to alleviate the side effects of gallbladder removal.
The information on this article is presented for educational, informational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for the diagnosis, treatment, and advice of a qualified licensed professional.