Is gallbladder removal absolutely necessary in all cases? The gallbladder is a small pouch like organ which sits just under the liver, its job is to store bile, which is produced by the liver. The gallbladder empties bile into the small intestine, and bile is responsible for the breakdown of fats.
A case of a 14 year old female ( whom we will call Jessica), recently presented at the clinic, she was advised by two specialists that her gall bladder needed to be removed quite quickly. Understandably Jessica’s mother was extremely concerned about her daughter having an organ removed at such a young age and that’s why she had wanted a second specialist appointment and then found herself ready for an alternative view……..!
So lets have a look at Jessica’s case
- rib pain
- poor immunity
- exaggerated mood responses
- daily headaches
Jessica’s Initial Blood Test Results
These where the abnormal results that Jessica initial presented with, run by her doctor, these are liver enzymes and these elevations are associated with liver damage.
- elevated gamma-glutamyl transerase (GGT) 99 U/L
- elevated aspartate aminotransferase (AST) 228 U/L
- elevated alkaline phosphatase (ALT) 137 U/L
- elevated lactase dehydrogenase (LD) 323 U/L
An ultrasound also revealed a fatty liver and a single 16mm gallstone, with no evidence of inflammation.
Naturopathic Treatment begins
There was no time to waste, we had weeks to normalise the situation, naturopathic recommendations:
- begin an elimination and challenge diet, removal of certain commonly intolerant foods this included gluten, dairy and processed products.
- supplements given included silymarin, a herb that is protective to the liver, magnesium and B vitamins to support energy, cravings and mood.
2 weeks later
We reviewed Jessica in 2 weeks and below are Jessica’s comments:
- rib pain disappeared within a couple of days
- I feel happier
- My energy levels are heaps better
- bowel movements are formed and easier to go
- only 2 headaches in two weeks!
Jessica was sent to go and redo her blood tests to check what impact had been made on her liver.
Pathology Results Reveal
- normal gamma-glutamyl transerase (GGT) 16 U/L
- normal aspartate aminotransferase (AST) 78 U/L
- normal alkaline phosphatase (ALT) 11 U/L
- normal lactase dehydrogenase (LD) 200 U/L
Not only had Jessica’s liver enzymes reduced, they had completely normalised! Jessica was sent back to her GP, and his recommendation was that she did not need to go back to her specialist/s – thanks doc 🙂
Where To From Here?
With Jessica’s GP we are now investigating the possibility of coeliac disease. We are challenging foods that where eliminated one by one, to open up Jessica’s diet, education around whole food eating has commenced. Strategies to dissolve the gallstone have also begun, with the recommendation of another ultrasound in 6 to 12 months to measure progress.
A final Note!
For Jessica at such a young age of 14, this change of direction from a gall bladder removal, to education around her health, in terms of the effects of food on her body, restoring her liver health, improving her mood and energy, education around how she should expect her bowels to move and education that headaches are a sign of ill health, is an unbelievable turnaround for her health now and in the future! I take my hat off to Jessica’s mother, her determination and gut feeling that this just wasn’t right is one of the most treasured and powerful gifts a mother could give her child.
- Whilst the job of the gallbladder is purely to store bile for the liver, ready to drop bile into the intestines on demand, in response to dietary fat intake. Removal of any organ should be only undertaken as a last resort!