Credits: The Amazing Liver and Gallbladder Flush, by Andreas Moritz
The Most Common Causes Of Liver Disease And Gallstones
Bile consists of water, mucous, bile pigment (bilirubin), bile salts and cholesterol, as well as enzymes and friendly, essential bacteria. This greenish fluid is produced by liver cells that pass it into tiny canals, known as bile canaliculi. These join up to form larger canals which, in turn, connect with the right and left hepatic ducts. The two hepatic ducts join to form the common bile duct which drains bile from the liver and supplies the gallbladder with the right amount of bile required for proper digestion.
Any change in the composition of bile affects the solubility of its constituents and, hence, causes formation of gallstones. For simplicity sake, I have categorized gallstones into two basic types: cholesterol and pigment stones. Some cholesterol stones are composed of at least 60% cholesterol and have a yellowish color. Others have a pea-green color and are generally soft, like putty (these can consist of 5% cholesterol). Pigment stones are brown or black, owing to their high content of colored pigment (bilirubin). They may be calcified, are harder and more solid than the cholesterol stones. However, also cholesterol-based stones can become hard and calcified. Calcified stones can only be found in the gallbladder.
Abnormal composition of bile can occur in a number of ways.
Cholesterol is normally kept in liquid form through the dissolving action of bile salts and, of course, the availability of sufficient amounts of water. An increased amount of cholesterol in the bile overwhelms the dissolving capacity of the bile salts, thereby promoting the formation of cholesterol stones. Similarly, a decrease in the amount of bile salts also leads to cholesterol stone formation.
Insufficient water intake decreases the fluidity of bile. If this occurs, cholesterol cannot be dissolved properly; instead it reconstitutes into small and forms into small cholesterol pebbles. In time, the small pebbles gradually grow into larger ones.
Pigment stones form when the bile pigment, bilirubin, which is a waste product of the breakdown of red blood cells, increases in the bile. People with excessive amounts of cholesterol stones in the liver are at risk of developing liver cirrhosis, sickle-cell disease or other blood diseases. Any of these complications can produce higher concentrations of bilirubin pigment in the bile, hence the formation of bilirubin stones in the gallbladder.
When the composition of bile in the liver is no longer balanced, small cholesterol crystals begin to combine with other bile components to form tiny clots. These tiny clots obstruct the even tinier bile canaliculi. This slows the bile flow further, and more bile is added to the tiny clots. Eventually, the clots become large enough to be called stones. Some of these ‘grown’ stones may pass into the larger bile ducts and cluster together with other stones, or grow to larger sizes by themselves. The result is that bile flow becomes obstructed in the larger bile ducts as well. Once several of the larger bile ducts are congested, hundreds of smaller ducts also become affected, leading to a vicious cycle. Eventually, even the hepatic ducts begin to clog up, which drastically reduces the amount of bile available for the digestive process.
Sluggish bile flow in the liver alters the composition of bile even further, which subsequently affects the gallbladder. A small clot of bile in the gallbladder may take about eight years to grow large enough to be noticeable and become a serious health threat. It is known that 1 in Americans has gallstones in the gallbladder. Of these, 500,000 opt for a gallbladder operation each year. What is not known, however, is that almost every person with any kind of health problem has gallstones in the liver. Moreover, it is estimated that about 5% of adults in industrialised nations have gallstones in the biliary system of their liver. Gallstones in the liver can cause many more diseases than gallstones in the gallbladder. To prevent illness and generate a genuine and lasting breakthrough in the understanding and treatment of disease, we need to understand what exactly dehydrates the bile fluid, alters its natural flora, destroys its enzymes, increases its cholesterol content and changes the amount of bile pigment. The following four categories shed light on the most common factors responsible for causing gallstones.
Dietary mistakes possibly play the biggest role in producing imbalanced bile composition and, consequently, gallstones. Among all dietary mistakes, overeating affects health most severely. By regularly eating too much food or eating food more frequently than the body needs to nourish and sustain itself, the digestive juices (including bile) become increasingly depleted. This leaves large proportions of the ingested foods undigested, thus becoming a constant source of harmful microbial activity. Subsequently, more and more toxic substances begin to linger in the intestinal tract, leading to congestion of the lymphatic system and thickening of the blood. All this overtaxes the liver and excretory functions.
Intestinal disorders can greatly deplete bile salts in the body and, thereby, lead to formation of gallstones. This is most notably shown by the marked risk of gallstones among patients suffering from Crohn’s disease and other forms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
An imbalanced blood and lymph condition, caused by overeating, leads to decreased blood flow in the liver lobules, thereby altering bile composition and generating gallstones. Gallstones in the liver further congest the blood and lymph, which upsets the body’s basic metabolism. The more one overeats, the fewer nutrients become available to the cells of the body. In fact, constant overeating leads to cell starvation, which creates the strong urge of wanting to eat food more often than normal. The repeated desire to snack, known as food craving, is a sign of progressive malnutrition and metabolic imbalance. Moreover, it indicates imbalanced liver activity and presence of gallstones.
Eating to the point that you feel completely full or cannot eat any more food is a clear signal that the stomach has reached the point of dysfunction. Digestive juices in the stomach are only able to mix with the ingested food so long as the stomach is at least one quarter empty. Two-cupped handfuls of food equal about three-quarters the size of your stomach, which is the maximum amount of food the stomach can process at one time. Therefore, it is best to stop eating at the point when you feel you still could eat a little more. Leaving the dinner table slightly hungry greatly improves digestive functions and prevents gallstones and disease from arising in the future.
Eating Between Meals
Ayurveda, the most ancient of all health sciences, considers “eating before the previous meal has been digested” to be one of the major causes of illness. The following factors are among the most common reasons why people eat in between meals:
1. A stressful and hurried lifestyle.
2. The temptation generated by the huge variety of processed, refined and attractively packaged food stuff available
3. The convenience of having fast food meals (low in nutritional value) virtually any time.
4. Lack of satisfaction from foods eaten; hence, food cravings develop.
5. Emotional eating to comfort oneself and avoid dealing with fear insecurity issues.
Any or all of these may have contributed to the irregular eating habits prevalent in a large percentage of today’s population. As a general rule, the more foods are processed, the fewer nutrients they contain; and the fewer nutrients they contain, the more of them we need to eat in order to satisfy the daily nutritional requirements of the body. [Note: Taking food supplements can neither replace real food nor provide the satisfaction from eating which the body requires to successfully digest and process nutrients.]
Irregular eating habits, which include eating between meals, greatly upset the body’s finely tuned biological rhythms. Most of the important hormonal secretions in the body depend on regular cycles of eating, sleeping and waking. The production of bile and intestinal digestive juices, for example—necessary for breaking down foods into their basic nutrient components—naturally peak during midday. This suggests that the biggest meal is best eaten around that time. In contrast, the body’s digestive capacity is considerably lower during the morning and evening hours. If, day after day, the lunch meals consist merely of light snacks, the gallbladder cannot squeeze all of its contents into the intestines, leaving behind enough bile to form gallstones. Remember, the gallbladder is naturally programmed to release the maximum amount of bile during mid-day.
In addition, eating only non-substantial meals during lunchtime leads to nutritional deficiencies, often expressed through a frequent desire for food or drink that promise a quick energy boost. These include sweets, pastries, breads and pastas made from white flour (starches act like white sugar), chocolate, coffee, black tea, soda, etc.
With every little snack, the gallbladder releases a little bile. However, the secretion of just a little bile is not sufficient to completely empty the gallbladder, which raises the risk of gallstone formation.
Having a constant urge to eat between meals suggests a major imbalance of the digestive and metabolic functions. If you decide to eat something an hour or two after a meal, for example, the stomach is forced to leave the previously eaten meal half-digested and attend to the newly ingested food instead. The older food begins to ferment and putrefy, thereby becoming a source of toxins in the digestive tract.
The new food, on the other hand, receives only inadequate amounts of digestive juices, leaving it only half-digested as well. While the body is engaged in digesting a meal, it is simply incapable of producing and delivering sufficient amounts of bile and other digestive juices to properly handle a new meal. If this stop-and-go process is repeated many times, it results in the generation of ever-increasing amounts of toxins and ever-decreasing amounts of nutrients. Both of these stressful situations cause a reduction in bile salts and an increase of cholesterol production. Hence, the body is left with no other choice but to produce gallstones.
To escape this vicious cycle, allow yourself to go through the initial phases of food cravings with more awareness. Feel your body when it signals discomfort. Ask your self what it really wants. If you crave something sweet, try substituting with fruit. In many people the urge to eat is often a sign of dehydration. Drinking one or two glasses of water can stop the discomfort altogether. At the same time, make certain that you get a substantial and nutritious meal at lunchtime. In time, and provided you have completely cleansed your liver, your body will receive enough nutrients from this main meal to satisfy almost all of its daily nutritional requirements. This will effectively stop food cravings and the desire to eat in between meals.
Eating Heavy Meals in the Evenings
A similar eating disorder occurs when the main meal of the day is consumed in the evening. Secretions of bile and digestive enzymes are drastically reduced later in the afternoon, and especially after 6PM. For that reason, a meal consisting of foods such as meat, chicken, fish, cheese, eggs, oily or oil-fried foods, etc. cannot be properly digested at those times. Instead, such a meal becomes a source of toxic waste deposits in the intestines.
Undigested foods are always a cause of congestion, first in the intestinal tract, and then in the lymph and blood. This greatly affects the quality of digestion during daytime meals. Gradually, the digestive power, which is determined by balanced secretions of hydrochloric acid, bile and digestive enzymes, becomes subdued, causing similar side effects as a result of overeating. Therefore, eating a large meal in the evening is a major contributing factor in the development of gallstones in the liver. Eating food before going to sleep also upsets the digestive functions, for similar reasons. Ideally, there should be at least three hours between eating and bedtime. The ideal time for evening meals is at around 6PM.
Excessive Protein Consumption
Excessive protein consumption leads to thickening and congestion of the basement membranes of the blood vessels (capillaries and arteries), including the liver sinusoids. Consequently, much of the serum cholesterol is hindered from leaving the blood stream at the sinusoids. Therefore, the liver cells assume that there must be a shortage of cholesterol in the body. This ‘shortage’ stimulates the liver cells to raise cholesterol production to abnormally high levels (some of the cholesterol is needed to shield off damaged areas in the walls of arteries). However, many of the membranes and openings of the sinusoids are congested with accumulated protein fiber (collagen). Since this prevents the sinusoids from absorbing the produced cholesterol, almost all of it is forced to leave the liver via the bile ducts. Hence bile, which excretes cholesterol into the small intestines, becomes too saturated with cholesterol. This causes the formation of small clumps of cholesterol crystals, mixed with bile components, in the liver bile ducts and gallbladder.
Interestingly, Asians generally have a low protein but fat-rich diet rarely, and rarely have cholesterol stones in their gallbladders. On the other hand, cholesterol stones in the gallbladder are very common among Americans whose diet is rich in flesh and milk protein.
Dietary fats play only a secondary, almost insignificant role in raising cholesterol levels in the blood. The liver cells produce most of the cholesterol the body requires on a daily basis for the normal metabolic processes. It is only when the basement membranes of the sinusoids are thickened through protein deposits that the liver raises cholesterol production to abnormal levels. Other factors that also generate excessive amounts of protein in the blood include stress, smoking and drinking alcohol or coffee. Once enough of these degenerate proteins are deposited in the blood vessel walls, the liver cells automatically raise cholesterol production. The side effect of this response is gallstone formation.
If you are not a vegetarian it is best to cut out meat, pork, eggs and cheese, and keep other types of animal protein to a minimum. Although all animal protein has a gallstone-generating effect, white meat, including chicken, turkey and rabbit, cause the least damage to the liver, provided they are of free-range origin and not eaten more often than once or twice a week. It is best to avoid fried and deepfried foods as they aggravate both the gallbladder and liver. Once your taste for meat or other animal protein begins to diminish, you can gradually switch to a balanced vegetarian or vegan diet.
Over 2/3 of the world’s population is vegan and has no access to animal protein. It shows no signs of such degenerative illnesses as heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis, arthritis, etc. About 95% per cent of the body’s protein is recycled; the rest of it is manufactured by bacteria in the intestinal tract and/or supplied by plant foods. The common assumption that you need to eat protein-rich food on daily basis is not only misleading but also totally unscientific.Human breast milk is the most important and balanced food there is for a newborn child. However, in comparison with cow’s milk, it contains almost no protein, that is, just about 1.5%. Right from the beginning of life, the growing physiology is naturally prevented from receiving concentrated protein foods. It is, perhaps, for this reason that life-long vegans have the lowest incidence of gallstones, heart disease and cancer.
Other Foods and Beverages Drinks
Eggs, pork, greasy food, onions, fowl, pasteurized milk, ice cream, coffee, chocolate, citrus fruits, corn, beans (except soybeans) and nuts, in that order, are known to bring on gallbladder attacks in patients suffering from gallbladder disease. In a 1968 research study, an entire group of patients with gallbladder disease were free of symptoms while on a diet that excluded all of these foods. Adding eggs to their diet brought on gallbladder attacks in 93% of the patients. Egg protein, in particular, can have a gallstone-producing effect. Researchers believe that the ingestion of substances that cause allergies make the bile ducts swell up which, in turn, impairs the flow of bile from the gallbladder.
This assumption, however, is only partially true. From the Ayurvedic point of view, gallstone formation is Pitta disorder, affecting mostly the Pitta body type. Pitta literally means bile in Sanskrit. Bile is naturally secreted in large amounts among people with this body type, but is also easily aggravated, i.e., its constituent parts become imbalanced, when any of the above foods are eaten in large amounts, or on a regular basis. This does no mean that Pitta types are naturally prone to gallbladder disease; rather, it means that these individuals are not designed to digest such foods because they are not required for their growth and sustenance.
The Pitta body type is known to have only limited amounts of enzymes to break down certain foods or drinks, of which the most prominent are: sour dairy products, including cheese, yogurt and sour cream; egg yolks; salty butter; all nuts except almonds, pecans and walnuts; hot spices, as well as ketchup, mustard, pickles, refined or processed salt; salad dressings that contain vinegar; spicy condiments (sauces); citrus fruit and juices; all sour and unripe fruits; brown sugar; whole (non-ground) grains, such as those contained in many whole wheat breads; brown rice; lentils; alcohol; tobacco; coffee and regular tea; colas and other soft drinks; artificial sweeteners, preservatives and colorings; most pharmaceutical drugs and narcotics; chocolates and cacao; left-over, frozen and microwave foods; all iced drinks.
Although the Pitta type is the most prone to develop gallstones, other body types are also at risk if they regularly eat foods that clash with their natural constitutional requirements.7 In addition, processed and preserved foods and beverages disturb liver functions in every body type. Foods that contain artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame or saccharine, severely upset the liver, gallbladder and pancreas.
Drinking alcohol on a regular basis has a dehydrating effect on bile and blood, and causes fat deposits in the liver; and so does eating foods that contain a lot of sugar. Also, carbonated drinks and fruit juices are loaded with sugar. The increased consumption of sugar among children may explain why such a high percentage of younger people today have already accumulated numerous gallstones in the liver, although relatively few children normally develop stones in the gallbladder at such an early age. (I personally know of numerous ill children, who have done the liver cleanse and released hundreds of gallstones.) Children rarely produce gallstones if they eat a balanced, vegetarian diet, that is rich in fruits, vegetables and complex carbohydrates.
A Word on the Effects of Refined and Unrefined Salt:
Natural sea salt contains 92 essential minerals, whereas, refined adulterated sea salt contains only two elements sodium (Na) and chlorine (Cl). When there is a dietary deficiency of trace elements, cells lose the ability to control their ions. This has dire consequences for the human body. Even if ion equilibrium is lost for only one minute, cells in the body begin to burst. This can lead to nervous disorders, brain damage or muscle spasms, as well as breakdown of the cell-regenerating process.
When ingested, natural sea salt (reconstituted seawater) allows liquids to freely cross body membranes, blood vessels walls and glomeruli (filter units) of the kidneys. Whenever the sodium chloride concentration rises in the blood, the water in the neighboring tissues is attracted to that salt-rich blood. This, in turn, allows the cells to reabsorb the enriched intra-cellular fluid. Healthy kidneys remove the saline fluids easily. Refined salt, however, poses a great risk to the body. It prevents this free crossing of liquids and minerals, thereby causing accumulated fluids to stagnate in joints, lymph ducts and lymph nodes and the kidneys. Its dehydrating effect can lead to gallstone formation and numerous other health problems.
The body requires salt to properly digest carbohydrates. In the presence of natural salt, saliva and gastric secretions are readily able to break down the fibrous store of carbohydrates. In its dissolved and ionized form, salt facilitates the digestive process and sanitizes the gastro-intestinal tract.
In contrast, commercially produced table salt has quite the opposite effect. To make salt resist re-absorption of moisture and, thereby, be more convenient for the consumer, salt manufacturers add chemicals as desiccants, as well as different bleaches, to the final salt formula. After undergoing processing, the salt can no longer blend or combine with human body fluids. This invariably undermines the most basic chemical and metabolic processes in the body. Water retention, kidney and blood pressure problems are the most obvious consequences of salt consumption. Refined salt is still added to thousands of different foods. Over fifty percent of the American population suffers from water retention (the leading cause of weight gain and obesity).
Before it was commercially produced, versus naturally harvested, salt was considered the most precious commodity on earth, even more precious than gold. During the Celtic era, salt was used to treat major physical and mental disturbances, severe burns and other ailments. Research has shown that seawater restores hydro-electrolytic imbalance, a disorder that causes loss of immune response, allergies and numerous other health problems. Today, salt has earned a bad name and people have learned to fear it, in the same way they fear cholesterol. Many doctors warn their patients to stay away from sodium and sodium-rich foods. But living salt-free lives also means having increased risk of mineral and trace mineral deficiency, as well as numerous other complications.
Celtic ocean salt is a particularly good product to ingest because it is naturally extracted through sun drying. If taken dissolved in water or added to the moisture of foods, it has profound, positive effects on the cellular levels. It can also be used to cleanse and detoxify the gastro-intestinal intestinal tract. .
Many people today suffer from dehydration without being aware of it. Dehydration is a condition in which body cells do not receive enough water for basic metabolic processes. The cells can run dry for a number of reasons:
- Lack of water intake (anything less than one liter of pure water per day)
- Regular consumption of beverages that have diuretic effects, e.g., coffee, tea, colas, soda and alcohol, including beet and wine
- Regular consumption of stimulating foods or substances such as meat, hot spices, chocolate, sugar, tobacco, narcotic drugs, etc.
- Most pharmacological drugs
- Excessive exercise
- Overeating and excessive weight gain
- Watching television for several hours every day
Any of these factors have a blood thickening effect and, thereby, force cells to give up water. The cell water is used to restore blood thinness. To avoid self-destruction, however, the cells begin to hold on to water. They do this by increasing the thickness of their membranes. The clay-like substance, cholesterol, helps to surround the cells and prevent loss of cellular water. Although this emergency measure may preserve water and save the cell for the time being, it also reduces the cell’s ability to absorb new water, as well as muchneeded nutrients. Some of the unabsorbed water and nutrients are accumulated in the connective tissues surrounding the cells, causing swelling of the body and water retention in the legs, kidneys, face, eyes, arms and other parts. This leads to considerable weight gain. At the same time, the blood plasma and lymph fluids become thickened and congested. Dehydration also affects the natural fluidity of bile and, thereby, promotes the formation of gallstones.
Tea, coffee, cola or chocolate share the same nerve toxin (stimulant), caffeine. Caffeine, which is readily released into the blood, triggers a powerful immune response that helps to counteract and eliminate this irritant. The toxic irritant stimulates the adrenal glands, and to some extent, the body’s many cells, to release the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol into the blood stream. The resulting sudden surge in energy is commonly referred to as ‘the fight or flight response.’ If consumption of stimulants continues on a regular basis, however, this natural defense response of the body becomes overused and ineffective. The almost constant secretion of stress hormones, which are highly toxic compounds in and of themselves, eventually alters the blood chemistry and causes damage to the immune and nervous system. Future defense responses are weakened and the body becomes more prone to infections or other ailments.
The boost in energy experienced after drinking a cup of coffee is not a direct result of caffeine, but the immune system’s attempt get rid of it (caffeine). An overexcited and suppressed immune system fails to provide the ‘energizing’ adrenaline and cortisol boosts needed to free the body from the acidic nerve toxin caffeine. At this stage, people say that they are ‘used’ to a stimulant, such as coffee. So they tend to increase their intake of it to feel the ‘benefits.’ The often-heard expression “I am dying for a cup of coffee” reflects the peril of this situation.
Since the body cells have to continuously sacrifice some of their own water for the removal of the nerve toxin caffeine, regular consumption of coffee, tea or colas causes them to become dehydrated. For every cup of tea or coffee you drink, the body has to mobilize about 2-3 cups of water just to remove the stimulants, a luxury it cannot afford. This also applies to soft drinks, drugs or any other stimulants, including watching TV for many hours (see more about this in the article on Lifestyle). As a general rule, all stimulants have a strong dehydrating effect on bile, blood and digestive juices.
Rapid Weight Loss
Overweight people are at greater risk of developing gallstones than people of average weight. It is an undisputed fact that there are significant health benefits to be gained from losing excess pounds.
Many people, for example, can normalize high blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels through weight loss.
Vitamin D3 can also help lower blood pressure. Do you know Vitamin D3, also known as the “sunshine vitamin”, can be manufactured in the skin when the body is exposed to sunlight. However, as we age, the absorption of Vitamin D3 can be decreased. Vitamin D3 is the active form of Vitamin D. Vitamin D2 is a cheaper synthetic version that is ineffective. Vitamin D is necessary for healthy bones, muscles, and cells. It also helps the body absorb and use phosphorus and calcium. When one is exposed to sunlight for 15 to 20 minutes a day, they can absorb about 10,000-15,000 IU of Vitamin D3 each day.
However, achieving rapid weight loss through diet programs that advise very low intake of calories each day increases a person’s risk of developing gallstones, both in the liver and gallbladder. Some lowcalorie diets may not contain enough fat to enable the gallbladder to contract sufficiently to empty its bile. A meal or snack containing approximately grams (one-third of an ounce) of fat is necessary for the gallbladder to contract normally. If this does not happen, the gallbladder retains the bile, which subsequently leads to stone formation.
Obesity is associated with increased cholesterol secretion into the bile ducts, which raises the risk of developing cholesterol stones. When obese individuals undergo rapid or substantial weight loss by following an unbalanced diet program, the congested and, therefore, undernourished body seeks to utilize nutrient and fat components from reserve deposits. This quickly raises blood fats and further increases the risk of gallstone formation. The sudden formation of gallstones among people following rapid weight loss programs appears to be a result of increased cholesterol and decreased bile salts in the bile.
Gallstones are also common among obese patients who lose weight rapidly after gastric bypass surgery. (In gastric bypass surgery, the size of the stomach is reduced, preventing the person from overeating.) One study found that more than one third (3 %) of patients who had gastric bypass surgery developed gallstones afterwards. Gallstones are most likely to occur within the first few months after surgery. The research findings, however, relate only to gallstones in the gallbladder. The damage done to the liver, itself, through this procedure is likely to be far greater than just causing a few gallstones in the gallbladder.
If substantial or rapid weight loss increases the risk of developing gallstones, the obvious way to reduce this risk is to lose weight more gradually. In fact, this problem is solved when toxic waste deposits are removed from the body, including gallstones, and a balanced lifestyle and appropriate diet are implemented. In such cases, weight loss does not increase the risk of gallbladder disease, but reduces it.
By eliminating all stones from the liver and gallbladder, an obese person can drastically improve digestive functions and gain energy rather than waste. Such an approach cuts out the harmful side effects that may be associated with sudden weight loss.
Low Fat Diets
The promotion of a low fat diet as the most healthy diet of all can be held partly responsible for the continuous increase of liver and gallbladder disease among the population in the Western hemisphere. Foods high in protein are still heralded as the most important food to provide physical strength and vitality. Fats, on the other hand, have been branded as a culprit for causing many of today’s chronic diseases. Yet, fats alone certainly cannot be held responsible for causing diseases such as atherosclerosis.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, heart attacks were extremely rare anywhere in the world. Since that time, fat consumption, per capita, has remained almost the same. What has risen most dramatically in the affluent parts of the world, however, particularly since World War II, is the consumption of protein. The overconsumption of protein foods in industrialized nations has caused an unprecedented number of circulatory diseases and fatalities through heart attacks. In comparison, these health problems occur only very rarely among ethnic groups who consume mostly vegetarian foods. In fact, a report issued by the American Medical Association stated that a vegetarian diet could prevent 97% of all cases of thrombosis leading to heart attacks.
Although a balanced vegetarian diet may contain larger amounts of fats, the fats do not seem to have any detrimental effects on the circulatory system. By contrast, overeating proteins of animal origin causes thickening of liver blood vessels, which leads to gallstone formation; and gallstones cut down bile production in the liver. Diminished bile secretions reduce the body’s ability to digest fats. Due to indigestion, weight gain and other discomforts arising therefrom, a person is naturally advised to cut down on fats. But this further prevents the gallbladder from completely emptying its bile contents, which leads to more problems with fat digestion.
Eventually, the body will run short of useful essential fats and fatsoluble vitamins. This prompts the liver to increase cholesterol production, which causes even more stones to be formed. The less fat the body receives with the food, the worse the situation becomes. But since fats cannot be digested properly, the body enters a vicious circle, which in most cases can only be stopped by removing all gallstones from the liver and gallbladder, and then gradually increasing fat intake to normal levels.
Low fat milk, for example, may be one of the culprits that start off this vicious cycle. In its natural state, full fat milk contains the right amounts of fats required for the digestion of milk proteins. Without the natural quantity of fat in the milk, the gallbladder is not stimulated to release the right amount of bile required to digest both the milk proteins and the milk fats. Hence, proteins and fats are left undigested in the gastro-intestinal tract. The proteins putrefy and the fats turn rancid. All this leads to severe lymphatic congestion, as is often seen among formula-fed babies suffering from intestinal colic. This may be responsible for the formation of gallstones in the liver of very young children. Even the whole fat milk offered in food stores today has a reduced fat content, certainly not sufficient to make milk digestible for most people.
2. Pharmacological Drugs
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) and Birth Control Pills
The risk of developing gallstones is four times higher among women than men. It is especially high among women who have used or use birth control pills and hormone replacements. According to medical research, oral contraceptives and other estrogens double a woman’s chance of developing gallstones. The female hormone, estrogen, contained in contraceptive pills and hormone replacements increases bile cholesterol and decreases gallbladder contraction.Therefore, this estrogen-effect may not only be responsible for causing gallstones in the liver and gallbladder, but also for many other diseases that arise from diminished liver and gallbladder functions. Earlier medical research also implicated progestogens contained in HRT drugs in the development of gallstones.
Women who go through menopause can find great relief from menopausal symptoms by doing a series of liver cleanses. Improved liver performance and an increased production of bile, in particular, can prevent and reverse osteoporosis and other bone/joint problems if diet and lifestyle are also balanced.
Other Pharmaceutical Drugs
Medications prescribed for people to lower their body fat (lipids), including clofibrate (Atromid-S) or similar cholesterol-lowering drugs, actually increase cholesterol concentrations in the bile and, thereby, lead to an increased risk of gallstones. These drugs lower blood fats, which they are designed to accomplish. This, however, causes the liver cells to assume that the body is running short of fats; hence, they produce more cholesterol which is secreted into the bile ducts. The imbalanced composition of bile (excessive cholesterol) causes gallstones, both in the liver and gallbladder. Octretide, one of the new generations of ‘statin’ drugs, prevents the gallbladder from emptying itself after a fatty meal, leaving plenty of bile behind to form stones. The dangers involved in such a method of medical intervention are obvious; they are certainly more serious than having raised levels of blood fats (contrary to common belief, there is no scientific evidence, to date, that shows heart disease is caused by high blood fats).
According to several studies published in various medical journals, such as the Lancet, there are certain antibiotics that also cause gallstones. One of these is ceftriaxone, used to treat lower respiratory tract infections, skin and urinary tract infections, pelvic inflammatory disease, bone and joint infections, as well as meningitis.
Similarly, anti-rejection drugs given to kidney and heart transplant patients increase the likelihood of gallstone formation. Also, thiazides, which are water pills used to control high blood pressure, may bring on gallbladder disease in patients with gallstones.Furthermore, children taking furosemide are likely to develop gallstones, according to research published in the Journal of Perinatology. And prostaglandins have no fewer side effects.
All drugs are toxic by nature and require detoxification by the liver. Yet, impaired liver function permits many of the poisonous chemicals to enter the bile. This alters the natural balance of its constituents and leads to the development of gallstones in the liver and gallbladder. It may be worth mentioning that the above findings only refer to gallstones in the gallbladder and do not reveal the severity of damage that these drugs can cause to the liver itself. If pharmacological drugs are able to generate some gallstones in the gallbladder, it can be assumed that they produce hundreds, if not thousands, of them in the liver bile ducts. Time and again, I, personally, have observed that people who have taken medical drugs in the past, have had considerably more gallstones than those who took none. Symptomatic treatment always has a price tag attached to it; that is, the impairment of basic liver functions. It is far easier and more beneficial for the body to remove all gallstones, restore normal blood values and improve digestion and waste removal than to suppress symptoms of any disease. Symptoms are not the disease, they only indicate that the body is attempting to save and protect
itself. They signal the body’s need for attention, support and care.
Disrupting the Biological Clock
The way we organize and live our lives has a tremendous impact on how our body functions. The body’s efficiency and performance largely depend on predetermined biological rhythms that are in synchrony with the so-called circadian rhythms of nature. Circadian rhythms are closely linked with the movements of our planet around the sun and its axis. They are also influenced by the motions of the moon and other planets in relation to the position of the earth.
Our body follows more than 1,000 such 24-hour rhythms. Each individual rhythm controls the timing of an aspect of our body’s functions, including heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, hormone levels, secretion of digestive juices and even pain threshold. All these rhythms are well co-ordinated with one another and are controlled by the brain’s ‘pacemaker device,’ known as suprachiasmatic nuclei. This area of the brain regulates the firing of nerve cells that seem to set the clocks of our biological rhythms. If one rhythm becomes disrupted somehow, other rhythms are thrown off balance too. There are, in fact, numerous disorders that can arise from interference with one or more of our biological rhythms, as a result of ‘mistakes’ in our lifestyle.
This particular section deals with some of the most common ‘deviations’ that particularly affect the functioning of the liver and gallbladder. By attuning your daily routine to the natural schedule of your body, you can greatly assist it in its ceaseless effort to nourish, cleanse and heal itself. Moreover, you can also prevent new health problems from arising in the future.
The Natural Sleep/Wake Cycles
Our natural sleep/wake cycles and basic body processes are regulated by the alteration of day and night. The onset of daylight triggers the release of powerful hormones (glucocorticoids), of which the main ones are cortisol and corticosterone. Their secretion has a marked circadian variation. These hormones regulate some of the most important functions in the body, including metabolism, blood sugar level and immune responses. Peak levels occur between 4AM and 8AM, and gradually decrease as the day continues. The lowest level occurs between midnight and 3AM.
People change their natural, daily sleep/wake schedule in a number of ways. The peak of cortisol’s cycle changes if, for example, you regularly go to sleep after midnight, instead of before PM, and/or you arise in the morning after 8AM or 9AM, instead of with the sun, at around 6AM. This hormonal time-shift can create chaotic conditions in the body. Waste materials that have accumulated in the rectum and urinary bladder during the night, normally meant to be eliminated between 6AM and 8AM, are partially retained and reabsorbed. When you disrupt your natural sleep/wake cycles, the body’s biological rhythms become desynchronised with those regulated by darkness/daylight. This can lead to numerous types of disorder, including chronic liver, respiratory and heart diseases.
An upset cortisol cycle can also bring on acute health problems. It has been found that more strokes and heart attacks occur in the morning than at any other time of day. Blood clots form most rapidly at about 8AM. Blood pressure also rises in the morning and stays elevated until late afternoon. At around 6PM it drops off and hits its lowest point during the night. To support the basic hormonal and circulatory rhythms in the body, it is, therefore, best to go to sleep early (before PM) and rise no later than the sun does (ideally at around 6AM). [Note: These times change according to season. During the wintertime we may need a little more sleep; in the summer time we may need a little less.]
One of the pineal gland’s most powerful hormones is the neurotransmitter melatonin. The secretion of melatonin starts between 9:30- :30PM (depending on age), inducing sleepiness. It reaches peak levels between 1-2AM and drops to its lowest levels at midday.
The pineal gland controls reproduction, sleep and motor activity, blood pressure, the immune system, the pituitary and thyroid glands, cellular growth, body temperature and many other vital functions. All of these depend on the regular melatonin cycle, which can be disrupted by sleeping late or working night shifts.
The brain also synthesizes serotonin, which is a very important neurotransmitter related to our state of physical and emotional wellbeing. It affects day and night rhythms, sexual behavior, memory, appetite, impulsiveness, fear and even suicidal tendencies. Unlike melatonin, serotonin increases with the light of the day; physical exercise and sugar also stimulate it. If you get up late in the morning, the resulting lack of exposure to sufficient amounts of daylight reduces your serotonin levels during the day. And since melatonin is a breakdown product of serotonin, this also lowers the levels of melatonin during the night.
Any deviation from the circadian rhythms causes abnormal secretions of the brain hormones—melatonin and serotonin. This, in turn, leads to disturbed biological rhythms, which can upset the harmonious functioning of the entire organism, including metabolism and endocrine balance. Suddenly, we may feel to be ‘out of synch’ and become susceptible to a wide range of disorders, from a simple headache to depression, to a fully-grown tumor.
The production of growth hormones, which stimulate growth in children and help maintain muscle and connective tissue in adults, also depends on proper sleeping cycles. Sleep triggers growth hormone production. Peak secretion occurs at around 11PM, provided you sleep starts before PM. This short period coincides with dreamless sleep, often referred to as ‘beauty sleep.’ It is during this time that the body cleanses itself and does its main repair and rejuvenation work. If you are sleep deprived, growth hormone production drops dramatically. People who work the night shift have a greater incidence of insomnia, infertility, cardiovascular illness and stomach problems. Also, performance falls and accident rates are higher during the night.
Natural Meal Times
Ayurveda, the Science of Life, declared thousands of years ago that in order to maintain physical and emotional well-being, the body must be fed according to a natural time schedule. Like most other functions in the body, the digestive process is also controlled by circadian rhythms. The secretions of bile and other digestive juices peak at midday and are at their lowest during the night. For this reason, it is best to eat the largest meal of the day at around midday and take only light meals for breakfast and dinner. This enables the body to digest the food properly and absorb the appropriate amount of nutrients necessary for the maintenance of proper functions throughout the body. To avoid interfering with the secretion of digestive juices at lunchtime, it is ideal to eat breakfast not later than 8AM. The evening meal is digested most efficiently when eaten no later than 6PM to 7PM.
Any long-term disruption of this cycle, either caused by irregular eating habits or placing the main emphasis on evening meals and/or breakfast, leads to accumulation of undigested foods, lymph and blood congestion. This also disturbs our natural instinct. If it were fully alive and developed, we would naturally want to eat only those foods that are suitable for our body type, and eat these when we can digest them best. One of the leading causes of gallstone formation is accumulation of improperly digested foods in the intestinal tract.
Eating meals irregularly or having substantial meals at those times of the day when the body is not prepared to produce the appropriate quantities of digestive juices, generates more waste than the body is able to eliminate.
4. Miscellaneous Causes
Watching Television for Several Hours
Scientific research has shown that watching television can dramatically increase cholesterol production in the body. Cholesterol is also a stress hormone that increases during physical or mental strain. ‘Television-stress’ is especially pronounced among children, who can experience a soaring rise of up to 300% cholesterol within a few hours of watching television. Such excessive secretions of cholesterol alter the composition of bile, which causes formation of gallstones in the liver.
Exposure to television is a great challenge for the brain. It is far beyond the brain’s capacity to process the flood of incoming stimuli that emanate from an overwhelming number of rapidly changing picture frames appearing on the TV screen every split second. The resulting stress and strain takes its toll. Blood pressure rises to help move more oxygen, glucose, cholesterol, vitamins and other nutrients around the body, including the brain. All of these are used up rapidly by the heavy brainwork. Add to this the tension associated with the content of some programs—violence, suspense and the noise of gunshots, cars, shouting, etc.—and the adrenal glands respond with shots of adrenaline to prepare the body for ‘fight or flight’ response.
This stress response, in turn, contracts or tightens the large and small blood vessels in the body, causing a shortage of water, sugar and other nutrients in the cells.
There may be several kinds of symptoms resulting from this effect. You may feel tired, shattered, exhausted, stiff in the neck and shoulders, very thirsty, lethargic, depressed, and even too tired to go to sleep. Stress is known to trigger cholesterol production in the body. Since cholesterol is the basic ingredient of stress hormones, stressful situations use up large quantities of cholesterol to manufacture these hormones. To make up for the loss of cholesterol, the liver raises its own production of this precious commodity. If the body did not bother to increase cholesterol levels during such stress encounters, we would have millions of ‘television deaths’ by now. Still, the stress response comes with a number of side effects, one of which is the formation of gallstones.
A stressful lifestyle can alter the natural flora (bacteria population) of the bile, thereby causing formation of gallstones in the liver. One of the leading stress-causing factors in life is not having enough time for oneself. If you do not give yourself enough time, you will feel pressured. Continuous pressure causes frustration, and frustration eventually turns into anger. Anger is an indication of severe stress. Anger has a very taxing effect on the body that can be measured by the amounts of adrenaline and nor-adrenaline secreted into the blood by the adrenal glands. Under severe stress or excitement, these hormones increase the rate and force of the heartbeat, raise blood pressure and constrict the blood vessels in the secretory glands of the digestive system. In addition, they restrict the flow of digestive juices, including stomach acids and bile, delay onward movement and absorption of food, and inhibit elimination of urine and feces. When food is no longer digested properly and significant amounts of waste are prevented from leaving the body via the excretory organs, every part of the body becomes affected, including the liver and gallbladder.
This congesting effect, resulting from the stress response, gives rise to great discomfort on the cellular level and is felt as emotional upset. Chronic stress or, rather, the inability to cope with stress, is now held responsible for 85-95% of all diseases. These are commonly referred to as psychosomatic diseases. Stress-induced obstructions not only require deep physical cleansing, such as liver, colon and kidney purges, but also approaches that trigger relaxation.
During relaxation the body, mind and emotions move into a mode that supports and enhances all the functions of the body. Contracted blood vessels open again, digestive juices flow, hormones are balanced, and waste gets eliminated easily. Therefore, the best antidote to stress and its harmful effects are methods of relaxation, such as meditation, yoga, spending time in nature, playing with children or pets, playing or listening to music, etc. To cope with the fast pace of modern life and give the nervous system enough time to unwind and release any accumulated tension, it is vital to spend at least one hour a day by yourself, preferably in silence.
If you have had any stressful periods in your life, or currently have difficulties calming down or unwinding, you will greatly benefit from doing a liver cleanse. Having gallstones in the liver is, by itself, a major cause of constant stress responses in the body. By eliminating these stones, you will become naturally calm and relaxed. You may also discover that you once your liver is clean, you will become much less angry or upset about situations, other people or yourself, regardless of the circumstances.
Conventional Treatments for Gallstones
Conventional treatments for gallstones aim at either dissolving gallstones in the gallbladder, or removing the gallbladder through surgery. However, these treatments have no effect whatsoever on the large amounts of stones congesting the bile ducts of the liver. I wish to emphasize at this point that every person who has gallstones in the gallbladder has many more in the liver. The removal of the gallbladder or its stones does not substantially increase bile flow because the stones that are stuck in the liver bile ducts continue to hold up the flow of bile. Even in the case of surgical removal of the gallbladder, the situation remains very problematic for the body. Since the pumping device for bile (gallbladder) is missing, the little bile that is made available by the liver comes forth merely in a dribbling mode. So, the uncontrolled flow of bile into the intestinal tract continues to cause major problems with the digestion and absorption of food, particularly if it contains fat. The result is an ever- increasing amount of toxic waste that accumulates in the intestinal tract and lymphatic system. The restricted ability to digest and assimilate fats stimulates the liver cells to increase production of cholesterol. The side effect arising from this emergency maneuver of the body is the generation of more gallstones in the liver bile ducts.
Therefore, removing the gallbladder is not a solution to digestive problems but, rather, a cause of further and more serious complications in the body, such as cancer and heart disease.
Any treatment of the gallbladder, however advanced and sophisticated it may be, can only be considered a drop in the ocean because it does not remove the main problem, which is the congestion of bile ducts through hundreds or thousands of gallstones in the liver.
Conventional medicine offers three main approaches to treating gallstones:
1. Dissolving Gallstones
For patients with mild, infrequent symptoms, or those who do not want surgery, a number of different drugs are available that claim to dissolve gallstones. On the surface it seems like a good idea to gradually dissolve gallstones through drugs that contain bile salts (oral dissolution therapy). Given in pill-form over a period of twelve months, these drugs may achieve a decrease in cholesterol levels in the bile. But there is no guarantee for this. According to the British Medical Journal, the use of bile salts has a failure rate as high as 50%. In addition, many ‘successful’ patients simply do not experience complete gallstone dissolution in their gallbladder. For the few patients who do, the recurrence rate can be as high as 50%. Other dissolving agents, such as methyl tert-butyl ether, have no advantages over bile salts. Unsuccessful treatment may lead to surgery.
More recently, solvents have been directly instilled into the gallbladder by means of a small catheter placed in the skin. This approach has been shown to be more effective in dissolving cholesterol stones, but does not resolve the major issue—the accumulation of gallstones in the liver. There is not enough scientific research yet to determine what side effects accompany this method of treatment.
2. Shock Waves
Another alternative method to surgery is lithotripsy, a technique where the gallstones are literally pounded into submission by a series of sound waves. In a 1993 report by Lancet, this therapy has great setbacks because it can result in kidney damage and raise blood pressure. Both of these side effects can lead to an increase in the number of gallstones in the liver.
In addition, this procedure, in which gallstones are fragmented through shock waves, leaves toxic gallstone residue behind which can quickly become a breeding place for harmful bacteria and parasites and, therefore, infections in the body. Recent studies have confirmed that most patients undergoing this kind of treatment experience internal bleeding, ranging from a small hemorrhage to major blood loss that requires blood transfusion. This treatment also has a high stone-recurrence rate.
In 1991, 600,000 Americans had their gallbladder removed through surgical intervention. Since then, the number has steadily increased. A gallbladder operation costs between $8,000 and $ ,000 and takes about 30 to 45 minutes with laproscopy. While open gallbladder surgery-cholecystectomy-is still commonly used for patients with frequent or severe pain, or with a history of acute cholecystitis, laparoscopic cholecystectomy has now become the preferred surgical technique. With traditional surgery, the gallbladder is removed through an open technique requiring a standard skin incision and general anesthesia. During laparoscopic cholecystectomy, also called ‘keyhole operation,’ the stone-filled gallbladder is literally pulled through a small incision in the abdomen.
Sometimes, open cholecystectomy is required if a keyhole operation fails.
With a keyhole operation, patients seem to recover much faster and often leave the hospital and return to regular activity within days.
However, since its introduction, this ‘band aid’ approach to treating gallbladder disease has prompted many patients to have a gallbladder operation unnecessarily; that is, to rid the patient of some persistent
symptoms of discomfort.
Apart from having had no effect on the overall mortality rate from gallbladder diseases, laparoscopic surgery does have its risks. As many as % of patients coming out of surgery have stones remaining in the bile ducts, according to the U.S. National Institute of Health (Note: The bile ducts referred to here are not liver bile ducts).
According to Mayo Health Oasis, other hazards include lost gallstones in the peritoneal cavity, abdominal adhesion and possibly infective endocarditis. And according to the New England Journal of Medicine, the procedure can cause hemorrhage, inflammation of the pancreas—a potentially fatal condition—and perforation of the duodenal wall. There may also be injury and obstruction of bile ducts and leakage of bile into the abdomen, increasing the chance of suffering a potentially serious infection. About 1 in 0 patients are at risk of dying from this kind of operation.
Bile-duct injuries have increased dramatically as a result of using keyhole surgery. In Ontario, Canada, where 86% of all gallbladder operations are performed in this way, the number of bile duct injuries has risen by 305% since this method has become standard practice.
In a number of patients, gallstones are caught in the common bile duct (the main bile duct leading to the duodenum). In such cases, the removal of the gallbladder does not alleviate the symptoms of gallstone disease. To help the condition, a flexible tube is placed in the mouth and advanced to the point where the common bile enters the duodenum. During the procedure, the opening of the bile duct is enlarged and the stones are moved into the small intestines.
Unfortunately, many of the stones may become stuck in the small or large intestine, becoming a source of constant intestinal infection or related problems.
None of the above procedures address the cause of gallbladder disease. In fact, they contribute to further disruption of the digestive and eliminative processes in the body. The short-term relief that a patient may experience after his gallbladder has been removed, may mislead the patient to believe that he has been cured. In truth, however, the continued or even worsened impairment of proper bile secretion by the liver may lead to the development of far more serious health problems than just gallbladder disease.
Our Next blog post describes a simple procedure that painlessly, and safely and effectively removes not only the few gallstones in the gallbladder or large bile ducts, but also, and most importantly, the hundreds and thousands of gallstones in the liver. It is extremely unfortunate that millions of people have had their gallbladder removed unnecessarily or lost their lives because of liver and gallstone disease. Fortunately, there is a simple, risk-free, inexpensive approach available to every person to naturally restore their liver and gallbladder health and prevent diseases from arising in the future.