22 Symptoms of GallBladder Disease:
Bile is an important digestive fluid that is produced by the liver and stored in a concentrated form within the gallbladder. Bile’s main digestive responsibility is to emulsify fats and create fatty acids that can be readily absorbed and used by the body. When the body has metabolic problems that lead to poor bile production and utilization it can cause serious health disturbances.
Unfortunately, the mainstream medical system has no solution for sluggish bile production which is also termed “biliary stasis.” They just watch and wait until the gallbladder gets so log jammed with gall stones that it needs to be removed. This process takes years and is completely avoidable.
A review study in the British Medical Journal found that 50% of patients who had a gallbladder surgery didn’t see improvement in their digestive health complaints (1). This article discusses the functions of bile and symptoms of gallbladder disease.
4 Major Functions of Bile:
1) Fatty Acid Metabolism: Bile salts are critical for the emulsification of dietary fats into bioavailable fatty acids. Without adequate bile production and utilization, one will have trouble digesting fats and fat soluble vitamins such as vitamin A, D, E, K.
2) The Excretion of Waste Products: The liver’s job is to metabolize and deactivate toxins and bile grabs the toxins and helps bring them through the digestive tract and out in the stool. Bile also helps to encourage the peristaltic action of the intestines which drives fecal matter through and out of the body.
3) Kill off Bad Microbes: The small intestine should normally not have a lot of bacteria in it and this is partly due to the presence of bile salts (2). Salts are a natural preserving agent that reduce bacterial fermentation. Poor bile production can lead to increased bacterial fermentation and the development of small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), Candida or parasitic overgrowth.
4) Blood Sugar Metabolism: Bile is needed to break down fatty acids for good fat metabolism. Poor fat metabolism will cause blood sugar instability (3, 4). Additionally, bile receptors FXR and TGR5 help to regulate lipid (fat) and carbohydrate metabolism as well as the inflammatory response (5, 6). The bile acids then activate these receptors.
22 Symptoms of GallBladder Disease:
These symptoms indicate that your gall bladder may not be functioning well. You may have several of these, rarely will you have all of them.
1) Nausea and Vomiting: Any disruption in the digestive tract can result in a feeling of nausea and vomiting at times. This is a common issue with poor bile motility.
2) Fatty/Greasy Stools: Poor bile release leads to a failure to effectively emulsify fats in the diet and leads to undigested fat being excreted in the stool.
3) Pain Between the Shoulder Blades: The liver and gallbladder themselves do not feel pain, but the nerves that innervate them also go into the muscles in the back. In particular, the area just under the right shoulder blade.
4) Abdominal Pain: When the liver and gallbladder are inflamed, it can cause swelling, distension and pain throughout the abdominal region. Sometimes the whole rib cage will feel sore or just “awkward,” due to the distension.
5) Chronic Gas and Bloating: Poor bile production will lead to poor bowel motility and microbial overgrowth and fermentation. The fermentation process leads to gas production which can cause bloating and cramping.
6) Itchy Skin: This is also called pruritis. When the gallbladder is obstructed it leads to a rise in a compound called autotaxin (ATX) and lysophosphatidic acid (LPA) which causes the characteristic itching (7).
7) Yellowing of the Skin: Bilirubin is a yellow pigment and when the body is unable to metabolize bilirubin effectively, it ends up seeping into the tissues near the skin. This is a condition called jaundice.
8) Headaches and Migraines: Gall bladder congestion can cause stress on the body and more gut based inflammation. Both of these mechanisms can increase tension in the blood supply around the skull and brain and lead to headaches and migraines.
9) Constipation and Diarrhea: Poor bile motility will slow down the peristaltic action of the intestines resulting in a greater degree of constipation and often times alternating bouts of diarrhea and constipation.
10) Light Colored Stools: The bilirubin in bile helps to create the classic browning of the stool. If you are noticing lighter colored stools frequently it may be due to poor bile function.
11) Sexual Dysfunction: Sluggish biliary function can cause a decrease in overall sex hormone balance as the liver metabolizes the steroid hormones estrogen, testosterone and progesterone. As a result, the individual may have issues with menstrual function, sexual function and fertility.
12) Bitter Taste in Mouth: This will often happen after meals and is due to bile regurgitation.
14) Hypothyroidism: Individuals with hypothyroidism will typically have a sluggish biliary system. It is hard to say what comes first, but they do feed into each other.
15) Loss of Hunger: A feeling of constant fullness is often a sign of a sluggish digestive system and that includes biliary stasis.
16) Dry Skin and Hair: Poor fatty acid absorption will result in poor fatty acid utilization and fat soluble vitamin deficiencies (A, E, D & K). This can lead to dry, scaly skin and hair thinning and dryness among other problems.
17) Chemical Sensitivities: Individuals who have a greater reaction to chemicals are often plagued by a sluggish liver and biliary system.
18) History of Prescription, Over The Counter or Illegal Drug Use: These can all place undue stress on the liver and cause it to be overburdened, which also leads into biliary stasis.
19) Weight Loss Resistance: If we cannot metabolize fatty acids well than we cannot use the calories they provide which will then cause our blood sugar to be unstable. Blood sugar instability will cause hormonal changes leading to weight loss resistance.
21) Constant Runny Nose: This can indicate a need for bile salts.
22) IT Band Pain: The iliotibial (IT) band runs from the lateral side of the hip down to the lateral side of the knee. This band can often be very tight and painful in individuals with gallbladder dysfunction.
Additionally, sluggish bile can lead to microbial overgrowth and infection. If the gall bladder gets infected, one may notice pain in the right rib cage are and a fever. Many of these symptoms can be mistaken for other conditions like kidney stones, heart attack and hepatitis.
Sources For This Article Include:
- Bateson MC. Gallbladder disease. BMJ : British Medical Journal. 1999;318(7200):1745-1748.
- Hofmann AF, Eckmann L. How bile acids confer gut mucosal protection against bacteria. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2006;103(12):4333-4334.
- Wei J, Qiu de K, Ma X. Bile acids and insulin resistance: implications for treating nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. J Dig Dis. 2009 May;10(2):85-90. PMID: 19426389
- Hylemon PB, Zhou H, Pandak WM, Ren S, Gil G, Dent P. Bile acids as regulatory molecules. J Lipid Res. 2009 Aug;50(8):1509-20. PMID: 19346331
- Fuchs M. Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease: The Bile Acid-Activated Farnesoid X Receptor as an Emerging Treatment Target. Journal of Lipids. 2012;2012:934396.
- Li Y, Jadhav K, Zhang Y. Bile acid receptors in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Biochem Pharmacol. 2013 Dec 1;86(11):1517-24. PMID: 23988487
- Serum autotaxin is increased in pruritus of cholestasis, but not of other origin, and responds to therapeutic interventions Link Here