Gallstones

Gallstones are excruciatingly painful.  Think natural childbirth.

Although I’m no longer a fan of CAM, this is one areas where I’ve seen a natural remedy work.  Why do I think it works?  If an ultrasound shows multiple stones and it’s recommended that you have surgery to solve the problem, but instead you try the natural remedy and follow-up ultrasound shows the stones are gone…  I’d put this in the category of home-remedies, not as an alternative to medicine.

A post by Joan, over at Notes from Oklahoma, reminded me that I’ve considered sharing this information here.  The website I initially found this on has been removed, so I can’t provide a link.  About ten years ago, here’s what I did:

  • Day 1:  Go to the grocery store and buy chamomile tea, some epsom salts, lemon juice, straws, and four gallons of natural apple cider.  Drink 1/2 gallon of apple cider the first day.
  • Days 2-5:  Eat lightly.  Drink 1/2 gallon of apple cider daily, plus all the chamomile tea you want.
  • Day 6:  No solid foods after noon. Drink another 1/2 gallon of apple cider, plus more tea.
  • Day 7:  No solid foods.  Drink lots of chamomile tea plus another 1/2 gallon of apple cider.  One hour before bedtime, dissolve 1/3 cup epsom salts in 1 cup of water and drink it (warning: it tastes horrid, but is supposed to dilate your ductwork so that everything comes out easily – remember you haven’t eaten any solids for a while).  After one hour, pour 1/4 cup salad oil into a glass and add 1/2 cup lemon juice; stir and drink quickly before it has a chance to separate (it goes down much better if you use a straw to keep the oil off your lips).  Between the epsom salts and the oil, don’t be surprised if your stomach rebels.
  • Day 8:  Stay close to a bathroom.

There’s supposedly a chemical in natural apple cider that will soften gallstones; they’re easier to pass when they’re pliable instead of hard little rocks.  Some websites even sell a little net you can stretch over the stool to catch the stones.  Not really sure why anyone would want to do that, but to each his own.  Edit to add: Those who disapprove of this method claim that these soft little things are globs of oil, not softened gallstones.  I guess you’d need to have a pathologist study them to know for sure.

When I printed the information and showed it to my doctor, saying that I’d rather try this method than have someone cut holes in me and remove parts, he wasn’t crazy about the idea, but said that it wouldn’t cause any harm.  He conceded that it would get rid of the gallstones, but since they usually come back he likes to just have the gallbladder removed and prevent future trouble.

Once you’ve passed stones they don’t really come back (ewwww!); new ones form occasionally.  I know what they feel like and can catch them before they get too painful.  It just takes a couple tablespoons of oil in a half-glass of orange juice to resolve the problem, without the full week of cider and being sick the final day.

Obviously anyone wanting to try this should talk with their own physician.

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Edit to add:

  1. You need to know the size of your stones.  Some stones are too large to pass.  I don’t know what the cut-off is, but I have one larger than 1/2″ stuck at my pancreas.  That’s too large for ERCP to remove.  No medical advice offered on this site, but if it were me, I wouldn’t try this again if the stones are over 1/2″.
  2. Gallstones can cause pancreatitis.  Repeated gallstone problems over many years can cause repeated attacks of pancreatitis.  You do not want this to happen.