Abdominal Pain and the Gallbladder

Exciting New Study on it’s Natural Treatment

One of the common problems associated with chronic abdominal pain is gallbladder dysfunction and disease.  Dysfunction is a state of having symptoms from a poorly functioning gallbladder but without advanced disease present yet.  Long-standing dysfunction eventually may lead to diseases such as gallstones requiring surgery.  Appreciating that timeline, it seems that attention to the dysfunctional state is important to prevent more serious disease.

Prevention is important.  Gallbladder disease in the U.S. has increased 20% over the past 3 decades affecting 25 million adults and costing $6.2 billion annually.  Gallbladder removal often results in fatty liver disease and significant metabolic affects from fat and fat soluble vitamin malabsorption.

The typical symptoms of gallbladder dysfunction are right abdominal pain and bloating, worsening eating fatty foods, foul smelling stools and gas, and constipation.  These symptoms relate to the function of the gallbladder, fat digestion and absorption.  Bile produced in the liver is stored in the gallbladder until we eat which triggers contraction and emptying of the gallbladder into the small intestine.  

Bile is a mix of several things; bile acids which help digest fat, toxins that the liver is removing from the body and cholesterol from the breakdown of older hormones by the liver.  If the gallbladder is sluggish in emptying, fat digestion suffers as does detoxification.  Also, poor contraction of the gallbladder allowing cholesterol rich bile build up in it will allow cholesterol crystals to begin forming.  These are the seeds that form gallstones.

An important part of a program to resolve gallbladder dysfunction is increasing the fluidity of bile and improving gallbladder contraction.  A new study has demonstrated the ability of a whole food supplement, A-F Betafood® to improve a broad group of measures of gallbladder function.  The product is made from organic beet root and is dense in the phytonutrients betalains and betaine.

The study randomly assigned 50 obese but otherwise healthy adults to take the supplement or a placebo for 12 weeks.  Several measures of gallbladder function that relate to disease risk were measured before beginning and at the end of 12 weeks.  When the gallbladder is emptying poorly, the wall of it thickens.  Those taking the A-F Betafood® demonstrated a 9% improvement in wall thickness in just 12 weeks, while none was seen with the placebo.

Gallbladder emptying in the supplement group improved 19%, and the gallbladder volume which is a measure of healing of the wall thickness improved 32%.  The researchers concluded that the supplement significantly improved gallbladder function.  Perhaps the broader implication is that it would be expected to offer important protection against progressive gallbladder disease as well as helping resolve the symptoms of dysfunction such as abdominal bloating and pain.

Evans et al.  A Whole-Food-Based Health Product (A-F Betafood®) Improves Gallbladder Function in Humans at Risk of Gallbladder Insufficiency: A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial.  Nutrients 2020, 12, 540.