Gallbladder disease (cholecystitis) has personally affected my life. I experienced my first symptoms over ten years ago, which started with extreme heartburn and quickly progressed to severe pain in my right abdomen, then radiating to my right shoulder and arm. It was completely immobilizing and would last for hours. I discovered that oftentimes, it was typically triggered by foods high in fat.
What Causes Gallbladder Disease and Treatment Options
Gallbladder disease is an inflammation of the gallbladder, often where gallstones block the cystic duct, which impede the flow of bile, causing swelling, pain, and related symptoms. In terms of Western medicine, options for treatment are limited. One option is to have the gallbladder removed, which is invasive. That option was presented to me and it didn’t feel like the right one. I felt a strong urge to investigate the “why” and the “what went wrong" — my curious nature in action. I wanted to work to heal my body, if it was possible. Since my condition wasn’t life threatening, my doctor allowed me the space to investigate alternatives, while we watched my progress over time. On the advice of a friend, I turned to Chinese medicine.
In Chinese medicine, the Gallbladder has many important functions and is paired with the Liver. Functions of the Gallbladder include the ability to store and excrete bile and to make and follow through on decisions. It also affects the health of our sinews, resulting in smooth joint movement and good muscle action.
In treating gallbladder disease and its related symptoms, acupuncture focuses on helping the liver qi to move freely with acupuncture and herbal formulas. We also seek to reduce the excess heat and damp (think sludge) clogging up the gallbladder. In addition to this treatment, it is recommended to improve diet, which includes the reduction of fried and spicy foods, alcohol, and often dairy. It is also vital to reduce stress through meditation, exercise, and activities for which you have a passion. Expressing emotions is also key to the free flow of liver qi and a healthy gallbladder; it is imperative to allow frustration, anger, and resentment to find a healthy outlet from your body.
How I Maintain my Gallbladder Health
Today, I maintain my gallbladder health through Chinese herbs and acupuncture, diet, and supplements, which help me to remain symptom free. Some days, however, it's still hard and I’m challenged to make healthier food choices. But, I am thankful for my journey because it led me to studying Chinese medicine and sharing its healing power with others.
If you are experiencing gallbladder symptoms and are considering an alternative to surgery, I encourage you to setup an appointment. We can discuss if we can relieve your symptoms, heal your gallbladder and bring your body back into balance.