Healthy Digestion After Gallbladder Removal

Dandelion seeds on stem

Gallbladder problems are an extremely common occurrence in the adult population with thousands of people having to undertake gallbladder removal due to pain and discomfort. Most people expect this discomfort to end post-surgery, however in a vast majority of cases it is common to have just as much discomfort after the gall bladder is removed.

People who have had gallbladder removal often complain of digestive discomfort including frequent bowel movements, gas, bloating and liver problems. The risks of developing a fatty liver are also greatly increased.

The function of the gallbladder

The gallbladder is a small organ located on the underside of the liver and its main function is to store bile that is produced by the liver. Bile is a substance that helps break down fats from the foods we ingest so that we can absorb some of these for the manufacture of hormones and other compounds. Any extra bile that the liver produces is stored in the gallbladder until the next meal containing fats when it is released from the gallbladder into the intestines.

Without a gallbladder, normal digestion is possible but often this proves not to be the case because the liver produces trace amounts of bile on an ongoing basis, which trickle into the small intestine however when you eat a meal containing fats, often the bile in the small intestine is simply insufficient to digest all the fats which can result in diarrhoea, bloating, nausea and/ or symptoms of indigestion.

Additionally, not digesting fats means that the body cannot absorb essential fatty acids, the good fats such as omega 3 and omega 6. Aside from possible essential fatty acid deficiency, the absorption of oil soluble vitamins such as A,D,E and K may also be compromised.

Healthy digestion after gallbladder removal

It is important to realise that gallbladder problems often arise as a result of a compromised liver function. It may be that the quality of bile produced by the liver is poor, which then results in bile forming a sludge and stones. Removal of the gallbladder will not solve this problem and if anything it may result in these stones forming in the liver which then results in less than efficient liver functioning.

My recommendations for healthy digestion post gallbladder removal include:

Eat some good fats and avoid bad fats including saturated fats. Although most people are recommended to have a low fat diet, this is not necessarily a good idea because the body requires essential fats for the production of hormones, cholesterol and numerous other compounds. Include moderate quantities of virgin olive oil, nuts, seeds and avocados.

Take a liver supporting supplement. This should include Milk Thistle, Dandelion and Artichoke which all work in synergy to enhance the production of extra bile. The increase in bile production should help to ease digestive problems and may prevent stone formation in the liver itself. A supplement containing all these three herbs is Milk Thistle Complex by Healthaid.

Many people with gallbladder problems will have suffered with poor digestion and digestive discomfort for years. These symptoms will often continue even after the removal of the gallbladder. Digestive concerns such as IBS, SIBO and candidiasis often cause insufficient digestive enzymes production. Taking a wheat, gluten and dairy free digestive enzymes supplement, such as Lamberts Digestizyme should help to restore good digestive health and reduce the symptoms of indigestion.

This content is not intended to replace conventional medical treatment. Any suggestions made and all herbs listed are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, condition or symptom. Personal directions and use should be provided by a clinical herbalist or other qualified healthcare practitioner.

Gut Health, Shabir Daya | , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
  • Helen Craigs

    I had my gallbladder removed about 10 years ago, and with each passing year my digestive problems have got worse. After reading this article I ordered the recommended digestive enzymes and milk thistle supplement. They’ve arrived promptly but I find the milk thistle tablet too large to take and even when broken into many pieces it ‘sticks’ on the way down! Is there an alternative capsule or liquid you could recommend that is easier to swallow please?

  • Victoria Health

    Hi Helen, you could try the A Vogel Milk Thistle Complex Tincture which contains the three herbs that work to aid liver detoxification and protection as per link below.
    Best wishes,