October 9th 2021

Cholelithiasis,  more commonly known as gallstones affect nearly 25 million people in The United States and each year nearly 1 million will have gallstones to the severity where they will need to be treated which usually involves surgical removal of the gall bladder itself. However, Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine is able to shrink gallstones and help many patients avoid surgery.

Gallstones are more prominent in women than men, especially if there is a family history of gallstones present. The stones occur due to a hardening of bile and other digestive fluids in the ducts of the gall bladder, these hardened fluids can range in size of a grain of sand up to as large as a golf ball. Gallstones are mostly cholesterol which is why those prone too high cholesterol or with a cholesterol heavy diet may be more likely to develop gall stones. Having multiple pregnancies OR being on oral contraceptives increases the risk of cholesterol gallstones. These factors cause the liver to secrete more cholesterol into the bile causing the stones to form.

Many people may have no symptoms if their stones are relatively small, gallstones will cause symptoms however if they block bile flow or cause inflammation (cholecystitis). Symptoms include indigestion, stabbing right rib or upper abdominal pain that may refer to the upper back/right shoulder. More severe cases completely obstruct flow and cause jaundice.
Acupuncture is able to decrease Gall Bladder inflammation, aid liver and gall bladder function, as well as dissolve gall stones. There are studies that prove significant to full reduction in size of stones and decreases or disappearance of symptoms with regular acupuncture and Chinese herbal supplementation. Acupuncture is able to stimulate the sphincters, increase peristalsis, and promote the secrete of bile of the gall bladder in order to discharge stones. This in turn will subside the pain that is associated with gallstones and help regulate digestive symptoms.

-Anna Craddock, Student of Acupuncture

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