The Gall bladder
First let’s take a look at its location and function:
The gallbladder is a pear shaped organ located posterior and inferior to the liver. It stores the bile that the liver has produced – up to 2 oz. It’s connected to the intestinal system by the cystic duct which in turn empties into the duodenum via the common bile duct.
When we eat a large or fatty meal, nerve and chemical signals cause our gallbladder to contract thereby adding bile into our digestive system. It’s bile that helps to emulsify fat in our partly digested food. Most of this digestion occurs in the duodenum.
The gall bladder consists of the following parts:
Fundus: the lower free and the expanded end of the Gall bladder is known as the fundus of the gall bladder. It’s a projection from below the liver and its direction is downwards, forwards, and also to the right making an angle of about thirty degrees.
Body: the body of the is the portion that is lying between that of the fundus and also the gallbladder neck. The direction of the body is upwards, backwards, and to the left.
Neck: it’s the “S” shaped curve present above the body, and extends up to the cystic duct. Direction is upwards, forwards and then takes a turn downwards and backwards. Sometimes there is a presence of some diverticulum’s known as the Hartmann’s pouch and this portion is often termed as the isthmus of the gall bladder. Above it is the liver, and inferiorly the first part of the duodenum.
Functions of the Gall bladder
Let’s start with the liver whose main action is to filter of the blood. It’s also a major eliminator of waste and toxins. One of the products created by the liver’s removal of toxins is bile, but instead of simply eliminating it, the body uses it to break down fats and cholesterols in the digestive system.
This is where the gallbladder comes in – it stores the bile until it’s needed, concentrating it and then moving it into the digestive track through its connecting tube, the common bile duct.
The main function of the gall bladder is the concentration and the storage of bile, around ten times more than the bile in the liver. This bile is a liquid which is the secretory as well as the excretory product of the liver. The hepatoctes or the cells of the liver are the most efficient in the formation of bile.
Bile has its main function during the process of the digestion of the fats or the lipids. The process of fat digestion does not start before the bile acts on the fats and emulsifies them. Another function of the gall bladder is to lessen the alkaline nature of the bile of the liver, and hence take it towards the acidic side.
Disorders of Gall bladder
There are three main problems that occur with the Gall Bladder:
1. Gall bladder stones
The Gall Bladder can develop stones within it. The mechanism of the formation of the stones or lithiogenic properties is the increase in the secretion of cholesterols in the bile. The main reasons behind all this hyper secretory activity of the bile may be closely associated with high caloric diets, obesity, or many drugs.
2. The Gall bladder is irritated or swollen:
Irritation or swelling of the gallbladder could be from any number of causes. It will most likely be uncomfortable or painful, as with all problems, first should be seen by a doctor.
3. The tubes leading from the gall bladder to the duodenum get blocked:
This could be caused by a twisting of the tubes or by factors concerning the viscosity of the bile or a reduction in the diameter of the tubes.
Treatment of the gallbladder stones
There are 3 main methods for treatment, the surgical method, ultra sound to break up the masses or the dissolution method.
The dissolution method can include herbal remedies and might be effective but the best course of action is to consult a physician immediately, especially if there is pain or an infection.
If the Gall bladder is at risk for rupture because of infection or a blockage then surgery is often required to avoid a serious health risk.
If the gallbladder is removed the result will be an interruption between the smooth flow between
the liver and the area where fat is digested. Fat intake will have to be monitored and bile and enzyme supplements will commonly need to be taken.
I’ve heard that in China – where the lowest number of appendix and gallbladder removals occur – imaging tests are given first and if the gall stone is less than 1cm, herbs are used to soften and reduce the stones. This is also done along with acupuncture.
Gall bladder as a metaphor
It’s not the main focus of this article but there is definitely a part of reflexology that offers balancing support to the energy and emotions as well. It’s probably no accident that the term “gall” or “galled” indicates vexation and rancor. One of the definitions of “gall” is – something bitter to endure. Sounds a little like the taste of bile (and I hope you never experience it).
Just like feeling vexed or the unbalanced emotions of bitterness it seems like this little organ can pack a whollup and if it’s unhappy – it can make everyone around it unhappy too.
A Survey of Home Remedies Others have Suggested for Gall Bladder Disorders
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” – So be good to your body, limit your intake of the bad fats.
Fresh juice of beets and the juices of carrot and cucumber in quantities of 100 ml each, are one of the finest cleansers of the gall-bladder. This combined juice has proved beneficial in the treatment of all disorders related to this organ, and others have reported results when taken twice daily.
What I love about the pears is that this is the general shape of the gall bladder itself. Coincedence?
The pear is another excellent remedy for gall-bladder disorders. The fruit or its juice could be taken liberally with beneficial results. This is thought to exercise a special healing effect on all gall-bladder disorders, including gallstones.
The flowers, seeds, and roots of chicory or the endive plant are considered valuable in gall-bladder disorders. A decoction of about 30-60 ml of the flowers, seeds, or roots used three times daily are thought to have a beneficial result in the treatment of these disorders. In addition, endive or chicory juice in almost any combination is believed to promote the secretion of bile and could therefore be very good for both liver and gall-bladder dysfunctions.
Dandelion is another plant that is noted for its beneficial effect on the gall bladder. About 125 ml each of the juices of dandelion and watercress should be taken twice daily. Combined with a vegetarian diet, without much sugar and starch, these juices have been thought by some to help make the gall-bladder normal.
An oil cure has been advocated by some natural cure practitioners for the removal of gallstones. Raw, natural, unrefined vegetable oils of olive or sunflower are used. The procedure is to take 30 ml of vegetable oil, preferably olive oil, first thing in the morning and follow it immediately with 120 ml of grapefruit juice or lemon juice. This is an old remedy and it’s been found effective if taken every morning for several days (even weeks, if necessary).
Smaller gallstones can usually be cleared through dietetic cure. In cases of acute gall-bladder inflammation, fasting for two or three days until the acute condition is cleared. Nothing but water is taken during this period. After the fast, fruit and vegetable juices may be added for a few days; carrots, beets, grapefruit, pears, lemons or grapes may be included.
Can Reflexology Help?
Obviously, if there’s an acute pain, it’s important that you see your doctor. As with any complimentary modality, reflexology may help with the discomfort but it is in no way a substitute for medical attention.
First let’s identify the gallbladder reflex location. I find it most commonly on the right plantar between and mid shaft of metatarsals 4 & 5. It would seem to me “inside” the liver reflex but that’s because it’s inferior to the liver and the anterior liver is lower than its posterior aspect.
The gall bladder reflex is one of those points that a “hook & back-up can be used to connect to in a more detailed and specific way.
If there’s sensitivity on the reflex point, I definitely consider that to be a “call for energy”. Whether it’s a call on the physical, emotional planes is yet to be determined. But if it’s found to be on the physical level, a conversation about diet naturally ensues.
This little organ certainly warrants our reflexology attention and I feature it in most digestive system protocols.
Don’t forget – the magic is in the details
Be attentive and listen for what your clients needs.
Be clear about your reflex location.
Never work beyond your client’s pain threshold.
Hold the healing space as sacred.
If you want to know more, my response to this week’s “The Professor Answers” reflexology question from one of my readers will give you more useful information. This response is available only to those who have signed up for my newsletter. It includes a suspicion that the gallbladder is implicated more than “just by chance”, but because of the hard work it does.
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