Fat Fiction Fat, lies and measuring tape


Gallstones – newsflash!

Shocking news

So, this is the third update about gallstones which hell, even I know is niche reading. Even jazzing it up by writing newsflash is pretty desperate. Although 1 in 10 people will get gallstones in their lives, you’ll only generally be interested if you’ve got them right now, and even then I better make it snappy because who really wants a blow by blow account of how it’s going ? Still here? Blimey, OK then.

Since the last update some weeks ago, all has been well. Have they completely gone? Only an ultrasound will tell, but my guess is no, not yet – I still feel the odd occasional twinge, suggesting it’s not completely normal. But tellingly since I stopped eating all gluten, I’ve not had one single attack since.

But then, how bad were they in the first place? Well the attacks were completely debilitating, but what I didn’t know was how many/how bad these gallstones were. For that reason, I picked up my original ultrasound from back in August 2010. For the princely sum of £10 plus a bit of patience, the hospital put this on a CD for me, as a ‘before’ record. For your exclusive pleasure, errrm, here it is. For a quick comparison of what a normal gallbladder looks like, have a shoofty here. This though, is all my internal work.

Now, I’m no radiologist so looking at the scans initially was a bit like trying to do the Times’ crossword, but through some sophisticated research (ie googling what a gallbladder looks like) I can now tell you this gallbladder has a thickened wall and a big gallstone about 14mm x 11mm across. Next up, I'll be putting out images of other internal organs for everyone's general amusement. Anyway...

Gallstone flush

In the interests of bad science, given this isn’t exactly a tightly controlled experiment, I decided to try the gallstone flush. I know I said I wouldn’t, but I changed my mind because I thought of how it might actually work. The short version of a flush is –

1)      neck a load of Epsom salts and half a pint of olive oil

2)      curl up and die for 12 hours

3)      see what comes out the other end

Mostly the stones people see are not gallstones; that’s pretty obvious given some people are generating thousands, and unless they have a tardis for a gallbladder that defies the laws of physics. However, it is possible to get rid of gallstones through the bile ducts. Dilated ducts are approx 7mm in width, so if your gallstones are smaller than this, you might be in luck. Mine was 14mm at its widest, but bear in mind I’ve been taking Rowachol (which increases bile production and decreases stone size) so I thought it might be worth a go if it had dissolved in size already.

I tried it. And it was useless.

A lot of people do report feeling better after a gallstone flush, and I did. But I did in the same way if you punch yourself in the face, it feels better when you stop. But how much oil is required for the gallbladder to empty anyway? I woke up with a crushing headache (I don’t get headaches, ever) which is ‘a sign of toxic flushing!’ Yeah, or maybe necking half a pint of oil does that to you.

I suspect any fatty meal would have much the same impact. The Epsom salts for dilating the bile ducts make sense but had no impact. There is another old wive’s tale about drinking apple juice to ‘soften up the stones’ for a week beforehand too but unless humans have biologically changed in the past couple of decades, your gallbladder and stomach/gastrointestinal tract are completely separate, so don’t understand how that  would work.

Anyway, in short, I wouldn’t recommend a flush, stick to dietary changes here to prevent growth, and Rowachol and possibly UCDA to shrink existing stones, and see how you get on.

So, for those who are wondering if the simple acts of stopping eating gluten  – particularly white flour and reducing sugar intake will work for gallstones – the answer is that it’s looking promising. The D Day clock on the right hand side will tell us for sure…

If you’ve got gallstones, let me know. I won’t be able to do anything about it from here of course but at least I’ll be sympathetic, and I won’t charge you for a ‘gallstone report’ or that other shite from Moe Blarton (close approximation of his real name) is trying to palm off to eke a few quid of the needy, stomach clutching sufferers out there.

Lightening from NPS

Comments (12) Trackbacks (0)
  1. Thanks for putting together this blog with all this actually useful information about gallstones. I discovered your blog about a week ago. I also tried researching gallstones online several months ago and quickly gave up in confusion. I think you’ve provided more clear information here than just about any doctor could (not that I went to one … I didn’t want to hear about how I ought to get my gallbladder removed). I eliminated wheat several months ago, so I don’t know how that affects my galbladder, but I can tell you that sugar is an almost instant gallbladder irritant (although, I am very fortunate that I have never had a gallstone attack! Hopefully never will).

    Also, I started megadosing on zinc several weeks ago, taking 100-150 mg/day, and increased my magnesium supplements to around 500-600 mg/day, and some long unresolved gut discomfort has slowly but surely been improving. Still not 100%, but much better. I feel pretty confident that the magnesium and zinc are helping my galbladder, and it was nice to see you mention them as important.

    Kudos to you for your self-experimentation with the gallstone flush – hopefully it did no lasting harm! I’ve heard about similar flushes, and I could not seriously consider trying them. I figured the “good feeling” afterward was the rush of feeling normal after spending several hours attempting to keep one’s guts from escaping the abdominal cavity … and you confirmed that, too. :) Thanks for posting about it.

    I’m really looking forward to reading about your D Day results. Thanks again for the great blog.

  2. Hi Angel thanks for your comments.
    Just a word of warning on the megadosing though from a non-medical, non-qualified, non-doctor (any more caveats?!). I’m sure you’ve seen RDA levels are much lower so do be careful. I’ve only taken the epsom salts via skin absorption a handful of times and that’s it.
    As for the flush – no lasting harm, just 24 hours of my life I won’t ever get back ;)

  3. Angel, your doses of zinc and magnesium are close to what I take. People seem to have a wide variation in need for nutrients.

    From what I’ve read, too much Mg will just have you running to the bathroom. Too much zinc can lead to heavy metal poisoning, but I think you’d be really sick from it if you took too much. (I’m assuming you don’t have any kidney problems.)

    Iron supplements inhibit zinc absorption, so I take take them separately.

    Adequate Mg is necessary for involuntary muscle action (among many other things), so that might be helping with digestive issues. Zinc helps you heal, so it may be helping with any leaky gut problems you might have.

    Like Mike, I’m not a health practitioner, I’ve just done a lot of reading and experimented with my own diet. Your results may vary.

  4. Hi Lori,

    I find that if I am very consistent with the Mg dosage, I adapt and the loose stool problem is taken care of. However, I am often less consistent than I should be, so when the Mg dosage varies, so does the stool consistency. It would be easier to just take less Mg, but I also find that when my Mg supplementation decreases, my mood gets very negative. I really don’t know what to do other than continue taking the Mg at my current dosage.

    I agree that nutrient needs seem to vary widely in individuals. I read a short but very interesting book recently, “Nutrition and Alcoholism” by biochemist Roger Williams (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roger_J._Williams). He mentions that he measured nutrient needs that differed considerably among healthy individuals – and not by small percentages either, more like factors of 2 or 3. Unhealthy people are often unhealthy due to nutrient deficiencies, and he specifically linked several to alcoholism.

    Your blog is how I found Mike’s – thank you. :)


    I don’t think I will be taking 150 mg of zinc for the rest of my life; I assume I am deficient, and have been for some time, which I believe is why I feel better even though normal adults experience adverse effects at the dose I am taking. (More information on that here:
    http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/minerals/zinc/). I forget now how I made the connection, but I found out a few months ago that soy consumption is linked with zinc deficiency, and I consumed soy in protein shakes and as soy milk for many years (not as part of a vegetarian or vegan diet, though), to the point of developing a sensitivity to it several years ago. So it made sense to attempt zinc supplementation for awhile. For what it’s worth, this article here (http://www.westonaprice.org/modern-diseases/29-modern-diseases/591-copper-zinc-imbalance.html) mentions that calcium is a zinc antagonist, and I consume a considerable amount of raw milk daily, as well as yogurt and other dairy products, so perhaps that is buffering the zinc to some extent. I hope to reduce the amount of dairy that I consume eventually, but raw milk is one of the few foods I can eat that does not upset my gut and also seems to help my digestion, so I drink a lot of it. My in-laws run a pasture-fed Jersey dairy, so I can get all the raw milk I want for free. :)

    And just to join the party, I am also not a health professional. I don’t even play one on TV. :) I certainly hope that one day, though, I can at least consider myself proficient in attending to my own health. I was a rank amateur for far too long.

  5. Hi Lori, Angel, thanks for all the info, I know a fraction of what you guys have found out. My knee jerk response came from reading about hypermagnesemia & gallstone flushes but clearly Angel you’re a long way from this, and you’ve done your research.
    Lucky to have a pasture-fed dairy in your back yard eh?! Good health the pair of you.

  6. Mike,

    If you are not familiar with Roger Williams’ work, I think you will find it very interesting, considering your emphasis on the connection between nutrient deficiencies and disease.

  7. Angel, by sheer coincidence, I posted an entry on mood just the other day on my blog. You might be interested in a book called The Mood Cure by Julia Ross. I don’t agree with everything she says on diet (I couldn’t tolerate that many carbs) or how she reached all her conclusions, but she’s a clinician (psychotherapist) who kept digging for answers to her patients’ problems, and recommends sufficient fat, protein and calories for her patients, plus supplements as needed. I do agree with her that mood and diet are inextricably linked, and think her dietary recommendations are generally good.

    Something you might find easy on your stomach is Nutribiotic Rice Protein Powder.

    I’m not a big fan of grains, but it’s low-carb, free of major allergens, and naturally contains tyrosine and tryptophan, two good-mood amino acids that Ross recommends. I make one every morning and throw most of my vitamins in it. The recipe:

    Good luck to you.

  8. Hi guys I’ve been diagnosed with multiple gallstones ..75cm is the largest size. I decided to take Chinese medicine but lately I’ve been having pain…but that’s the only choice I have. I’ve been planning to have a baby soon so I don’t really know what to do. I’m afraid that getting pregnant will worsen my gallbladder problems. Should I go for an operation or not is the big question mark for me….

    • Hi Charmela, sorry to hear that. 7.5mm is slightly bigger than a dilate bile duct (7mm) so you’re not a million miles off it disappearing naturally but that said – with a pregancy there’s no room for taking chances.
      If – and only if – you’re prepared to change your diet pretty radically, I would speak to your doctor and:
      - ask them for a course of gallstone dissolution therapy – most likely rowachol and ursodeoxycholic acid (USDA)
      - change your diet as per the gallstone pages

      Something worth mentioning is that the pain from gallstones is often utterly unrelated to what you’re eating, so don’t assume instant results but do persist. And best of luck with it

  9. I keep being pressured to take -edited – some kind of nutritional supplement with carrot and beet extract- .I’ve been told gallstones will crumble and pass through the intestines.I did try 2 tablets 3 nights ago and for 3 days afterwards my gallbladder ached.So I stopped taking it.I’ve been walking to try to move the stones out of bile duct,rubbing my middle toes (heard they are connected to gallbladder),taking Vitamin C, drinking natural apple juice.I heard about placing a warm cloth soaked in apple cider vinegar or castor oil onto the gallbladder area,but haven’t done that yet.Thank you for your info.

    • Janet, whoever’s pressuring you into taking stuff that’s had no medical trials is probably shilling for the company. Strike them off your xmas card list immediately.

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