If you are experiencing a gallbladder attack, chances are you will notice. Symptoms range from moderate to intense pain in the upper, middle-right area of your abdomen, just below the ribcage and can last from 15 minutes to several hours. You may also experience pain in your upper right shoulder blade or middle back; nausea; vomiting; gas or chest pains. If the attack is caused by a stone stuck in the biliary tract, you might need medical assistance.


Gallbladder Function

The gallbladder’s primary role is to store bile from the liver, allowing for a large bile release after a meal to help metabolize food. Bile helps to break down fats so the body may better utilize them; this is why a fatty meal often promotes an attack. A gallbladder attack can occur when an excess of backed-up bile causes the gallbladder to swell, if the gallbladder is infected or if a stone is making its way down the biliary tract toward the small intestine.


Quick Relief

If you experience an attack, one of the following might help relieve painful symptoms. If the pain increases, a stone might be lodged in the biliary tract.

1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in a glass of apple juice
1 tablespoon of Epsom salts in a glass of pure water or fresh grapefruit juice
Iceberg lettuce (you can use other types of lettuce but they might not be as effective)
Castor oil pack on the gallbladder
Strong foot massage or rotating from balls of feet to heels while standing
1 to 2 tablespoons of cod liver oil
Coffee or pure water enema (often brings instant relief)


Prevention

Medical studies have shown that you can reduce your risk for gallstones by following some simple daily food guidelines. Monounsaturated fats, such as those found in olive oil and the omega-3 fatty acids common in fish oil and flaxseed, may aid people with high triglycerides by helping to improve the function of the gallbladder. A high-fiber diet also lowers your risk for gallstones, along with vitamin C, vegetable protein, lecithin and regular exercise. Pear juice also can help with gallbladder issues; you can find it in the baby section of most supermarkets.

Many beneficial herbs aid the gallbladder, including catnip, radish root, yellow dock, cramp bark, dandelion, fennel, ginger root, horsetail, parsley and wild yam. Barberry is also effective for gallbladder issues but should NOT be taken if you are pregnant.

If you are in the painful process of passing gallstones, the following tea recipe also could help.

1 teaspoon Oregon grape root
2 teaspoons marshmallow root
2 teaspoons dandelion leaves, dried (or 1 teaspoon root)
1 teaspoon peppermint
4 cups water

Simmer roots in pure water for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and add dandelion leaves. Let steep for 15 minutes. Strain. Drink immediately or refrigerate, consuming after daily meals.