Doctor's Note

Also check out Who Shouldn’t Consume Curcumin or Turmeric?

And check out my other videos on cholesterol

For more context, check out my associated blog post: Stool Size and Breast Cancer Risk.

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

To post comments or questions into our discussion board, first log into Disqus with your NutritionFacts.org account or with one of the accepted social media logins. Click on Login to choose a login method. Click here for help.

  • Michael Greger M.D.

    Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. And check out the other videos on cholesterol. Also, there are 1,449 other subjects covered in the rest of my videos–please feel free to explore them as well!

    • http://www.facebook.com/mgmirkin Michael Gmirkin

      I’ve read that low-fat / vegetarian diets can actually CAUSE gallstone formation due to the gallbladder not being flushed regularly enough and thus bile sits there and cholesterol, et al, eventually precipitate out of solution into stones? I ask in part because I think this may have happened to me when I had tried a low-fat plant-based diet (not a pleasant experience). And it has been a… worry… about restarting said diet again.

      http://www.dietdoctor.com/gallstones-and-low-carb

      Among others. Wondering what the studies say? What’s the best way to avoid gallstones? High fat to empty the gallbladder regularly? Low fat, high fiber to lower cholesterol? If there’s little to no fat, does the gallbladder get triggered to expel its contents or let bile sit and precipitate into stones? Can other substances in the diet cause the gallbladder to expel its contents w/o adding lots of fat back into the diet?

      Do low-fat dieter only THINK they’re protected because they HAVE stones, but their gallbladder is never forced to strongly contract, thus reducing the chances of a painful obstruction, despite stones existing?

      Interested to know the answers…

      • http://www.DonForresterMD.com/ Don Forrester MD

        Gallstones are much less prevalent in persons with on a plant-based diet see… http://nutritionfacts.org/video/cholesterol-gallstones/. Of course those of us who were on the standard american diet we may have already formed stones which won’t go away. Eating a low fat plant based diet will tend to stimulate the gallbladder less and won’t contribute to the formation of more stones or larger stones. I haven’t seen a study on frequency of gallbladder attacks but in my clinical experience patients going on a low fat plant based diet have decreased or eliminated their attacks. The presence of stones doesn’t appear to be a problem as long as they remain without symptoms. When going on a plant based diet the intestinal tract can take some time to adapt. The overall health of the body is best on a low fat whole plant based diet with Vit B12 supplementation. Hope this helps.

        • Vik

          Thank you for your input Dr. Forrester. I’ve got symptomatic gallstones, calcified, all small, under 5mm. My symptoms are slowly starting to decrease ever since I started the 80/10/10 lifestyle, cooked version, vegan; just over a month ago. What should I do? My symptoms have drastically decreased, but I still feel kind of uncomfortable with them.

          Should I consider surgical removal of the gallbladder? Would a 80/10/10 lifestyle have any effect on the purge of the stones, or am I stuck with them and will need the surgery eventually? Will my health be compromised in the long run without a gallbladder? Is my health at risk keeping the gallstones although them staying mostly asymptomatic?

          Thank you greatly for any input.

          • brydon10

            You definitely want to keep your gallbladder unless you are in a really tough spot with very frequent attacks. I’ve heard of stories where people become much worse after having it removed, even getting ghost pains etc. 2/3 people with gallstones never even get an attack, myself included. These are called “silent” gallstones. I’ve often wondered what the long term effects of having gallstones that don’t cause pain would be, but I doubt there would be anything too serious. The best thing to do is try to not get them any bigger.

          • http://www.DonForresterMD.com/ Don Forrester MD

            I advise patients to hang on to their original parts for as long as possible. If the gallstones remain very symptomatic with alot of pain you can consider surgery. There is always a chance that your gallbladder becomes infected or you can pass a stone and it can get hung up at the valve before the intestine causing gall stone pancreatitis. Both these would require intervention although the latter can often be taken care of with endoscopy. These complications are however not frequent. All surgery carries risk so best avoided if possible. I hope your “gall stone” symptoms have continued to improve and you and your gall stones live a long healthy life.

          • Nicole

            Hi Dr. Forrester, I have gall stones and there even in my liver too they hurt a whole lot but I don’t want anything taken out, I’m also very allergic to the stuff they use to put you under! I hold out great hope that theres a more natural way to both shrink them and pass them. I have seen many people online who used things like apple juice / apple cider vinegar to soften them an other things to flush them out is that a good idea is it a safe idea or a big no no? I have yet to go animal free with my diet but want to make sure all my ducks are in a row before hand. Thank you for your response. :) Oh PS I remember reading that a Dr can also get the stones out without surgery can you elaborate on that if you heard of that?? Thank you. :)

  • HealthHiro

    Will a low fat vegan diet get rid of gallstones? I am scheduled to have GB surgery and am wondering if I can avoid it by a change in diet. I have been eating a low fat vegan diet for 2.5 months since a day spent in OR for GB pain.

    • aguccione@sbcglobal.net

      Definitely! Make your new diet your diet for life. For more discussion see http://www.drmcdougall.com/med_gallbladder.html. Also for more great videos from Dr. Greger see http:www.nutritionfacts.org/?s=Cholesterol

  • Sarah

    If 80-90% of gallstones are cholesterol, what are the other 10-20% made of?

  • Thing3chaos

    A friend has been taking Lipitore for years and just had her gallbladder removed – – Is there a connection?  If Lipitore is supposed to reduce the cholesterol in the blood, does it get flushed to the gall bladder?  How does not having a gall bladder affect your general health?? 

  • nerak

    If we could not live without our gallbadders, science would find a way surgeons could remove the gallstones without removing an important organ. Why hasn’t this option been explored?

    • http://www.DonForresterMD.com/ Don Forrester MD

      Other options have been explored like dissolving the stones directly by infusing various liquids into the gallbladder but they haven’t worked. This is a case where primary prevention or avoiding them in the first place is best. But many patients with gall stones can avoid “attacks” by eating a low fat plant based diet. This strategy would probably markedly reduce the number of gallbladders that need to be removed. Most patients tolerate life without their gallbladder without too much difficulty although there are exceptions. It is nice to know that there are surgeons and safe anesthesiology for those cases that the gall bladder doesn’t respond to medical and nutritional therapy.

  • zoia Quinn

    what works for restless les syndrome. it’s so bad it goes up to shoulder/upper arms.? I have fibromyalgia .It started with sleep apnea then panic attacks, then restless les syndrome, then pain all over. Is there a link. I taken meds, but the restless legs syndrome and fatigue is worse than pain.

  • gingernut

    I have been vegan for 2 years and have recently been diagnosed with gall stones. The doctors were very quick to recommend removal of the gall bladder however I am adamant to do this if it can be treated naturally. I’ve read that milk thistle (silymarin) is a known natural remedy for the dissolution of gallstones. How true is this and are there any other natural remedies that might be tried?

  • Zaga

    Hello. I’ve vegan for about four years, and six months ago I had a cholecystectomy, I wonder why. Now my houseband is having troubles with his vesicle and his is vegan at home and lactovegetarian outside. My parents in law suspect that it’s because of the diet, what do you think it is then?

  • ariann28

    Doctor Greger, do you have any information on how gallbladder polyps are formed(multiple, 3mm). Also, if they disappear eventually by a plant based diet? My husband, 26, recently discovered while getting an ultrasound done on his liver, that he has them. Please help! Thank you!

  • Guido

    My doctor says I need to have my gallbladder removed due to gallstones but I was hoping to avoid surgery and finding a natural way to shrink and remove the stones. I’ve seen/read many quacks for solutions. Is there a legitimate method?

  • Gabriel Anjos

    Dr. What about the gallbladder and kidneys cleansy with apple juice and laxative that supposilly in six days expell the oily stones?

    example:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_bE8skCC9YQ

  • Harvey

    I can tell you that mallic acid in apples does soften gall stones and the flush as per Andreas Moritz method does work because I just flushed over a hundred stones this morning. I’ve been a veg/vegan 50/50 little bit lacto n ovo for 30 yrs next month. Stones up to golfball size can be passed by this method. Does this render surgery obsolete :-) .? First flush in 60yrs!!!

  • Leslie Stanick

    I had gallbladder pain for 6 months before I found out I had ONE big cholesterol stone. The doctor removed my gallbladder. I had no idea there were natural remedies that might reduce the size of gallstones. So I wonder if turmeric would be good for me or not. I do need liver support, and I have osteoarthritis, which is getting worse, and would like to try it. Does turmeric help with fibromyalgia?

  • Penny

    Dr. Greger, I have read, or heard in one of the many YouTube lectures I have watched, that once the gallbladder is removed if the fat intake is not drastically reduced the bile will drip into the intestine and can cause irritation or even worse. Do you have any information to share about this? Thank you in advance.

    • http://www.DonForresterMD.com/ Don Forrester MD

      It is true that once your gallbladder is removed that you have lost your ability to store bile and that you won’t have the ability to discharge your bile from the gallbladder after a meal. Your liver will continue to make bile which will be slowly released into the intestine. I have had one patient who had a condition called bile gastritis which responded to a prescription of oral carafate. However in 30+ years of clinical practice I found that my patients tolerated the removal of their gall bladder very well especially when it was causing significant symptoms in the first place. Most folks with gall stones will not need to have their gall bladder removed. I would not be concerned unless you continue to have problems. Since there is alot of variability it is important to work with your physician(s) or other health care professionals to pick the right path for you. By eating a whole food plant diet with vitamin B12 you will minimize the likelihood of difficulties. Good luck.

  • nameless void

    about 6 months after i went vegan i passed about 10 gallstones (maybe like 1 or 2 a month), it hurt like hell and the first time i was in the emergency room because i had no clue what it was, the gallstones had formed from my old extremely unhealthy diet and after i went vegan all the stones left my gallbladder causing the attacks, i havnt had a new attack in forever, im guessing all the stones are gone now, im pretty sure a vegan diet saved me from massive trouble down the road if the stones had time to grow larger

    • EarlyManStanding

      nameless void, If you do get an ultrasound test showing that your gallbladder is now clear of previous stones, please post the results. We’re generally told the stones will not disappear but we know most people with stones are not whole plant vegan. So there’s little proof either way.

  • veronika neukirch

    so which repercussions does a gallbladder & bile duct removal have (for a vegan)?
    …how can one then lower estrogen?

  • Hermes Liberty

    I am 59 and mostly vegan. Four years ago at a good private hospital in Thailand I had imaging done which found a small cartoid atery plaque buildup on one side. And a gallstone cyst. I was told to monitor both but that they were so small as to be inconsequential to blood flow to the brain or becoming a gallstone. Six months ago after a full cardio check up at Hanoi Heart Hospital and two more relevant ultrasounds (and blood tests) the cardiologist recommended that I should start stains. I am looking into alternatives because of possible side effects. But what I don’t understand is *why* anyone would want to eliminate the ‘scab’ on a wound, if in fact the first step of plaque deposits in arteries is an injury. Wouldn’t that be like unplugging a hole?

  • Wade Patton
  • Wade Patton
  • Wade Patton

    finally another report with dietary implication: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1416200/ (1985) which led me to these. OK enough for now. (ADHD satisfied). http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1416200/citedby/

  • Jo

    Me husband is a diabetic and is on prescription medication. He takes Metformin ER, 500mg – four tablets a day.
    Heart:
    Losatran 100mg- one tablet a day
    Glinepiride 4mg- one tablet a day
    Can he take the golden paste recipe at 1/4 teaspoon twice a day, while on the meds?

  • Ross

    I’m been on a plant based diet with B12 supplementation for two years and it’s going well. Since our third child has been born my meat eating wife has been admitted to hospital twice with gallstone-induced acute pancreatitis, the first attack was brought on eating a McDonalds and the second from eating some cheese. I learned that he mother, grandmother and aunt have all had their gallbladders removed and insist that it’s not related to diet and instead linked to cholesterol production during pregnancy. We have two daughters and I’d very much like to them to avoid the same fate. I’ve failed to convert her to a plant based diet and for the most part unless I’m cooking, the children eat the standard British diet. What links are there between pregnancy and gallstones?

  • Bruce Cropley

    After who knows how many years, this was still not on wikipedia. I have attempted to fix this…

  • Kitty

    i been eating a lot of citrus and looks like im passing tiny stones about the size of a pin tip, it’s neat how the body can do amazing things when we remove the cause of the problem. i’m slowely moving toward a plant base diet.. I don’t want to end up feeling sick all over again by going to fast into it. I hope I can get off all animal products and remain off them without the effects of feeling sick during eating plant base. what am I doing wrong that is causing this issue is it detox?

  • Kitty

    Michael Greger MD, I enjoy listening to your videos and lectures. Very informative and helpful. Thank you for sharing this with us.

  • interested_foodie

    Can a low-fat vegan diet prevent gallbladder attacks if you have small gallstones and occasional uncomplicated biliary colic?

  • loveplants

    I’m really grateful for this video, having recently been diagnosed with gallstones I’ve had numerous people comment that my being vegan must be the cause so I can mention this study next time. What I’d like to ask is whether it would be worth asking my doctor about Ursodeoxycholic acid? I understand it’s not suitable for everyone, as some people’s stones will have calcified, but I’d like to try and explore ways to keep hold of my gallbladder if I can. But before I do, I’d be keen to understand if there are any risks associated with ursodeoxycholic acid (such as increased cancer risks) and whether they are better or worse than surgery? Also, are you aware of any plant-based foods that I would do well to consume in abundance to help reduce attacks? I’ve done a fair bit of reading but I’m wary of some of the advice I’ve read because a lot of it seems to be accompanied with advice to undertake these flushes despite evidence showing they don’t work on larger stones, and can be quite dangerous in some cases. Thanks in advance.

  • Kassie Lachapelle

    Hi, I’m just going to say it , I’m hungry I enjoy eatting, I’m a lacto-ovo vegetarianhave been for 4 year, and I went to the emergaCy room this Sunday I’ve had a ton of weird things happening with my body nausea, dizzyness no period since july I’m 25 and Im a lesbian they gave me a pregnancy test anyway NOT pregnant, I’m tired alot, blurry vision, im unusally forgetful, mood swings like crying uncontrollably for no reason, trouble sleeping, waking up with stomach pain I stopped eatting after 8 at night now and hasn’t helped, bloating two the point where I go from a size 14 pant to size 18 and back to a 14 in the corse of a day. the doctor at emergency said he thinks I have gulstones I went for an ultrasound and won’t get the results for a week, the doctor didn’t tell me what to eat, my friend who had bad attacks said no nuts, beans, dairy, noodles, broccoli, romane, eggs what should I eat for protine and nutrition?

    • Bat Marty

      don’t worry about proteins. You can even eat just sweet potatoes and survive optimally like Okinawas did for a long time. Go plant based (low fat) and keep reading on serious sources.

  • Teresa Rindal

    I have a gallstone that measures 2.4 cm and also have sludge in my gallbladder. Is there a diet I could use that can save my gallbladder or is it time to have it removed?

  • Ariceli

    I have been a vegan for a year now. mostly eating raw fruits and veggies. However, recently I had a gallstone attack and I was in major pain for 1 day straight. And the doctor said I have to get surgery asap. But it’s been almost a month now and I haven’t had any pain since that day. In all, I don’t want to get surgery because I feel perfectly fine now and I will continue my rawvegandiet diet so I don’t see a need for surgery. Would you agree with me and would you suggest I still get surgery?

  • Bat Marty

    Dear Doctor, I have Gilbert’s disease – does that mean that I could have gallstones more easily than others? (I am 46, been vegan for 4 years now, cholesterol 166)