having gallstones: how I kept my gall bladder

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I have hinted about my gall bladder issues throughout this past year.  But today, I am finally ready to tell my story.  Hint: there is graphic talk about gall bladders and gall stones and dietary problems in this post, so don’t read on if you are squeamish.

From vegan to a meat-eater

First, a bit of history.  All my life, I’ve had digestive problems.  Back and forth, back and forth.  Things went from bad to worse when I was deployed with the Army back in 2003.  I was given over 12 vaccinations in one day and then two more doses within the course of 2 weeks (my vaccination beliefs are for another post, but you can see here why we don’t vaccinate our children, and certainly my vaccine injuries are a contribution to how we came to this conclusion.)

Then, my arm broke in October of 2013.  If you follow, you will know that my elbow breaking was the most physically grueling time in my life, (and that’s saying something — I’ve been through Army basic training!)

After my Army deployment, i came home with a horrific digestion problem.  Doctors threw words around like Chrohn’s disease and Irritable Bowel Syndrome.  But I knew it was more than that.  I’m not going to have a diagnosis.  I’m going to fix myself.  And I did.  Through nutrition.  I stopped eating anything processed, andything soy, anything with vegetable oil, anything with dairy.  I also gave up meat.  {I was a technical “vegan,” but for dietary reasons, not out of my love or concern for the animals, though I do believe that animals and animal products should be taken from those who are treated humanely!!}  I stuck this way for two and a half years, and I felt great.

I slowly incorporated meat back into my diet, after reading more about Weston A. Price and his principles.  Our bodies need fat.  They need fat and cholesterol to thrive.

Breaking arms and taking pills

Well, along with my horrific elbow break, and subsequent elbow surgery, came months and months of physical therapy.  And pain medication.

I took many, many pain pills.  And I will never regret taking them because I have my arm back.  I have about 95% range of motion and my surgeon was very impressed with my progress, given my injury and my hardware inside my arm.

I am a firm believer that whatever you put in your body, you will become it.  Thus why I have been so focused on nutrition through my life’s journey.  And I explained above, I had now begun a journey of “fat is good for you” — and yes, it so is.  But I believe I had taken it to the extreme by that point.

Oh, our bodies after baby

I had a one year old daughter, and I wasn’t losing the weight that I had with my first child, and I threw all my clothes away to prove that I had accepted my new, bigger body.

I also continued to nurse.  Babies need fat, so I ate butter on everything and sour cream and glasses of whole milk, and even raw milk from down our road.  I wanted my mother’s milk to be so nutritive.  (And it was!  I have always had chunky babies and I’m proud and happy about that!)  And I was taking it to the extreme.  No, we don’t need that much fat.  A little animal fat is fine — go ahead and keep the delicious skin on the barbequed chicken, but adding butter to rice and adding more butter to potatoes is not healthy. period.  Even if I did have a nursing baby.

So, what does this have to do with a broken arm and some pain pills? Well, the pain pills that I preferred (less groggy and less side effects than the stronger stuff that made me feel like a zombie — thankfully any type of pain pill addiction was never a risk for me) had Tylenol in them.

Tylenol is absorbed by the gastrointestinal system and released into the blood, then it relieves pain or fever. The blood is filtered by the liver, which is responsible for metabolizing Tylenol. About 90% is metabolized into harmless substances and excreted in the urine by the kidneys. Between 5-10% is metabolized into a toxic compound called N-acetyl-p-benzoquinoeimine (NAPQI).

Normally, the liver can safely remove NAPQI by combining it with gluthathione and converting it into a water-soluble product that is excreted in bile. However, after long term use or an overdose, the liver does not have enough gluthathione to combine with the NAPQI. Excess amounts of the toxic chemical cause rapid cell death, necrosis, tissue damage, and potentially deadly acute liver failure.

And if you’ve ever seen a gall bladder, it is directly connected to your liver.  The liver and gallbladder are interconnected by ducts known as the biliary tract, which drains into the first segment of the small intestine.

And I believe that those pills negatively affected how my gall bladder worked.  Coincidences don’t happen, right?  No, they don’t.  Not when I’m taking one pill that negatively effects my liver and then weeks later I begin having gall bladder attacks.  The doctors did not see the correlation — “they are absolutely not related” — but I know my body and I have my common sense so I can agree to disagree.


The gall bladder attacks

At Christmas time of 2013, I began feeling intense pain directly below my breasts, right where I assumed my stomach is.  This happened several times.  Particularly after fatty meals — I remember specifically after eating a bowl full of walnuts (weird, right, I don’t know why I ate them but they were delicious), so I thought that some rancid-bad walnuts made me feel ill.  And then it happened again after eating pizza.  Then two weeks later, after eating a handful of potato chips.

The first attacks were just little ones compared to the one in mid-January.  I came home from physical therapy, so thankfully my in-laws were over watching the kids.  I went upstairs to change and all of the sudden the attack hit.  A gut-wrenching, writhing feeling in your upper abdomen that can only be described as labor without expecting a child, labor without know why you are feeling such awful pain.  So I had the gall bladder attack and then began to panic that I was dying.  I didn’t know what was wrong.  I began yelling for my mother-in-law, but she was in my son’s room and I guess didn’t hear.  So I tried to walk (crawl) to the stairs and began yelling.  She and my father-in-law came running.

At that point I fell over on the ground and couldn’t feel my hands or arms or feet or legs.  I thought I was literally going to die.  I thought it was a stroke or a seizure or a coma.  My father-in-law carried me down the stairs and I laid on my living room floor just yelling, “I don’t want the kids to see this!”  They pushed the kids into my daughter’s room as my father-in-law hurried me to the car, and I remember that I did walk.

The diagnosis

At the hospital, we soon discovered that the second part of the attack, the numbness, was a panic attack.  I was so relieved that I wasn’t dying– this was the best news.  After that news, my husband arrived and we had hours of tests.  Last of which, it seemed, was the ultrasound.  The ultrasound tech wasn’t supposed to tell me what she was discovering, but I looked at the screen and I saw them.  At least 20 or 30 of them.  Gallstones.  She admitted I was right, and I was upset, but again, relieved, that I had some answers about my attack.

I poured over Google and various friends’ life-stories for what to do.  I already knew that I did not want THEM to take my gall bladder.  I did not want to have surgery.  I was determined to take my beliefs into action.  One time, health saved me from my “Irritable Bowel Syndrome,” so again, I will let food and nutrition save me.

Gall bladder surgery is the most common surgery  The cause of gallstones is unknown.  However, genetics can play a role.  As well as the gallstones are most common among women, women who have bore children, and obese women.  Foods high in fat and cholesterol can also be known to cause gallstones.  Dairy creates more mucous and spicy foods can irritate your organ as well.

I certainly would have had gall bladder surgery if a change in diet had not worked and I had another attack.  Thankfully, I didn’t have another horrifying attack.

I made the following dietary changes:

  • I did not eat any fat.  No fat whatsoever for at least two months.
  • I did not eat any dairy.

No more attacks, and my pre-baby body is back

And those changes saved me.  They also helped me get back to my healthy weight.  The weight I was before having my first child.  I wrote about the steps I had taken to get back to a healthier me, which I was desperately trying to do after having my second baby, but I wasn’t THAT diligent.  This time, it was do or die.  Literally, I don’t know what I had done if I felt that pain again.  Well, probably the gall bladder surgery.  I would have let them CUT out an organ the pain was so bad.  (So if you’ve had the surgery, I certainly don’t judge that decision.)  But cut out my organ?  Oh I did not want that.

So, because I wanted to keep my organ and I wanted to never experience that pain again, I lost the weight.

And those comments that I CONSTANTLY got,

“Amy, you’ve lost weight!”

“Amy, you look so great!”

“Amy, what did you do?!”

Well, I wanted to SCREAM (mostly in anger, but also in frustration), I had a severe gall bladder attack and I feel that I am STARVING myself because I am so fearful.  So thanks for reminding me that I can’t eat cheese or chocolate!!!!

I know those comments were well-intentioned, but for every one, I told the person….. “Well, I have gall bladder stones so I can’t eat.  Anything.”  Because sometimes, we make comments and we don’t know where a person is coming from, right?  I didn’t want to lose the weight.

I also read about gall bladder cleanses, and had a wonderful neighbor who encouraged me to do one, because it’d worked for her years ago, but I wasn’t ready.  I did not want to deliberately instigate pain on myself.  I also met countless women who’ve had the gall bladder surgery.  All of them had positive results.  I wasn’t convinced.

Now, a year later, sure, I’m happy that I’m back to my pre-baby weight.  But getting there?  That was horror.

Some people just can’t tolerate dairy

As for the dairy, I believe that I am truly allergic to it.  Cutting dairy helped my IBS symptoms completely back in my college days, and I was getting lazy, or, not limiting it at all.

Lactose intolerance is caused by not having enough of the enzyme lactase, which is needed to break down lactose, the sugar found in milk and other dairy products. Milk allergy is a true food allergy caused by an allergic reaction to the protein in milk.

I also tried raw milk for over a year.  From down our road, from a reputable farmer.  The good bacteria made no difference.

The dull gall bladder pain

I was not without some pain over these months of trying to heal my body.  There was, almost always, a dull pain in my gut.  I can’t describe it well, but if you have gall bladder problems, you know the weight I’m talking about.  It doesn’t subside.

Until it ceased a couple months ago.  I thought I was healed.  Probably September, October, November — I felt great.  I thought it was over.  I can stick to a healthier diet.  I can do this.

Then it came back, the dull pains became greater in December — just like last year — I also kind of thought it had to do with the Christmas tree….

I knew I had to get them OUT.  The gallstones had to get out.  So I did the gall bladder cleanse that I had avoided and dreaded so much.  I had avoided it because didn’t want to purposely feel that pain again.  The gallstones getting to my bile duct.  But I had to.  I had to try something or gall bladder surgery was inevitable.

The gall bladder cleanse

So, I did it.  The cleanse.  I researched and researched, and did the most basic one that “everyone” says works.

Now, EVERYONE will get a very different result.  Every body is different.  I did not expect to cleanse out my gall bladder, but I wanted to try.  These are the steps I took.  But again, research for yourself and get multiple opinons.

  1. I drank apple juice for five days.  A quart each day can help soften the stones for passing.  {I still ate three meals during this time.}
  2. On the fifth day, after noon lunch, do not eat again.
  3. At 6pm: take 2 tablespoons epsom salt with a full glass of water.  The epsom salts are a laxative to cleanse out your stomach and intestines so the gallstones can pass through.
  4. At 8pm: take 2 tablespoons epsom salt with a full glass of water.
  5. At 10pm: take the juice of two lemons (4oz) and 4oz of olive oil.  Just down it.
  6. Immediately, go to bed and lay on your right side.
  7. The gallstones are expected to pass the next morning.

So I followed the protocol.  There is a lot of emphasis on laying down on your right side and just trying to not move and sleep.  This was incredibly difficult because the epsom salts kept making me go to the bathroom all night long.  Also, by about 8am, my diahrrea was no longer solid at all and nothing of substance {i.e. gallstones} were coming out.  I was disappointed.  Nothing.  By noon, I thought I failed, but gave it a good run.

At 2pm, long after the morning time that all the cleanse gurus said it would be, they came out.  Over 40 gallstones.  Now, I was tempted to take a picture {I absolutely didn’t}, but if you google gallstones, you will see what they look like.  They are bright green.  And they were bigger and smaller.  And I screamed and thanked God for cleansing me.  Oh I was so joyful.

A lot of people recommend doing this liver and gall bladder cleanse more than once, and to do it until no stones are passed.

But still nervous.  After recovering from going to the bathroom and not eating for a full day, I felt great.  I decided to do another cleanse two weeks later.  The second time, I was less fearful of pain, because the first time I had none, besides feeling very uncomfortable.  But the second go-around, no stones came out.  I am thrilled.

I’ll do this every six months.

Living well now, always trying to do better

How do I feel?  Well?  Great.  Not perfect, but great.  My stones are gone, and I think I’ll do this cleanse once a year for maintenance.  Like I said above, a lot of people have gallstones, and could benefit from a cleanse, but just don’t know it.  If I continue to have pain, I don’t know what I’ll do.  My stones are gone — I’d love to see it for real on an ultrasound, though the doctor said he wouldn’t give me one — they just want to cut.

I am still eating better.  Off the dairy.  Trying to eat fresh food all the time.  More bone broths and more simple foods.

I may go to a naturopath and get more ideas.  For now, I am using my JuvaFlex essential oil, from Young Living, on both my liver and gall bladder and my Vitaflex points on my feet too.  I think this is helping, no more pain at least.  So it’s nice to promote my health with this therapeutic grade essential oil. (I’m no longer a YL consultant, but I definitely recommend them if you have a friend who you can purchase from!)

JuvaFlex ingredients include: Sesame seed oil, fennel (Foeniculum vulgare), geranium (Pelargonium graveolens), rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis CT 1,8 cineol), Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile), blue tansy (Tanacetum annuum), and helichrysum (Helichrysum italicum).
I also want to begin using JuvaCleanse, which is much more expensive, it helps regenerate your liver function, it includes: Helichrysum, Ledum, and Celery seed.
There is also GLF, which also benefits liver and gall bladder function: Citrus paradisi† (grapefruit) peel oil, helichrysum italicum† oil, apium graveolens (celery) oil, ledum groenlandicum† oil, hyssopus officinalis† leaf oil, and mentha spicata† (spearmint) leaf oil.


There it is, my gall bladder story.  The attacks came, the pain stayed, the cleanse worked, but it will be a life-long journey towards health.  Health truly means eating right.  Nutrition is the key to health, so I will continue to eat less fat, but eat some good animal fat, almost no dairy

So, now you, what have you done to help your gall bladder and gallstones?  I would love to hear your stories and your tips.  

All the best, to health, Amy


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  1. Great job! Thanks for sharing :) I found your site when I was reading an article on rootedblessings.com about
    5 habits that can wreck your gallbladder. Eating a low fat/no fat diet, plus eating some processed foods (for energy believe it or not) is what most likely negatively affected my gallbladder.

    So glad to hear the healthy diet change(s) and the flush worked well for you! I have also give up dairy, along with gluten, eggs, processed foods (made with bad for you oils, and sugars/chocolate, etc.)

    Glad to hear you’re doing well.
    Best to you and yours :)

  2. Galina Tarasenko says:

    Hi Amy, thank you for your story. I wonder how your gallbladder is doing right now? Did you have another ultrasound after the flush to see if stones were gone?

  3. I want to believe your story Amy but I find it hard to. I have read about the various cleanses for gallstones but have never once seen any proof, ie pictures, etc There is a very real risk of performing such a cleanse and the stones becoming lodged in the biliary duct, which is life-threatening. Perhaps your story would be more believable with proof, pictures, etc

    1. Thanks Gibs, for your unbelief about my gallstones :) Lol I won’t post any pics of them (though I did take them ha). But yes, I do need to make an update. In September 2019 I did have to go to the hospital and have two surgeries due to the lodged stones from cleansing :). So though I fought for 5 years, alas, it wasn’t enough. But yes I did indeed cleanse out many, many large stones (not imagined).

      1. Hi, so do you still have your gallbladder? What kind of cleansing did you do? I also have gallstones, I keep doing liver ckeanses, but stones are still there. But I do want to keeo my gallbladder!

        1. Hi! No I lost mine in Sept 2019 — I need to write a post about it so I can be completely honest!! I tried for five years with cleanses. Overall, I think it may have been possible to keep with a complete diet change (not sure what that would be) — but I’m not willing to eat no fat/animal food. So for me (and to save my life) its as necessary <3 hugs! I know how hard it is to want to keep it!

  4. Thanks for getting back to me. Iam glad you are doing better! For me, it’s been 3 years since I had my first gallstone attack. I did lots cleanses and it did cleaned out my liver pretty good, because nothing comes out anymore(I had lots and lots stones, different sizes come out). But I just had my ultrasound again, and it shows gallstones are still there. Weird. So, I don’t think cleanses do anything for the gallbladder, but it did helped my liver(no more fatty liver). I also stopped having gallstone attacks a year ago. Not sure why. Probably because stones got bigger and they just stay there in the gallbladder and can’t come out. I had about 80 liver cleanses within these last 3 years, and I never had any problems with stones getting stuck in bile ducts or anything like that. Went smoothly every time. But I am glad whatever worked for you. Thanks for sharing. Means a lot to me. Be blessed!

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