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?!
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
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
Trans fats, Hydrogenated, partially-hydrogenated oils, vegetable oils
Saturated fats (it’s best to even avoid my favorite fat for just about everything, coconut oil until feeling better)
Alcohol, beer, wine, liqueur
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?
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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.