Foods that are recommended for people with gallstones:
  • Beets (very good for supporting the liver and gallbladder)
  • Cucumber
  • Green beans
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Avocado
  • Artichoke
  • Tomatoes and tomato sauce
  • Okra
  • Cold water fish (salmon, trout, herring, mackerel) and fish oils
  • Grapes and organic grape juice
  • Apples and organic apple juice
  • Apricots
  • Blue and blackberries
  • Currants
  • Figs
  • Guava
  • Lemons
  • Pears
  • Papaya
  • Prunes
  • Coconut
  • Flax seed oil
  • Vinegar
  • Vegetable juices
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Turmeric
  • Onions (may aggravate sensitive individuals)
  • WATER – incredibly important.  Drink 2 liters per day.
  • Peppermint tea
  • Herbal teas
Foods that should be avoided:
  • Deep fried foods
  • Eggs (cause symptoms in up to 95% of patients)
  • Pork
  • Turkey
  • Chicken
  • Beef
  • Nuts
  • Legumes
  • Dairy (milk, butter, cheese, cream, ice cream)
  • Gluten grains (wheat, barley, spelt, rye, kamut)
  • Corn
  • Coffee (can decrease the risk of developing gallstones, but can aggravate existing gallstones)
  • Black tea
  • Oranges, grapefruit
  • Margarine
  • Chocolate
  • Alcohol
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Carbonated beverages
  • Food allergens
In addition to avoiding these foods you should also avoid large meals, especially late in the evening.  Eat several smaller meals throughout the day and focus on consuming greater amounts of fruit and vegetables.  Once you are symptom free and ready to re-introduce dairy and meat products, select low fat options.
While weight loss is often desirable for people with gallstones it is important not to lose weight too quickly – this can lead to a gallbladder crisis.  Instead focus on slow, steady weight loss and regular aerobic exercise (which also supports gallbladder health).

Are there naturopathic treatments for gallstones?

Yes.  In addition to a healthy diet there are several supplements that can support the function of the gallbladder and decrease symptoms of gallstones.
Omega 3 fish oils – Fish oils reduce the formation of gallstones by enhancing bile flow and blocking cholesterol formation in the bile.  A combined EPA-DHA fish oil supplement should be taken by anyone with gallstones, or risk factors for the development of gallstones.
Increase dietary fiber – Diets high in water-soluble fiber (from fruits, vegetables, oat bran and guar gum) decrease cholesterol levels – a primary goal of gallstone treatment.  A good source of fiber is to mix 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed into one serving (8oz or ½ cup) of organic applesauce and consume daily.
Vitamin C – Low levels are associated with the development of gallstones.
Lecithin – a phospholipid that reduces the saturation of cholesterol in bile that leads to stone formation.  Oral supplementation results in higher concentrations of lecithin in the bile.  This results in improved bile flow.
Enteric-coated peppermint oil – peppermint has been shown to have ‘anti-lithic’ activities.  It may be able to breakup small stones, but is unlikely to dissolve large stones.  Peppermint also has anti-spasmodic effects and can help manage the pain of gallstone attacks.  Non-enteric-coated forms can cause heartburn and should be avoided.
Other botanicals with liver and gallbladder specific actions can be used in some individuals.  These include dandelion root, milk thistle, artichoke, curcumin, celandine, wild yam, blackroot, boldo, and others.
Another popular natural remedy for gallstones is the “Olive Oil Flush”.  Stories abound of individuals passing large gallstones after following this protocol.  Studies examining these ‘stones’ have demonstrated them to be saponified olive oil and not gallstones.  Olive oil flushes are NOT recommended for individuals with gallstones as they can lead to a complete blockage of the bile ducts and result in the need for surgery.
As with any serious health concern, it is recommended that you contact a qualified Naturopathic Doctor who can individualize your plan to meet your specific needs.

There are certain points that need to be considered:
  • Do not avoid fats totally. Fat free and low fat diets can also be a root cause of the problem. Your body requires fats. Certain oils like coconut oil or butter are rich in Medium Chain triglycerides that can be absorbed without the presence of bile. Hence though there is fat restriction for gall bladder disease, whatever little oil is consumed it should be the ones that are rich in Medium Chain Triglycerides.
  • Eliminate egg as it is considered as a primary food allergen that can aggravate gall bladder diseases.
  • Prefer foods low in fat, cholesterol, sugar and high in fiber. High fiber intake in the diet can prevent the slowing down of intestinal transit time. Have more of fresh vegetables and fruits.

Gallbladder Foods

The gallbladder is a small organ under the liver that is used to store the bile secreted by the liver. The bile is released from the gallbladder into the intestine via bile ducts. The bile is used to emulsify the fats in the food to be digested. When the gallbladder is diseased, the bile in the organ becomes thicker and more concentrated. Gallstones form from the thick bile sludge made up of bile salts and cholesterol. A gallbladder attack occurs when one or more of the stones move into the bile duct and block the passage of bile. Shoulder and neck pain, nausea, sever pain in top right side of the abdomen are all symptoms of a gallbladder attack. A healthy well-planned diet with special gallbladder foods to avoid gallstones can help those who have gallbladder attacks lead a normal life. In fact, when it comes to problems related to the gallbladder, deciding the foods that you can eat and those that you need to stay away from is half the battle won. Gallstones can occur in anyone, though women over forty are more susceptible to them. People may have gallstones for years and not be aware of them until they experience the first gallbladder attack. Modern medicine deals with the problem by removing the diseased gall bladder surgically, but it would be better if we alter our dietary habits and lifestyle to prevent the formation of gallstones in the first place.

In order to avoid the stones in the gallbladder, foods that are low in fat and rich in fiber are recommended.  There are also foods that you should not eat. Obesity is one of the main causes of gallstones, and people with stones in the gallbladder should avoid animal fats in their food. They should also try to avoid refined carbohydrates like white bread, fries, and pastries. Foods that aggravate gallbladder disease include hydrogenated fats that are found in margarine and mayonnaise. Chocolates, candies, and preserves rich in sugar should also be avoided to maintain one’s ideal weight. It must be remembered that crash dieting leading to a rapid loss of pounds can also precipitate gallstones. Eating eggs, poultry, pork, beans, and nuts is also known to cause gallbladder attacks in people who have gallstones. Additionally, caffeine from carbonated drinks and coffee can stimulate a contraction of the gallbladder, triggering an attack.

Health food enthusiasts recommend organic fruits and vegetables and fat-free foods for gallbladder stone problems. Pesticides and herbicides used in commercial produce place an additional burden on the liver and the gall bladder. 

Fresh vegetable juices, particularly juices of cucumber, beet, and aloe vera, are ideal for those with gallstones. Also, drinking plenty of water and exercising regularly leads to a healthier and leaner body and also helps to eliminate toxins from the body by flushing them out. Flax seeds, omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil, and lecithin are known to be helpful in blocking the formation of cholesterol in bile, thereby reducing the gallstone formation. Skim milk and low fat yoghurt can replace dairy products like cream and cheese for those who have gallstones. Moreover, there are several types of liver and gall bladder flushes that one can do to soften and eliminate gall stones. Indigenous medicine in Europe recommends an olive oil flush with lime juice or grapefruit juice. Indian medicine suggests a flush with coconut oil for gallstones. Chinese medicine uses gold coin grass tincture and Chinese bitters to treat the problem. 

Stones in the gallbladder appears to be a widespread problem today, caused largely due to sedentary lifestyles and unhealthy food that is high in fat and refined carbohydrates. Of the two types of gallstones, cholesterol gallstones are the most common, accounting for more than three-fourths of all gallstones. Pigment gallstones occur when the certain liver diseases increase the concentration of bilirubin in the bile. To prevent gallstone attacks and the accompanying pain and discomfort or biliary colic, people should be aware of what foods aggravate gallbladder disease and avoid them. Even as we try to avoid foods that affect gallbladder, we should include in our diets, foods that help us minimize the pain of a gallstone attack.

 As mentioned earlier, flax seeds and flax seed oil, which is high in omega-3 fatty acids, is useful when one has a gallbladder attack. Boil a tablespoon of flax seeds in two and a half cups of water for five minutes. Allow the mixture to stand for ten minutes before straining and drinking the liquid slowly. 

One large grated beet mixed with lemon juice and two tablespoons of flax seed oil can be consumed one spoonful at a time every hour or so through the day until the pain subsides. Including this salad with regular meals frequently helps to keep the bile moving and prevents it from getting concentrated, thereby reducing the chances for the formation of gallstones. 

Parsley is another natural remedy for gallbladder problems. Steam a bunch of parsley with two or three zucchinis, a couple of stalks of celery, and about twenty to thirty green beans for ten minutes. Make a puree of these steamed vegetables and serve as a green soup. The absence of salt, fats, and starch makes this dish easy to digest in the event of a gallstone attack, and yet it supplies the body with essential nutrients that give the strength needed.  

The gallstone diet food includes lot of water-soluble fiber and is low in saturated fats. Fruits and vegetables contain a lot of fiber that helps to flush out toxins from the body. Sometimes, food allergies can also lead to gallbladder attacks, and it is best to avoid what aggravates the gallbladder. Alcohol, in particular, seems to trigger liver and gallbladder problems in most people. Colas, sodas, spicy food, and ice cream should be eliminated or drastically cut down when one suspects the presence of stones in the gallbladder.