Disclaimer: Homeopathy does not treat conditions or diseases per se but instead treats the individual, in particular the energy field or vital force of the person.
Gallbladder disease refers to any condition that affects the health of the gallbladder. The gallbladder is a small organ in the digestive system located just under the liver. It stores and concentrates the bile made by the liver and sends it to the small intestine via the bile ducts.
Bile (from Latin bilis), or gall, is a dark-green to yellowish-brown fluid produced by the liver of most vertebrates. Bile contains many organic molecules, including bile salts and cholesterol. Bile salts are necessary for the digestion and absorption of fats and fat-soluble vitamins in the small intestines.1 Bile salts are made from cholesterol and help to regulate cholesterol metabolism. Bile helps to remove many waste products from the body, including bilirubin, a breakdown product of red blood cells.
Gallbladder disease can begin in the gallbladder itself or in the bile ducts connected to it. Any infection or blockage in these ducts has the potential to back up into the gallbladder. Because the bile ducts connect the gallbladder with other organs in our digestive system, gallbladder disease can affect these other organs as well, particularly the liver and pancreas.2
OVERVIEW OF GALLBLADDER-RELATED CONDITIONS
Conditions that affect the gallbladder include cholecystitis (inflammation), cholelithiasis (gallstones), biliary dyskinesia (problems with bile motility), gangrene (tissue death), gallbladder polyps, cholangiopathy (bile duct disease) and gallbladder cancer.3
Gallstones (cholelithiasis) are the most common cause of gallbladder problems. Gallstones can form when bile becomes too concentrated because the cholesterol or bilirubin can’t stay dissolved and then starts to form lumps or stones. These may be excreted via the bile ducts if they are small enough or may get stuck in the bile ducts or liver if they get too large. This can cause intense pain, also known as “gallbladder colic,” as the flow of bile is blocked. About 10 to 15 percent of the U.S. population has gallstones, and about 25 percent of those individuals need to be treated, usually with surgery.4
The form of inflammation known as cholecystitis is the most common symptom of gallbladder disease and can be a sign of gallbladder infection or blockage. It is most commonly caused by gallstones but can also rarely be caused by tumors, including cancer. Chronic inflammation can lead to scarring of the gallbladder tissue and potentially gangrene or even rupture of the gallbladder.
Biliary dyskinesia, also known as functional gallbladder disorder, means the bile is not moving well into the bile ducts and can back up into the gallbladder. Symptoms can be similar to those of gallstones, but the problem is caused by smooth muscles or nerves rather than gallstones.
Gangrene of the gallbladder can be a very serious complication of chronic cholecystitis. Dead tissues can rupture or tear, which can lead to infection in the rest of the abdomen.
Gallbladder polyps are harmless tumors and growths of the gallbladder. However, large polyps can lead to obstruction and dysfunction of the gallbladder.
Cholangiopathy is any disease of the bile ducts. Chronic cholangitis can cause scarring and narrowing of the bile ducts, which can also cause bile to back up into the gallbladder and liver.
Finally, cancer of the gallbladder or bile ducts is rare but serious. Because symptoms of gallbladder cancer often don’t appear until the later stages, health care providers tend to treat any potential risk of gallbladder cancer proactively.
SYMPTOMS OF GALLBLADDER PROBLEMS
The most common symptom of gallbladder problems is a sudden pain in the upper-right part of the abdomen. The pain may even extend to the right shoulder area. This usually means that a gallstone is obstructing the bile duct, and the gallbladder is contracting violently to clear the obstruction. The pain can last for several hours and may be triggered by a fatty meal. If the bile cannot be released into the bowel, the person may also develop jaundice as well as light-colored stools.
Chronic inflammation of the gallbladder may cause chronic abdominal pain, nausea, gas, lack of appetite, abnormal stools, headaches and pain in the eyes.
Rupture of the gallbladder will be accompanied by severe abdominal pain, fever and nausea. In such situations, you should go to the emergency room and will probably need other remedies than the ones discussed below.
Conventional medicine addresses many gallbladder problems with gallbladder removal surgery (cholecystectomy). However, the missing gallbladder then creates other problems for the individual down the line, as there is no longer a gallbladder to efficiently accumulate and concentrate bile for use in helping digest food after meals.
TOP HOMEOPATHIC REMEDIES FOR GALLBLADDER SUPPORT
Because the gallbladder is so closely associated with the liver, many traditional homeopathic remedies for gallbladder symptoms also tend to support normal liver function. Among them are Chelidonium majus, Cholesterinum, Lycopodium clavatum, Calcarea carbonica, Carduus marianus, Colocynthis, and Pulsatilla nigricans.
Chelidonium majus, derived from the greater celandine plant, has a long history of use for liver ailments, especially in traditional Chinese and Indian medicine. As a homeopathic remedy, it also has a strong affinity for the liver and gallbladder. Indicators for using Chelidonium include upper-right quadrant pain radiation to the right shoulder blade, dark urine and clay-colored stools, nausea and vomiting. It may be indicated for gallbladder complaints during pregnancy. The person may feel better from very hot drinks. A research study published in 2010 used Chelidonium in the 30C and 200C potencies to treat rats after experimentally induced liver damage, with positive results.6 Another study showed beneficial effects of Chelidonium 200C for experimentally induced liver cancer.7-9
Cholesterinum is a homeopathic remedy made from cholesterol. As already noted, bile salts are made from cholesterol, and many gallstones are the result of bile that becomes too concentrated, causing crystal formation. Homeopathic cholesterol may be used to help redissolve those stones and normalize the cholesterol metabolism. A low potency like 6X may be helpful if taken once a day over several weeks (but check with a qualified homeopathic practitioner, of course). In animal research, Cholesterinum has also demonstrated potent liver-protective effects following experimental induction of liver cancer.10
Lycopodium clavatum may be indicated if there are gallbladder symptoms accompanied by gastric symptoms like acidity, and abdominal bloating and gas. The sufferer may develop gas after even just a few bites of food. The gas may rumble around in the abdomen and pass with difficulty. There may also be a strong craving for sweets and hot drinks. A history of strong embarrassment may set off a Lycopodium state. As with the other remedies already mentioned, there is some interesting research on the liver-protective properties of Lycopodium as well.11-13
Calcarea carbonica, a remedy made from the soft, inner layer of oyster shells, can be another common remedy for gallbladder symptoms, especially if accompanied with sour belching and sour vomiting. It may be indicated as a constitutional remedy if the sufferer is obese with a flabby and soft constitution but good willpower. The person may crave sweets, eggs and starchy foods like pasta and bread, may perspire a lot on the head and may be sensitive to cold air.
Carduus marianus is a homeopathic remedy derived from the milk thistle plant. Milk thistle is another plant with a long history of use for both liver and gallbladder ailments. Homeopathically, it is used in a similar way and may be helpful for chronic inflammation of the gallbladder and congestion of the liver. Indicators may include pain in the right upper abdomen in the gallbladder region, accompanied by nausea and vomiting of acidic and burning fluids. Jaundice may be present. It may also be indicated for beer drinkers.
Colocynthis, a remedy made from a plant known as bitter cucumber, may be a very useful remedy for symptoms of acute gallbladder colic with intense cutting and shooting pains that are relieved somewhat by applying pressure. The sufferer may be writhing in agony or doubled up in pain. Intense anger, indignation or even grief may have triggered an attack.
Finally, Pulsatilla nigricans may be indicated if gallbladder symptoms come on after eating out in restaurants, which often use lower-quality fats. Fatty foods in general can trigger gallbladder symptoms, but with Pulsatilla, it’s almost specific to restaurant and deep-fried foods and, to a lesser extent, overconsumption of butter or cream.
TRY HOMEOPATHY FIRST
There are many other homeopathic remedies that may be indicated for gallbladder support and for the relief of gallbladder symptoms. As always in homeopathy, it is not the disease that is being treated but the unique individual. That being said, some of the above remedies may help to prevent many gallbladder removals!
HOMEOPATHY FOR THE GALLBLADDER
CHELIDONIUM MAJUS: Upper-right quadrant pain radiation to the right shoulder blade.
CHOLESTERINUM: May aid in dissolving gallstones and support cholesterol metabolism.
LYCOPODIUM CLAVATUM: Gallbladder problems with excessive, trapped abdominal gas; gas after a few bites of food.
CALCAREA CARBONICA: Gallbladder problems with sour vomiting; gallbladder problems in obese, flabby individuals.
CARDUUS MARIANUS: Chronic inflammation of gallbladder; upper abdominal pain; beer drinkers.
COLOCYNTHIS: Severe, cutting pain with gallbladder colic; doubling over in pain; possibly triggered by strong emotions.
PULSATILLA NIGRICANS: After rich, fatty foods, restaurant foods, cream.
- “Bile acid.” https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/chemistry/bile-acid
- “Gallbladder disease.” Johns Hopkins Medicine. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/gallbladder-disease
- “Gallbladder disease.” Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/ diseases/22976-gallbladder-disease
- “Definition & facts for gallstones.” National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/gallstones/definition-facts
- Rodriguez D. Symptoms of a gallbladder problem. Everyday Health, Mar. 20, 2020. https://www.everydayhealth.com/gallbladder/guide/symptoms/
- Banerjee A, Pathak S, Biswas SJ, et al. Chelidonium majus 30C and 200C in induced hepato-toxicity in rats. Homeopathy. 2010;99(3):167-176.
- Biswas SJ, Pathak S, Bhattacharjee N, et al. Efficacy of the potentized homeopathic drug, Carcinosin 200, fed alone and in combination with another drug, Chelidonium 200, in amelioration of p-dimethylaminoazobenzene-induced hepatocarcinogenesis in mice. J Altern Complement Med. 2005;11(5):839-854.
- Biswas SJ, Khuda-Bukhsh AR. Effect of a homeopathic drug, Chelidonium, in amelioration of p-DAB induced hepatocarcinogenesis in mice. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2002;2:4.
- Biswas SJ, Khuda-Bukhsh AR. Evaluation of protective potentials of a potentized homeopathic drug, Chelidonium majus, during azo dye induced hepatocarcinogenesis in mice. Indian J Exp Biol. 2004;42(7):698-714.
- Bhattacharjee N, Khuda-Bukhsh AR. Two homeopathic remedies used intermittently provide additional protective effects against hepatotoxicity induced by carcinogens in mice. J Acupunct Meridian Stud. 2012;5(4):166-175.
- Henrique da Silva G, Barros PP, Silva Gonçalves GM, et al. Hepatoprotective effect of Lycopodium clavatum 30CH on experimental model of paracetamol-induced liver damage in rats. Homeopathy. 2015;104(1):29-35.
- Falkowski-Temporini GJ, Lopes CR, Massini PF, et al. Increased of the hepatocytes and splenocytes apoptosis accompanies clinical improvement and higher survival in mice infected with Trypanosoma cruzi and treated with highly diluted Lycopodium clavatum. Microb Pathog. 2017;110:107-116.
- Gebhardt R. Antioxidative, antiproliferative and biochemical effects in HepG2 cells of a homeopathic remedy and its constituent plant tinctures tested separately or in combination. Arzneimittelforschung. 2003;53(12):823-830.
This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly journal of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Fall 2022🖨️ Print post