Gallstones are small stones made up of cholesterol particles, calcium deposits and other substances found in bile that form in the gallbladder. They form when particles bind to each other and become lodged in the gallbladder, causing pain and other symptoms, due to different risk factors. (1) Gallstones treatment focuses on maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle while sticking to a gallstones diet.

Gallstones Causes and Risk Factors

  • High LDL cholesterol levels
  • Poor diet
  • Hormone imbalance
  • Losing weight too quickly
  • Pregnancy
  • Diabetes
  • Family history of gallstones
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Low HDL cholesterol levels


Gallstones Symptoms

  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Nausea
  • Tension around the stomach, intestines and other organs, especially after meals
  • Severe pain in the upper-right side of the abdomen
  • Pain under the right shoulder

Gallstones Treatment

1. Maintain a Healthy Body Weight

Being overweight or obese can contribute to the development of gallstones. Studies suggest that obese people produce high levels of cholesterol in their livers. Maintaining a healthy weight is an important part of gallstones treatment. This means following a healthy diet and staying physically active. (2)

gallstones healthy weight

2. Avoid Rapid Weight Loss

Fad diets may sound tempting if your goal is to lose weight quickly, but rapid weight loss is a risk factor for gallstones. Research has shown that people who lose more than three pounds per week may have a higher chance of developing gallstones than those who lose weight more slowly, without implementing drastic measures. (3)

3. Follow an Anti-inflammatory Diet

A gallstones diet includes anti-inflammatory foods that support liver and gallbladder health. Healthy foods can help regular your body’s use of cholesterol and lower risk your risk of gallstones. Cut out processed foods that are high in sugar and artificial ingredients. Hydrogenated oils, deli meats, sugar and excess alcohol can increase gallbladder risk. Replace them with fresh, whole foods including fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans and legumes. Add beets, artichokes and dandelion greens to your gallstones diet. They are known to help support digestive health and improve bile flow. (4)

gallstones artichoke

4. Exercise

Gallstones treatment includes regular exercise. Research has shown that people who are more active tend to have better protection against gallstones. (5) Regular physical activity improves your overall health by reducing stress levels, lowering inflammation in the body and helping you maintain a healthy weight. Aim for 30-60 minutes of moderately intense exercise each day.

5. Reconsider Medications

Some medications can increase the body’s estrogen levels, which can negatively influence cholesterol production and storage. A study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found a higher risk of gallbladder problems in women who took oral contraceptives. (6) If you believe your medication may be contributing to gallbladder problems, talk to your doctor.

gallstones medication

6. Try Supplements

Natural supplements can work as gallbladder treatment methods. Supplements that help improve liver health, reduce inflammation and regulate the use of cholesterol include:

  • Turmeric – aids in digestion, fights inflammation and supports liver metabolism (7)
  • Activated charcoal – binds to toxins to help flush them out of the body
  • Milk thistle – eliminates toxic buildup from medications and heavy metals in the liver (8)
  • Dandelion root – acts as a natural diuretic to help the liver eliminate toxins (9)
  • Lipase enzymes – taking 2 capsules with meals can help improve fat digestion and bile use
  • Bile salts – taking 500 to 1,000 milligrams with meals can improve gallbladder function