Bile salt is a chemical produced in the liver and stored in the gallbladder. It aids in the digestion of fats and helps in the elimination of toxins from the body. When insufficient bile salts are present in the body, disease can occur as a result of the toxic buildup. Recent research indicates that taking bile salts orally as a supplement can help prevent the buildup of toxins in patients with abnormal bile production or who have had gallbladders removed.
To understand what scientists mean when they refer to bile salts, it is necessary to know a little chemistry. An explanation of acids, bases and pH is helpful.
Important to this explanation is the definition of an ion. An atom with an electrical charge is known as an ion. Acids are positively charged with an extra proton to give, and they attempt to combine with negatively charged ions called bases. A base, or alkaline substance, is negatively charged and thus will accept an acid’s extra proton.
As stated by Urbana, Ill., middle school teachers Sue Bogren, Kevin Erlinger, Jan Hari, and Pam Van Walleghen, when a base encounters an acid, a neutralizing reaction occurs. This reaction produces water and a chemical salt. It is this reaction that produced bile salts in the liver.
According to diagnoseme.com, the liver produces bile, including bile salts and the gallbladder stores it. Bile is secreted into the digestive tract from the gallbladder to help digestion. Here, bile salts aid in the absorption of certain food components, such as fats, and prevent the absorption of others, such as toxins. Further, according to Mosby’s Medical Dictionary, bile salts are made up of sodium salts of different acids manufactured in the liver and derived from cholesterol. They help emulsify fats and contribute to their absorption in the intestines.
Gall Bladder Removal
According to Dr. James Howenstine, in his column on NewsWithViews.com, if a patient undergoes cholecystectomy, or surgical removal of the gallbladder, then the patient no longer has bile secreted into the digestive tract. The consequences of this are that toxins normally broken down by the bile and eliminated from the body as waste end up being stored in the body’s fat. These toxins can cause inflammation, infection and cancer.
Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition in which skin cells are produced too quickly for the body to shed, thus causing lesions. Some scientists believe psoriasis is related to insufficient toxin elimination in the body. Researchers in Hungary tested their hypothesis that psoriasis is caused in people who do not produce enough bile. K. Gyurcsovics and L. Bertók of Petz Aladár County Educational Hospital in Gyor, Hungary, treated one group of psoriasis sufferers with conventional medication and another group with bile salts taken orally over a period of two years. Of the group on conventional medication, 24.9 percent became asymptomatic, while 78.8 percent of those on bile salts became asymptomatic. This indicates a more effective treatment for psoriasis is bile salts.
Bile Salts as a Nutritional Supplement
For patients wishing to supplement their daily nutrition with bile salts, freeze-dried ox bile is readily available at health food stores and online sources.
References and ResourcesUrbana Middle School Teachers' material
Mosby's Medical Dictionary, 8th edition. © 2009, Elsevier.