The liver produces a liquid called bile that aids in the digestion of fats in the small intestine. Bile collects in the gallbladder, a small sac beneath the liver, where it is stored and concentrated. When bile becomes chemically imbalanced, cholesterol, pigments or other substances can crystallize and form gallstones. These vary in size from tiny grains to an inch in diameter. Many gallstones cause no symptoms. If one gets trapped blocking a duct, it can cause great pain in the upper right abdomen and can lead to serious complications. The most common treatment is to remove the gallbladder.
Gallstone risk factors
✓ Obesity – Overweight increases risk
✓ Gender – Women have twice the risk
✓ Age – By 60, about 10% of men and over 20% of women have gallstones
✓ Ethnicity – Native Americans, Mexican-Americans, and Scandinavians have higher risk
✓ Estrogen – Pregnancy, hormone replacement and birth control pills all increase risk
✓ Drugs – Cholesterol-lowering drugs can increase risk
✓ Diabetes – Increased levels of triglycerides add to risk
✓ Disease – Some small intestine disorders increase risk
✓ Diet – Rapid weight loss and fasting can promote gallstones
Text and illustrations by Kevin T. Boyd
Acupressure for the gallbladder
Here is a list of acupressure points for symptoms of the Gallbladder on PointFinder.org.
Common bile duct