Spare Gallbladder Anyone?

When I was growing up in the seventies, getting your tonsils removed was definitely the trend among children with sore throats. There wasn’t much thought it seemed about how important tonsils were for our health – rather, it was more the excitement of having ice-cream after the surgery!

Luckily as time moved on,  the medical profession has since ‘woken-up’ to the importance of leaving our poor tonsils alone. Getting your tonsils removed (tonsillectomy) is now only performed when patients have frequent and recurrent tonsillitis (usually 5-7 infections a year over the last 2-5 years), which requires repeated courses of antibiotics (if shown to bacterial based- primarily Streptococcus pyogenes) and regular time off from school or work, or if the tonsils are enlarged and block the airways.

This change in mentality has come with the knowledge and proof that removing tonsils didn’t actually prevent severe sore throats recurring. In fact, many people were still getting sick and even more often. This was due mainly to many tonsillitis infections actually being caused by viruses rather than bacteria, and hence, antibiotics were of no use. Loss of tonsils along with frequent antibiotic use can certainly weaken an immune system.

“So what do the tonsils do anyway?”

Your tonsils are made up of a mass of lymphatic tissue. They help fight off germs that come in through your nose and mouth, preventing germs from causing infections in other areas of your body. Your tonsils usually do a really good job of fighting off infections. They swell when they trap viruses or bacteria and get painful whilst they are doing their job, which can be a large nuisance for sure.

The most effective treatment for problems with the tonsils is to have them removed, but the full effect that this may have on the body is still largely unknown. There are other risks that may be involved as well, which include severe pain, bleeding, earaches, dental injuries, and prolonged recovery.

“So what do tonsils have to do with my gallbladder”, you ask?

Well, removing gallbladders seems to have become the new trend for the medical profession. It seems we all know someone who has had their gallbladder removed lately. People go into hospital for one reason (usually pain or infection and not obvious digestive issues) and whilst there, they get their gallbladder removed as well.


When the body is coping with severe inflammation (from chronic illness and poor diet), it puts a huge strain on the liver which has to clear the toxins/metabolites that inflammation produces. The liver becomes ‘congested’ and calls upon the gallbladder to assist and to ease the load. The gallbladder comes to the rescue by producing more bile to aid the liver function, but the gallbladder is also exposed to those same toxins as they pass through the overburdened system during excretion.

If detoxification pathways are not moving steadily, the gallbladder along with other organs, such as the pancreas and intestines, all become inflamed and congested as well.

The gallbladder also runs the risk of developing gallstones within it as a result of this lack of efficient detox. The stones consist mainly of high levels of cholesterol, excess bile salts and unusually high levels of a waste product called bilirubin.

I think my gallbladder is inflamed…What do I do now?”

An inflamed gallbladder is not looked upon by doctors in a hospital in a nice way.

The patient may be told, “You came in with cellulitis in your leg, but now your gallbladder isn’t coping during the treatment …It needs to come out urgently”.

Or, “Your pain is from pancreatitis and your gallbladder is the cause … your pain will go when your gallbladder is removed”.

Nearly 500,000 gallbladders are removed annually.

Such a sad situation indeed. I feel we need a one-minute silence for all the gallbladders lost.

“But do we actually need our gallbladder?”, you say interrupting my silent moment.

The gallbladder serves a definite function. It stores bile and regulates its flow so that it can be ‘pushed out’ into the digestive tract in bursts as needed to assist in the emulsification, digestion, and absorption of dietary fats. In fact, the gallbladder will contract to squeeze out stored bile when stimulated by a fatty meal. Without the gallbladder, bile merely dribbles out in a constant flow from the liver, thus being present when not required and insufficiently present when needed. This places more stress on the liver.

This can lead to a whole series of digestive problems including impaired digestion, intestinal distress, diarrhoea, and an inability to fully break down fats. Other symptoms include brain fog, hormone imbalances, brittle hair, dry skin, several nutrient deficiencies, weight gain, and more.

Surgery is not a walk in the park either with 40% of post-surgery patients still having symptoms of nausea, pain, gas, bloating, IBS, scarring, and food sensitivities and food intolerance afterward.

In fact, many people, as they age, need to take an ox bile supplement with their meals to compensate for insufficient bile in their digestive tracts. Digestive enzymes are also essential and needed to prevent digestive problems after eating fatty meals. The constant dripping bile from the liver into the small intestine also puts the person at risk of developing bowel cancer.

How strange is it that the doctor fails to tell the patient any of this?

The patient is simply told AFTER the operation that they will need to change the way they eat for the REST OF THEIR LIFE!

Ironically, if the patient was given the opportunity to improve the congestion within the liver, the gallbladder could still remain. Sadly, in today’s  hospital settings, naturopathic remedies are not first line and the patient is robbed of this vital organ.


Give a carpenter a hammer and he’ll look for a nail. Give a doctor a blade and he’ll look for an organ.


“So where is the inflammation coming from to start with?”

You now know that problems with the gallbladder rarely stem from the gallbladder itself. They actually stem from the liver, which if not functioning properly whilst manufacturing bile that is prone to ‘stoning’. Thus removing the gallbladder does not eliminate the problem; it merely eliminates ONE place problems can manifest.

Most inflammation comes from a stressful lifestyle, which depletes cortisol levels. Cortisol is our stress hormone with strong anti-inflammatory actions. Stress causes the fight/flight mode to be activated and cortisol levels become unbalanced. If stress is constant, a chronic disease often follows as a result of constant inflammation not being regulated.

For instance, hypothyroidism is 7 times more likely in people who experience reduced bile flow.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) believes that anger is the stored emotion that settles in the liver and this negative anguish can cause congestion also. It is vital that stress management is managed in a way to incorporate any relevant forgiveness also.

Other factors include inflammatory foods (such as gluten, dairy, eggs, nuts, soy, alcohol, sugar/fructose and fried/processed foods) and environmental toxins (such as medications, artificial sweeteners, pesticides, chemicals, and heavy metals).

It may interest you to know that 99.9% of gallbladder attacks are caused by food sensitivities.

”Where else can problems manifest?”

If you follow the biliary tree down past the gallbladder, you will find that the common bile duct joins the pancreatic duct before entering the duodenum through the Ampulla of Vater.

And there’s the problem.

Although stones and sludge formed in the liver can no longer get trapped in the gallbladder (since it’s been removed), they can still quite easily get lodged in the pancreatic duct and Ampulla of Vater. This causes the digestive juices secreted by the pancreas to back up into the pancreas itself and start inflaming and digesting pancreatic tissue. This is called pancreatitis. In other words, by merely removing the gallbladder and not addressing the underlying problem of ‘bad bile’ being formed in the liver, you may merely be moving symptoms from the gallbladder to the pancreas.

In other words, by merely removing the gallbladder and not addressing the underlying problem of ‘bad bile’ being formed in the liver, you may merely be moving symptoms from the gallbladder to the pancreas.

“How can we keep our precious gallbladder then?”

You need to love your liver… simple.

“But it’s too late…my gallbladder is gone!!”

You still need to love your liver, but you need to be more vigilant with your diet overall.



– do whatever it takes to live a more relaxed lifestyle

– eliminate any toxins from your daily habit, including any processed foods

  1. FOLLOW THE 80/20 RULE

– 80% of your food should be vegetables: fermented, raw or cooked vegetables and sea vegetables. Great choices include beetroot, carrot, bitter greens (rocket, radicchio or dandelion leaves), chlorophyll-rich leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, artichoke, asparagus

– 20% can be either organic animal proteins or nourishing grain-like seeds

– only fill your stomach to 80% capacity (eat until almost satisfied, but never completely full), always leave 20% of your stomach empty so there is room for digestion


– animal protein (such as grass-fed meat and free-range pastured poultry) is more difficult to digest than vegetarian protein

– aim to cook animal protein rare if possible or even eat raw (eg sashimi)

– eat more fermented whey protein, fermented greens, hemp seed meal, quinoa, and nut pates


– once your gallbladder is removed you will find it even more difficult to digest fats and oils in your meals. But the answer is not to avoid them completely. That would be a mistake since the right kinds of fats and oils are essential to your overall well being

– it is essential that you eat small amounts of the finest-quality, organic, unrefined oils/fats

– choose to use extra virgin olive oil, cod liver oil, coconut oil, raw butter, and the wide variety of seed and nut oils (like hemp, flax, chia, pumpkin). Include also some avocado and walnuts too.

However, enjoy them in smaller amounts throughout the day – watching closely to see if you are digesting them


– these enzymes must now become an essential for you at every meal where you eat fat.


– these keep your intestines clean so that other organs and cells stay clean too

– they also populate your intestines with beneficial microflora that aid digestion and enhance your immunity

– examples include sauerkraut, gherkins, coconut yoghurt, kefir, kimchi, kombucha


– to support your liver, enhance elimination and detoxify your organs

– great herbs include dandelion, milk thistle, ginger and turmeric


– avoid any offending foods as needed along with known inflammatory foods


– such as garlic, onions, and eggs if you’re not sensitive to them


–  these include broccoli & broccoli sprouts, cauliflower, kale, collards, cabbage and Brussels’ sprouts

– they reduce circulating estrogens and help the liver get rid of accumulated toxins


– in a cup of water, add the juice of a fresh lemon and a pinch of Himalayan pink salt

– proper hydration is essential to liver health. The addition of fresh lemon stabilizes blood sugar, creates an alkaline environment and supports healthy liver function


– apply a castor oil pack on the right side of the abdomen 2-3 times a week

– aids detoxification and maintains good overall health

Aim to support your liver and you’ll notice that your digestion and overall health will improve too. Now that is a great step in the right direction if I may say so myself.

In time, hopefully, the medical profession can see that removing gallbladders is not the answer after all. And we can live with our tonsils and gallbladders as we were designed to.

So, let’s make peace with our liver and save our gallbladder in the process.

**If you’ve got this far – thank you for reading and I look forward to bringing you more information in the future.

Now, enjoy some much needed inspirational music…