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    dcoffill's Avatar
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    have my gallbladder removed or not?

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    i have been in horrible pain and finally decided to go have it checked out. (dont know if any of you read my post on if and vomiting..but this was the cause!) The doctor said my gall bladder has to be removed. If i do have it out will it make this diet more difficult? Is thier another alternative to having it removed? i have lost 50 pounds and I dont want to stop. Any primal info/suggestions would be great!

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    Athena's Avatar
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    I say if you are unsure go and get a second opinion. Ask the doctor about alternatives but if its a medical necessity and you are suffering that bad, it might need to be removed.

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    Anyone who knows more about this, please feel free to correct me - this is my understanding. The gall bladder acts as a reservoir for the bile that drips into (I believe) your colon. Bile is necessary for the digestion of fat.

    If you don't eat much fat, the bile in the gall bladder just sits - it doesn't move out like it's made to do, and eventually it creates a sludge or "sand" that sits. These leads to the process of creating gall stones.

    If you suddenly start eating a lot of fat, this pushes the sludge out - the gall stones are on the move and you HURT. Nausea, pain, the works. The doctor knows that the sudden movement of sludge is the problem and so he says "no more fat." If the problem doesn't go away, he says, "take the gall bladder out," b/c he also knows that if you let the situation get worse, you could die.

    Well, he has the same facts you now do, but you can draw a different conclusion. If you go the no more fat route, there are serious health consequences - life-threatening, eventually. If you go the removal route, you will be forced to have a low-fat diet for the rest of your life OR time your fat at the same time every day so that your body knows when to release the bile and it doesn't make you ill by continuously drip drip dripping into your gut w/o any fat to digest. With his conclusions, you're faced either with very little fat in your diet, forever, or gradually increasing your fat (instead of suddenly) and managing the timing and amount of your fat very consistently, forever.

    The alternative is to fix the problem. Gradually increase your fat intake, very gradually. Do not spike it until you have evidence (no more symptoms or perhaps some imaging? I don't know if they do that for gall stones) that the sludge is gone. I'm sure there has got to be someone in the primal/WAP/realfood community who has struggled with gall bladder issues and kept his gall bladder. I'm sure there also some who came into this way of eating who already lost their gall bladders and who have advice on how to increase the fat w/o discomfort.

    The fat issue is why people on vacation often have gall bladder attacks. There is also a pregnancy component, and I'm speculating that it's b/c the relaxin released during pregnancy to loosen joints also relaxes the gall bladder exit so that the sludge begins to move more easily.

    The cause to a gall bladder problem is a low fat diet. The solution doctors offer is to keep up that diet and mask the problem, or remove the gall bladder and create a necessity to keep up that diet. The real solution is to gradually leave that diet, and the prevention is never to adopt it in the first place. (I do suspect that the large amounts of fake fats in our diets may also play a role.)

    Raw ACV & digestive enzymes can help with fat digestion at first, too.

    For more info:
    http://www.second-opinions.co.uk/gallstones.html
    http://www.westonaprice.org/componen...ating-fat.html (scroll down to the sidebar)
    http://www.westonaprice.org/ask-the-...ll-stones.html

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    Clint's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MamaGrok View Post
    Anyone who knows more about this, please feel free to correct me - this is my understanding. The gall bladder acts as a reservoir for the bile that drips into (I believe) your colon.
    Just one small correction: It dumps the bile into the intestine to help digest fat.

    I had mine removed several years ago due to gall stones that were causing pain. Just having stones doesn't necessarily mean you have to have it removed. Some people have gall stones and never know because they are asymptomatic. This is just one reason for removing the gall bladder.

    I don't know what your specific problem is. The only problem I've noticed after having it removed is if I IF and then have one big meal, it can give me digestive distress. When you don't have a gall bladder, the bile just goes straight from your liver to your intestines. So you can still eat fat. It's just that some people have a harder time than others, especially the first few months after surgery.

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    Thanks! My MIL had hers removed 30 years ago and still has trouble with suddenly fatty meals. She's trying to increase her fat for health reasons, and has to be careful about it, it seems. I did a bunch of reading up on it for her, but since it's not a personal issue for me, some of the details lapse.

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    avocado's Avatar
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    Just a few points that may or may not help or be interesting ...
    Quote Originally Posted by MamaGrok View Post
    If you go the removal route, you will be forced to have a low-fat diet for the rest of your life OR time your fat at the same time every day so that your body knows when to release the bile and it doesn't make you ill by continuously drip drip dripping into your gut w/o any fat to digest. With his conclusions, you're faced either with very little fat in your diet, forever, or gradually increasing your fat (instead of suddenly) and managing the timing and amount of your fat very consistently, forever.
    No, not really true. I've read of many primals or low-carbers who say that they can eat fat just fine post cholecystectomy. In some cases, it took some time to adapt, but eventually they were fine. Some have ongoing diarrhea problems, but not all. So it's a maybe thing.

    Quote Originally Posted by MamaGrok View Post
    The alternative is to fix the problem. Gradually increase your fat intake, very gradually. Do not spike it until you have evidence (no more symptoms or perhaps some imaging? I don't know if they do that for gall stones) that the sludge is gone. I'm sure there has got to be someone in the primal/WAP/realfood community who has struggled with gall bladder issues and kept his gall bladder.
    Sludge, maybe. Gallstones are unlikely to spontaneously dissolve. Even with medications designed to promote dissolving gallstones (for people who aren't surgical candidates for whatever reason), it takes a long time, like 6 months to 2 years.

    On the other hand, I don't know of any studies (I doubt there are any) addressing what happens to gallstones when you adopt a primal diet.

    Quote Originally Posted by MamaGrok View Post
    There is also a pregnancy component, and I'm speculating that it's b/c the relaxin released during pregnancy to loosen joints also relaxes the gall bladder exit so that the sludge begins to move more easily.
    Pregnancy, and oral hormones, do all sorts of things to promote gallstones. They change the composition of the bile, so it's more likely to form gallstones. And they decrease gallbladder motility, so gallstones are more likely to form (think more stagnation).

    Quote Originally Posted by MamaGrok View Post
    The cause to a gall bladder problem is a low fat diet. The solution doctors offer is to keep up that diet and mask the problem, or remove the gall bladder and create a necessity to keep up that diet. The real solution is to gradually leave that diet, and the prevention is never to adopt it in the first place.
    I think it would be fascinating if someday they start advising us to avoid low fat diets because of gallstone formation

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    dcoffill - I'd be VERY leery of taking medical advice off a public forum. For instance, MamaGrok gave a lot information that at least by my own experience, is just plain wrong. I had my gallbladder removed 2 years ago and what she describes bears little resemblance to my experiences.

    Please don't make medical decisions based on the guesses and theories of folks that, no offense, mostly don't know what they are talking about.

    If you live anywhere near San Francisco, I would have a surgeon recommendation for you.

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    My mom ha her gallbladder removed years ago and she does have issues digesting fat (she gets bloating and gas). She was never on a low fat diet to begin with, either. I think thyroid issues were the root of her problem.

    You may want to check into Chinese medicine to see if you can dissolve the gallstones and heal the gallbladder. In the meantime, lecithin may help thin your bile and I've heard of people sipping lemon juice in warm water (or apple cider vinegar) throughout the day to reduce the symptoms. You could also take high dose lipase or ox bile caps to lighten the load on your gallbladder.

    Here is a bunch of gallstone remedy info from the Earth Clinic website, where people give personal feedback on remedies: http://www.earthclinic.com/CURES/gallstones.html
    Last edited by hazyjane; 08-02-2010 at 08:44 PM.

  9. #9
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    I had my gallbladder removed in the early 1990's. The surgeon said, upon post op examination, it was severely scarred and damaged. I had 3 major attacks prior to removal as the cause of my pain was not initially found. The pain associated with my attacks was worse than labor pains, heart attack-like and increased in both strength and duration with each attack.

    The attacks left me weak and tired for days after. Not easy with 3 children, including toddler aged twins.

    It took months between my first attack and surgery. During that limbo time, what I could comfortably eat became less and less as indigestion to differing degrees was always present.

    I recovered quickly from the surgery but soon found diarrhea to be a regular occurrence. Imodium became my friend.

    I started eating low carb in January 2009. That meant I increased the amount of fat I was eating.One of the perks of this dietary change was/is less bouts of diarrhea. I can now go weeks without incident where as before it was becoming an almost daily event. So, for ME eating lower carbs and more fats helps my digestion.

    Another thing to consider -NOT dealing with gallbladder issues can lead to pancreatitis and other complications. I was like you in not wanting surgery. The increasing number and intensity of attacks quickly changed my mind.

    I hope this helps.

  10. #10
    MamaGrok's Avatar
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    See, I knew if I posted a couple of times to bump this up, that folks who had real experience would chime in to help. Thanks so much, all! My experience is limited to information that seems to make sense of what my family members have experienced, and I knew someone who had been through it would have gone through much more detail than I.

    It seems there is little consensus in the medical field, mainstream or alternative, about what is going on with gall bladder attacks - from what I can see, anyway. Removing the dang thing solves the problem, and you just tell the person to avoid too much fat, but is that really the only way? IDK. I totally agree that no one should base any kind of major medical decisions (including one like "should I run a lot or follow a more 'primal' exercise regime?" or "should I avoid or seek grassfed red meat?") solely off of one public forum. Ask your doctor every question you can think of and listen carefully to what s/he says, read, apply your own experience and common sense, follow links, do your own searches, review medical journal articles, then apply what you find, mindfully, to come to your own decision.

    I'm still curious to find out what's behind my own MIL's continued low tolerance for fat 30 years after her surgery. It began with the gall bladder attacks and removal. Her experience seems to jive pretty well with the info given in the links up above, which is the basis of what I said.

    Kestral, I'm very interested in finding out which information contradicts your own experiences, b/c I wouldn't want to give out wrong information, ever. Is it primarily not having to be careful about fat for long post-surgery? My friends have a tendency to ask me health questions, which I always try to surround with reminders that I am no doctor and they should double-check anything I say, and give them sources so they can find out for themselves, also trying to make it clear what of what I'm saying is fact, what is assumption, what is conclusion, etc. I'd like to give only as accurate info as possible.
    Last edited by MamaGrok; 08-02-2010 at 08:52 PM.

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