Treating A Gallbladder Attack Naturally

Treating A Gallbladder Attack Naturally

I spent the morning with a friend who had some awful symptoms of pain in the upper right side of her abdomen, under the ribcage area and radiating into the back. She has yet to find out if it is her gallbladder, but hearing her describe it all made me remember when my gallbladder was acting up, and my doctor wanted to take it out.

I was SO DONE with surgeries, breast cancer has made sure I’ve had my share of them, so I scoured the web for some natural alternatives to treating a gallbladder attack. Would you believe it worked?!


Natural Juice - Treating A Gall Bladder Attack

How I Treated My Gallbladder Naturally

This pic was taken right after I was told I had to have surgery. I investigated natural remedies and went straight to the health food store and went a little overboard. I have had a couple of attacks after the initial one, and have since narrowed down how I treat myself to just a few products and dietary restrictions.

What I ended up using and having great success with from the above pic is the apple cider vinegar, beet juice & beetroot supplements.

I stayed away from all fats, good and bad, for 3 days, just to give my gallbladder a rest. Your gallbladder releases bile to help digest fat, and it is this action that would give me pain, so by not eating fat it gave me a chance to heal.

During those 3 days, I ate quite healthy. It is not hard to do when you are staying away from fats (dairy, fried foods, meat) I made sure I got lots of nutrients through green juice & smoothies, kale chips & drank beet juice every day.  It Tastes Raw makes a beet juice called “Better Beets” that is tolerable.  I am NOT a fan of beets but I found myself actually starting to enjoy this juice after having a few.  It has pineapple juice, lemon juice & apple juice to help cut the beet taste.

If you juice your own beets, they taste great with carrot, apple, lemon & ginger.  Mmmm.  That is what is in the top picture.  I use one beet, 2-3 carrots, one lemon & 1/2 inch knob of ginger.


Dealing With Gallbladder Flare-ups

Since my initial gallbladder attack, I have had a couple of gallbladder flare-ups over the last few months. Every time it happened it was when I had eaten fried food or fatty food.  My diet is quite healthy, and both flare-ups happened when we were out of town and I was eating foods I normally would not eat in large amounts at home.  Most of the time it is restaurant food.

When I’m having a flare-up, the first thing I do is go straight to my refrigerator and take a big swig of Apple Cider Vinegar.  About 2 Tbls worth.  I can feel it go down and the pain relief I get from it is almost instant.  It just soothes the flare-up and makes it tolerable, often taking the pain away completely.  If it doesn’t work the first time I will do a second round after giving it some time.

If the pain is bad enough to keep me awake (my flare-ups have all been at night) I will give in and take an ibuprofen for pain, which has allowed me to sleep every time.  I hate taking meds, so I try to avoid this at all costs and only take one if needed.  I’ve noticed my flare-ups last a few hours, so I can usually sleep it off.  I also notice my flare-ups happen about 3-4 hours after I eat a fatty meal.

It’s amazing how you can start to recognize the symptoms, and I have been so happy to avoid surgery and know how to deal with them.  I also like that my gallbladder keeps my eating habits in check.  I know I need to stay away from certain foods in order to keep healthy.  It sure makes eating fried foods much less appetizing!


More Advice For Treating Gallbladder Naturally

From Care2:

With your medical diagnosis in hand and blessing from your doctor, the first and perhaps most important rule to follow from now on is to eat a variety of fresh organic, raw and lightly steamed green vegetables, good fats (like avocados) and exclude sugars, and all processed and refined foods. It was most likely food choices that caused the gallbladder dis-ease in the first place. Here are the food culprits to avoid!

Foods to avoid for general gallbladder disease:

Eggs (Research showed that eggs have caused symptoms in up to 95 percent of patients. We don’t know however if the eggs used in this research were factory-farmed or the better choice of free-range and organic but this is always the problem with clinical trials and tests. For right now try substituting flax seed gel in recipes that require eggs for the “glue” that holds things together. For example 1 TBSP ground flax seed to 3 TBSP hot water will congeal into a nice gel. Let cool and add to your recipe.

Fowl (turkey, chicken and again we assume the culprits are factory farmed but again let’s err on the side of caution and avoid these foods for now.

Dairy (pasteurized) milk, cheese, and cream. (I personally have found raw dairy to not be a problem but again we are all different and have different philosophies, so proceed with caution)

Gluten and grains in general such as wheat, barley, rye, spelt, kamut, etc.



Coffee, regular or decaf

Oranges, grapefruit


Trans fats, Hydrogenated, partially-hydrogenated oils, vegetable oils


Fried Foods

Saturated fats (it’s best to even avoid my favorite fat for just about everything, coconut oil until feeling better)

Red meats

Spicy foods


Ice cream

Black tea

Alcohol, beer, wine, liqueur

Fruit juice

Carbonated water

Tap water


Cabbage, cauliflower

Colas and all sodas

Oats (for some people)

Avoid all artificial sweeteners, sugar, preservatives, refined and bleached foods (like white flour)

Don’t smoke as it can exacerbate the symptoms

Avoid all possible food allergens


What foods are thought to be good for gallbladder disease?

Organic and locally grown foods from the list below are wonderful raw or lightly steamed, especially the green vegetables. Don’t forget, we must include good fats (like avocados) too.



Green beans – not the same as dried beans


Sweet potatoes (not yams – these are the ones that are gold inside not reddish orange; they have a lighter peel)

Avocados – a good way to get needed fats directly from food

Vinegar – all types

Garlic and onions help with liver cleansing but not processed types like flakes or powder. But some people have trouble digesting them so pay attention to what your own body tells you!


Tomatoes – ripe

Cold water fish – salmon, trout

Lemons (lemon juice in the morning with hot water helps to clean the liver)

Grapes and fresh organic grape juice

Apples, berries, papaya, pears

Oils like flax or hemp should be used for salad dressing with fresh lemon juice or vinegar.

Do not ever cook flax oil. Always keep it refrigerated. You may cook in vegetable broth.

Vegetable juices – beet and cucumber are especially helpful to the gallbladder. You can add other green vegetables like swiss chard, dandelion greens, beet greens, celery, carrots, (avoid the cabbage family)

Avoid all fruit juices except organic grape juice and organic apple (self-juiced is best but most health food stores have some good options, just read the labels carefully).

All the vegetables listed above for juicing are good.

Use baby mixed organic greens for salads just avoid the bitter greens for now. Add the baby greens slowly to grated raw beet recipe provided in Part 1.

Soluble and insoluble fiber found in fruits, vegetables, and guar gum are also beneficial.

It is very important to never overeat anything, less is best and do not eat late and do not eat when stressed.

I hope this helps anyone out there struggling with gallbladder issues.  Know that the special diet does not have to be forever and you can gradually add certain foods back into your diet until you figure out what your triggers are.


One more thing to note.  I started having gallbladder issues after eating extremely healthy, then not eating as healthy.  If my friend that I talked about above is diagnosed with gallbladder disease, this would be the case with her, too.

I wondered if there is a connection and found this article, which talks about how it seems like raw fruits and vegetables cause gallbladder attacks when really it was rapid weight loss that causes the attacks.

Very interesting, as my initial attack happened right after a 3-day juice fast and when I added normal foods back into my diet, and my friend has been looking great lately with weight loss.  Hmm…

What about you?  Have you ever had gallbladder issues?  What helped get you through?


You may also be interested in…

9 Reasons To Juice Your Greens

How Technology is Helping Me Reach My Wellness Goals in 2018

7 Ways to Be Proactive When It Comes To Health For You and Your Family



Treating A Gallbladder Attack Naturally

Disclaimer: Please do not do anything without your doctors permission.  My doctor wanted to do surgery due to my symptoms, but nothing showed up on my ultrasound or scans so she was comfortable with treating it with dietary changes. She is confident my pain level will let me know if it ever becomes surgery time, and with diet changes I do not think that time will come. If you have active stones, listen to your doctor.  They can be dangerous.

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  • Morgan
    October 19, 2015 at 8:27 pm

    I had to go the ER twice for them to finally look at my gallbladder and find stones…worst pain ever! I found it interesting after reading your “one more thing to note” paragraph is that I too had recently stopped eating a vegan diet and had been back to eating “not so healthy” when the symptoms first woke me up at night. Definitely a correlation. Thank you for posting this…..I found it very helpful and I’m sure others will too.

  • Chris
    August 4, 2015 at 9:49 am

    These symptoms could also be caused by NON ALCOHOLIC FATTY LIVER. I have had a few attacks late at night which were very painful and the pain only subsided after drinking couple of cups of spearmint tea (if you don’t have spearmint, try peppermint or any other herbal tea, for instance camomile), and when I haven’t had that available, it has subsided after eating raw carrots and raw cucumbers.

    I think the reason the pain subsides is because all these ingredients are ALKALINE. I’m not sure if what I have are gallstones or if it’s actually Non Alcoholic Fatty Liver, but the symptoms are very similar, and the intense pain is just there below the ribcage. I love eating packets of chips (or crisps as they say in the UK) and find that if I’ve eaten other fatty/acid forming foods during the day, and on top of that I eat chips, at night I will get a massive attack. One time I didn’t have anything at hand as I was in a hotel room, and all I had was a lemon, so I squeezed it into a glass of water and drank it, and after an hour or so I went to the toilet and threw up. After throwing up, I felt so much better and managed to sleep.

    When I read into NAFD, it said you should totally AVOID (or at least consume very moderately) all acidic oils (all vegetable oils, therefore sunflower, palm, sesame, etc) and only eat foods that are fried with olive oil or coconut oil, or just boiled food. Most packets of chips (crisps) and most processed food are made with sunflower oil or palm oil, so that’s a problem for me, so I’ve had to leave them out of my diet, and only eat small portions ocassionally, as the chips cooked only with olive oil sold here in the uk are very expensive.

    I believe the accumulation of bad foods / acids is what causes the attacks at night. So if I’ve been naughty during the day or at an event, (have had too many coffees, fried foods, crisps, etc) I make sure that at night I’m good and have a very healthy dinner (a salad or a fruit with a yoghurt) or I just simply skip dinner and just ‘snack’ in the evening, I cut a couple of cucumbers into sticks (with skins on) and sprinkle a bit of sea salt on them, and I will also eat a raw carrot or two, drink lots of water and a large cup of Spearmint tea and also Camomille tea (sometimes I put a bag of each into my cup) and they replace my evening snack whilst at the same time alkalinising and calming my gut. It’s like a preventive measure, because I don’t want to go through that much pain at night again which makes me useless the following day as I have got no sleep.

    • Chris
      October 28, 2015 at 8:52 am

      BTW I had an ultrasound scan a few weeks ago and they found a 16mm stone in my gallbladder. In a few days they will shove a camera down my throat to see if they find anything else.

      I still believe that my liver cannot digest fat and acids properly and I have NAFLD and that is why it has lead to me having a stone my my gallbladder. If you have a healthy liver, you have a healthy gallbladder.

      I want to avoid any more attacks and I don’t fancy having my gallbladder removed because I have heard that can also trigger more digestive problems. Anyway, since looking REALLY carefully at all ingredients and thus avoiding anything which has Rapseed Oil, Sunflower Oil, Palm Oil, Canola Oil and any other oil that is not Virgin Olive Oil, well I have not had a single attack. Zilch. That has meant that I have hardly eaten out at restaurants because I do not know what oils they cook with or marinate their food with. Even grabbing a sandwich for a quick lunch is a problem because most have these oils (in the bread or the stuffing), or in mayonnaise.

      So I’ve found that most sandwich bread has one of these terrible oils (for NAFLD and/or Gallbladder sufferers), and the accumulation of eating this and that throughout the day could bring on an attack. Thankfully I have managed to find a couple of breads that haven’t got these oils, and I’m able to enjoy toast for breakfast or afternoon snack, which I love (with a bit of honey, and no butter).

      I’m also drinking more freshly squeezed juices. I tell them which ingredients to juice and always go for a Carrot, Cucumber and Beetroot mix. It tastes nice and is 100% alkaline, so it’s good for your liver and gallbladder. Sometimes I also buy in the supermarket a 100% freshly squeezed pink grapefruit juice, or just a carrot juice.

      I have one or sometimes two coffees in the morning, and drink chai tea thereafter (latest one I would drink at 6 pm) and drink camomile tea in the evening.

      I also take several supplements. I only eat steak and salmon once a week, but when I do after 30 minutes I take my ‘digestive enzyme’ tablet, and/or milk thistle tablet, aloe vera tablet, artichoke tablet.

      I used to eat crisps every day (chips for Americans), and specially loved Salt & Vinegar crisps, but haven’t eaten any in ages. Or Cheese Puffs which I also loved. All of them have those terrible oils and I know if I ate any of those savoury shop bought snacks I am in for a major attack in the evening, so I just avoid buying them. Instead I make myself toast.

      I’m just so glad I haven’t had an attack since I’ve been extra careful of what I put into my mouth. It is very restrictive, but I prefer that than being for hours on end in extreme pain.

      • Chris
        October 28, 2015 at 9:13 am

        By the way, my flareups would start at around midnight and last me until 6 or 7 in the morning. In all that time I would be in excruciating pain, one minute sweating hot, the other freezing cold, and with acute pain underneath my right rib. There was no way I could sleep. After drinking freshly squeezed lemon juice, a speamint tea, and eating carrots and cucumbers, eventually it would subside, but that would be after many hours of living hell.

        One time I took myself in a taxi to Emergency at 2am in the morning because I couldn’t take it anymore, and sat 2 hours in excruciating pain in a near empty emergency room, without them giving me a painkiller or anything, even though they had asked me if I wanted one and I had told them ‘yes please’. I should have just rang an ambulance and they would have had to attend to me by force. The doctor who was a smart arse then saw me and said he didn’t think I had a problem with my liver or with my gallbladder. He thought, no, he almost knew, I just had heartburn! As I mentioned above, a couple of weeks later I had an ultrasound scan and they found a large-ish stone in my gallbladder, and smaller bile debris too.

  • Christin
    April 8, 2015 at 3:28 pm

    Ive been having issue with what I believe to be my gallbladder. My mother, aunt and grandmother both had to have theirs removed, so sharing my issues with them has led me to believe that’s whats going on. Anyway, I eat super healthy! I don’t understand why Im having such an issue. Saturday was the first time I really put me down for several hours with pain and chills. I thought it was a bug, but based on how im continuing to feel, I think it was an attack. I drink lots of water. Eat tons of fresh fruit and veggies. Exercise 5 times a week. I just don’t get it. Is this something that just happens? Am I prone to it because of family history? Im going to try to do what was suggested above, I really don’t want surgery and of course my insurance is giving me a hard time. I just want to feel better! If anyone can give me a little insight Id be appreciative! Thanks

  • Richie
    November 4, 2014 at 8:29 pm


    Just discovered your site, and as a man who just had 2 GB attacks in one week, am now changing my diet. It’s not that I’m unaware of healthy living, but was lazy in that respect. My attack was so painful the E.R. had to give me 3 doses of morphine. Thank you for a cool site.

    • AmyNewNostalgia
      November 5, 2014 at 7:39 pm

      oh man…I remember the pain. Let me know how the diet change goes. I have not had an attack in a very long time! I’m glad you have gotten medical attention. Good luck and thanks for the comment.

      • Richie
        November 17, 2014 at 9:50 pm

        Hi again, things seem to be o.k. now with the G.B. I can attribute it to too much fried food at that time, I’m sure. I almost never eat that stuff. Taking my liver-gall bladder herbal blend I purchase from Dr. Richard Schulze. His formulae are great.

  • Rick
    October 18, 2014 at 6:12 pm

    Hi Amy,
    thanks for the info and for sharing your experience. if I may, I would like to add in a few points. first let me say I am not an MD, I am a clinical nutritionist and doctor of oriental medicine so my approach is from that point of view. I don’t think its likely that rapid weight loss brought on the problem. Many people who “eat healthy” or make a change to “eat healthy” do so by eating vegetable oils. the problem is that many vegetable oils are not healthy as they are highly processed, which can cause problem. You also mentioned that ACV relieved symptoms almost immediately. This sounds more like hypochlorhydria. this too may lead to other digestive problems. Most people who suffer from acidic stomach think its from having too much stomach acid, but in fact its from too little.
    Stones can cause significant problems, so i would recommend having your MD check it out. If they are small, dietary changes can be made to dissolve or pass them. If they are large, you can talk to your MD about trying to dissolve them, but you want to make sure that trying to correct the problem on your own doesn’t create more problems. Of course I am all for a natural approach, but first I would suggest checking to make sure there is no danger of making the problem worse by doing so.
    One last thing, many people have trouble with their GB and bile production and flow. they often will have energy production problems, crave sweets, shaky or irritable between meals, etc…. they may have light color bowel movements or hemorrhoids… these can all be signs of dysfunction long before stones are formed, and usually this is the best time to make adjustments listed (and more).
    hope that helps

    • AmyNewNostalgia
      October 19, 2014 at 9:34 pm

      Thank you for your expertise! Very informative. I had MD check and do HIDA scan a bit before I wrote the post. All looked normal. I have not had these symptoms for months, even after eating fat. Super thankful about that!

      • Rick
        October 19, 2014 at 9:55 pm

        congrats. hopefully it will stay that way.
        if i may make a suggestion…….
        I believe in patient education, a lot, so i encourage people to keep a food diary, be aware of energy levels, cravings, bowel movements, headaches, etc
        this is a great tool to help you learn about your body, but also if you need to work with a health care provider, it will. Too many use symptoms as a gauge, which is usually late stage of any imbalance. Glad you are back to health! 🙂

  • Kasey Farley
    September 30, 2013 at 9:48 pm

    I would hope this was done with a Dr’s approval. Gallstones can be very dangerous. I had them back up in my liver which ended up causing a very long surgery and recovery time. An ultra sound can tell you if you need to not play around with an attack. To self diagnose and do this on your own could be very dangerous. I am a great believer in natural remedies, but think you need to be sure and have an attack checked out.

  • Anonymous
    September 7, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    I had occasional vague pain that I could not connect to anything, and had been self treating as “indigestion” with apparent success. I only found out later that it was gallbladder pain. I had lost a lot of weight (50+ lbs) and at a birthday celebration had eaten heavy fatty food. That night I had an overwhelming, painful attack. The next day, Sunday, I started running a temp, and just felt lousy. On Monday when I saw my doctor, a battery of tests and ultrasound dictated surgery. By the time they removed it on Monday evening, my gallbladder was already gangrenous. I had not even been aware that I had gallbladder issues. I totally support self-care and I also avoid medication and surgical intervention, but I had no idea of the scope of what I was dealing with. Just a caveat to treat all issues with awareness and knowledge, and consult a doctor you trust. If I had waited to seek treatment, I would have been facing peritonitis and a long recovery.

  • Kaz @ Melting Moments
    September 6, 2013 at 8:52 pm

    Thank you 🙂 My mum just had a terrible attack. I have passed this on to her to read.

  • Ci Ci
    September 6, 2013 at 5:04 pm

    I had my first attack earlier this year- a year after I was diagnoised with gallstones (and also refused surgery, since at that time had no symptoms). Your information is very thorough. I find the lemon juice in water helpful (but don’t like it in warm water– ugh!!) Hope other readers will offer info on how they deal with this if they have acid reflux as I do; lemon juice and vinegar consumed sparingly due to this but on occasions I consume I do find they help tremendously. I haven’t had another severe attack or any attack, really, since my severe one in April. Occasionally after fatty meal will feel my gallbladder working itself hard and for next few days I eat very carefully, increasing my water w/lemon. Thank you for posting this info. I learned some new info. I’m sure others will find this post helpful.

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