Turmeric for Gallbladder Problems

Filed by author in Turmeric Benefits 4 Comments

The gallbladder is found under the liver. This pear-shaped organ stores bile made by the liver and this is used to digest fat. Both the liver and gallbladder are connected to the small intestine through the bile duct. When the gallbladder gets infected, we can suffer from inflammation of this organ called cholecystitis or gallstones known as cholelithiasis. Gallstones are the most common type of gallbladder disease and symptoms include vomiting, nausea and pain under the right arm, back or abdomen. 

Gallstones can be as small as a sand grain or as big as a golf ball. If the problem persists, the gallbladder maybe surgically removed to avoid further complications. If the stone is tiny, then medications maybe used to dissolve it. However this could take long and the stones could reappear after a couple of years. Obese people, women under hormone replacement therapy and sudden weight loss that is followed by increased weight can all cause gallstones.  

Turmeric And The Gallbladder

Turmeric offers many antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits and these could help in treating patients after a gallbladder surgery. In India, curcumin is used for its healing properties and for pain and fatigue. A group of 50 patients were given curcumin 3 weeks after they underwent gallbladder surgery. These patients were advised to maintain a careful record of pain, fatigue and other post-operative symptoms. The patients were studied at periodic intervals after surgery. After weeks one and two, patients had lower pain and fatigue scores after taking curcumin and after week three, they were free of pain. Curcumin usage showed better results than that of analgesics.  

A combination of turmeric, dandelion, rosemary essential oil and artichoke is often used to treat gallbladder and liver disorders. Of all these natural products, turmeric was the most effect in protecting the gallbladder and liver against oxidative stress. Dandelion and artichoke also proved effective. This study offers hope for using these ingredients for commercial use in modern treatment for liver cancer and oxidative stress.   

Herbs like turmeric are available for medicinal purposes. Turmeric is said to benefit people with gallbladder problems according to certain turmeric and gallbladderalternative medicine practitioners.  It is suggested that lower incidences of gallstones and liver problems in India is because of the use of turmeric in everyday cooking. Further human studies are required to establish this fact since turmeric could also increase gallbladder contractions. 

Turmeric is highly valued for its ability in protecting the liver. It is said to stimulate production of bile by the liver and in helping bile get excreted through the gallbladder. This helps in fat digestion by the body.   

A study was conducted on the ability of curcumin to reduce cholesterol gallstones. Young male mice were fed a lithogenic diet along with curcumin for 10 weeks. The mice fed this combined diet had a reduction in gallstone production compared to mice that were fed a pure lithogenic diet that had 100% gallstones. Curcumin fed mice also had reduction in biliary cholesterol. A dose of 0.5% curcumin had better effect than lower doses of 0.2-1%. 

It has been reported that a turmeric supplement of 20-40mg may increase gallbladder contractions in people who do not have any prior gallbladder disease. This could help prevent gallstone formation by helping the gallbladder empty out its bile contents. However, in those already suffering from gallbladder diseases, it could increase symptoms of gallstones. Hence, turmeric supplements should be taken with caution and under advisement of a doctor. 

Dosage 

Standardized curcumin extract could help improve liver function. The standard dose is 300mg thrice daily to protect the functioning of the liver.  In a study by Malaysian researchers, 3 curcumin doses were tested for the gallbladder. It was found that 40mg curcumin could contract 50% of the gallbladder in 2 hours. There was no direct linear relationship between the degree of contraction and the curcumin dosage.  Turmeric supplements are combined often with bromelain to improve anti-inflammatory benefits and absorption levels. Other ways to take turmeric is to use liquid extracts, cut root, dried powdered root or tincture. 

Precautions

Turmeric is safe when consumed as a food. This herb has been used for centuries to treat various diseases and to strengthen the immune system. However, taken in high doses and for long periods, turmeric could cause indigestion, nausea, diarrhea and dizziness. Anyone who suffers from gallstones or other gallbladder problems must inform their doctor before taking turmeric supplements (as a spice is fine). Pregnant and breastfeeding women, diabetes patients and those scheduled for surgery may need to avoid turmeric supplements. 

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  • Chris Gray

    Is it safe for patients who have already had gall bladder removed?

    • KeshavK

      Chris, I am sorry but I would suggest you consult a doctor for this.

  • Angela Soete

    Hi! I had some tests run over a year ago to try to find out why I was feeling sick after eating. Long story short, tests revealed that my gallbladder was only operating at 2% (as per a HIDA scan (Western Medicine)). I had never had pain/gallstones and still do not. I refused to go have surgery the next day like my gastroenterologist had strongly suggested. Instead, I turned to alternative medicine. I started taking a bromelein supplement before my meals, and I still have my gallbladder. I still feel ill after eating, on occasion. I have not consumed my favorite ethnic foods (Indian, Thai, Vietnamese) in a very long time because I am not sure how my body would react (I developed multiple food allergies, so now my diet is very basic….and bland. :-( )

    I was reading up on the turmeric (particularly the warnings because apparently too much of the good thing can exacerbate liver/GB/Stomach problems) at the suggestion of a friend, who said I should try applying turmeric essential oil to the bottoms of my feet. I imagine I would do ok with ingesting small quantities of the spice itself in food. I would think it would be an even gentler approach to apply the oil to the feet like I do some of my other essential oils.

    Thoughts?

    • KeshavK

      Hi, sorry to hear about your health issues. I am sure they will pass soon. I have no idea if turmeric oil on feet can be of help. But on the same hand there will be no side effects too – so I am sure you can try this. Using turmeric as spice is considered very safe (within the daily dosage) it is the supplements and their overdose which is an issue. But again, if in doubt please consult your doc.