Gateway Health News

Gallstones

2015-08-06
Gallstones

Psyllium Husk Fibre/Oat Bran Fibre
Diets that are low in fibre are positively correlated with the development of gallstones.
Indeed fibre appears to be one of the most important dietary factors, with gallstones
being a rare condition among populations with high fibre intake. On the other hand
diets that are low in fibre and high in fat and sugar lead to reduced bile synthesis and
low bile acid concentration. Fibre also reduces the impact of deoxycholic acid, a
compound made from bile by the action of intestinal bacteria. Deoxycholic acid
reduces the solubility of cholesterol in bile, making gallstones more likely.

Dandelion
Dandelion has a long history of use as a tonic to the liver. It has been shown to
enhance bile flow, thus improving conditions such as liver congestion, bile duct
inflammation, hepatitis, gallstones, and jaundice. Dandelion increases bile flow by
affecting the liver directly to cause an increase in bile production and flow to the
gallbladder, and by causing contraction of the gallbladder resulting in the release of
stored bile. In this manner it acts as a lipotropic agent (reduces the accumulation of
cholesterol and fat in the liver). The high choline content of dandelion combined with
various bitter principles are thought to be the primary reasons for this action.

Phosphatidylcholine (PC)
Phosphatidylcholine, found in lecithin, acts as a lipotropic agent (i.e. prevents
accumulation of fat and cholesterol in the liver). Fat and cholesterol build-up can
compromise the liver’s capacity to function in detoxification, metabolism & bile
production, and can also lead to the development of gall bladder and bile duct
disorders (e.g. gallstones). Higher phosphatidylcholine in the bile ensures that
cholesterol remains in solution, rather than being deposited in the bile duct. However,
whilst there is evidence to support the protective role of PC against the development of
gall stones, there is no firm evidence that PC can reduce the size of existing stones.

Lipotropic Nutrients
Choline, methionine and inositol are most common among a group of nutrients known
as lipotroic factors, that hasten the removal and decrease the deposition of fat in the
liver. These nutrients are particularly helpful in any liver or gallbladder condition
related to poor fat removal, including gallstones.

Milk Thistle
Milk thistle has wide ranging liver-supportive properties and may offer benefits in
relation to gallstones. Recent studies suggest that Milk Thistle may help prevent new,
and dissolve existing gallstones via its ability to increase the solubility of cholesterol in
the bile.

Gallstones Summary
Nutrient/Herb Typical intake range
Psyllium husk fibre 2-6g per day with large glass of water
Dandelion root extract (4:1)1 250 – 500mg per day
Phosphatidylcholine2 250 – 1000mg per day (elemental PC)
Lipotropic nutrients (inositol, choline, methionine) 1000mg of each per day
Milk Thistle extract (80% silymarin)3 175 – 525mg per day

Reduce/avoid
Caffeinated beverages
Sugar
Refined carbohydrates
Saturated and trans fats
Allergen
Animal proteins
Fried foods

Increase

Vegetarian proteins
Complex carbohydrates
Vegetables
Fruit
Nuts and seeds
Oily fish
Whole grains
Water

Lifestyle Factors
Vegetarian diets are associated with lower incidence of gallstones
Prevention of gallstones is best action – high fibre, vegetarian diet could be key

Footnotes
1. Do not use during pregnancy or lactation. May potentiate the effects of blood pressure
medication, diuretics and anti-diabetic medication. Concrrent use under medical supervision
only.
2. May cause deepening of depressive symptoms in clinical (non-bipolar) depression - use under
medical supervision only.
3. Not to be used in pregnancy or lactation. Drugs metabolised by the P450 enzyme system may
interact with Milk thistle. Check medication with GP before concurrent use.