im a 35 year old woman and ive been paleo for about seven months now. ive lost 30 pounds, and would like to lose another 30 but expect it to take a long time because my body really, really clings to fat. ive had two babies, most recently 16 months ago.
last month i started having fairly severe (early labor contractions, for those in the know- stop you in your tracks, but not necessarily double you over) sharp pains under my ribcage, by my solar plexus. combine that with an absolutely horrendous, frequent mad-dash for the bathroom. it went on for days before i saw my doc who ordered an abdominal ultrasound. she found stones, but no active gall bladder disease.
everyone in my family has had their gall bladder removed. both parents had active disease, my mother put it off for years until she was misrable, my father was asymptomatic until he ended up septic and had emergency surgery and an inpatient stay to get it out. my aunt had hers removed when she was only 30, and three of my four grandparents also had all sorts of issues.
for the last month, since the stones were discovered, i have been having issues like i mentioned above- lots of runs to the bathroom with a few near misses. lots of bloating, some pain. i cant seem to find much of a connection to diet, meaning nothing in particular seems to aggravate it more than anything else. my doc wants to wait on surgery and just told me to take prilosec all the time, which i havent done.
im sort of torn- are there any major drawbacks to just having it removed? im not really enjoying life too much right now and leaning to the perceived quick fix and just getting the surgery. has anyone found any relief from this sort of thing with diet? is prilosec worth it or not (my gut says not, but i dont know...) any advice from other paleo people with gall bladder experiences would be really welcome.
ETA: my macronutrient ratios have hovered in the same area both before and since this issue- 60-80% from fat, 20% protein and 10-20% carbs. i do not find that fat aggravates the condition, and have not changed my diet to the recommended low-fat diet. i will be getting my mirena IUD removed soon and am wondering if that has contributed at all, not that it matters at this point.
asked bybeing (15239)
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on May 23, 2011
at 03:30 AM
Are you keeping your diet high in fat? Some people go low fat to avoid attacks, but high fat diets keep the bile flowing. I was having terrible attacks until I switched back to paleo. Then I had a strange, but not painful, sensation for about a week and now all is quiet these past few months.
In my research, I've read that food sensitivities can contribute to attacks. Mine seem to be gluten and chocolate (damn it all), so maybe you have a sensitivity to dairy, chocolate, eggs, etc. It might be worth exploring.
A lot of people continue having symptoms even after gallbladder removal, so it's not always a good solution.
on May 23, 2011
at 03:10 AM
I want you to listen to this podcast from Robb Wolf...at about the 21 minute mark. The question is about someone who has had their gall bladder removed and the problems associated. But he also talks about the function of the gall bladder and how disfunction can can lead to autoimmune problems, esopheagel problems.
You need to address why your gall bladder is not doing its job of digesting fats...which to me would seem critical to someone dedicated to the paleo high fat lifestyle. Removing the gall bladder is not going to solve your problem. According to Wolf, it is a lot deeper.
on July 13, 2011
at 09:17 PM
I am writing this answer assuming that you still have your GB in place. I have not personally had to consider removing my gallbladder, but I know for certain that I would do EVERYTHING I could before removing it. It sounds like you have already put quite a bit of thought into this and have waited to see how you can get this resolved. I think that is the right choice.
I know that Shari and others here have said they are glad they did it, but I will gaurantee you, that little sucker is there for a reason. It helps your body correctly digest fats by regulating the bile that your liver secretes. Without it, you will still produce the bile, but many people experience far more digestive issues without their GB than when they had it. There are 2 primary digestive issues you may experience after eating... not enough bile, and exactly the opposite, bile dumping. Bile dumping equals sometimes immediate (also at times quite inconvenient) mad dashes to the closest toilet.
Some people are able to adjust very well and control their digestion via a variety of methods, but others have tremendous struggles and never get their groove back, wishing they tried harder to heal the offending organ.
I know that people will say "how would you know... you've never had to deal with this". Well, that's true, but I have taken the time to research this a lot because I was asked to by someone who had theirs removed and is dealing with the consequences now that she was not warned about.
Many Docs recommend removal like it's a splinter. It's a HUGE industry. Something like 500,000 GB removals per year. If that's true, that would be about 1 per minute, every minute, all year long.
Gallstones take a long time to form in the bladder, sometimes many years of poor nutrition. As such, it takes a long times to heal it, and many people just end up throwing in the towel for an immediate fix. I totally understand. I've had kidney stones in both kidneys, and let me tell, there were times I wanted to take a carving knife right to my side, and I'm not really all that barbaric actually.
I posted this other answer to someone else months back. My answer was specific to that person's situation, but maybe bits of it could be relevant here as well. I hope none of this offends anyone. (like a fit person who has never been obese giving advice to someone who is obese often is offensive by nature).
Anyway, personally, if I ever had to deal with severe gallbladder pain, I would look into ALL options before getting it yanked, even if that means living uncomfortably for a time.
on May 23, 2011
at 10:41 AM
My wife had her gall bladder out a few years ago and we were asking ourselves the same questions. It seems like you should be able to remove the stones and heal it somehow so that you can keep it. However, we were unable to come across anyone that had done so. I read up on the "flushes", which many say are great, but my impression as a non-doctor is that don't think they actually flush stones from your gall bladder. They flush something, but not the stones. If it was this easy, everyone would do this instead of the surgery.
We tried a few things, but after 2 or 3 attacks and then the prospect of walking on dietary pins and needles potentially forever, she finally had it out.
The surgery itself was extremely simple, laparoscopic, almost like getting a tooth out.
She ate (and eats) a very non-Paleo diet, and for the first few months after the surgery she did have some issues, certain foods like cream, certain high-fat dairy foods, or fried foods would trigger digestive issues and diarrhea. However, over time this faded, and she now eats basically whatever she wants without any issues, including lots of dairy. I don't think she's given it a moment's thought in several years.
on May 23, 2011
at 03:34 AM
I certainly think it's worth investigating non-surgical options since you seem pretty stable at the moment. Surgery is always best avoided if you can even laproscopic surgery. It's still risky business.
In my case, I tried everything I knew to try and ended up having mine out and it was the best decision I ever made. My organ was just one big stone and there was nothing that I was going to be able to do to fix it. My quality of life became instantly better and I am only sorry I waited as long as I did to do the surgery. Not a popular answer in this crowd I know but living in chronic pain really sucks and sometimes surgery really is the best option.
on March 24, 2012
at 01:52 AM
I had 3 gallbladder attacks in a month. It was while I was in school, so I had no money to get surgery. I found a cheaper ultrasound place, and found that I had a lot of small stones. I did 6 months of Urso/Actigal, which can work to dissolve gallstones. Not too Paleo, but I haven't had any attacks since.
The Mirena doesn't affect gallstones, but Estrogen containing birth control can make gallstones worse, so keep that in mind when changing.
on May 23, 2011
at 09:36 AM
Have to agree with Shari on this one. I had my gallbladder removed 10 years ago after months of crippling pain. It's no fun waking in the dead of night sweating, pacing around for an hour because it hurts too much to sit/lie down, or being out with the family at a zoo and having an attack and not knowing whether you'll be capable of driving home (or even sitting in the car).
A laparoscopic cholecystectomy will see you home in a couple of days (maybe even the next day) although you may be sore for a few days. Although they tried laparoscopic on me, I had to have open surgery in the end but I was still at home by the 3rd day.
I have listened to Robb Wolf's podcasts and can honestly say that I have never had any of the problems mentioned (e.g. dysphagia, reflux etc.) since having it removed - obviously I'm not denying that others haven't suffered though.
Don't get hung up about having it removed if it gets too bad. Only you can say how bad it is and whether you can live with the effects. By all means try to resolve the problem using suggestions on this forum first but it won't be the end of the world if you have to have it removed.
on March 24, 2012
at 01:30 AM
Here's another vote for the 'I had it out and it was the best decision ever camp'. The pain from the attacks were so severe and debilitating! I was thrilled to not have to go through that again!
I had mine out lap. I had my appendix removed four years ago open, and actually healed faster from that than I did my GB.
For me, I had my very first GB attack the day I hit my 20 pound weight loss while on weight watchers (I went on to lose a total of 70lbs with that and calorie counting). I celebrated by eating a burger. And woke up in the most intense pain I've ever experienced. I got the attacks after my 'cheat' meals which were always high in fat!
But the fourth one came on its own, with no cheating, and I went to the ER. Not only was my GB inflammed and infected, it had spread to my pancreas (pancreatitis) and that's serious business. I ended up in the hospital for a few days because they wouldn't take that sucker out until I had some antibiotics in me.
Just another story to consider...
on March 23, 2012
at 08:18 PM
I was researching this out of concern for a friend who is obese. A few years ago his gallbladder went septic and had to be removed. He would like to lose weight and I have been influencing him toward Paleo or at least WAP. I also found this article. She had her gallbladder removed and had nothing but trouble until she went Paleo. There is also a regimen given.
I read that part of the reason for the gallbladder problems is going from the USDA diet to high fat. In the article linked above, she had been vegetarian when her symptoms started and they worsened when following the "gallbaldder diet," very low fat high carb. Just curious if you had any relapses and if you ate low fat before.
on July 14, 2011
at 08:04 PM
Ok, I'll chime in as well. I had my gallbladder out 7 months ago. I, like you, struggled with the "should I or shouldn't I" have it out. I fit the category of the 4f's. I didn't have any stones, but all the symptoms you described...the HIDA scanned showed my gallbladder was pretty non-functioning and severly inflammed. After putting up with the discomfort, I decided to have it out. Have you had a HIDA scan?? Yes, ultrasounds show gallstones, but the HIDA will show if the damn thing is even functioning - don't just rely on the ultrasound.
At this point, I'm 90% better and have no regrets as well as no pain, no bloating, with only the occassional run to the bathroom - but that part is predictable.
I figure I'm still going through some adjustment period from not having a gallbladder which is why I say I'm only 90% better. I have to watch my fat intake - too much at one sitting and well, I'm running to the restroom - I will say it's getting better but I still have to watch the bacon and coconut oil for some reason. You figure it out as you go along and I would much rather have to experiment with my fats than deal with what I was dealing with before the gallbladder was taken out. The first two weeks after I had it out, I put myself on a strict NO FAT diet to give my body a little time to adjust - then I started slowly introducing back in the paleo way. Like I said, now I'm to a point where I just have to watch my bacon intake and coconut oil intake - it's weird. I can eat prime rib and other fats with no problem. Anyway...don't fret over the decision too much - try what others have recommended before making the decision to get it out.
I do take digestive enzymes and priobiotics which make a big difference for me as well, when I remember to take them. Good luck.
on July 14, 2011
at 09:39 AM
My best bit of advice is to be absolutely sure it's the only solution before you take it out. I had what my doctor diagnosed as a gallstone attack back in early March (5 months ago) and they were all ready to take my gallbladder out. They even went so far as to set me up a consult with the surgeon, but I backed out of it and decided to wait. Good thing I did too because even though I have gallstones that wasn't what was causing my pain. I actually had gastritis, which was cleared up with antibiotics and Prilosec. So, I still have my gallbladder, no pain and I can still digest fat without any issues. Your situation may well be totally different, but my point is that having gallstones is in no way a sign that you need your gallbladder taken out. Other things can cause abdominal pain and you owe it to yourself to rule those out. I don't care that you can live without a gallbladder, that doesn't mean that you are going to optimal digestion without one.
on May 23, 2011
at 01:35 PM
You could try coingrass or chanca pedra(sp). IMO 60-80% fat is extremely high,especially for a woman
on May 23, 2011
at 02:52 AM
I've done multiple liver/gallbladder flushes and have had great results eliminating stones. It's an easy one day flush, here is some info.
The one I did was slightly modified from what is listed on that site...
1-2 days before the flush Try not to eat too heavily (especially try to cut back on the amount of fats you eat)
Day of Flush
The day of the flush DO NOT eat fats or animal protein.
2:00pm Stop eating all food by 2:00pm. You may continue to drink water but nothing else.
6:00pm Mix 1 tablespoon of Epsom salts with 1 ?? cups of water and drink???the Epsom salts are taken to induce bowel movements so make sure you are near a bathroom.
9:45pm Mix ??- ?? cups of organic, cold-pressed olive oil with approximately ?? cups of fresh-squeezed organic grapefruit juice (START WITH ?? CUP OF OLIVE OIL IF THIS IS YOUR FIRST FLUSH). Make sure to mix very well. In fact, you may continue to stir the mixture in between gulps to ensure easier ingestion.
10:00pm Drink the mixture of olive oil and juice. You may drink a little more juice or water to wash away the taste of the oil. Lie down immediately and go to sleep.
NEXT MORNING Upon rising, mix 1 tablespoon of Epsom salts with 1 ?? cups of water and drink.
You will probably stop defecating heavily by 2:00pm that day. Each time you defecate inspect the stool for pea-sized stones that are green, yellow, brown, black, and/or white. The flush is now finished. Try not to eat until noon so you maximize the flush. You can drink water during this time. Eat a light lunch (soup, veggie juice, salad, etc).
It is good to do this flush once every 4 weeks. People will need to do anywhere from 6-16 flushes total.
on May 23, 2011
at 09:42 AM
Dear akd. with that issue you have i would go on a high raw diet. best vegetable juicing. If you cut down animals products for some time and do juicing your body get better.
You can look at the garson theraphy or other juicing works as well. Sometimes we have to cut down with animal products and fats to get our body fit.