The gallbladder is a small sac located underneath the liver. It is used as a reservoir to store bile released by the liver. Bile is a fluid that helps break down fats in our food. It removes toxins from the liver as well. The gallbladder plays a vital role in digestive health. In this article, we’re going to discuss the best herbs and supplements for gallbladder health.
What Health Issues Can Affect the Gallbladder?
Two primary issues can affect the gallbladder. These are:
- Cholelithiasis (gallstones)
- Cholecystitis (inflammation of the gallbladder)
It is possible to have gallstones or gallbladder inflammation without symptoms; if you develop large ones, they can block the bile duct that leads from the gallbladder, which can cause severe pain and interfere with proper digestion—especially of foods with fats. If not removed, gallstones that block this duct can become life-threatening. At this stage, treatment requires surgical removal of the gallbladder.
What Are the Symptoms of Gallstones?
Some of the most common symptoms of gallstones include:
- Pain in the upper right side of the abdomen, most commonly experienced after eating fatty foods
- Loss of appetite
What Causes Gallstones?
The gallbladder is like a storage container for bile. Bile is primarily made up of three different substances—cholesterol, bilirubin, and bile salts. Gallstones may form if bile contains too much cholesterol, too much bilirubin, or not enough bile salts. Researchers still do not fully understand why these changes in bile occur. Still, evidence suggests that high cholesterol levels and issues with liver function are connected to gallstones. Gallstones may also form if the gallbladder does not empty or empty often enough.
How Can I Support Gallbladder Health and Prevent Gallstones?
Taking care of your body and overall health can help prevent gallstone formation. In particular, the following tips are recommended for supporting gallbladder health:
- Eat a whole foods diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables.
- Aim to eat organic foods and avoid foods grown with pesticides
- Eat foods high in B-vitamins and iron, like whole grains, sea vegetables, and dark leafy greens.
- Eat foods rich in antioxidants, like berries, melons, and grapes.
- Make sure you are getting the recommended daily intake of fiber each day.
- Eliminate any food you have an allergen too. While all foods affect people differently, common food allergens include dairy, wheat, soy, corn, eggs, and chemical additives.
- Avoid refined foods like refined sugars and grains.
- Avoid cooking with industrial oils like canola, vegetable, and palm oil.
- Limit your red meat consumption
- Avoid or limit consumption of alcohol and cigarettes.
- Exercise regularly
Best Supplements for Gallbladder Health
Some of the best supplements for gallbladder support include:
1. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is an essential vitamin and a powerful antioxidant. It also is excellent for immune system support. Vitamin C is also needed by the body to convert cholesterol to bile acids and may help reduce symptoms of gallstones.
This mineral is involved in over 300 enzyme reactions and is essential for many body processes. Unfortunately, it is also a nutrient that many people are deficient in. Magnesium may also increase bile secretion and relax the gallbladder sphincter, resulting in gallbladder emptying and consequently a reduction of gallbladder volume.
3. Vitamin D
Another essential vitamin, vitamin D, is vital for bone and teeth health. It also plays an important role in regulating bile salts. Thus it is essential for preventing gallstones.
This natural compound is a phospholipid that may be able to help dissolve gallstones.
This organic compound has been used for dissolving and flushing out gallstones.
Best Herbs for Gallbladder Health
Many herbs have been shown to support gallbladder health, lower gallbladder inflammation, and eliminate gallstones. Some of the best herbs for gallbladder problems include:
1. Chanca Piedra
Chanca piedra (Phyllanthus niruri) is a medicinal herb used extensively for clearing kidney stones and gallstones. The bioactive compounds found in the chanca piedra plant have been shown to interfere with many stages of stone formation. In addition, they may work by relaxing the ureters and ducts, helping expel stones and fragments.
2. Gravel Root
Gravel root (Eutrochium purpureum) is another medicinal herb that has been used for dissolving stones—both kidney stones and gallbladder stones. Not only does gravel root help to dissolve existing stones, but it may also help to prevent stone formation.
Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) is a popular herb commonly used as an herbal tea. It also has numerous health benefits, including easing gallbladder pain and supporting digestive health. Chamomile also contains sesquiterpene lactone content that may help the liver prime its detoxification pathways.
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is a fantastic herb with powerful free radical scavenging activity, which may help support gallbladder health and prevent the formation of gallstones. Ashwagandha is also an adaptogenic herb that helps the body better adapt to, and recover from, stress.
Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is excellent herbal support for liver function. It is also powerfully anti-inflammatory. Liver and gallbladder health are intimately connected, so you may also improve gallbladder health by supporting the liver with herbs like turmeric. In addition, turmeric’s anti-inflammatory effects may also help reduce gallbladder inflammation.
6. Milk Thistle Seed
Milk thistle seed (Silybum marianum) is one of the best herbs for supporting liver health. Milk thistle seeds contain a high amount of silymarin, a compound with potential antioxidant, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties known to support liver health. In addition, studies have shown that milk thistle may help protect the liver from toxins and support liver function, which may support gallbladder health and function.
7. Green Tea
Green tea (Camelia Sinensis) has potent antioxidant effects that may support gallbladder health by preventing oxidative stress caused by free radicals. In addition, Catechin, a polyphenol found in green tea, has also been shown to prevent liver inflammation.
8. Globe Artichoke
Globe artichoke (Cynara scolymus) has the unique ability to increase bile production. This may help to cleanse the liver and gallbladder and may help flush out bile stones. However, suppose there is a bile duct obstruction from a gallstone. In that case, globe artichoke is not recommended as it may trigger a gallbladder attack.
9. Olive Leaf Extract
Olive leaf (Olea europaea) extract is known for various potential health benefits, including improving heart health, supporting healthy cholesterol levels, and protecting the digestive tract. Because it supports healthy cholesterol levels, it may also help to regulate bile production and gallbladder health, as well as help prevent the formation of gallstones.
10. Burdock Root
Burdock root (Arctium lappa) is another good herb for gallbladder health. It has powerful antioxidant properties and is very beneficial for liver health. Studies show that burdock root may help to fight liver damage. It is also well-known for its potential blood-purifying properties.
11. Red Rooibos
Red rooibos (Aspalathus linearis) may also support gallbladder health due to their excellent liver-supporting properties. Studies on red rooibos consumption have shown that it may increase the levels of antioxidants in the liver and help regulate liver enzymes.
Kidney and Gallbladder Cleanse Tonic
Here at Zuma Nutrition, we have developed an herbal supplement that explicitly addresses kidney and gallbladder issues, helping to support the elimination of stones.† Our Kidney & Gallbladder Cleanse Tonic uses the top four herbs for supporting gallbladder health:
- Chanca Piedra
- Gravel Root
Our formula uses a therapeutic extraction process that can concentrate the active ingredients into a therapeutic liquid extract that is significantly more potent than regular tea powders or capsules. Together, these herbs may help to remove gallstones and support gallbladder health.† Plus, the herbs in this formula are 100% sustainable and wildcrafted—which means no pesticides, preservatives, chemical fillers, or genetically modified ingredients.
Liver Detox and Support Tonic
In addition to creating a kidney and gallbladder health supplement, we have formulated an herbal liver support formula that can help to remove built-up toxins in the liver, rebuild damaged liver tissue, and support optimal liver health and function.† Keeping your liver in good health is essential for supporting gallbladder health. The herbs in our Liver Detox & Support Tonic include:
- Olive leaf extract
- Milk thistle seed
- Red rooibos
- Burdock root
Our team of master herbalists has carefully selected the herbs in our Liver Detox & Support Tonic. They are synergistically formulated to create a powerful tonic for liver health.†
Best Supplements & Practices for A Healthy Gallbladder
Suppose you are looking to improve your gallbladder health. In that case, we recommend supplementing with our Kidney & Gallbladder Cleanse tonic and our Liver Detox & Support tonic, as liver health and gallbladder health are intimately connected. In addition, it is recommended to:
- Eat a whole foods diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables
- Buy organic produce whenever possible
- Focus on eating in a way that supports digestion
- Get adequate amounts of fiber in your diet
- Avoid high cholesterol-forming foods
- Avoid overeating and unhealthy eating habits
- Avoid toxins and foods with chemical additives (processed foods, junk foods, etc.)
- Drink plenty of water each day
- Keep stress levels low
- Focus on getting 8 hours of sleep each night
- Exercise regularly
- Avoid or limit alcohol consumption
Suppose you have any health concerns or are curious about how to improve gallbladder health. In that case, it is recommended to consult with your doctor. While herbs and supplements may help to support gallbladder health, it is not advised to try to treat a severe gallbladder issue on your own. Instead, seek professional medical care if you have severe gallbladder issues or concerns.
A gallbladder attack can be a medical emergency make sure you are under the supervision of your doctors for any treatment.