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The Danger of Gallstones
Gallstones are relatively common. It is estimated that 20 million Americans have them and as many as one in ten have stones without even realizing it. When there is an excess of bile salts, cholesterol and phospholipids in the bile, these substances crystallize, forming small stones. As more stones form and the crystals become larger serious problems can arise. Gallstones can block the passage of bile, leading to digestive problems such as bloating, gas and abdominal pain. The gallbladder can also become inflamed, which causes severe pain and can be very dangerous, even life-threatening.
It is possible to get rid of gallstones naturally with time and effort. As gallbladder disease can be very serious, be sure to talk to your doctor about your treatment options and if possible, use natural methods under the guidance of a licensed naturopath.
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Understanding how to get rid of gallstones starts with addressing what may have led to their formation — what you eat. A diet that is high in fatty, fried and processed foods as well as too much dairy and sugar is likely to be contributing to your digestive problems. To eat a healthy diet to prevent and encourage the natural elimination of gallstones it is necessary to focus on:
- Not consuming potential culprits
- Taking in cleansing foods and liquids
Think of your diet as a way to support your liver and gallbladder. Foods to avoid include:
- Red meat
- Dairy products (minimize rather then eliminate; you can eat yogurt, kefir and cottage cheese)
- Sugary, fried, processed and refined foods
Foods to definitely make a part of your regular diet include:
Eat a diet that consists of plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, vegetable protein and grains, eating small meals throughout the day. Also drink six to eight glasses of water a day and fresh juices, especially apple, pear, cucumber and beet juice. Apple juice in particular helps to soften gallstones. To help get rid of them try drinking three tablespoons of olive oil with the juice of one fresh lemon or grapefruit before bed. As a diet for gallstones can be intense, be sure to talk to your doctor about your individual dietary needs if you have any other health conditions.
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Herbs can also be very useful for encouraging natural gallstone removal and for supporting the liver.
- Chamomile tea can help to dissolve stones — drinking three cups a day for up to four weeks can help, although avoid chamomile if you have an allergy to ragweed.
- Barberry tones the liver and stimulates the flow of bile and is helpful for both gallstones and inflammation of the gallbladder. It is not safe for pregnant women.
- Dandelion relieves inflammation and congestion of the gallbladder.
- Marshmallow root is high in mucilage, making it soothing for digestive problems. It is ideal in an herbal blend to help the gallbladder.
- Boldo can be used to treat gallstones and inflammation, it stimulates bile, supports the liver and also has diuretic properties.
- Balmony is an excellent herb for supporting the liver and gallbladder and toning the digestive system.
An excellent blend to eliminate stones includes equal parts of marshmallow root, balmony, barberry and boldo. Blend these herbs and then take two teaspoons in total and steep in one cup of boiling water for ten minutes. Drink three cups daily.
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Safe, Natural Care
Knowing how to get rid of gallstones naturally, you can improve your digestive problems and support your liver and gallbladder. Even after eliminating the stones try to eat a healthy diet, cut back on fatty and processed foods, and enjoy a cup of dandelion tea from time to time to support the liver. If you are experiencing severe pain in the abdominal region be sure to seek medical care right away (also, a glass of fresh apple juice with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar can help to temporarily ease the pain). If your gallstones are causing intense symptoms then make sure you talk to your doctor. Natural remedies can help, but gallbladder disease can become very dangerous and it is important to seek professional care to monitor your health.
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Balch, Phyllis A. "Prescription for Nutritional Healing." Fourth Edition (Penguin Books, 2006).
Page, Linda. "Healthy Healing: A Guide to Self-Healing for Everyone, 11th Edition" (Traditional Wisdom, 2003).
Hoffmann, David. "The Complete Illustrated Holistic Herbal: A Safe and Practical Guide to Making and Using Herbal Remedies." (Element Books, 1996).
photo by Shawn/flickr
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