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Q My hus­band has been di­ag­nosed with mul­ti­ple gall stones. He was told to get the gall blad­der re­moved as the wall is in­flamed as well. Would ayurveda be help­ful? We were told gall stones can be dis­solved in 10 days.

ADrug treat­ments are gen­er­ally in­ap­pro­pri­ate for pa­tients who have com­mon bile duct stones with acute in­flam­ma­tion. Ayurveda is not against surgery but don’t fall for claims of dis­solv­ing gall stones in 10 or 12 days.

In-pa­tient man­age­ment and oil ther­a­pies are not re­quired for gall­stone de­ple­tion un­less there are other health is­sues.

You may go for a sec­ond in­ves­ti­ga­tion and opin­ion at the ear­li­est. If your sur­geon sug­gests an ex­pec­tant man­age­ment (wait and see), ap­proach an Ayurveda doc­tor.

Your gall­blad­der is a small, pear-shaped or­gan on the right side of our ab­domen, just be­neath the liver. The gall­blad­der stores di­ges­tive fluid – bile – which is re­leased into the small in­tes­tine. Nor­mally, the bile con­tains chem­i­cals to dis­solve the choles­terol ex­creted by liver. But if the liver ex­cretes more choles­terol than your bile can dis­solve, choles­terol stones may form in the gall­blad­der.

If the bile fluid con­tains too much biliru­bin, it re­sults in pig­ment stones. If the gall­blad­der doesn’t empty cor­rectly, it can also re­sult in stag­na­tion, con­cen­tra­tion and gall­stone for­ma­tion. Risk fac­tors in­clude be­ing fe­male, over 40 years of age and over­weight, eat­ing a high fat/ choles­terol diet, fam­ily his­tory, di­a­betes and oral con­tra­cep­tives.

Gall­stones size can be from the size of a sand par­ti­cle to as large as a golf ball. Gall­stones can move out of the gall­blad­der and pass into the stom­ach. How­ever, a stone may be­come lodged in the bile duct due to the size of the stone; this con­di­tion is called a bile duct stone. If the stone blocks the bile duct, jaun­dice and bile duct in­fec­tion can re­sult.

If a gall­stone gets lodged in the neck of gall­blad­der, chole­cys­ti­tis (in­flam­ma­tion of gall­blad­der) can oc­cur with symp­toms of pain and fever.

If the block is in the pan­cre­atic duct, pan­cre­ati­tis oc­curs, with symp­toms of in­tense, con­stant ab­dom­i­nal pain.

Sud­den in­tense pain in the up­per right side or be­low the breast­bone and pain to­wards the shoul­der blades is typ­i­cal gall­stone pain. Gall­stones that don’t cause any signs and symp­toms typ­i­cally don’t need treat­ment.

Ayurveda med­i­ca­tions are help­ful in dis­solv­ing gall­stones, es­pe­cially the small choles­terol stones. A fat-free diet is also im­por­tant. The treat­ment may take 6 to 12 months to dis­solve gall­stones, and an as­sess­ment by ul­tra­sound should be done af­ter six months. Ef­fec­tive Ayurveda treat­ment of gall­stones also re­duces the in­flam­ma­tion of gall­blad­der.

In my clin­i­cal ob­ser­va­tion, I have seen a few cases of re­cur­rence af­ter few years; there­fore life­style mod­i­fi­ca­tion is also im­por­tant.

There are a few Ayurveda prepa­ra­tions that are ef­fec­tive in cases of chole­cys­ti­tis due to gall­stones.

Con­sult an Ayurveda doc­tor in per­son with your med­i­cal re­ports.

Al­though one can’t en­tirely pre­vent gall­stones from form­ing, we may be able to lower the risk by fol­low­ing these sug­ges­tions:

Main­tain a healthy body weight. Avoid crash di­ets. Ex­er­cise reg­u­larly. Choose a low-fat, high-fi­bre diet that em­pha­sises fresh fruits, veg­eta­bles and whole grains.

Re­duce the in­take of an­i­mal fat, but­ter, mar­garine, may­on­naise and fried foods.

DR VL SHYAM is a Dubai-based Ayurveda prac­ti­tioner

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