Guest Post: The Link Between Gallbladder Disease and Gluten Sensitivity by The Paleo Mom

As many of you may have heard on Facebook, this week is Gallbladder week on our site. We’d intended to get this post up yesterday on our usual Guest Post day, but our site crashed by something I (Stacy) did trying to optimize it. This is why we leave the tech stuff to Matt… After several days of painful research and fixes, we’re super glad to be back and hopefully you didn’t even notice the disruption.

In the meantime, poor Sarah from The Paleo Mom was left in the lurches on this awesome guest post she wrote for us. I’m super excited and glad to be able to finally share it with you today! For reference, you can prime yourself by reading the first Gallbladder post Stacy wrote.

It appears as though there’s a huge void of information on Gallbladders (diseased or missing) and the paleo diet. We’re hoping that this post, as well as tomorrow’s podcast (Ep 16) and an upcoming guest post by Stacy on BalancedBites will be the information-dense resources you may need to help your own health, or that of someone you love.

Don’t forget to “like” The Paleo Mom on facebook and “follow” The Paleo Mom on twitter for more of her knowledge-bomb posts!

Celiac disease is estimated to affect approximately 1 in every 100 people, but only 5% of these people receive a positive diagnosis 1. This is, in part, because celiac disease often doesn’t present with what are thought of as the classic symptoms (abdominal pain, bloating, intermittent diarrhea, weight loss). In fact, more often, celiac disease presents as a collection of symptoms that many physicians don’t associate with the disease (irritability or depression, anemia, stomach upset, joint pain, muscle cramps, skin rash, mouth sores, dental and bone disorders such as osteoporosis, neuropathy, and/or micronutrient deficiency) 2. However, the recognition and understanding of celiac disease is improving and more and more people with the disease are receiving positive diagnoses.

The same is not so true of gluten sensitivity, which includes immune reactions that are currently tested for (IgE, IgG or IgA antibody formation against gluten), immune reactions that are not currently tested for (IgM antibody formation, T-cell activation and/or immune complex formation), and non-immune reactions (increased zonulin production and/or gut dysbiosis resulting from deficiency of appropriate digestive enzymes). Gluten intolerance (where antibodies are formed against gluten) is thought to affect upwards of 20-40% of the general population 3-4. There are no estimates of the percentage of people who are sensitive to gluten in other ways. Genetic tests (HLA-DQ, DR, etc.) exist but it is still unknown if current genetic tests accurately identify all individuals who are gluten sensitive 4.

A wider and wider range of health issues are being linked to gluten sensitivity and/or celiac disease. This is a positive development in medical research because it is starting to bring more focus on how detrimental these grain proteins are in the human diet. One such health issue is gallbladder disease, although the link between gallbladder disease and gluten sensitivity/celiac disease has not permeated through the public knowledge. Because so many people are unaware that their gallbladder problems might be linked to gluten in their diets, it seemed like a good idea to write a post about this topic!

Let’s take a step backward and first talk about what exactly a gallbladder is. The gallbladder is a little pear-shaped sac, nestled toward the front and a little underneath of the liver. It has a very simple job:

  • store bile (which is produced by the liver) between meals
  • concentrate bile by reabsorbing water
  • release bile into the small intestine when there’s food that needs to be digested

Bile is composed of water, bile salts, bile pigments (products of red blood cell breakdown that are normally excreted in the bile), cholesterol, and various electrolytes. Bile salts are the only components of bile that actually have a digestive function. Bile salts are not the same as digestive enzymes (which are produced by the cells that line the stomach and by the pancreas). Instead, bile salts aid the actions of digestive enzymes and enhance the absorption of fatty acids and fat-soluble vitamins.

The most important action of bile salts is that of an emulsifier. In essence, bile salts break up fat globules in the small intestine into tiny droplets that are able to mix with water. The enzymes that break fat up into fatty acids (lipases) can then perform their function more effectively. Bile salts also aid in the absorption of fatty acids and cholesterol (some of the cholesterol released into the small intestine in the bile is reabsorbed). Fat-soluble vitamins (such as A, D, E, K1 and K2) are also absorbed.

If the gallbladder is not functioning properly, fats cannot be properly digested (fats are essential for survival and health) and fat-soluble vitamins cannot be effectively absorbed, leading to micronutrient deficiencies. Gallbladder health is critical for digestive health and overall health.

As is so often the case with research linking gluten sensitivity to other health complications, the research is strongest in the context of celiac disease. Approximately 60% of celiac disease sufferers are known to have liver, gallbladder, and/or pancreatic conditions 5. While some of these conditions may be a result of the malnutrition and/or directly linked to the gut damage that occurs in celiac disease, others are thought to share common genetic factors or have a common immunopathogenesis (i.e., the condition originates from the same immune system attacks on the small intestine also attacking these organs) 5. Specifically, primary biliary cirrhosis, primary sclerosing cholangitis and autoimmune forms of hepatitis or cholangitis are thought to have a common immune system/inflammation origin as celiac disease itself—and that means gluten.

What does this mean? In celiac disease (and in non-celiac gluten sensitivity, albeit to a lesser extent or perhaps just in a slightly different way), gluten triggers an autoimmune response. The body’s own immune system attacks the cells that line the small intestine, resulting in the characteristic shortening or pruning of the intestinal villi (microscopic, finger-like projections of small intestine wall tissue made of columns of gut epithelial cells). As you can imagine, this creates a very leaky gut, which also stimulates the immune system, causes inflammation, and allows toxins and foreign proteins into the body. In the majority of celiac disease patients, the immune system does not limit its attack to the cells that line the small intestine. This is why second and even third autoimmune conditions are so common in celiac disease.

When you eat, the cells that line the duodenum (the first segment of the small intestine) detect the presence of fat and protein and react by releasing a hormone called cholecystokinin. This hormone stimulates both the release of digestive enzymes from the pancreas and bile from the gallbladder. It also signals to the stomach to slow down the speed of digestion so the small intestine can effectively digest the fats. When the gut is damaged (whether from celiac disease or other gut pathology), the cells that line the small intestine (called enterocytes or gut epithelial cells) are less able to secrete cholecystokinin. This means there is not enough signal to the gallbladder that it’s time to release bile salts into the duodenum. Reduced cholecystokinin release is reported in celiac disease and may be one of the key causes of the gallbladder malfunction that occurs concomitantly with celiac 6-8.

Importantly for this discussion, the dominant gallbladder symptoms that might be caused by gluten sensitivity is cholecystitis (inflammation of the gallbladder) or malfunctioning gallbladder, and not gall stones (reported in 20% of elderly celiac patients, but only 2.5% of the more general celiac population). The frequency of liver and gallbladder conditions suffered by celiac disease patients has allowed researchers to make the converse argument. It is now recommended that those with unexplained liver and/or gallbladder symptoms be evaluated for celiac disease 9-11. If you have been diagnosed with gallbladder disease (especially if it is not gall stones, but don’t rule out this possibility if it is), it is important to investigate gluten sensitivity or celiac disease as the possible cause.

What if you test negative for celiac disease and gluten intolerance? Unless you had the DNA test done for gluten sensitivity, these tests actually are embarrassingly inaccurate in the sense that the false negative rate is very high (false negative means that you do have celiac but the test showed that you don’t). There are a variety of ways that false negatives can occur and no one likes to put a number on just how likely they are. But, if you remember from the beginning of this post, these tests generally only test for antibody formation (and a biopsy only looks at one very small piece of your small intestine). The best way to be sure that gluten is not the problem is to eliminate it completely from your diet for several months (those with celiac disease can take up to 5 years to heal from the damage caused by gluten 12). It is not enough to eliminate gluten however, as antibodies that your body may have formed against gluten may also recognize proteins in other foods. This means that even if you aren’t eating any gluten, your body still thinks that it is (see this post for a complete explanation and list of foods to avoid).

The take home message? There is a strong link between gallbladder health and celiac disease. In fact, a failing gallbladder may be your first symptom of celiac disease. Of course, I believe that a grain-free, legume-free, dairy-free, refined sugar-free, modern vegetable oil-free diet is optimal for our health in every way; however, if you are suffering from gallbladder problems, then I recommend addressing your diet as soon as possible. The earlier you adopt an anti-inflammatory diet that prioritizes gut health, the more likely you are to save your gallbladder.

Sarah Ballantyne, Ph.D. (a.k.a. The Paleo Mom)Sarah Ballantyne, Ph.D. (a.k.a. The Paleo Mom) is a firm believer in paleolithic nutrition, which has made a monumental difference to her health, including contributing to her 120-pound weight loss!

Following the paleo diet autoimmune protocol has also cured Sarah’s Irritable Bowel Syndrome, acid reflux, migraines and anxiety issues while also greatly improving her asthma, allergies, psoriasis and a skin condition called lichen planus. Sarah is continuing to experiment with her own implementation of a paleo diet and lifestyle to reach that lofty goal of perfect health.

Sarah has successfully transitioned her originally skeptic husband and two spirited young daughters to a paleo diet and lifestyle. She enjoys experimenting in the kitchen and sharing her successful recipes with you, including recipes for everything from one-pot dinners to paleo versions of kid staples to decadent paleo desserts.

Most of all, Sarah’s passion is to share her biology, physiology and nutrition knowledge through informative posts that distill the science behind the paleo diet into approachable explanations.

You can read about Sarah’s personal journey to paleo here and see before and after photos here.

1 Lohi S et al. “Increasing prevalence of coeliac disease over time.” Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2007 Nov 1;26(9):1217-25.

2 http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/celiac-disease/DS00319/DSECTION=symptoms

3 http://www.gastroendonews.com/ViewArticle.aspx?d=In%2Bthe%2BNews&d_id=187&i=October%2B2010&i_id=672&a_id=16015

4 http://www.glutenfreesociety.org/gluten-free-society-blog/the-many-heads-of-gluten-sensitivity/

5 Freeman HJ.” Hepatobiliary and pancreatic disorders in celiac disease.” World J Gastroenterol. 2006 Mar 14;12(10):1503-8. http://www.wjgnet.com/1007-9327/full/v12/i10/1503.htm

6 Masclee AA et al. “Gallbladder sensitivity to cholecystokinin in coeliac disease. Correlation of gallbladder contraction with plasma cholecystokinin-like immunoreactivity during infusion of cerulein.” Scand J Gastroenterol. 1991 Dec;26(12):1279-84. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1763298

7 Fraquelli M et al “Gallbladder emptying and somatostatin and cholecystokinin plasma levels in celiac disease.” Am J Gastroenterol. 1999 Jul;94(7):1866-70.

8 Nousia-Arvanitakis S et al. “Subclinical exocrine pancreatic dysfunction resulting from decreased cholecystokinin secretion in the presence of intestinal villous atrophy.” J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2006 Sep;43(3):307-12. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16954951

9 Biecker E et al “Autoimmune hepatitis, cryoglobulinaemia and untreated coeliac disease: a case report.” Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2003 Apr;15(4):423-7. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12655265

10 Parfenov AI et al “Asymptomatic celiac disease in patient with chronic acalculous cholecystitis” Eksp Klin Gastroenterol. 2011;(3):122-4.

11 Galán Bertrand L et al. “Acute lithiasic cholecystitis as an exceptional presentation of celiac disease” An Pediatr (Barc). 2006 Jul;65(1):87-8. Spanish

12 Rubio-Tapia A “Mucosal recovery and mortality in adults with celiac disease after treatment with a gluten-free diet.” Am J Gastroenterol. 2010 Jun;105(6):1412-20.

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  • BrianTaylor

    Having known several people with gallbladder issues, it makes total sense that it’s linked to inflammation from diet. There’s only so much the body can handle before breaking down.

  • Carol

    My gallbladder came out about 5 years ago. I am just now learning about it. I wish I still had it. I now know the stupid low fat diet doesn’t work for me.

  • Aimee

    Lots of great info! Thanks!

  • I had polyps on my gallbladder. They were benign. I wonder if this was why?

  • EXCELLENT post – I learned so much! Thank you for highlighting this on your blog. I do have one question…
    “Gallbladder health is critical for digestive health and overall health.”
    Is there any hope for those of us walking about sans gallbladder?

    • Abby the post I made earlier and the guest post on BB and the podcast all will talk about how I maintain digestive health without one 🙂

  • rebecca

    I loved this post. I had my gallbladder removed due to gallstones. So there is no link to gluten sensitivity and gallstones? I guess I never had thought about how or why my gallstones were formed. I need to do some research!

    • Gallstones are a symptom of gallbladder disease – so yes it could be a link for you – that’s what I (Stacy) had too.

      • The Paleo Mom

        Just because the frequency of gallbladder issues that celiacs have tends not to be gallstones, that doesn’t actually mean that gallstones are not linked to gluten sensitivity. No one has actually done the reverse study: look at people with gallbladder disease and test them for celiac and gluten sensitivity. There is a feeling within the celiac community that the two conditions are extremely tightly linked (there just isn’t the science to back it up, yet).

        • P Baker

          That’s where the frustration comes in, the medical community doesn’t support looking at the links. I understand that if everyone went on a gluten free, allergen free diet and we got disease under control there would be less need for surgery, medication, etc and it would financially affect big pharma, hospitals, the overall medical industry…but it really is frustrating when it’s best to leave the blinders on, because well what we don’t know the answers to won’t financially hurt them. 🙁

  • lauren

    I wonder if there is any link to corn intolerance? I’ve done plenty of gluten free and or paleo months with no adverse reaction after reintroducing foods, except for this last time. Was strict paleo for 6 weeks, and afterwards would have gall bladder attacks after eating anything with any corn or corn byproduct in it. It was manageable for about 6 months (I just avoided it) but had some by accident, ended up in the hospital with horrible pain. a gallstone was stuck, had an ercp, got severe pancreatitis, and then had my gall bladder out in the course of a week. Now I can eat corn, but if I eat too much x (not sure yet on the triggers, but it appears to be either refined sugar, corn, or grain related) my pancreas really hurts – like really really hurts.

    I’m really confused, and the docs are obviously no help – they just want to give me a cat scan. Nothing in the past has pointed to a gluten intolerance, but there is obviously some food/pancreas/gallbladder connection, and I can’t find much on a corn/gut connection.

    • A case can easily be made for any food intolerance, gluten is just the most common. If you stick to a strict Autoimmune Paleo protocol eating only healthy fats, I wonder if you’d feel better.

  • I had my gallbladder out in January… unfortunately this was before I heard about the Paleo Diet.

    I had been on a low calorie, low fat (high carb, high processed food) diet for a couple YEARS. Looking back on it now, I cringe as I type all that out. After a few fun gallbladder attacks I learned I had multiple gallstones. My doctor explained to me that your gallbladder isn’t caused to contract and release bile like it would if you ate a normal amount of fat. Bile starts to back up in your gb over time. Et voilà! Stones!

    Eating Paleo is the only way my stomach has felt NORMAL. Thank you for posting this!! My mom had her gb out years ago, and one of my sisters also has issues with hers. I’ll definitely be passing this along to them as your explanation is much more coherent than mine. 🙂

  • I am surrounded by people with gall bladder issues. Will be sharing this!

  • Trish

    Interesting article…having been gluten free I can attest to the body still seeing other foods with protein markers as invaders. Having recently developed a reaction to Romaine lettuce of all things (rare, but it does have a protein marker) I’m still adjusting my diet.

  • Coupon Cook

    I have suspected for several months now that this is my problem. I have many of the symptoms. I am slowly working towards a paleo diet… I have to cook for my family and they are in solid protest. I did opt to have my gallbladder surgically removed. I didn’t realize until recently how sick I had become. I was actually avoiding bending over, because I’d loose my lunch. After they took it out they found a “lumpy green” nodule. It wasn’t and infection and it wasn’t cancer, just an anomaly. I know it was caused by diet. My mother fed us a steady diet of spaghettio’s and microwave meals, fried fish… ect. All the things a busy woman of the 80’s was told were good for kids. I spent another 10 years into adulthood eating nearly the same way. So yeah, I think once I finally make the full leap I’m going to feel so much better.

  • Surprised33

    I was diagnosed with gallbladder sludge back in September ’12. My gastro doctor put me through a gamut of invasive testing and bloodwork to try to get to the bottom of my symptoms…I did not want to jump into surgery without knowing that it was certainly my gallbladder. Celiac tests came back negative bit he did find antibodies in my small intestine so he suggested a gluten-free diet. I have felt much better bit still have an occasional upset for a few days with nausea, acid reflux and major constipation. I just had my gallbladder checked again as I was going to have it removed and guess what???? There is no more sludge! I wonder if the gluten free diet has allowed my gallbladder to jeal? Very interesting to say the least!

    • That’s wonderful to hear! Thanks for sharing, I’m sure fellow readers who are struggling will be grateful for that feedback 🙂

  • Surprised33

    So sorry for the typos! I am a stickler about that.

  • Supermansmomma

    I was diagnosed with CD about 8 years ago and went GF. Just recently have I begun to eliminate dairy, legumes and refined sugars. I have urged many members of my family to get tested for CD but always get the ‘I don’t have CD. I eat wheat all the time and am fine’. Those same people have all had their GB’s removed. Thanks for the post, maybe this will convince them to finally get tested!!

  • PHill

    My daughter just had her gladder removed in January and I found this article because she is still having symptoms. I have been experimenting with the paleo diet for her because of the continued symptoms. What do you recommend for a person without a gallbaldder? The surgery found that her gall bladder was inflamed and scarred; and that she also has a fatty liver. Additionally she was diagnosed with Polycistic Ovarian Disease prior to the trouble with her gall bladder. Even after the introduction of the paleo diet she continues to have trouble – severe back pain, severe nausea, not wanting to eat – just wanting to vomit but not vomitting. The attacks last about two to three days; and she has had three since she “recovered” from the gall bladder surgery. Initially, after the introduction of the paleo diet she had about two weeks of feeling better – still very tired but finally she was able to get through a day of school – and even went to the prom! 🙂 This after months of laying in bed was a blessing – but I fear that removing her gall bladder has not begun to solve her problems and the three doctors she is seeing write notes for school absences, try to treat the nausea, and and have put her on welchol 625 mg, NOW brand of super enzymes,Doctor’s Best brand of Betaine HCI Pepsin & Gentian Bitters, a probiotic 100 billion, Omega 3 – 2/day, Sertraline 75 mg (for depression), Spironolactione 25 mg for bloating. In addition when she was diagnosed with PCOS in the fall it was found that her vitamin D levels were in the 40’s; re-tested in March they were in the 30’s – the Dr. explained that meant she wasn’t absorbing nutrients in her small intestine. It was at that time that he put her on the welchol, and the probiotic; the other enzymes I found in a health food store but they were approved by this same doctor. (He is a women’s hormone specialists – usually treating menopausal women.) I am very interested in any advice the Paleo Mom can give me. I will be following her blog – and buying her book – but as it doesn’t address the particular combination my daughter is dealing with – I had to ‘ask”/comment. In addition, she is a high school senior hoping to go away to college this fall and we are concerned about how to keep her “paleo” if that in fact does work…….Thank you for any advice, comments you have for us – we truly need help!

  • Colleen

    My MIL passed away from PBC and my husband had a liver transplant due to PSC in 2006 – in all my years being an armchair “specialist” I have never read an article referencing those two diseases on the ‘net and certainly never in a nutrition blog! GPs don’t even know what those diseases are! Regardless, reading this now was in God’s beautiful timing… My DH appears to be ready to alter his food habits – if not for his own health, our kids. I have asthma so they have autoimmune dysfunction in both parents! We have decided to go cold turkey paleo supporting each other the best we can. Wish us luck and encouraging positive results!!

  • Kim

    Question for Sarah: How can a paleo diet, which is high in fat, help a person who has had their gallbladder taken out? Wouldn’t it be hard for them to digest those foods? Thanks!

    • The Paleo Mom

      Yes, it is definitely harder to digest fats if you have no gallbladder, which is why ox bile supplements are recommended with every meal if you are gallbladderless (that’s a word, right?). But, you’re need for essential fatty acids and fat soluble vitamins is still there and there’s a huge body of literature supporting the need for these nutrients. So, think of taking ox bile supplements like taking insulin with your meals if you’re a type 1 diabetic… it’s replacing a function that you’re body has lost. Plus, a paleo diet can help to address the root causes of whatever was the reason the gallbladder needed to be removed in the first place and potentially prevent other conditions in the future.

  • Pix

    I have gluten sensitivity, noticed issues with dairy as well. Over a year ago I went gluten free. Have been experiencing stomach pain. Had an ultrasound. Now I have gall stones. Any suggestions on where I can find a diet to follow?

    • Sara

      I think most people over a certain age have gallstones (it’s just a matter of whether they cause you problems or not). After being hospitalized for several days, my doctors wanted me to have my gallbladder removed. After I realized that each subsequent attack happened after eating lots of gluten or coffee, I removed them from my diet and have no longer had any attacks. I also took chanca piedra and acupuncture was a tremendous help as well. Recently, I’ve had some stomach issues(nowhere as painful as before) and im considering going grain and dairy free. Good luck!

  • Ashey Nicole

    Thank you SO MUCH for this. I have been running in circles trying to figure out what was wrong with me for the past year. After a clear ultrasound (no gallstones) and a HIDA scan which shows I have a gallbladder which pumps perfectly fine when prompted (63%) I did more research and found food allergens to be a possible trigger for gallbladder pain, which I most certainly have. I started 4 days ago to be gluten free, and the results are astounding. I wonder if this will also help my high bilirubin levels. I will go gluten free for awhile, wait, and see.

  • Nick

    Can I just say .. What a fantastic well researched article. Great work!!

    What quality!!

  • K summers

    I am post cholecystectomy and have been having digestive problems since my operation.

    A word of warning to anyone who is in the same position. I have tired the gluten free diet, unfortunately supermarket brought gluten free food is Very high in fats. For anyone who doesn’t have a gallbladder can cause very painful problems.

    Before taking part in any diet I would consult your GP/family doctor and do some research into what is really In the gluten free food you are looking to include in your diet.

    • Hi K Summers,

      We do not encourage store bought GF food as a measure to heal/help digestion – specifically that what worked for me is paleo, which is higher in good fats and my digestion is great. Paleo is gluten free, but it is a whole foods based diet. To each his own, but we want to note that while we of course recommend people consult their doctor, fats can be digested without a gall bladder. We have written about this topic specifically here: http://paleoparents.com/featured/how-to-enjoy-bacon-without-a-gallbladder/

  • Richard Crespi

    We know this is a fact. One of the first things we tell our customers is to stay off gluten and wheat products besides things like eating fried foods etc…Did you know that eating one loaf of bread shoots up your blood sugar level as much as eating 2 tablespoons of sugar. That’s GMO for you. When we give our clients a protocol at http://gallbladderpain.co to get rid of the congestion in the liver and gallbladder they later see and improvement in many aspects of digestion and also they tend to lose a lot of weight because the liver works better in burning fats.

  • Great article, thank you. You talk about wheat/gluten intolerance being the “cause” of gallbladder issues, however I have a question. My son is 18 months old. At around a month old, he had colic, and I addressed diet first to eliminate it. I started with an elimination diet, eating an “allergen-free” diet of salads, bone broth and sourkraut. I slowly added in one food at a time until I discovered wheat was the cause of the discomfort. Since then he and I have been wheat-free. Two weeks ago, my son suffered a “big bleed” as the medical community liked to refer to it. He lost 2/3 of this entire blood volume through an undiagnosed internal location. After a huge panel of tests, no cause for the bleed was determined, but they found he has gallstones.

    We were sent home with the “pat-on-the-back” that “we don’t know why he bled, maybe it will never happen again.” I came home to start my research.

    My question is, do you think gallstones are “caused” by wheat/grain (we are not grain free yet, just wheat free), or do you think there is a different relation? Should I be concerned about his gallstones, or simply move to focus on a higher fat/protein diet and eliminating more grains? I’d love any thoughts.

    • Hi Heather, yes – we absolutely recommend removing all grains following a standard elimination diet process where you test to see how your son feels without common offenders, and then slowly tests the reintroductions of one item at a time. However, if you are looking for a little more unique guidance and someone who can help you through the process, we highly encourage touching base with The Paleo Mom consulting (http://www.thepaleomomconsulting.com), their team can help you navigate your son’s unique health history and what may work best for him. Good luck!

  • Kathy

    Feeling validated and angry! I lost my gallbladder last year, and was diagnosed with Celiac Disease last week. I always suspected the two were connected. My worst gallbladder attacks were triggered by grains and dairy. After my gallbladder was removed, I added grains back into my diet because my doctors said I could eat whatever I wanted. Not only did my digestive issues (pain, nausea, bloating, and occasional vomiting) get worse, over the past year I developed crippling joint pain from Rheumatoid Arthritis, severe Eczema, and migraine headaches. Additionally, I’ve battled anxiety, depression, and obesity most of my life. I’m angry that none of the doctors I saw over the years connected the dots, not even my gastroenterologist. Thanks for trying to get the word out there. Maybe it will save someone else the pain and suffering that so many of us have endured.

  • Gallstoneadvice


    This is really great info.
    I suffered from gallstones for many years and
    this is the type of advice that really helped
    me to overcome my problem. So, to all you sufferers,
    YES! There is hope! Just don’t lose faith and know that
    your body can heal itself. I was lucky to find some great
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  • Debou55

    I was wondering, if we have gall stones could it be because of gluten? My dad used to have gall stones, my sister used to have gall stones (she got a surgery to remove it because it became too painful) and when she was describing the pain to me it reminds of the pain I used to have too. I removed gluten from my diet but I was wondering if my sister and dad could be intolerant to gluten without knowing it (my dad also has diabetes).

    • Yes, this is what I have found to be true from my personal experience, perhaps they would benefit for an elimination diet to see if they respond positively to the absence of gluten.

  • Well researched article. Will be sharing this!

  • I haven’t found yet a well structured article like this regarding Gallbladder Disease and Gluten Sensitivity. Good going 🙂

  • mrpoohead

    Had my gall bladder removed and now cannot deal with gluten – just belch heaps and grumbly guts. Cutting out gluten no problem, though am occasionally naughty over cookies.

  • Robby/FatGirlvsWorld

    This is one of the few places that actually talks about the link between gallbladder inflammation and Celiac.

    I went to the hospital with terrible gallbladder pain and bad acid reflux. At the hospital they did CT, HIDA (no cck), blood work, ultrasound. Nothing. No stones. Doctors were puzzled and even threw out pancreatitis, pancreatic cancer, colitis, etc. Once out of the hospital, we did an endoscopy, a gastric emptying test, an endoscopic ultrasound. They had me cut out fats, meats, alcohol, dairy, caffeine…. basically everything but carbs.

    Eight months later and still sick, a friend was reading the medical file that I kept for myself and asked if I had been tested for Celiac (apparently there was a note on a pathology report that was sent to the gastroenterologist that wasn’t given to me about celiac sprue in the biopsy). I stopped eating bread that night and found this article. It all started to make sense.

    Got my blood tested two days later (I didn’t know i needed to keep on eating wheat for the TtG-IgA test, but even without it…) I was a strong positive for Celiac. I’ve been GF for almost 4 months now and have been fairly good (except unintentional gluten… it’s effing sneaky), and I still have the gallbladder inflammation — but nowhere near the levels that I had prior to surgery.

    I still have trouble processing fat in my diet (so no tacos with cheese, sour cream, and/or guacamole) and I haven’t found much guidance out there on how to support my gallbladder health while going GF (other than “give it time”).

    I just wanted to say that I was so glad that i found this article and kept pursuing a diagnosis. Doctors wanted to take out my gallbladder because they didn’t know what else to do. They needed to look at the inflammation and the reflux as related symptoms to the underlying cause versus two independent issues. Looking back, a lot of things could have pointed to this issue but needed to be seen as a whole suite of issues pointing to one common cause (for instance, my low iron, low vitamin D, low B-vitamin levels).

  • peggy sue

    I am amazed how people will subject themselves to gallbladder surgery and all that it takes to have a body organ removed—rather than do a cleanse followed by intake of citrus juice and olive oil. When you think of everything they give you during surgery–and the risk of infection in a hospital–it would seem like that would be a no brainer to try first.

    • I wouldn’t assume people haven’t tried everything they can. Especially when they aren’t given good info from their doctors…

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