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Painful Gallbladder with Normal Test Results

By Peter Melamed, Ph.D., Felix Melamed, LAc, MSTCM, CHt

Many people, including children, may experience episodes of upper quadrant (RUQ) pain. This type of abdominal pain sometimes radiates to the upper back or right shoulder blade. It usually occurs after eating fatty, sweet, or fried foods and heavy, spicy foods. They are accompanied by nausea, vomiting, bloating, and loose stools.

Your test results usually return normal even if you have all these symptoms. Leading doctors think that your condition is called biliary dyskinesia. “Biliary” means bile, “dis” means abnormal, and “kinesia” implies motion or movement. Irregular movement of bile can occur in the gallbladder, in the bile ducts inside and outside the liver, and in the valve between the bile duct, pancreatic duct, and duodenum, the first part of the small intestine. This strategic valve is called the sphincter of Oddi. In the medical literature, doctors include biliary dyskinesia and type 3 sphincter of Oddi dysfunction as similar conditions.

Tests revealed no structural abnormalities. There are no severe inflammations or stones in the gall bladder. In this case, biliary dyskinesia is often mistaken for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), functional dyspepsia, stomach flu, acid reflux, psychosomatic diseases, etc. When patients are prescribed the drug, it modifies or hides the symptoms. Another test may show low ejection fraction (EF), which means low gallbladder function; EF <35% is considered abnormal. When these tests show that patients have a low ejection fraction, they are referred to surgeons to remove the gallbladder.

So, the question remains… to remove or not to remove the gallbladder for biliary dyskinesia.

It is thought to be caused by excessive pressure or irritation in the bile ducts.

These are typical symptoms of biliary dyskinesia. Unfortunately, there are many other reasons.

On the one hand, the gallbladder, liver, bile ducts, sphincter of Oddi, stomach, and duodenum work together as a team. The nervous system and digestive hormones (blood transporters) work together. This may often fail to regulate the digestive organs properly,

Conversely, bile is a very complex solution consisting of water, minerals, bicarbonate, cholesterol, bile pigments, lecithin, and bile salts. It also contains small amounts but highly destructive bile acids and fat-soluble toxic substances. Changes in the biochemistry of bile make it a very damaging and irritating liquid. In turn, this can cause spasms and irritation of the gallbladder wall with pain.

Some parasites in the gallbladder and bile ducts are difficult to detect. For example, Giardia can cause some cases of biliary dyskinesia, especially in children. It appears that hepatitis, fatty liver, Candida-yeast overgrowth, parasites, congestion, inflammation, infections, whole-body acidity levels, and poor eating  can cause bile to become thick, acidic, and aggressive. Such things make it difficult for bile to move through the ducts. Toxic substances in the bile, parasites, irritation, and food allergies can inhibit the appropriate movement of the gallbladder, bile ducts, and sphincter of Oddi.Whole-body acidity can change the pH of bile. It causes precipitation of extremely aggressive bile acids. Acid bile irritates the gallbladder, bile ducts, sphincter of Oddi, and duodenum, leading to spasmodic contractions with pain. Aggressive acidic bile reflux irritates the small intestine and even the stomach, causing nausea and vomiting. We explained this in more detail in our books and articles.

Taking into account scientific research, clinical data, and common sense, the treatment of biliary dyskinesia should begin with a non-invasive approach. Some complementary medicine methods may be especially helpful in this situation. Let’s focus on some of them.

First, we need to make the bile more fluid and less congestive. To do this, you can drink a lot of water, fresh vegetable blends or juices, eat vegetable soups, drink Karlovy Vary healing mineral water, herbal teas, etc. Be sure to avoid dehydration.

Secondly, we need to relieve congestion in the gallbladder by opening up its passages, such as the bile ducts and the sphincter of Oddi. Many people do not know that acupuncture and electroacupuncture reduce spasms and pain in biliary dyskinesia.

Third, many Americans have a congested gallbladder because they are afraid to eat fatty foods. Because of the misguided “No Fat, No Cholesterol” propaganda, people abstain from eggs, avocados, sour cream, butter, fatty fish, and extra virgin olive oil. These products are natural stimulants of bile secretion. On the contrary, animal fats, trans fats, a combination of fats and sugars, alcohol, and unhealthy eating habits such as  irregular eating, eating on the go, and overeating lead to gallbladder congestion and should be avoided in biliary dyskinesia.

Moreover, Mother Nature located most digestive organs in the abdominal cavity. And each of our organs needs its own space to work. The gallbladder occupies the most difficult position since it is sandwiched between the liver, stomach, duodenum, and colon. There is not enough space in this area. Let’s say a person suffers from belly fat, gas, or constipation. In this case, the pressure inside the abdomen increases, just like when we wear tight clothes or belts. This, in turn, causes additional restrictions on the gallbladder movement. Specific abdominal massage, acupressure, or chiropractic adjustments can reduce adhesions, release the gallbladder, and reduce spasms of the sphincter of Oddi.

Fourth, it is important to support the liver in producing more bile. Some herbs, such as barberry, rose hips, fennel, corn silk, and mint, have a choleretic effect, leading to the production of bile. Clinical studies by European doctors have proven that drinking Karlovy Vary medicinal mineral water helps the liver produce more bile.

Fifthly, it is practically unknown even to medical professionals. Acidity and toxicity of bile are the main factors of biliary dyskinesia. A natural alkaline diet, various cleansing techniques, herbs, restoring friendly intestinal flora, fighting parasites, and Candida overgrowth can reduce the symptoms of biliary dyskinesia. As we mentioned earlier and explained in detail in our books and articles, acidity makes bile aggressive and irritable.

European doctors recommend drinking Karlovy Vary healing mineral water from thermal springs or at home if you have biliary dyskinesia. This water is not the ordinary mineral water that people drink when thirsty. Karlovy Vary medicinal mineral water has been used in Europe as a remedy for 500 years. You can drink healing mineral water at home by dissolving genuine Karlovy Vary thermal spring salt in plain water. Minerals, bicarbonates, and trace elements neutralize acidic bile compounds, and water helps remove them from the body. According to European medical literature, thousands of people with biliary dyskinesia improve gallbladder motility by drinking this healing mineral water. Some mineral supplements, such as cellular magnesium-potassium, also neutralize acidity and reduce abdominal cramps and pain.

In women, both pubertal and perimenopausal, biliary dyskinesia occurs more often. This may be due to hormonal imbalances in women. Other factors that worsen the symptoms of biliary dyskinesia are anxiety and stress. Acupuncture, herbs, self-hypnosis by listening to CDs at home, nutritional supplements, and healing exercises may be helpful.

Mother Nature doesn’t make mistakes. The gallbladder is a vital member of the digestive team. Gallbladder removal may be unnecessary if there are no stones or severe inflammation in the gallbladder, especially in children and young adults or otherwise healthy individuals. It makes sense to improve its sluggish function and reduce congestion and acidity in the bile ducts. By analogy, if there is a traffic jam in a tunnel, the police will not blow it up. They will try to resolve the traffic jam by organizing smooth movement inside this tunnel.

Medical statistics show that gall bladder surgery does not guarantee the disappearance of pain. For some people, life without a gallbladder will be terrible. An Internet search for “postcholecystectomy syndrome” can perfectly illustrate our concerns.

The information in this article is presented for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for the diagnosis, treatment, and advice of a qualified licensed professional.






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