The madness of the gallbladder and it's right to be heard

by Sandra Radja


Gallbladder?! You don't need a gallbladder!

There are on average 700,000 cholecystectomy operations (gallbladder removal) performed each year making it the most commonly performed surgery in the US. It seems when the laparoscopic gallbladder procedure was introduced in the 80's, the rise in cholecystectomies rose significantly and recently there have been concerns as to whether there is an unnecessary amount of surgeries being performed.

Bile is a greenish-yellow substance made in the liver and stored in the gallbladder until you start eating.  The more fat you eat, the more bile is secreted from the gallbladder to break it down along with digestive enzymes from the pancreas. If bile is stored too long in the gallbladder or too much water has been removed in the process, gallstones can form.  If they grow too large they can get trapped in the cystic duct and cause inflammation. It occurs commonly in people from the age of 40, those who are obese or have lost a lot of weight in a short time, diabetics and women who have had multiple pregnancies or who take the birth control pill. Studies have also shown low fat diets can contribute as the minimal activity of the gallbladder results in a form of sluggishness.

Now some experts may tell you that your body is more than capable of coping with post gallbladder surgery for the rest of your life.  Hmmm that could also be because some physicians in the modern world also do not consider digestive disorders to be of significance. Since the gallbladder acts as a kind of switched on drip that is triggered by the consumption of fats when food is eaten, the removal of the gallbladder means there is no intermediary and the bile salts are delivered into the intestines on a continuous basis causing diarrhea and in some cases bowel cancer due to the irritation of the intestinal wall lining.

Ayurveda sees this situation as aggravated by the pitta dosha and affects individuals of a pitta, kapha or pitta/kapha nature. The basic idea is that there is too much heat and congestion that forms in the gallbladder. And aside from the excess amount of oily, fermented, sour and pungent foods, one aspect that I want to bring to attention is the storage of heated emotions in the liver, namely chronic anger, hate, envy and jealousy.

I have noticed a common theme of gallbladder removal amongst more and more young women. And I have noticed a thickening of the waistline resulting in a frustration from women that have tried intense exercise and dieting to lose weight but without success. This is where Ayurveda treats the individual and NOT the disease. Weight loss is treated according to the dosha at play, and in the case of Pitta, less intensity, not more, is the protocol followed as well as rejuvenating the liver to be able to digest the fats. There is such a situation as trying too hard for some body types. It seems counter-intuitive that to lose weight you would try less but it works for the Pitta dosha. And the fierce intensity borne from the frustration of not having the weight move like you expect it to promotes more frustration and anger, ending in a self defeating loop.

It triggers in me a couple of questions/curiosities - 

  1. Why is it not standard procedure to ask patients about their digestive capacity? The patient would surely recollect times of when they were unable to digest certain foods. This link would prompt further investigation and encourage a preventative care option.

  2. If birth control pills are known to contribute to gallbladder issues, why are they given as medicine for reproductive disorders? The fact that the liver is impaired should trigger one to link it to the possible inability to process hormones.

  3. Dr Lad states emotions need to be processed and metabolised. If there is an awareness that takes place, then the agni (digestive fire) of the liver is able to release it. Ayurveda links emotions to organs and considers it vital to allow emotions to flow freely. If you are a frequent drinker you effectively de-stabilise the ability of the emotion to process by reducing the effectiveness of the liver to metabolise. The inner voice is stunted.

It saddens me that the way we deal with repressed heated emotions is by surgery; it feels like stories get cut short and thrown away. And all it would take is a few basic questions to release the heat.

This is a cry out to women of all ages to seek the guidance of a professional that will ask you how you feel. You have options.

You have people that will see the whole of you.