Gallbladder | Natural Treatment, Diet & Lifestyle
The gallbladder: what is it? It’s not so much the case that people have never heard of the gallbladder before. It’s more likely people don’t know what it is, or even what it does.
The gallbladder is a small sac attached to the underside of the liver.
It fills with bile, a digestive secretion the liver produces. It expands when one is hungry, then deflates and empties to help digest food.
Can problems with the gallbladder happen? Yes. Some symptoms include abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and the development of gallbladder diseases (and even gallstones).
Can natural remedies help?
The answer is very likely yes on that count. There’s plenty of historical and evidence-based use, plus tons of scientific studies, to back these remedies up, too.
GALLBLADDER NATURAL TREATMENTS
Gallbladder issues and problems can happen. When they do arise, it’s best to talk to one’s doctor about them first and foremost.
That doesn’t mean one can’t support symptoms, like pain, naturally at home.
Some conventional natural approaches are:
- Hot compress (for pain)
- Magnesium supplements
- Acupuncture treatments
- Yoga (to a limited extent)
- Natural gallbladder cleanses
- Herbs for gallbladder
Evidence-based use and anecdotal (personal) reports support all the above natural methods. Still, there isn’t a whole lot of research about these out there yet. On the other hand, two general natural treatments are at the forefront of all these.
There’s some scientific proof these could work for gallbladder problems.
These methods are: natural gallbladder cleanses, as well as general use of herbs (and mushrooms) for gallbladder problems.
NATURAL GALLBLADDER CLEANSE
They shouldn’t replace doctor’s recommendations with them, however.
That’s not to say these can’t help some symptoms, provide gallbladder pain relief, or even reduce one’s overall risk of getting gallstones. This goes for both those with diagnosed gallbladder illnesses as well as those experiencing milder problems.
So, how exactly does one undergo a gallbladder cleanse? There are many ways one can go about doing one, but a basic formula can be:
- One part olive oil
- One part fruit juice
- One part chosen herbs for gallbladder
- Two parts water
Proportions don’t need to be spot-on. They can be changed depending on the person’s preferences and adjusted to taste.
This concoction can then be sipped for two or more days. It also helps to eat only a healthy diet supportive of gallbladder health during this time.
All this might sound easy enough. But which herbs are the best choices for this blend, and the most effective to choose for a cleanse?
HERBS FOR GALLBLADDER
Long before modern medicine, doctors and healers used herbs (and sometimes even mushrooms) to treat or reduce risk of gallbladder disease. The real question is: how effective were they? Can they still be used today?
The following are collectively the best herbs for gallbladder health.
These come as the highest recommended mushrooms and botanicals for supporting gallbladder diseases according to historical use and studies combined. That, or they may help with minor gallbladder discomforts, even gallstones.
Modern science and traditional knowledge together agree that these below natural remedies may be the most likely to help. They could even be added to one’s natural gallbladder cleanse, if desired.
ARTICHOKE (CYNARA SPP.)
A first thought may be: wait, isn’t artichoke a food, not an herb? This thought would be correct. But it’s also true that people used artichoke medicinally long before it became the culinary delight we know it to be today.
The famous globe artichoke of Mediterranean cuisine (and its close vegetable relative, cardoon) indeed has some healing properties. Classically, these have been directed at liver health, but have also been deemed very useful for gallbladder problems, too. Overall, artichoke is a great botanical for the digestive system, and an excellent detoxifier.
Herbalism traditions consider artichoke a “cholagogue.”
This means it stimulates sluggish bile production, something that can improve gallbladder function and reduce gallbladder disease (or gallstone) risk. While people used artichoke as such for both liver and gallbladder problems, how does modern medicine value it now?
One major review of artichoke cites many research studies suggesting it improves gallbladder function. This is due to bile-stimulating and expelling properties, plus the ability to remove obstructions (like gallstones) to enhance bile flow.
Either the heart or leaves of artichoke have been used for such purposes. But, typically, supplements will contain pure bitter artichoke extracts, not anything close to the food itself.
Mind you, eating some spinach artichoke dip probably won’t help.
But a highly concentrated, whole, and pure artichoke preparation (whether a tea, supplement, or other) could do the trick. It could also be a tremendous herbal addition to a natural gallbladder cleanse.
Keep in mind, however, that there are no studies yet showing how artichoke directly helps the gallbladder.
BURDOCK (ARCTIUM LAPPA)
It can be a spiny and bothersome plant for people walking in the woods. Look past the burrs, however, and a powerful herbal medicine can be found in the every day and humble burdock.
Herbalists both past and present claim burdock is a fantastic healer for the immune system. In addition to immunity, research shows burdock has plenty of health benefits overall, and can be useful for many things.
No use is older than burdock’s actions as a “spring tonic.”
Spring tonic herbs are herbs considered “blood cleansers,” purifiers, and detoxifiers. Typically, people took them in spring to help freshen up and renew health after a long, stagnant winter. Traditional spring tonic herbs are common ingredients in detox teas, cleanses, and the like.
Translated into today’s scientific language, this means burdock is a potent liver and gallbladder herb. Any botanical that targets whole-body cleansing and detoxifying is working through one (or both) of these organs.
Even better, science directly supports the cleansing “spring tonic” benefits of burdock in this study. This research is good news for gallbladder health, since it describes burdock as having bile-moving and bile-releasing actions—both of which help the gallbladder to function better.
Last but not least: burdock could help fight gallbladder cancer.
This study showed the plant was rich in antioxidants, including arctigenin, a compound unique to burdock. When used against gallbladder cancer, it effectively started shutting down cancer cells. This helped slow the growth and spread of cancer.
Besides artichoke, it’s a wise idea to try burdock on for size in those natural gallbladder cleanses. Both science and tradition suggest it works.
DANDELION (TARAXACUM OFFINALE)
It’s hard for some to see virtue in dandelion (especially people with lawns).
Despite its “pesky weed” status, there’s a good reason dandelion is still around (and in enormous numbers, thankfully). It’s a fantastic herb for health, long story short, and it’s mainly known for supporting kidney and bone health.
Like burdock, dandelion is also a classic spring tonic herb.
Dandelion is at home supporting liver health and helping detox the body, in addition to its credo for supporting kidney health naturally. And, according to a significant review on the herb, it’s a great potential ally for the gallbladder. More specifically, it seems to have an ability to dispel gallstones, though this hasn’t been tested directly yet.
That hasn’t stopped dandelion (and other herbs) from being used to treat gallstones throughout history. There are many successful anecdotal and personal reports to support such use, with modern herbalists recommending it for general gallbladder health, too.
Like artichoke, dandelion also is called a cholagogue.
This study tested how well the three herbs dandelion, artichoke, and burdock worked together as cholagogues (bile stimulators). Results showed they did an excellent job reducing the risk of gut infections and bacterial growth. Some of this is in part owed to better bile flow, which starts in the gallbladder.
Could there be a better trio of herbs for a natural gallbladder cleanse? Well, our list doesn’t end here.
MILK THISTLE (SILYBUM MARIANUM)
It’s an herb that’s so good at what it does, and some could even propone for its use in hospitals. For now, though, milk thistle—a relative of all the above herbs—is satisfied being a popular ingredient in energy drinks, detox teas, and liver health supplements.
No herb is better known for helping protect the liver than milk thistle.
Seeds (or extracts of the seeds) contain a compound called silymarin. What’s so amazing about silymarin: studies show it protects the liver from damage so effectively, it’s even possible it could stop fatalities from overdoses or poisonings.
These benefits that milk thistle has on the liver makes it hard to underestimate how cleansing and detoxifying it can genuinely be. But some may wonder: do these liver powers mean it has similar perks for the gallbladder?
It turns out the answer is very likely a “yes.”
The liver and gallbladder are very closely connected to how they function. If one receives benefits, the other likely does, too (especially since the gallbladder is attached to the liver).
What’s more, milk thistle didn’t just start as a liver medicine—according to ancient herbalists texts; the plant was used as a gallbladder medicine, too. A significant review of milk thistle discusses the plant’s global reputation for treating gallbladder disorders, meaning it could be another great herbal option for one’s natural gallbladder cleanse.
REISHI (GANODERMA LUCIDUM)
Over the centuries, herbs have been a popular source of natural gallbladder remedies. Many (like those in this article thus far) are included in natural gallbladder treatments, even today.
But we can’t forget that mushrooms may provide their benefits, too.
One excellent candidate for gallbladder support is reishi mushroom. It’s already well-known for a huge list of benefits (which include fighting cancer, reducing stress, and helping people age more gracefully). But can we also add gallbladder support to such a list?
More than any other medicinal mushroom, reishi holds the most hope for helping with gallbladder issues, and perhaps even reducing gallstone risks, too. It already has a reputation for supporting liver health (studies show), and plenty of research suggests that reishi can enhance kidney health naturally. Not to mention, reishi is an overall excellent botanical for digestion.
Both these qualities can play a beneficial role in boosting gallbladder health.
This study here, however, may define reishi’s potential the best: in it, the mushroom’s antioxidants directly helped to get rid of a polyp on the gallbladder. This is proof that reishi may be useful in a more multi-faceted way than most other medicinal mushrooms, and even other gallbladder herbs.
Though it’s different in its mushroom nature, it definitely shouldn’t be overlooked as a possible ingredient for natural gallbladder cleanses. Outside of cleanses, however, reishi makes for an excellent supplement on its very own. It could be a great one to call upon on the daily for gallbladder health.
SCHISANDRA (SCHISANDRA CHINENSIS)
In its Asian homeland (and in other parts of the world, too), schisandra is sometimes nicknamed the “five flavor berry.” This is because it is said to contain all five flavors that can possibly be tasted by humanity, supposedly.
In this same vein, many claimed it could heal any ailment because of this, too.
While it hasn’t been proven that schisandra can heal just about anything, it does have quite a few health benefits. As it turns out, detoxification and cleansing of the body are one of them, a process that’s undertaken in part through the gallbladder.
For starters, studies show schisandra has some liver-protective effects. As stated before, the gallbladder and the liver are connected; often, the well-being of one organ is intrinsically tied to the other, and the gallbladder functions on bile the liver produces.
In essence: if the liver is happy, the gallbladder tends to be happy, too.
As of yet though, there still aren’t any studies directly testing the revered schisandra berry on common gallbladder issues, or even on gallstones.
However, one study has shown schisandra successfully fighting and stopping the spread of cancer in the gallbladder. It’s not quite enough here to call it a gallbladder supplement, let alone a gallbladder medicine. All the same, its general antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and adaptogenic powers may be a great addition to natural gallbladder cleanses and treatments—though more studies are needed.
TURMERIC (CURCUMA LONGA)
Turmeric: it’s both a powerful herb and a deceptively simple spice found at most grocery stores. This yellow powdered root from India (and an essential Ayurvedic herbal medicine) can add earthy richness to curries. It can also add just as much richness to one’s health in many ways, too.
Turmeric’s yellow hue in ancient healing was a vital revealer of its effects.
Maybe it’s a coincidence (or perhaps it’s not), but healers of old pointed out that turmeric’s bright saffron color marked it out as a healthy liver and gallbladder medicine. Why? Because turmeric is the same color as bile, the digestive secretions found in the gallbladder, which is yellow colored too.
Turmeric shows an ability to heal the liver and gallbladder naturally, specifically through its effects on bile production. Curcumin, turmeric’s active compound found in the root, appears to be responsible for these potent effects.
In one study, curcumin helped alleviate and support liver bile dysfunction in subjects experiencing bile flow obstruction. Typically, obstruction of bile production can be tied into the gallbladder (but not always).
A study like this suggests turmeric may indirectly help the gallbladder function.
There still aren’t any definitive or conclusive studies on turmeric’s direct effect on the gallbladder, however. All the same, research and historical knowledge thus far lends a lot of credence to turmeric for both the liver and gallbladder.
Since it’s such an easy-to-find spice or seasoning (and has plenty of other proven health benefits, too), it certainly won’t hurt adding it to one’s natural gallbladder cleanse. Using curcumin-rich turmeric as a supplement (or eating it cooked in meals daily) are great options for supporting gallbladder health, too.
GALLBLADDER DIET AND LIFESTYLE
Besides natural treatments, cleanses, and herbs, how else can one support gallbladder health at home naturally?
There’s no stronger foundation than good diet habits and lifestyle changes.
For overall gallbladder health and gallstone prevention, the following tips may help one’s herbal support (and doctor recommendations) go all the farther.
- Exercise regularly
- Take care of gut health and digestion
- Eat magnesium-rich foods
- Eat overall more nutrient-dense foods
- Find ways to combat inflammation naturally
- Eat less sugar and processed foods
- Eat more beneficial fats (and avoid the bad fats)
- Eat more dietary fiber
- Take excellent care of liver health
- Detox and cleanse the liver regularly
FIND SOME OF THESE AMAZING HERBS IN OUR CLEANSING FORMULA
Experience liver and gallbladder support together in our detoxifying herbal formula, LVR-RENEW.
Contains the following cleansing herbal and mushroom ingredients:
- Dandelion root
- Licorice root (20% standardized extract)
- Milk thistle (80% silymarin)
- Poria extract (30% polysaccharides)
- Cracked Reishi Shell Spores
- Schisandra extract (20:1)
- Turkey tail extract (standardized 30% polysaccharides)
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