Your gallbladder is a small abdominal organ that assists with digestion. It releases a compound called bile into the small intestine to aid with fat breakdown and absorption. Bile particles can build up to form gallbladder stones, and if gallstones grow large enough, they can cause pain, nausea and harmful digestive problems. Ayurveda, traditional Indian medicine, treats gallstones by targeting metabolism and liver function.
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Gallstones can develop from too much cholesterol or bilirubin in the gallbladder, or from the gallbladder not emptying completely. However, scientists are unsure of the exact trigger that causes gallstone formation. If you are a woman, have a family history of gallstones, are overweight or obese, eat a high-fat diet or have diabetes, you are at greater risk to develop gallstones.
Ayurveda View of Gallstones
Ayurveda contributes gallstones to an imbalance in metabolism, the digestive system and other biochemical processes. Ayurveda practitioners believe Pitta is the elemental force that controls the digestive system. The thyroid, the primary organ responsible for metabolism, may also play a role in the formation of gallstones due to the link to slow metabolism.
Many people have gallstones but may never experience symptoms. However, if you have symptomatic gallstones that affect your quality of life, you can choose from invasive or noninvasive treatment. Nonsurgical treatment involves medications, either oral or injections, that dissolve gallstones. The National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse notes that these medications act slowly and that gallstones commonly recur. Cholecystectomy refers to the surgical removal of the gallbladder, the only treatment that guarantees no further occurrence of gallstones. You do not need your gallbladder to live because the liver will eventually take over the gallbladder’s functions.
Ayurvedic gallstone treatment includes detoxification, herbal medications and diet modifications. A common therapy is a liver flush, which can include olive oil, lemon juice and spices. Citrus fruits, vitamin C, tumeric and ginger may assist with reducing cholesterol in the gallbladder to prevent its buildup. You can also place a castor oil pack over the gallbladder area to purportedly alleviate pain and inflammation, improve circulation and promote healing of damaged tissues.
Alternative therapies, such as Ayurveda, typically involve herbs and other compounds that can have harmful reactions with your current medications or supplements. A licensed physician or Ayurvedic practitioner should monitor your treatment plan.
- “Human Physiology: An Integrated Approach”; Dee Unglaub Silverthorn, Ph.D.; 2006
- HomemadeMedicines.org: Gallstones
- National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse; Gallstones; July 2007
- Ayurmantra; Ayurvedic Treatment for Gall Bladder Stones; Ram Mani Bhandari; September 2011