Friday, 1 February 2013

The Flow of Bile.....

I had a lovely patient yesterday a gentleman in his 50's who came to see me about his ongoing constipation and bloating issues. He was extremely dry witted and good-natured and I felt a sincere connection instantaneously. We chatted about his life and his long-term digestive problems for a couple of hours that literally flew by. He has a brilliant vegetarian diet of lots of fresh fruit and vegetables perhaps could drink more water, which I suggested and he swims 3 times a week but still has a very sluggish bowel. He had his Gallbladder removed 15 years previous because of gallstones.

 My all time favourite remedy for constipation and incomplete bowel emptying is Dandelion Root (Taraxacum off Radix). Dandelion root helps the liver to produce more bile this is called a choleric action that later on is sent to the gallbladder to be used, helping the gallbladder to contract and release (cholagogue property) this stored bile. One active principle call taraxacin, found in the whole herb, particularly the root,  is thought to be responsible for stimulation of bile secretions.

 Bile or gall is a bitter-tasting, dark green to yellowish brown fluid, produced by the Liver that aids the process of digestion of lipids in the small intestine.  Bile is stored in the Gallbladder (a pear-shaped organ, 10 cm. long and three to five cm. wide, attached to the under-surface of the liver on the right side. The main function of the gallbladder is to store the bile secreted by the liver). and upon eating the bile is discharged into the duodenum. 

Bile contains mostly cholesterol, bile acids (also called bile salts), and bilirubin (a breakdown product of red blood cells). It also contains:
               Body salts (potassium and sodium)
               Copper and other metals

 Taraxacum’s nutty, salty, bitter-sweet, tap root is a gentle liver tonic and may be used to treat inflammation and congestion of the liver and gall bladder. The root has the sweetness that suggests its good for regulating blood sugar levels in the body.  It is a specific for this so is useful when folk are prone to post prandial dips or easily getting shaky when they get hungry.

What I want to understand is what does this mean to someone without a gallbladder? I had a particularly sleepless night thinking and hypothesizing… Modern medicine and surgery have enjoyed whipping a lot of our bodies organs out, stating that they unnecessary but I don’t agree and it isn’t like one can simply whip another one back in place…I concluded that our humble dandelion will aid as a mild laxative, nutritive, support shame we couldn’t have met 20 years ago and prevented the theft of one Gallbladder!


  1. Very interesting as I had mine removed some years ago and the same conundrum has been bothering me I find that regular liver tonic herbs really support my digestive system and when I don't have them I am quick to feel the strain on my digestive system. Without the gallbladder the liver is put under a lot of extra strain especially when one let's the good healthy eating fall by the way side. Thanks for posting this :-) maria xx

  2. Hey Maria,,
    thank you for getting in touch. When you say, 'strain on my digestive system'. are you also suffering sluggish bowels? I have been surprised and amazed that the dandelion as a simple tincture alongside a tea of chamomile, peppermint and fennel, have already made a difference to this patient after only 24 hrs....Thank Goodness for our fab herbs hey!
    big love
    Karen x