What and Why?
Your liver is a highly organised metabolic factory with five different trees of branching pipework to cope with its complex functions. One of these is to make bile, which is a bit like golden washing-up liquid. It trickles into its own pipe system and collects between meals in a small balloon called your gall bladder. This is the nearest thing you have to a squeezy-bottle, but much smarter.
It concentrates and acidifies the bile by reabsorbing three quarters of its water and some of its solids, leaving behind a liquid loaded with emulsifying salts made from cholesterol. You squirt this liquid into your intestine whenever there is fat in it, to emulsify that into droplets fine enough to be absorbed from there and carried back to your liver.
Fats are not easy to dispose of and you take advantage of bile to get rid of several, including a little cholesterol. The amount in your bile is very small considering the trouble it can give you. It depends on a careful balance with the emulsifying salts to stay dissolved, any disturbance of which can create small solid particles of cholesterol, usually mixed with chalk (calcium carbonate).
Unless you change your diet enough to tip the balance decisively in your favour these particles grow very gradually into dust, then grains, and finally to small pebbles.
At some stage in this progression you are likely to experience pain as one of the stones blocks the exit tube. Inflammation and infection provoked by such episodes eventually wear out your gall bladder, which becomes leaky and unable to maintain the necessary balance of acidity and salts in your bile.
Stones then enlarge out of all control to the size of sugar lumps. You can easily have twenty or thirty of these, after a few decades of gradual development. But occasionally, by a slightly different process, you form just one or two much larger stones of pure crystalline cholesterol. Almost the only treatment doctors ever consider is surgical removal.
Gallstones form in around ten women and two men out of every hundred industrialized people. They do not always produce disease, and only after about forty years; but when they do it is costly and dangerous. The little effort that is required to prevent them is good practice for everyone, and pays handsome dividends for anyone with reason to suspect they may be liable to stone formation.
What can I do?
Advice to maintain and maximise your health
1. Start on the diet for health as a matter of urgency if stones are discovered or suspected in your gall bladder, whether or not they are already causing you disease.
- Avoid: Reduce drastically your consumption of animal fats and meat, and cut out all sugar and refined flour.
- Eat: Emphasise instead apples, citrus fruits, tomatoes and berries in season, whole-grain cereals, cabbage family and parsley. These keep your cholesterol intake low, and the types of fibre they contain help you to get rid of cholesterol from your intestine instead of recycling it.
2. Supplement this with:
- three tablets daily each of Vitamin C (food-state 250mg) and GTF-Chromium (food-state 60 microg) to make fat deposits easier to handle.
- Lecithin (500mg daily), or Choline and Inositol (500mg each twice daily) from which you can make it, strongly reinforces this effect but adds to the expense.
- Vitamin E (200IU twice daily would be an additional advantage.
Continue all these for six months, then depend on your diet and the Vitamin C alone.
3. Mineral supplement foods are rather important. Egg nog and Cider Vinegar and Honey recipes provide them inexpensively, but additional food-state Zinc 15mg daily for 3-6 months would be wise, together with one tablet daily of food-state multimineral/trace mineral complex.
4. Check that permanent coldness of your body is not part of the reason for your cholesterol problem.
5. Angelica or Milk Thistle herb tea has a useful tonic effect on your liver function.
6. If pain from stones in a reasonably healthy gall badder is getting troublesome, consult a Naturopath, Healer, or Practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
- The first can guide you through a two day fast followed by a pint of olive oil emulsified with orange juice, taken as quickly as you can manage. This strongly promotes gall bladder action which can extrude the stones into your bowel. Do not try this one on your own! The other practitioners may be able to achieve the same, less strenuously for you.
7. If it looks as if you may need surgery delay it as long as possible by excluding fats from your diet, and help your surgeon by getting rid of excess weight. Alter your diet anyway to prevent the basic disease continuing.