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Any obstruction to the free flow of bile causes stagnation within the gallbladder. Deposits of bile pigments form (bile sand). Under chemical change, these small masses become encrusted with cholesterol and converted into gall-stones. It is common in overweight middle-aged women. Fifteen per cent of the world’s population are affected. Pain may be mistaken for heart disorder.

Stones are of two main types: cholesterol and bile pigment. Cholesterol stones are composed of about 70 per cent cholesterol. Bile pigment stones are brittle and hard and brown or black. Stones cause gall duct obstruction, inflammation of the gall bladder and biliary colic. Biliary colic can be one of the most excruciatingly painful conditions known.

Symptoms: extreme tenderness in the upper right abdomen, dyspepsia, flatulence, vomiting, sweating, thirst, constipation. Prolonged obstruction leads to jaundice. Pain should be evaluated by a competent authority. Large stones may require surgery.

Herbal Alternatives

Combinations should include a remedy for increasing the flow of bile (cholagogue); to disperse wind (carminative); and for painful spasm.

Herbs for Gall-stones

BHP (1983) – Barberry, Greater Celandine, Balmony, Wahoo, Boldo, Chiretta, Dandelion.

Indicated: Cholagogues, Bitters to meet reduced secretion of bile.

Preventative measure for those with tendency to form stone – 2 Blue Flag root tablets/capsules in the morning tea, or 420mg Silymarin (Milk Thistle), daily.

Teas: Boldo, Black Horehound, Horsetail, Parsley Piert, Milk Thistle, Strawberry leaves, Wood Betony.

Dr. Hooper’s case: ‘An Indian Army officer suffered much from gall-stones and was advised to take Dandelion tea every day. Soon the symptoms left him and he remained free from them for over 20 years.’ (John Clarke, MD)

Decoction: 1oz each: Milk Thistle, Centuary, Dandelion root, in 3 pints water. Bring to boil. Simmer down to 2 pints. Strain. One cup 3 times daily an hour before meals.

Tablets/capsules: Cramp bark (acute spasm). Wild Yam (spasmolytic and bile liquifier).

Powders. Equal parts: Cramp bark, Wahoo, Dandelion. Dose: 750mg (three 00 capsules or half a teaspoon) every 2 hours for acute cases.

Study: Silymarin 420mg daily on patients with a history of gall-stones. Results showed reduced biliary cholesterol concentrations and considerably reduced bile saturation index. (Nassuato, G. et al, Journal of Hepatology 1991, 12)

Captain Frank Roberts. Advises Olive oil and Lemon treatment followed by his prescription: Liquid Extract Fringe Tree 1oz (30ml); Liquid Extract Wahoo 1oz; Liquid Extract Kava-Kava 1oz; Liquid Extract Black root 1oz; Honey 2oz. Dose: teaspoon after meals minimum 3 meals daily in wineglass tepid water.

Liquid Extract Barberry: 20-60 drops in water every 2 hours.

Finlay Ellingwood MD. Liquid Extract Fringe Tree bark 10ml; Liquid Extract Greater Celandine 10ml; Tincture Gelsemium 5ml. Dose: 10 drops in water half hourly for acute cases.

Alfred Vogel. Suggests Madder root, Clivers and Knotgrass have solvent properties. Juices believed to have solvent properties: Celery, Parsley, Beet, Carrot, Radish, Lemon, Watercress, Tomato.

Olive oil and Lemon treatment: Set aside a day for doing this. Take breakfast. No meals for the rest of the day. About 6pm commence by drinking 1 or 2 ounces of the oil. Follow with half-1 cup fresh Lemon juice direct from the fruit in a little warm water. Dilute no more than necessary. Alternate drinks of Olive oil and Lemon juice throughout the evening until one pint or more Olive oil, and juice of 8-9 Lemons been consumed. Drink at intervals of 10 minutes to half an hour. Following 3 days pass stools into a chamber and wash well in search for stones and ‘bile sand’. Practitioner. For spasm on passing stone: Tincture Belladonna: 20 drops in 100ml water: 1 teaspoon hourly.

Compresses: hot wet. Castor oil packs, or hot water packs over painful area.

Enema: Strong Catmint tea – 2 pints.

Diet: Commence with 3-day juice-fast: Avoid cheese, sugar. Vegan diet. Studies show those who eat meat are twice as likely to develop stone. Less saturated fat and more fibre. Dandelion coffee or juices in place of caffeine beverages. High fibre.

Note: Subjects with a sensitive skin who enjoyed sunbathing are at a raised risk of having gallstones. (Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health)

Gall-stones may form if weight is lost rapidly when on a low-calorie diet.

Liniment of Origanum

1 oz. Oil of Wild Marjoram (Origanum Vulgare)
1 dram (teaspoonful) Oil of Thyme (Thymus Vulgaris)
14-7/8 oz. Olive Oil (so as to make 1 pint altogether)

1. Shake all together until thoroughly mixed.
2. Pour into a brown actinic bottle, and keep closely capped.

This is a good liniment for arthritis, rheumatism, sciatica, sprains, bruises, swollen glands, stiffness and soreness of muscles, as in Charley horse and backache, and also a wonderful remedy for chilblains. It may be taken internally in teaspoonful doses for gall stones and dyspeptic conditions. It is best to take it into an emulsion with lime water (equal parts well shaken together).


Bartram’s Enclopedia of Herbal Medicine by Thomas Bartram

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