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'Gallstones' upon analysis not gallstones

gallbladder flushes-- a critical look

Date:   3/11/2006 7:57:08 PM   ( 15 y ) ... viewed 3970 times

The gallstone cure that wasn't
Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients, Nov, 2005 by Alan R. Gaby

A 40-year-old woman with multiple 1- to 2-mm gallstones documented by ultrasound underwent a "liver cleansing" regimen at the advice of an herbalist. The regimen consisted of free intake of apple and vegetable juice until 6 p.m., but no food, followed by consumption of 600 ml of olive oil and 300 ml of lemon juice over several hours. Early the next morning, multiple semi-solid green "stones" were passed per rectum. Analysis of the stones revealed that they contained no cholesterol, bilirubin, or calcium, but were made up of 75% fatty acids. Experimentation revealed that mixing equal volumes of oleic acid (the main component of olive oil) and lemon juice produced semi-solid white balls after the addition of a small amount of potassium hydroxide. The authors concluded that the green "stones" passed by this woman resulted from the action of gastric lipases on the triglycerides that make up olive oil, yielding long-chain carboxylic acids (mainly oleic acid). This process was followed by saponification into large insoluble micelles of potassium carboxylates (lemon juice contains a high concentration of potassium) or "soap stones." The cholesterol stones observed on ultrasound were removed surgically.

Comment: Variations of the regimen described above are frequently mentioned by herbalists and nutritionists as a method of promoting the passage of gallstones. Some patients claim to have passed numerous gallstones after undergoing a "gallbladder flush" similar to this one. None of the patients, however, had their "stones" analyzed, and none had before-and-after gallbladder sonograms to document the passage of gallstones. Thus, it appears that most or all of these patients were merely passing "soap stones." The gallbladder flush may not be entirely worthless, however; there is one case report in which treatment with olive oil and lemon juice resulted in the passage of numerous gallstones, as demonstrated by ultrasound examination (Br J Surg 1992;79:168).

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