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Current gallstone cures

Fat Fiction > Gallstones > Current gallstone cures

This one paper, a metastudy of other nutritional approaches to curing gallstones should have been my first port of call. If you’ve got gallstones, read this now.

The Thorne paper cites common nutritional causes and cures for gallstones.

Food allergies figure large – one paper cited states “food allergies are a common cause of gallbladder disease”. They discovered patients with celiac disease experienced gallbladder stasis when eating fatty meals. It took 20 minutes for the gallbladder to empty in healthy individuals and in celiacs who were gluten free, but 154 minutes for untreated celiac sufferers. Celiac is an autoimmune response to the gluten protein, found in wheat, barley and rye.

More impressively avoidance of allergenic foods “eliminated gallbladder symptom in 100 percent of 69 patients with gallbladder symptoms”. I’ve lifted the table from the document to show the offending foods.

Odd huh? In patients, they ended up eliminating between 1 and 9 foods. Now, I don’t know about you, but the idea that I was suddenly allergic to a series of benign foods like onions and nuts just seemed ridiculous. Must be something more fundamental at play.

Gallstone triggers and relief

Maybe though, there was some nutrient that connected those foods? I collected anecdotal evidence of foods that were said to relieve gallstone pain and compared to see if there was any connection

Gallstone trigger foods Gallstone relief foods
Onions: It is a good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin B6, Folate, Potassium and Manganese, and a very good source of Vitamin C. Ironically vitamin c is said to be protective against gallstones... Beetroots: It is also a good source of Vitamin C, Iron and Magnesium, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Folate, Potassium and Manganese.
Pork : This food is a good source of Protein and Thiamin. Spinach: A good source of Thiamin, Niacin, Folate, Pantothenic Acid, Phosphorus, Potassium and Zinc, and a very good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Copper and Manganese.
Egg: This food is a good source of Riboflavin, Vitamin B12 and Phosphorus, and a very good source of Protein and Selenium. Nuts: A good source of Copper, and a very good source of Manganese.
Chicken: This food is low in Sodium. It is also a good source of Niacin and Selenium, and a very good source of Protein. Cocoa: It is a good source of Protein, Potassium and Zinc, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Copper and Manganese.
Milk: This food is a good source of Vitamin D, Riboflavin, Vitamin B12, Calcium and Phosphorus. Pineapple: It is a good source of Dietary Fiber, Thiamin, Vitamin B6 and Copper, and a very good source of Vitamin C and Manganese.
Orange: It is a good source of Thiamin, Folate and Potassium, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber and Vitamin C.

What can you deduce from this? It’s more telling looking at the column on the right. All of those minerals… all relieving symptoms of gallstone pain. Magnesium popping up a lot there. Manganese.

All of the foods that provide relief for gallbladder pain are rich in minerals, so it would make sense that the body is deficient in these foods and therefore it cannot create balanced bile without sufficient nutrients. And why might you not have enough minerals in your diet?

-          You don’t eat enough foods containing minerals

-          You eat foods that prevent absorption of minerals. Grains and legumes are proven to inhibit absorption. White flour is especially bad, stripped of any nutrition whatsoever.

-          You eat sugar, which strips the body of minerals

-          You have malabsorption issues, due to damage to your gastrointestinal tract. This will come from gluten. Gluten damages the lining of your GI tract for celiacs and non-celiacs alike.

-          You are eating toxic foods/or burning off fat. Toxic foods, or burning off fats which stores toxins increases the demands on your mineral stores as well as increase cholesterol levels.

So why food allergies?

And on the left, the food allergies come from foods high in the B vitamins.  Why would the presence of B vitamins be a cause for gallstone pain, given B vitamins are fundamental to human life? Well, what we do know of gallstones are there two risk factors – the level of cholesterol saturation of the bile and the length of time the bile stays in the gallbladder.

Could B vitamins cause bile stasis? Your body has numerous interactions with minerals, but one example would be manganese. Manganese is required for proper absorption of the B1 (in turn required for absorption of B6 and B12). Manganese is transported by bile, so what if the gallbladder doesn’t release the bile until sufficient manganese is present in the bile, effectively holding up the bile transport? In this way, the inbalanced bile is effectively held in the gallbladder, not only causing pain and inflammation, but also increases the chance of crystalisation and formation of cholesterol gallstones.

An alternative explanation (courtesy of Robb Wolf – I couldn’t believe I’d researched all this, then found a similar explanation *after* my research…grrr!) is that the allergenic foods all stem from a leaky gut caused by damage to the gastrointestinal tract, and this prevents the chemical messenger from telling the gallbladder to empty.

Either explanation leads you to the same result – bile stasis leading to gallstones. And to solve it, you’re going to need to make some drastic changes in your diet.


This means several things:

1)      Gallstones are caused by lack of minerals in the diet

2)      Many traditional food allergies are caused by mineral deficiencies, which in turn are caused by malabsorption. This suggests there could be one single primary allergy, and many other allergies that result because of the damage done by the primary allergy. Gluten is the most likely primary allergy

3)      There would be an increase in gallstone prevalence with celiac sufferers. Turnover is demonstrably slower and celiac suffers do appear to have increased risk of gallstones.

Of course for me this makes perfect sense. I had been running hard – and every gallstone attack happened after a really long run, where I would have sweated out the salts. That, in combination with malabsorption issues from gluten destroying the lining of my GI tract would completely explain why I was so low in crucial minerals.

1 >> Why do you get gallstones?

2 >> How the body creates gallstones?

3 >> Medical studies

4 >> Current gallstone cures

5 >> The gallstone cure

6 >> D Day updates

Gun trigger picture courtesy of US Air Force
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  1. This reminds me of all the bogus cures, treatments and preventive measures for acid reflux. Those “trigger foods” include tomatoes, onions, coffee, chocolate, oranges, and fat in general. Oh, and you’re supposed to avoid eating late at night, raise the head of your bed a few inches, and sleep on your left side.

    Now that I eat a low-carb diet (hat tip to Norm Robillard), I can eat the trigger foods (except for oranges; too much tomato isn’t good either because of the sugar content), eat them at midnight, and sleep flat on whichever side suits me. No acid reducer needed.

  2. Interesting… all from reducing carbs eh?
    I’m always sceptical about ‘treating’ a long list of allergies. Someone else I know had multiple chemical sensitivities to any metal, perfume and lots of detergents. 1 year later when she started eating better more nutritious food, they all disappear. Psychosomatic or simply she had the minerals required for her liver to banish chemicals entering the skin into her bloodstream?

  3. I was skeptical when I first read the theory of carbs causing acid reflux, but I was suffering mightily and willing to try anything.

    The theory in a nutshell is this: gut bacteria create gas when they consume carbs. Fat and protein don’t make much gas, and protein makes gas farther along in the GI system. The gas pushes stomach acid upward in the GI tract. In a person with a weak lower esophageal sphincter muscle (the muscle at the bottom of the esophagus), the stomach acid can end up in the esophagus.

    My own theory of why coffee, oranges, tomatoes, onions, fatty foods, etc. are “trigger foods” is that fat will make the stomach acid stickier, making it stick to the esophagus, and acidic or spicy food makes it hurt more. Certain foods also relax the LES muscle. (I wrote several blog entries on the subject of acid reflux if you care to do any further reading.)

    Interesting about the allergies. When I was a kid, I had such bad allergies I took shots for them. As an adult, I was continually so congested I helped keep Sudafed in business. Then I dumped the wheat completely, and started taking a lot of vitamins and minerals. On my last blood workup, I had an elevated EOS, indicating allergies. But if I was having an allergic reaction to something, it was news to me.

  4. Lori, acid reflux is something I know next to nothing about so take this with a pinch of salt. The explanation sounds plausible, but wouldn’t it be a bit of an evolutionary cock up if were were designed not to be able to process high carb diets? Given there are plenty of people- Kitavans and Tarahumara for eg – who live off high carb diets seemingly without gerd.
    What will be interesting is if in say 6-12months of being g-free if introducing those foods still cause the symptoms, and if similarly to food allergies, one single food causes a whole host of other problems… scratches chin, thinking…

  5. Mike, as you know, there’s a whole school of thought on evolutionary diets, and I think most of the ideas make sense. There’s been a lot of variation in human diets, from groups who ate a lot of plant material, to groups who ate almost nothing but meat. But low-fat, nutrient-stripped grain-based diets are pretty new in the grand scheme of things.

    I don’t know the specific diets of Kitavans or other groups, but I’m sure it’s not a high-carb diet as most people in the Western world would think of it. The Weston A. Price Foundation says that traditional cultures eat fat with all their meals. Fat slows down digestion, which helps blunt blood sugar spikes and makes it easier on the pancreas. Traditional grains and nuts were processed in a way to remove anti-nutrients, and grains didn’t contain nearly as much gluten as modern wheat. Most other carbs like veg and roots contained a good deal of fiber, which is indigestible and shouldn’t affect blood sugar or create gas.

    If that’s the case, then there was no evolutionary need for, say, a robust pancreas. As for acid reflux, two things. Among people who ate little carb, there was no need for a strong lower esophageal sphincter to keep stomach acid down where it belonged. Among high-carb eaters, people with acid reflux might not have been weeded out of the gene pool: acid reflux tends to start long after a person is of age to reproduce, and for many people, it’s merely uncomfortable. Or they might not have had reflux at all. The worst food to give me reflux is fruit, which probably wasn’t a big part of any hunter-gatherer diet most of the year.

  6. Hey Lori, I think you’ve hit on the area I don’t agree with on the evolutionary/paleo front. Tarahumara are – still, today – eating mostly corn-based diet, with around 80% carb (albeit complex carbs), 10% fat, 10% protein and they’re insanely healthy. No doubt they soak their grains as the US learnt to do when pellagra spread in the early 1900s. Then there’s Japanese heart health with rice as a staple. And of course we’ve been eating wheat for thousands of years too, plenty of time to adapt. Grains are as you say relatively new, but not *that* new.
    Since the turn of the 20th century, it’s the refinement of wheat (and the strain as you say) that’s new. And there seems to be a strong connection with celiac and GERD from a cursory look… it fits to me that could be the primary cause, and reactions to say fruit might disappear once fully healed on a g-free diet.

    Pure speculation I know

    Either way, glad you got it sorted and thanks for the input. Fruit’s overrated anyway:)

  7. We may have to agree to disagree on the carbs. Yes, some people do fine eating a lot of carb; a lot of us don’t. A person’s tolerance for them can change with time, too. From my own experience, I know I’d feel lousy eating anything approaching 80% carb and 10% fat. For diabetics, that kind of diet would push them downhill, fast.

    GERD and celiac are two different things. Celiacs have to permanently go off gluten; those of us with GERD just have to find the level of carbs in general we can tolerate. My case of GERD was so bad I had an esophageal ulcer, but I’m not celiac, even though I do have other reactions to wheat. Norm Robillard said in his book that he eats things like low-carb tortillas (don’t ask me why), watches his carb intake, and doesn’t have GERD anymore.

    Fruit is fine for some people, but yes, it’s overrated.

  8. No disagreement Lori – your own experience trumps theory every time.
    All the best, Mike

  9. Here’s another monkey wrench to throw into the mix. How about those GMO foods? Most of them are soy or corn based and have to do with being Round up Ready (glyphosate) or Bt modified. Either one, they are finding livestock having some severe problems with them, and it’s also a part of Colony Collapse Disorder in the bee populations. When they find them to dissect them, they are having weird gut symptoms like cancer of a sort.
    Glyphosate, both GM and standard, is causing a parasite like organism to get into the feed, and then into the animals and then into our meat, and then into us. or into their manure, and into the fertilizer and then into the produce and into us. It is causing stillbirths and abortions in livestock. Dr. Huber did an interview in Acres USa on it. Here’s an online link to some of his findings. http://www.greenpasture.org/fermented-cod-liver-oil-butter-oil-vitamin-d-vitamin-a/dr-huber-and-the-impact-of-glyphosate-in-the-food-chain/

    Some things just aren’t normal anymore. And the GMO’s have been slipped in without our knowing. I am afraid this is going to cause more widespread problems. There’s a lot in the Frankenfoods department going on.

    • Hi, maybe… what strikes me though is that the Pimas had huge amounts of gs problems way before GMO foods arrived on the scene, so while I can’t say it has no impact, I’m more inclined to think that the food processing and resulting impacts is primarily to blame

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