Pear juice, recommended by some commercial websites as a remedy for gallstones, contains pectin. According to some website claims, pectin binds to cholesterol-filled gallstones and helps move them out of your body. Little published evidence examines the potential role of pectin to get rid of gallstones, and available studies do not suggest that pears or other sources of pectin aid gallstone elimination. Pear juice may be an ingredient in a gallbladder cleanse.
Gallstones and Pectin
A study at the University of Kiel in Germany and published in “The British Journal of Nutrition” in March 1998 found that consuming pectin such as that found in pear juice does not prevent gallstones from forming and has very minimal effect on metabolizing cholesterol. The study consisted of feeding hamsters foods high in cholesterol and then feeding them high amounts of pectin to see if the pectin would prevent gallstones from forming. The pectin was not effective at preventing or getting rid of gallstones in the hamsters.
Pear juice may be used in a gallbladder cleanse – also known as a liver or gallbladder flush – along with oil and herbs. The idea behind gallbladder cleanses is that these ingredients work to dissolve stones in your gallbladder and expel them through your stool. This home remedy probably won't work, according to Dr. Michael Picco, a gastroenterologist at the Mayo Clinic. You may think a pear-juice-and-oil cleanse has worked when you see round globs in your stool. But you're seeing balls of oil, not gallstones, according to Picco.
Although drinking pear juice remains an unproven method of dissolving gallstones, some traditional gallstone treatments are not very effective either. The medication ursodeoxycholic acid, an oral medication for dissolving gallstones smaller than 15 millimeters in diameter, works in only 40 percent of cases, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Stronger drugs injected directly into your gallbladder can take a full two years to work, if they work at all.
Some gallstones don't require any kind of treatment, but gallstones that block a bile duct in your gallbladder may require emergency surgery. Obstruction in a bile duct that connects your gallbladder to your liver can turn fatal. Signs of an obstruction include severe abdominal pain, a fever and jaundice. If you need to have your gallbladder removed, talk to your doctor about a minimally invasive type of surgery that uses a laparoscope.
- “The British Journal of Nutrition”; Effect of Different Varieties of Pectin and Guar Gum on Plasma, Hepatic and Biliary Lipids and Cholesterol Gallstone Formation in Hamsters Fed on High-Cholesterol Diets; EA Trautwein et al; May 1998
- MayoClinic: Gallbladder Cleanse: A 'Natural' Remedy for Gallstones?; Michael F. Picco; February 2010
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Gallbladder Disease; February 2010