Gallstones are hard deposits that form inside the gallbladder, a small organ located behind the liver on the right side of your abdomen.
Gallstones can range in size from smaller than a grain of sand to larger than a golf ball. According to the American Medical Association, 80 percent of gallstones are made of hardened cholesterol that develops when there is too much cholesterol in the gallbladder. Other causes include high levels of bilirubin and a concentration of bile in the gallbladder.
Pregnancy, obesity, diabetes, liver disease, a sedentary lifestyle, a high-fat diet, and certain forms of anemia are some of the risk factors for gallstones. People older than 60 years of age, females, and people of Native American or Hispanic descent have a greater risk of gallstones.
Many people develop gallstones and never know it. But when a gallstone obstructs the bile duct, it can cause symptoms like a sudden onset of severe pain especially in the right side of the abdomen, back pain, nausea or vomiting, bloating, indigestion, chills and clay-colored stools. The pain caused by gallstones may last for a few minutes to several hours.
Gallstones can cause a lot of pain and must be treated immediately. So, consult your doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment. There are several natural home remedies too that you can use to prevent and treat gallstones.
Here are the top 10 home remedies for gallstones.
1. Apple Cider Vinegar
The acidic nature of apple cider vinegar stops the liver from making cholesterol that is responsible for forming the most common type of gallstones. It also plays a key role in dissolving gallstones and alleviating pain.
- Mix one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in a glass of apple juice. Drink it whenever you have a gallstone attack. This will significantly ease the pain within 15 minutes.
- Alternatively, you can add two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar and one teaspoon of lemon juice to a glass of warm water. Drink it on an empty stomach in the morning. Doing this regularly for weeks can dissolve gallstones and prevent pain.
2. Lemon Juice
Another good ingredient for keeping gallstone attacks under control is lemon juice. It stops your liver from making cholesterol, which helps in faster recovery. The pectin in lemon juice is believed to help get rid of gallbladder pain attributed to stones.
Plus, the vitamin C in lemon juice makes cholesterol more water soluble, which promotes faster elimination of waste products.
- Drink fresh juice squeezed from four lemons each day on an empty stomach. Follow the drink with a glass of water. Continue this therapy for a week.
- Alternatively, you can drink four tablespoons of lemon juice mixed in a glass of warm water every day on an empty stomach. Continue this treatment for several weeks until the gallstones are eliminated from the body.
Peppermint aids digestion by stimulating the flow of bile and other digestive juices. Plus, it has a compound called terpene that can effectively dissolve gallstones. It is also believed to help relax spasms and relieve acute gallbladder pain.
- Boil one cup of water.
- Add one teaspoon of dried peppermint leaves.
- Remove from heat, cover and steep for five minutes.
- Strain and add one teaspoon honey.
- Enjoy the tea while it is still warm, twice daily for four to six weeks. Drink it between meals for maximum results.
4. Vegetable Juice
When suffering from gallstones, it is essential to cut down on fried and fatty foods. For a week or two, follow a strict diet based on fruit and vegetable juices. A mixed vegetable juice made of beetroot, cucumber and carrots is a good remedy for gallstones.
Beetroot helps cleanse the liver and strengthens the gallbladder. Cucumber’s high water content is great for detoxifying the liver and gallbladder. Carrots are rich in vitamin C and other nutrients that are good for the immune system.
- Extract the juice from one beetroot, one cucumber, and four medium-size carrots.
- Mix them and drink this juice twice a day.
- Follow this remedy for two weeks and you’ll notice a huge improvement in your condition.
Psyllium is a very good source of soluble fiber, hence it is considered a good remedy for gallstones. The fiber in psyllium binds to the cholesterol in bile and helps prevent gallstones from forming.
Plus, it promotes normal bowel movements, which reduces the risk of the gallbladder system becoming congested. In addition, psyllium prevents constipation, a condition associated with increased gallstone formation.
- Add one tablespoon of psyllium powder to a glass of water.
- Mix well and drink it two times a day.
- Repeat daily until your gallstones are gone.
Note: When taking psyllium, make sure you drink lots of water as it absorbs water.
Dandelion is another very useful herb for the treatment of gallstones. It contains a compound known as taraxacin that helps in bile excretion from the liver. This also helps detoxify and metabolize fat accumulated in the liver. When the liver starts functioning properly, it aids gallbladder functioning.
- Place one teaspoon of dried dandelion root in a cup. Pour hot water into the cup, cover it and let it steep for five minutes. Strain and add honey to taste. Drink this tea two or three times a day for one or two weeks.
- Alternatively, you can prepare an herbal tea by adding two teaspoons of marshmallow root and one teaspoon of Oregon grape root to four cups of water. Let it simmer for 15 minutes and then remove from heat. Now, add two teaspoons of dried dandelion leaves and one teaspoon of dried peppermint leaves and allow it to steep for 15 minutes. Finally, strain and drink this tea throughout the day.
Also, you can eat the tender dandelion greens by adding them to your salad or steaming them.
Note: Those who are diabetic should avoid dandelion.
7. Milk Thistle
Milk thistle is another good cure for gallstones. This herb contains a bitter substance called silymarin that stimulates bile production. Increased bile production, in turn, decreases its concentration and helps flush out gallstones. Milk thistle also aids in liver functioning.
- Grind one tablespoon of milk thistle seeds in a coffee grinder or crush them in a mortar and pestle. Put the crushed seeds in three cups of water and boil. Turn off the heat and then let it steep for 20 minutes. Finally, strain the tea, add honey for taste and drink it two to three times a day for one week.
- You can also take this herb in supplement form. For proper dosage, consult your doctor. Usually, it is suggested to take 420 mg regular standardized milk thistle extract a day in three divided doses. If the extract contains phosphatidylcholine then the standard dose is 100 to 200 mg, two to three times a day.
8. Castor Oil
Castor oil has many medicinal and healing properties that can help minimize and reduce the number of gallstones. Its anti-inflammatory properties help neutralize inflammation and reduce pain. Plus, castor oil packs have a positive effect on the immune and lymphatic systems.
- Gently warm one cup of pure, cold-pressed castor oil in a pan.
- Soak a piece of cheesecloth in the warm oil, and then squeeze out the excess oil.
- Put the wet cheesecloth over the right side of your stomach where the gallbladder is located.
- Cover the cheesecloth with a plastic sheet.
- Next, put a hot water bag on the plastic sheet for 30 to 60 minutes.
- Follow this treatment at least three times a week until you recover completely.
Pears can also provide relief from gallstone pain and other symptoms. The compound pectin present in pears helps soften cholesterol-filled gallstones, which in turn get flushed out of your body easily.
- Mix half a glass of pear juice with half a glass of hot water. Mix in two tablespoons of honey. Drink this juice three times a day for two weeks.
- Alternatively, peel and de-seed some pears. Cut the pears into small pieces and cook them in water for about 20 minutes. Eat a bowl of the warmly cooked pears twice daily for two weeks.
Researchers from the University of East Anglia found that wine can actually help prevent gallstone attacks. They studied the diets of 25,639 people over 10 years. Those who drank two units of wine (a medium-sized glass of wine) daily reduced their risk of developing gallstones by one third.
When suffering from gallstone pain, drink half a glass of wine and within 20 minutes you will get relief from the pain. In fact, half a glass of wine daily can also reduce the number of gallstone attacks by as much as 40percent.
Before taking any of the herbal remedies such as dandelion, peppermint or milk thistle, make sure to first consult your doctor as they may not be suitable in some cases.
Also, along with these remedies, you need to drink plenty of water. Water helps keep bile in the gallbladder and assists the body in breaking down fat that could otherwise worsen your condition. For maximum benefits, drink six to eight glasses of water daily.