If you or someone you know has ever lived with gallstones, then you are already aware of just how painful and uncomfortable they can be. While this condition is incredibly common, it is also something that can get easily get in the way of regular activities. Here, we will discuss treatment for gallstones and how to get back to living your healthiest life.
What are Gallstones?
Gallstones are hardened deposits of digestive fluids that form along with the gallbladder.
Gallstones can vary in size and shape. Some people may only have one gallstone in their lifetime, while other people will have several.
Gallstones can be painful and induce vomiting or nausea. However, sometimes gallstones have absolutely no symptoms at all. Without symptoms, then treatment is not usually necessary.
There are a few medical treatment options available for gallstones.
If you have recurring gallstones, then your doctor may suggest the removal of your gallbladder. Once the gallbladder is removed, the bile is no longer stored there and instead flows directly into the small intestine.
Medications may be used if you only have a few or tiny gallstones. Oral medications may work to dissolve it over time, but it may take months or years for the medication to work fully. Keep in mind; the gallstones may return if you stop the medication.
Other traditional treatments:
- Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP). This option is frequently used if gallstones are stuck in the common bile duct.
- Shock wave lithotripsy. This rare treatment option may be used to blast larger gallstones into smaller pieces. However, the patient will still need to pass the stones.
Natural Remedies to Treat and Prevent Gallstones
Outside of medical options, there are many natural remedies and herbal medicines, as well. Some of those options include:
Apple Cider Vinegar with Apple Juice
Apple juice is said to breakdown gallstones to the point that the body can easily pass them. One type of cleansing commonly used is apple cider vinegar with apple juice. While there is not much medically-backed research on the benefits of this cleanse, there are some general health advantages associated with apple cider vinegar.
Dandelion has been used to treat issues with the gallbladder for many years. People who support this approach suggest that the dandelion bile production in the gallbladder. Typically, people consume dandelion via teas or coffee. However, this option has not been clinically proven.
Milk thistle is sometimes used to detoxify the liver. While studies do not support its benefits to the gallbladder, some people use it to treat gallstones anyway. People consume milk thistle as a tonic or as a capsule.
However, there are a variety of medical conditions, such as diabetes, which should be discussed with a doctor before the use of milk thistle.
There is some instance in which people say that acupuncture has helped with gallstones. While there is limited research on this, many people try it just because it is a non-invasive approach to potentially treating the problem.
Some people indicate that stretching during yoga can help breakdown gallstones more easily. Yoga may also help relieve some of the pain associated with the condition. If nothing else, it gets the blood flowing and can help with weight loss. This may be a great option for someone who is looking to transition out of a sedentary lifestyle.
Of course, with any natural remedy, you should consult your doctor before use.
Unfortunately, there are several risk factors when it comes to the development of gallstones. For instance:
- Being a woman
- Being over the age of 40
- Having a family history of gallstones
- Being sedentary
- Being pregnant
- Having liver disease
- Having diabetes
- Taking drugs that contain estrogen
- Eating a high-fat diet
- Eating a high-cholesterol diet
If you fall into one of these categories, it’s best to be especially diligent about avoiding gallstone-causing behavior such as having a poor diet or not exercising enough.
How to Prevent Gallstones
The best thing to do to prevent gallstones is to eat a healthy diet and remain active. You should maintain a healthy weight and lose weight slowly should you need to.
You should also avoid skipping any meals. In fact, fasting can lead to the creation of gallstones.
Focus on eating fiber-infuse foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables. Doing so could help prevent the formation of gallstones and the need for treatment.
Gallstones are uncomfortable and can influence how you live your life. If you have been living with gallstones, it’s time to seek your doctor's advice on the best treatment option for you.