Allergic Reaction - Gallbladder Problems

You’re probably never given your gallbladder a thought – unless it's given you trouble. A holding tank for the digestive fluid known as bile, the gallbladder is located just below the liver. And in certain people, it's subject to attacks inflammation. Sometimes an attack causes nothing more than indigestion.

More than likely, however, gallbladder attacks bring periods of pain and tenderness that are almost unimaginable to anyone who hasn’t experienced them. Mild or severe, gallbladder attacks tend to repeat themselves. If the inflammation doesn’t quiet down, the gallbladder must be surgically removed, or else it will eventually rupture.

If gallstones develop, surgery is almost certainty. Heavy meals and fatty foods receive most of the blame for those merciless attacks. But many frustrated gallbladder sufferers have found while eating light meals and fat free food helps a little, their gallbladder still kick up on them.

James C. Breneman, M.D., chairman of the Food Allergy Committee of the American College of Allergists, has found that in many people, gallbladder attacks are brought on or aggravated by food allergy. He kept track of a group of gallbladder patients, all of whom had stones and some of whom had even their gallbladders removed but still had pain.

The foods that caused those patient’s gallbladder problems were, in order of frequency, egg, pork, onion, fowl, milk, coffee, orange, corn, beans and nuts – all common allergens. As long as those people didn’t eat anything to which they were allergic, says Dr. Breneman, they had no more pain.

Dr. Breneman explains the role of food allergy in gallbladder disease by saying, ”The ingestion of the food allergens creates edema (fluid retention) in the bile ducts, and the drainage of bile from the gallbladder is impaired. This inadequately drained area is prone to infections.

These infected areas then form the (breeding place) for ... stone information. When the food allergens is removed from the diet, there is no edema ... so the patient is symptom free (Basics of Food Allergy, Charles C, Thomas, 1978).

Dr. Breneman’s treatment begin with one week of eating only what he considers to be ”low allergy risk” foods: beef, rye, soy, rice, cherries, peaches, apricots, beets, spinach and plain water. If allergy is the cause, symptoms should begin disappear in three to five days on this ”elimination diet.”

Then the individual starts to add other foods, one at a time, to test tolerance. Presumably, the gallbladder will let them know loud and clear if and when they eat something to which they are allergic. Occasionally, an individual may be allergic to one of those first nine ”low allergy” foods mentioned by Dr. Breneman, in which case a physician monitored five day fast can help to sort out the offending foods.

Dr. Breneman and a few other doctors recommend the elimination diet for gallbladder problems because skin tests for food allergy aren’t reliable and blood tests are quite expensive. One woman who followed Dr. Breneman’s approach found she was allergic to eggs, milk, yogurt and cheese – foods the she’s been eating practically every day for years.

But when she got rid of those foods, she got rid of her gallbladder problems, too. ”My diet is restricted,” she told us. ”But I’m willing to do anything if it means no more gallbladder attacks. They're just awful!” Complete guidelines for testing for food allergies are given in Rotary Diets.