Hi everyone, please bear in mind that I'm a layperson in this area, so I'd welcome any corrections to this post...
The Sphincter of Oddi and the Gall Bladder
I have been reading around about the gall bladder and bile ducts and found a couple of interesting articles about their interactions.
Apparently there is a neurological connection between the "sphincter of oddi", a valve which controls the release of bile from the bile duct into the duodenum, and the gall bladder. When the sphincter opens, the gall bladder contracts, and vice versa.
Now, in patients who have had their gall bladder removed, pain often persists, and surgeons may look at dysfunction of the sphincter of oddi as a possible cause.
The thing that interested me about these articles was that, apparently magnesium (a primary consituent of Epsom Salts ) relaxes the sphincter of oddi, which in turn would contract the gall bladder. (I note also with some amusement that Nexium, which is currently being pushed on American TV like it's the second coming of the Lord, has a chemical name esomeprazole magnesium).
This seems to add some weight to the assertion that Epsom Salts can relax the bile ducts, making the passing of bile easier. It also throws some light on the wisdom of too hasty removal of the gall bladder. If there is a neurological connection between the gall bladder and the sphincter of oddi, then what happens when that connection is severed? It's not surprising, in this light, that many who have had their gall bladder removed continue to suffer pain, or get new pains.