Understanding And Overcoming Gall-Bladder Disease And Gallstones

A great many people have more or less trouble resulting from inflammation of the gall-bladder. This is called technically, cholecystitis. It may be acute or chronic. But as a rule the medical title given is applied mainly to acute conditions.

The gall-bladder is a pear-shaped organ attached to the under surface of the liver under the edge of the right lower ribs, about half way between the center of the body and the center of the right side line, that is, the line immediately below the arm-pit center. When there is trouble with this condition there frequently is an uncomfortable feeling at the point mentioned, though in many cases the location of the discomfort is indefinite and it is impossible to come to a quick decision as to the location of any inflammatory pains. Often gall-bladder inflammation and appendicitis are mistaken one for the other.

The purpose of the gall-bladder is to receive bile (gall) from the liver, where it will be ready for passage into the intestinal tract in considerable quantities when needed in the process of digestion. Where the diet is alkaline and where sufficient fluid is taken into the body, the bile usually will be liquid enough to pass into the gall-bladder and out of it again through the small ducts or tubes leading into and away from this sack. But very often the diet and mode of living in general are such that the bile becomes concentrated and becomes irritating. This produces in time an inflammation of the lining wall or membrane of the gall-bladder, and here we have cholecystitis. If the bile becomes concentrated and yet not so decidedly concentrated that it can pass out of the gall-bladder, it may cause dilatation of the gall ducts and irritation and inflammation. Gallstones are due to a concentration of bile or to a precipitation of some of the elements forming bile, but a great deal of irritation and trouble often results before gallstones develop - and many people never would develop gallstones, and yet have gall-bladder trouble.

In addition to the local or more or less general abdominal discomfort often present with gallstones in gall bladder disease, there sometimes are various symptoms of indigestion, including what is called biliousness. In some instances there is decided constipation, and the color of the stools is sometimes that of clay and their odor is foul. Sometimes there develops some degree of jaundice as a result of re-absorption of some of the bile-pigments. The pain may be so severe that operation seemingly is required.

Treatment. Operation rarely will be required in gall-bladder trouble if natural treatment is applied in time. It is necessary in these cases that the bile be thinned and that it be rendered non-irritating. There is nothing better as the initial part of the treatment than a fruit diet, with copious quantities of water, preferably hot water. Early in the morning may be drunk a quart of hot water containing the juice of one lemon and one-half teaspoonful of salt. This should be as hot as possible and yet drunk rather than sipped. It should be taken within ten minutes if possible. Nothing should be taken until at least three hours later, when grape-fruit or orange juice may be taken. Half a dozen grape-fruits or a dozen oranges or half these numbers of each may be taken during the day, with two to four quarts of water - but not necessarily together. This hot water mixture is very effective in cleansing the intestines, the liver, the kidneys, the blood and the skin. It also may have a laxative effect. This is a condition in which it is permissible to use an effective dose of some such laxative as Pluto water or citrate of magnesia at the beginning of the fruit diet, but not later. The fruit diet (or if preferred the absolute fast with an abundance of water) may continue for from five to ten or fifteen days, depending upon the patient's condition and the effects of the fact.

The later diet may be large quantities of fruits and vegetables and sweet milk or any form of sour milk. But an excellent diet is the buttermilk diet or a diet of whipped clabbered, skimmed milk. Not infrequently this sour-milk diet will "stir up" the liver to the point where it will drain off all possible bile and may result in diarrhea or more or less copious vomiting. This will have a beneficial effect in cleaning out both the liver and the gall-bladder, and the cure is more likely to be rapid and complete.

Heat applied by any convenient means over the liver area, or concentrated over an eight- to twelve-inch circle centered at the gall-bladder area, will prove very helpful if continued for an hour at a time and followed by decidedly cold applications for five minutes or so, the treatment to be repeated four or five times a day. The abdominal girdle may be applied to be worn at night, and again in the morning to be worn for four or five hours. This girdle consists of linen or old sheeting eight to ten inches wide and long enough to encircle the body twice, wrung from cold water and applied around the trunk in the liver area. Dry flannel three or four inches wider, is applied around this, two or three layers, and pinned securely. When this is removed the area covered should be bathed with cold water and well dried. Heat, or heat alternating with cold, or spinal manipulation, or heat and spinal manipulation involving the spinal area from between the shoulders to "the small of the back" often will help greatly to re-awaken the liver and its functions. Massage may be given instead of any specific manipulations.

The later diet for regular use should consist of natural foods, with a preponderance of green vegetables, cooked and raw, and fruits, with sour milk. Tomato juice is excellent in this condition. It may be used instead of fruit juice in the initial part of the treatment, or it may be used freely in the later diet. Water must be taken freely always and this means six to eight or more glasses a day. Bile salts in tablet form, procured at most drug stores, may be used if the bowels are extremely stubborn from a chronic insufficiency of bile, but such a preparation should not be necessary. General exercises should form a part of one's daily program of living, especially walking and exercises involving the trunk muscles.

Gallstones. Gallstones are concentrations of mineral salts in the gall-bladder or in the bile-ducts, more often in the former. They may be as small as a pin head or large as a pigeon egg. About three-fourths of the victims of gallstones are women, generally of plump physique and usually around the age of forty. Because of these facts corset-wearing frequently has been blamed. But a life of physical ease, especially when the abdominal walls have been allowed to become weak and prolapsed, is more likely to cause these concretions. However, they do not result even in such cases unless there has been an acid-producing diet, with wrong food combination, especially starches, which overload the liver and change the quality of the bile. Constipation is a contributive factor in practically all cases. Other causes that have been given earlier in the preceding pages usually are active in the production of gallstones also.

Symptoms of gallstones may be absolutely missing until a gallstone attempts to pass through the gall-duct or the bile-duct, when there results one of the most agonizing pains humans may experience - gallstone colic. During this passage the pain is burning, extreme and excruciating, and is felt in the "pit of the stomach" and to the right of this point.

The attempted passage of a large stone causes profuse perspiration, while the patient writhes in agony as the pain becomes unbearable. The patient may become unconscious. The pain may last from two to four hours or even more, after which it subsides as the stone makes its escape into the intestine. The subsiding of the pain is by no means as abrupt as the onset, and a dull ache and great prostration usually remain. As a rule, this pain comes on very abruptly, giving no warning. The night time is a common occasion for it to develop.

Small stones may pass without suffering, but the passage of a number of such stones usually indicates that more serious; trouble in the future is likely. In addition to the gallstone colic, where there arc gallstones there is likely to be more or less distress in the stomach region relieved by the expulsion of gas, attacks of dyspepsia, and very frequently pain in the back or in the right shoulder.

Some stones are so large that they cannot pass through the duct, hence cannot cause gallstone colic. This is produced when the stones are small enough to enter the duct, but still large enough that they pass through with difficulty.

In the treatment of gallstone colic it may be difficult or impossible to give complete relief at once, except by the aid of a definite and powerful pain-killing agent. The pain or the cause of the pain will continue as long as the stone is in the bile-duct. When a pain-killing drug is used for this purpose, there may be pronounced delay in passage of the stone. Sometimes great relief is afforded by internal and external application of heat.

The drinking of large amounts of hot water often will bring considerable relaxation and hasten the passage of the stone. The water may be plain or flavored with lemon. A fairly-hot enema with as much water as the patient can take usually should be given after a quart or more of hot water has been drunk. Hot abdominal packs may be employed with considerable benefit. In an occasional case some relief seems to be afforded by drinking from four to eight ounces of olive oil. If this is taken, it is well to follow it an hour later with a glassful of citrate of magnesia. Gentle massage about the liver and vibration over the liver area may be used also.

It is well that the patient engage in a fast for at least forty-eight hours. As a rule there will be considerable irritation of the gall-duct, together with more or less thickening of the bile, for which conditions a fairly protracted fast with abundance of drinking water would be corrective. In any case the return to food must be gradual. Buttermilk may be used with good effect, but in amounts not exceeding a quart to three pints for the first day and the quantity increased a pint or so a day. Instead of this diet, there may be used an abundance of cooked and raw green vegetables with buttermilk, with the first meal of the day preferably wholly of fruit.

The ridding of the gall-bladder of the stone does not rid the person of probability of further trouble. Frequently other stones are developing. To prevent their development it is necessary that one follow the suggestions given in the first part of this chapter on gall-bladder disease. If those suggestions are followed it may be possible to break down gallstones already forming so that they can pass without difficulty; also the future development of these little troublemakers should be entirely prevented.

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