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WORD OF MOUTH Flushing out gallstones By Sandy Daza Philippine Daily Inquirer First Posted 21:20:00 02/22/2008 Filed

Under: Health MANILA, Philippines?I cam across something that might interest everyone who loves to eat: A friend introduced me to a treatment used for expelling gallstones. With all the acid in the food and drinks we take in, we store calcium deposits in various forms. Gallstone is one of them. Some of my friends said they had heard about this Chinese remedy, but most of them didn?t have any first-hand experience with it. Mickey said his brother, who was experiencing extreme pain, had tried it after he learned that he had gallstones. Refusing to go under the knife, he opted for this remedy?after which, the pain disappeared and hasn?t recurred since. This convinced me to try it. The instructions: 1. Drink four to five glasses of apple juice a day for five days. You may opt to consume four to five apples, as an option. Warm water 2. No dinner on the sixth day. Take three glasses of apple juice until 4 p.m. At 6 p.m. of the sixth day, take 1 teaspoon of Epsom salt with a glass of warm water?and another at 8 p.m. And, at 10 p.m., mix half a cup of olive oil with half a cup of lemon juice, and drink. In those six days, eat as normally as you would?except for the no-dinner rule on the final day. Apple juice is supposed to soften the gallstones, while the Epsom salt with water relaxes the muscles and opens up passageways for the stones to pass. (Epsom salt can be found in many pharmacies). Thereafter, expect to go to the bathroom. Lastly, the oil will make it easier to evacuate. The next morning, stones will ?pass? through defecation, not via urination: They?re greenish in color?and they usually float. Five other friends followed my lead and got favorable results, as well. E-mail

Gallstones - Topic Overview

What are the gallbladder and gallstones? The gallbladder is a small sac found just under the liver. It stores bile made by the liver. Bile helps you digest fats. Bile moves from the gallbladder to the small intestine through tubes called the cystic duct and common bile duct. Gallstones or Something Else
WebMD Medical Reference

The most common symptom of gallstones is pain in the stomach area or in the upper right part of the belly, under the ribs. The pain may:

Develop suddenly in the center of the upper belly and spread to the right upper back or shoulder blade area. It is usually hard to get comfortable; moving around does not make the pain go away. Prevent you from taking normal or deep breaths. Last 15 minutes to 24 hours; 1 to 5 hours of continuous pain is common. Begin at night and be severe enough to wake you. Occur after meals There are many other conditions that cause similar symptoms, including heartburn, pain caused by a heart attack, and liver problems. Stomach flu (gastroenteritis) and food poisoning also can cause symptoms similar to gallstones.

Gallstones are made from cholesterol and other things found in the bile. They can be smaller than a grain of sand or as large as a golf ball. Most gallstones do not cause problems. But if they block a duct, they usually need treatment. What causes gallstones? Gallstones form when cholesterol and other things found in bile make stones. They can also form if the gallbladder does not empty as it should. People who are overweight or who are trying to lose weight quickly are more likely to get gallstones. What are the symptoms? Most people who have gallstones do not have symptoms. If you have symptoms, you most likely will have mild pain in the pit of your stomach or in the upper right part of your belly. Pain may spread to your right upper back or shoulder blade area. Sometimes the pain is more severe. It may be steady, or it may come and go. Or it may get worse when you eat. See a picture of where pain may occur in the belly .

When gallstones keep blocking a bile duct , you may have pain with fever and chills. Or your skin or the whites of your eyes may turn yellow. Call your doctor right away. Having stones in your bile duct increases your chance of having a swollen pancreas (pancreatitis). These symptoms may also be a sign of an infected gallbladder. Call your doctor right away if you have sudden or bad pain in your belly or chest and you are not sure what is causing it. Symptoms of gallstones may feel like chest pain caused by a heart attack and other serious problems. How are gallstones diagnosed? You may decide to go to the doctor because of pain in your belly. In this case, your doctor will ask you questions about when the pain started, where it is, and if it comes and goes or is always there. Your doctor may order imaging tests. These take pictures of the inside of your body. An ultrasound of the belly is the best test to find gallstones. This test does not hurt. Your ultrasound may not show gallstones. But if your doctor still thinks you have a problem with your gallbladder, he or she may order a gallbladder scan. In this test, a doctor injects dye into a vein in your arm. Then a machine takes X-rays as the dye moves through your liver, bile duct, gallbladder, and intestine.

Most people have gallstones but do not know it because they do not have symptoms. Gallstones may be found by accident when you have tests for other health problems or when a woman has an ultrasound during pregnancy. How are they treated? If you do not have symptoms, you probably do not need treatment. If your first gallstone attack causes mild pain, your doctor may tell you to take pain medicine and wait to see if the pain goes away. You may never have another attack. Waiting to see what happens usually will not cause problems. If you have a bad attack, or if you have a second attack, you may want to have your gallbladder removed. A second attack means you are more likely to have future attacks. Many people have their gallbladders removed, and the surgery usually goes well. Doctors most often use laparoscopic surgery. For this, your surgeon will make small cuts in your belly and remove your gallbladder. You will probably be able to go back to work or your normal routine in a week or two, but it may take longer for some people. Sometimes the surgeon will have to make a larger cut to remove the gallbladder. It will take longer for you to recover from this type of surgery.

Do I need my gallbladder? Your body will work fine without a gallbladder. Bile will flow straight from the liver to the intestine. There may be small changes in how you digest food, but you probably will not notice them.

Gallstones form in the gallbladder, a small organ located under the liver. The gallbladder aids in the digestive process by storing bile and secreting it into the small intestine when food enters. Bile is a fluid produced by the liver and is made up of several substances, including cholesterol, bilirubin, and bile salts.

What Are Gallstones?

Gallstones are pieces of solid material that form in the gallbladder. These stones develop because cholesterol and pigments in bile sometimes form hard particles. The two main types of gallstones are:

Cholesterol stones (approximately 80% of gallstone cases): These are usually yellow-green in color. Pigment stones: These stones are smaller and darker and are made up of bilirubin.

What Causes Gallstones?

Several factors may come together to create gallstones, including:

genetics (others in your family have had gallstones) body weight decreased motility (movement) of the gallbladder diet

Gallstones can form when there is an imbalance in the substances that make up bile. For instance, cholesterol stones may develop as a result of too much cholesterol in the bile. Another cause may be the inability of the gallbladder to empty properly. Pigment stones are more common in people with certain medical conditions, such as cirrhosis (a liver disease in which scar tissue replaces healthy liver tissue) or blood diseases such as sickle cell anemia.

What Are the Risk Factors for Gallstones?

Risk factors for getting gallstones include:

Obesity. This is one of the biggest risk factors. Obesity can cause a rise in cholesterol, and can also keep the gallbladder from emptying completely. Estrogen. Women who are pregnant or who take birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy have higher levels of estrogen. This can cause a rise in cholesterol, as well as a reduction in gallbladder motility. Ethnic background. Certain ethnic groups, including Native Americans and Mexican-Americans, are more likely to develop gallstones. Gender and age. Gallstones are more common among women and among older people. Cholesterol drugs. Some cholesterol-lowering drugs increase the amount of cholesterol in bile, which may increase the chances of developing cholesterol stones. Diabetes. People with diabetes tend to have higher levels of triglycerides (a type of blood fat), which is a risk factor for gallstones. Rapid weight loss. If a person loses weight too quickly, his or her liver secretes extra cholesterol, which may lead to gallstones. Also, fasting may cause the gallbladder to contract less.

What Are the Symptoms of Gallstones?

Gallstones often don't cause symptoms. Those that don't are called "silent stones." A person usually learns he or she has gallstones while being examined for another illness. When symptoms do appear, they include the following:

Pain in the upper abdomen and upper back. The pain may last a long time (several hours). Nausea Vomiting Other gastrointestinal problems, including bloating, indigestion, and gas

How Are Gallstones Diagnosed?

If your doctor suspects you have gallstones, he or she will do a physical examination and may perform various other tests, including the following:

Blood tests to check for signs of infection or obstruction and/or to rule out other conditions. Ultrasound: This procedure transmits high frequency sound waves through the body. The echoes are recorded and transformed into images of various parts of the body. An ultrasound can be used to identify gallstones. CAT scan: This test uses specialized x-rays to create cross-section images of organs and body tissues. Cholescintigraphy (HIDA scan): This test can determine whether the gallbladder is contracting correctly. A radioactive material is injected into the patient and makes its way to the gallbladder. The technician can then observe the movement of the gallbladder. Endoscopic ultrasound: This test combines ultrasound and endoscopy to look for gallstones. Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography: The doctor inserts an endoscope through the patient's mouth down to the small intestine and injects a dye to allow the bile ducts to be seen. The doctor can then remove gallstones that have moved into the ducts.

How Are Gallstones Treated?

Gallstones are usually treated with surgery to take out the gallbladder. The traditional operation is called an open cholecystectomy. A more recently developed procedure, called laparoscopic cholecystectomy, is less invasive, has fewer complications, and is used in most cases.

Laparscopic cholecystectomy. During this procedure, instruments and a light and a camera are passed through several small incisions in the abdomen. The surgeon views the inside of the body by looking at a video monitor. This procedure is used in approximately 80% of gallbladder removals. After the surgery, the patient spends the night in the hospital. Open cholecystectomy. This is a more invasive procedure in which the surgeon makes incisions in the abdomen to remove the gallbladder. The patient stays in the hospital for a few days after the surgery.

If gallstones are in the bile ducts, endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) may be used to find and remove them before or during gallbladder surgery.

Are There Any Nonsurgical Treatments for Gallstones?

If you have a medical condition and your doctor feels you shouldn't have gallstone surgery, he or she may prescribe the medications ursodiol (Actigall) or chenodiol (Chenix). These drugs work by dissolving cholesterol stones. Mild diarrhea is a side effect of both medications. The downside of using either medication is that you may have to take it for years to completely dissolve the stones. In addition, the stones may come back after you stop taking the drug.