Indigestion? Bloating? Constipation? Gas?
If you have any of these symptoms on a frequent basis, you may have done a Google search for how to do a liver detox. Or maybe you’ve read many articles about gut health. And as a result, you’ve just started taking probiotics to support gut health.
But severely lost in the conversation about inflammation management, digestion, immune balance and overall health is the one organ that flies under the radar. It’s also located right under the organ that gets all the hype: the liver.
Sure, you can’t do without your liver, with its 500-plus metabolic processes. But if you only have 25% of your liver, it can actually regenerate—the only organ that can do so.
But the organ that’s beneath your liver could be what’s ailing you. This organ is vital for digestion, nutrient absorption, hormone balance and so many other facets of health. And the shocking thing is over 700,000 times a year in America, this organ is removed—and not always necessarily.
While this organ can indeed cause intense pain, mainstream medicine does very little if anything to explore the root causes of this organ dysfunction—and correcting the problem. Instead, surgeons fail to take into account the interconnectedness of the organs and take the easy way out by discarding the organ as if it were a clogged oil filter.
Removing This Organ Unnecessarily Is Galling!
In case you haven’t figured it out by now, the organ in question is the gallbladder (GB).
Your GB secretes the yellow-green fluid, bile. Bile breaks down fats. If you’ve recently switched to a ketogenic diet, or are thinking about it, you better have a strong GB. But because of the aging process and because of all the same reasons that cause virtually every other inflammatory condition, many people have poor-functioning GBs.
Eating processed foods or consuming foods or beverages with ingredients that trigger allergic reactions; taking frequent doses of antibiotics; chronic stress; excess alcohol consumption; taking acid reflux/heartburn drugs ... these may all contribute to your GB acting like a backed-up garbage disposal.
The Importance of A Healthy Gallbladder
Because the GB breaks down fats, it also processes essential fatty acids. So even though you might be eating wild salmon a few times a week to get those heart-healthy essential Omega-3s, if your GB can’t keep up with demand (secreting enough bile at the proper rate), those Omega-3s won’t be able to exert their health benefits.
According to this research, Omega-3s are constituents of every single one of your 37 trillion cell membranes. They are also precursors to many hormones, and signaling molecules called eicosanoids, “Which are important in the prevention and treatment of various diseases, especially in women,” says the research study co-authors.
For perimenopausal women or menopausal women still struggling with hot flashes, night sweats and mood swings, hormone balance is crucial. And for proper hormone balance, you need your GB to work properly.
In addition to hormone balance, your GB plays a big role in detoxification. In the phase II detoxification pathway, the liver breaks down potentially-harmful substances into less harmful substances. But if the liver has trouble keeping up with demand, it starts shoving toxins into other places in order to do clean house. And being the liver’s closest neighbor, the GB has the honor (dishonor?) of storing the sludge removed from the liver.
The Root Causes of Gallstones
Could this be why painful gallstones form? The conventional wisdom in western medicine is that stones are “Thought to develop because of an imbalance in the chemical make-up of bile inside the gallbladder. In most cases the levels of cholesterol in bile become too high and the excess cholesterol forms into stones.”
There goes cholesterol again, being the fall guy, blamed for every metabolic dysfunction in the body. Heart disease? Blame it on cholesterol. Gallstones? Blame it on cholesterol.
From a functional, holistic health perspective, cholesterol forms as a response to inflammation. Many alternative health experts believe cholesterol is a repair substance, and that blaming clogged arteries on cholesterol—especially from food—is akin to blaming firefighters for responding to a fire. Obviously, the topic of cholesterol is controversial. However, it provides food for thought as to the root causes of gallstones.
Is Gallstone Surgery Necessary?
Most people who have experienced the unbearable pain of gallstones would probably elect not to wait the several weeks it may take and the thousands of dollars it would cost to work with a functional medicine expert in order to reduce inflammation. And even that’s no guarantee that the gallstones would go away.
But if your doctor says that you definitely should have your GB removed, ask for a second opinion. Because as you can see, your gallbladder matters--a lot.