Turmeric for Gallbladder Problems

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. 

25 Comments

    1. Turmeric can help in gallbladder polyps by lowering cholesterol, inflammation and as a chemopreventive agent. Turmeric is not advised in case of gallbladder stones as it cause gallbladder contraction and if there is an obstruction this can be really painful.

      You can take Golden Paste. Start with small doses such as 1/4 tsp a day for a week and if you see no side effect such as abdominal pain then increase the dose by 1/4 tsp every week. Continue till you reach a dose of 1 tsp 2-3 times a day if there is no side effect.
      Best taken with food to avoid acid reflux. Avoid taking it at the same time when you take other meds. http://www.turmericforhealth.com/turmeric-recipes/how-to-make-turmeric-paste-or-golden-paste
      If you want to consume a turmeric beverage here are a few recipes:
      http://www.turmericforhealth.com/turmeric-benefits/brew-a-cup-of-turmeric-tea
      http://www.turmericforhealth.com/turmeric-recipes/benefits-of-turmeric-milk

  1. Hi There, I recently had “an episode” that I thought was acid reflux, but now believe was a bile duct obstruction. Not knowing the proper dosage (my bad!),I had been taking 2K and sometimes 4K mg of tumeric each day. Along with this, I was also taking one 325 mg aspirin and 2 grams of cod liver oil (again, my bad!). One morning I had some very strong SBC coffee and that’s what seemed to kick off “the episode.” it was extremely painful, going all the way through my chest to my back and last around 3 hours. In addition, I experienced a very upset stomach, with a lot of gas and bloating. Thinking I may have gallstones, I went to my doctor, who immediately made an appointment for a CT scan THAT DAY. No gallstones, but there appears to be “a mass” inside my liver 2-3 cm. I have an appointment with a gastroenterologist on Tuesday. I’m sure they assume it’s cancerous. I’m pretty certain my pain was due to overdose of turmeric in combination with aspirin, coffee and fish oil. Is it possible the “mass” is related to that as well? Also, 22 years ago I healed myself of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma through juicing, raw fruits and vegetable and a vegan diet (not to mention much prayer). Fortunately I had a doctor who prescribed “watch and wait” as an option. Ironically, a friend at work had the exact same thing I had, went the chemotherapy route and died within a year. Sorry for rambling, but would appreciate your thoughts.

    1. Turmeric supplements at high doses should be avoided and in any case should not be taken on an empty stomach as that can trigger acidity. Also turmeric supplements should not be taken at the same time as other medications as that might increase the concentration of drugs in the blood which in turn can have side effects.
      Turmeric definitely will not trigger development of mass in the liver. It would actually protect the liver. The combination of supplements at high doses could have triggered the acid reflux. Many people report that turmeric does not go well with coffee, but them some love the combination too.
      We would suggest taking a doctor’s advice on this and based on the evidence available turmeric may help you heal the mass by virtue of its anti-tumor property.

  2. Kidney stones: This could just be a coincidence, but after taking turmeric for a month I had my first (hopefully only) calcium oxalate kidney stone, at age 50. A very painful experience indeed. Later I found out that turmeric is high in calcium oxalate, so if you are prone to forming kidney stones, I suggest being careful.

    1. Yes Edward thank you for pointing this out. Turmeric is high in oxalates and this could increase your risk to developing kidney stones if you already have a high dietary oxalate load. In such case it is advisable to use supplements if needed and to limit turmeric intake.

  3. I have PBC (Primary Biliary Cirrhosis) which is an autoimmune disease of the bile ducts/liver. I have found that using turmeric, dandelion and other gallbladder stimulants causes pain and discomfort if I use them every day. Moderation is the key for me, so I use turmeric in my diet in small amounts and not every day. As the saying goes, “Less is more”. I don’t take any regular medication, but if I did, I’d be even more cautious. My experience with doctors is that they don’t have a clue about diet. I’ve worked out what suits me through trial and error.

  4. hi im lovely i have gallbladder polyps and im taking turmeric juice extract 5ml-10ml almost every night before i go to bed, now my question is it safe for me taking that amount?

    1. Turmeric taken in diet is not likely to cause any problem. Turmeric juice at a dose of 5-10ml shouldn’t cause any problem. Curcumin on the other hand is found to cause gallbladder contraction which can be painful if one suffers from bile passage obstruction.
      A more therapeuutic way of taking turmeric is Golden Paste. 1-2 teaspoons once or twice a day can help.http://www.turmericforhealth.com/turmeric-recipes/how-to-make-turmeric-paste-or-golden-paste

  5. Curcumin increases the production of bile and if the biliary duct is partially blocked by calculi, the pressure buildup can be very uncomfortable.

    1. Dietary turmeric at low doses can be consumed and would not pose any risk for gallstone. By low doses it would mean 1/4 to 1/2 tsp.

  6. Hello, I was diagnosed with gallstones in 2015 .No pain or discomfort.Came as a complete surprise.
    No operation suggested.
    I would like to use Turmeric for other issues ( and have done but stopped when adviced it could interfere with the gallstones )
    Any ideas.

    1. Dietary turmeric would not cause a problem with gallstones. You can limit your intake to a low dose say 1/2 tsp daily. Its the turmeric supplements which may cause a problem since they cause contraction of the gall bladder which may cause pain in presence of gallstones.

    1. I caught this answer to your question on another website – good news: And now, finally!, we get to the question of the day: can we take curcumin IF we’ve had our gallbladder removed? The answer is YES. I recently contacted Prof. Aggarwal as well as a friend of mine who happens to be a well-known Tuscan urologist and whom I will call Dr. B. from now on. They both concurred that people who have had their gallbladders removed can indeed take curcumin. In fact, Dr. B. told me that he had his gallbladder removed years ago, and that he has been taking curcumin without any problems.

  7. 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?

    1. 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.

    2. Hi Angela,

      In the summer of 2014 I was in & out of hospitals (I NEVER go to allopathic doctors, much less hospitals) to get help in easing the pain of gallstones blocking my gallbladder’s bile duct. This happened 4 times in the month of June of that year. I only allowed them to give me pain killers and IV hydration. I just needed some respite from the pain in order to get a plan of action together. Which I did: The last time I went in, I had already started on Andreas Moritz’s “The Liver and Gallbladder Miracle Cleanse”,

      I had done my one week of Apple juicing and I was on the first day of fasting, which is also when you start the flushing of the stones from your liver and gallbladder. I was in a lot of pain, but I took the first and second doses of Epsom Salts before departing for the hospital. And I took all my flushing paraphernalia with me in a bag. I needed help with the pain because they had warned me that I was also suffering from pancreatitis due to the obstruction and that was super painful and dangerous as well. So, I got the painkiller at the hospital, which knocked me out. But I was so focused on completing the cleanse that I managed to wake up on time for the Olive oil/grapefruit flush that night and also for the Epsom salts doses the next morning. We are told these flushes and doses have to be timed precisely and I managed to comply. The next morning, I started passing the stones and I was ready to go home by that afternoon.

      I also continued doing one full flushing protocol per month, at the new moon each time, and went for colonic irrigation before and after each flush, as recommended by the book, until no further stones were forthcoming for 2-3 months in a row. I think I did a total of 8 protocols.

      I started eating out less and less. Almost all my food is fresh, homemade and organic. I also took/take lots of enzymes with every meal: Bromelain, Pancreatin and Super Enzymes (all from NOW Foods). I also take Lactose Defense Formula whenever I eat any dairy, and Beano for any gas-causing veggies. I alkalize the water I drink with AlkaPure drops, because we have hard well water.

      Since mid-May of this year, I also started Juicing, after watching a documentary called “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead” on Netflix. That was very motivating and I have been juicing ever since. In fact, since I started juicing, I have started losing weight for the first time in years and years! True, I also stopped eating sugar, wheat, corn, potatoes and rice. But the juicing has been the one thing to finally bring back a healthy hue to my face. I had been pale as death for years with heavy circles under my eyes and a very tired expression overall. Now, my cheeks are pink again and my eyes are bright and alive.

      I have not had a recurrence of gallstones ever since that last hospital visit. The doctors at the two hospitals I went to over that one month all tried very hard to convince me to part with my gallbladder. But, when I questioned them thoroughly about the possible outcomes and/or repercussions, the whole idea just didn’t seem all that promising. The answers they gave me weren’t terribly reassuring. So, I opted to do the above. And I can’t tell you how happy I am that I made that choice!

      My Dad had had his gallbladder removed and a few years later, he died of colon cancer, which had metastasized to his liver. I have never liked conventional medicine. The universities doctors study at are Big-Pharma driven and most doctors never take the time to put two and two together. They just keep pushing the pills and treatments they are told to do, never noticing (sometimes just not caring) that they are more harmful than useful, in the long run. So I prefer to go my own way. I have learned homeopathy over the years and that has helped me and my family tremendously too.

      I have been drinking the Turmeric Tea now too. It feels good. Especially since I have started to experience a bit of arthritic pain in my hips and fingers. This really seems to help. I think I will be making some of the Golden Paste too, for ease of use. Sounds like a winner.

      Nothing is bothering my gallbladder anymore.

      I wrote out all of the above because I have had this experience with gallstones and, the way I treated them and am treating them, my diet has not had to be bland at all. Perhaps it can help you too.

      Steph

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