Q&A: Remedies To Dissolve Gallstones?
Q: Can you provide any remedies that can dissolve gallstones? I have stomach issues, but want to avoid surgery. I would love any help or information you can provide. – L.R.
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A: There are two options available if you would like to avoid surgical removal of your gallstones. There are drugs that will dissolve the gallstones or sound waves which will fragment the stones until they are small enough to pass painlessly. The drugs, ursodeoxycholic acid (Actigall) and chenodiol (Chenix) are bile salts that can help dissolve the stones, but treatment can take months, and stones can recur.
The sound wave approach, called lithotripsy, is rarely used these days and is considered appropriate only for patients who cannot undergo surgery. It works best on single stones that are less than two centimeters in diameter. Risks of this procedure include pain and pancreatitis, an inflammation of the pancreas, which can occur within a month of treatment. There is also the risk that not all of the fragments will pass through the bile duct out of the gallbladder, leaving patients at risk for future and potentially serious problems.
Most gallstones are composed of cholesterol, and diet plays a role in their formation. You can try to prevent problems with gallstones, therefore preventing surgery with these diet tips:
- Reduce your fat intake to 25 percent of daily calories. Restrict dietary cholesterol consumption to no more than 300 mg daily.
- Limit your intake of sugar, which may promote gallstone formation.
- Increase your fiber intake and substitute soy protein for animal protein in your diet.
- Women should consider taking 500-700 mg of calcium, which binds bile acids and decreases the risk of stone formation.
Visit the BlackDoctor.org Digestives Disorders center for more.