A good friend had asked for information on how gallstones might be treated with Chinese Medicine (CM). Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) regards the body as a whole system where everything is interrelated. When a symptom such as gallstones occurs, it is regarded as disharmony or imbalance in the body’s system.
CM attributes the pattern of phlegm in the gallbladder or kidneys as a cause of stones. The symptoms of gallstones and kidney stones are back pain and pain in the epigastric area. These sharp pains can occur after eating greasy, fatty, rich, or spicy foods.
The gallbladder stores and excretes bile, which helps in digestion. In TCM the gallbladder meridian is associated with decision making and everyday stress. It partners with the liver meridian, which is associated with planning, ligaments and tendons, and the emotion of anger.
Gallbladder meridian is also associated with our passion for life, action, and assertiveness. Imbalance in the gallbladder meridian can create difficulty being assertive, making decisions, and following through with projects. When the gallbladder meridian is balanced energy is flowing freely and we are assertive, passionate, and healthy.
Possible causes of Gallbladder Imbalance
- Stressful events, such as loss of a loved one, trauma, injury, illness, or loss of employment.
- Consumption of lots of fatty, greasy, rich, or spicy foods. Overtime this will impair gallbladder and liver function and can create angry outbursts, irritability, red face and eyes, ringing in the ears, and migraines. These are symptoms of excess heat in the liver.
To help repair the gallbladder
- Avoid greasy, fatty, rich, and spicy foods
- Express emotions freely, not allowing for buildup and overreaction. Depression, which is anger turned inward, can also be a symptom of gallbladder imbalance.
- Eat foods grown locally and in season.
- Exercise regularly. The chi needs to move to prevent stagnation, which causes disease.
- If having gallbladder issues avoid caffeine and alcohol. Drink plenty of water and eat fresh greens.
- Go to bed before 11:00pm, when gallbladder is most active.
If you suspect, you have gallstones or kidney stones consult a licensed acupuncturist. Many times, insurance will cover the acupuncturist’s fee.
In Western Medicine, the treatment for gallstones is usually surgery. In TCM the organs were never removed. The TCM treatment today is still basically the same. The acupuncturist will recommend dietary changes, herbs, and acupuncture, and most likely detoxification before considering surgery as a last resort.