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  • Dr. Ron Hoggan, Ed.D.
    Dr. Ron Hoggan, Ed.D.

    Gall Bladder Disease and Celiac Disease - By Ronald Hoggan

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

    The following piece was written by Ronald Hoggan who is a teacher at Queen Elizabeth High School in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

    Gall bladder disease or malfunction is often associated with celiac disease. It can cause pain in the upper right quadrant of the abdomen, just at the lowest rib on the right side. In one study of 1300 celiacs in Canada, 9% indicated that gall stones were the earliest presentation, sometimes followed by many years prior to correct diagnosis of their celiac disease. In another report, Dr. Kozlowska indicated that 13 of the 41 newly diagnosed celiacs she investigated were suffering from atresia, a condition which is a partial or complete blockage of the bile duct.

    CCK (cholecystokinin) is the hormone responsible for gall bladder contraction. The bulk of this hormone is produced in the duodenum.

    Active celiac disease would be likely, then, to cause a reduction or a cessation of duodenal production of CCK. A radiologist in Hungary is currently researching this problem. In private correspondence, one gastroenterologist reports having found (accidentally) a gallstone in a 12 year old girl who had active celiac disease.

    The 30% incidence of atresia among celiac children, as reported by Dr. Kozlowska, would suggest an even higher number among adults with active celiac disease. Given the low level of clinical suspicion for celiac disease in North America, it would not be at all surprising if a large portion of patients with gall bladder disease were suffering from occult celiac disease. Future research may reveal that gall stones and atresia are only symptoms of celiac disease.

    I did a Medline search on cck and celiac disease. I got 65 hits. Researchers repeatedly identified a connection between celiac disease and gall bladder malfunction with such comments as: Thus the already impaired fat absorption in celiac sprue is magnified by the lack of bile delivery.....; and We conclude that there is a reversible defect of gallbladder emptying and cholecystokinin release in celiac disease. and Cholecystokinin (cck) release and gall bladder emptying in response to a fatty meal are completely abolished in celiac disease. and the abnormally decreased gallbladder contraction in celiac patients is the result of endogenous cck secretion and not a lack of end-organ responsiveness to cck.

    There just isnt much ambiguity there. If youve got celiac disease, you have gall bladder malfunction, of the sort that may well develop into atresia and gallstones.

    Upon receiving a diagnosis of gall bladder disease, whether gall stones or atresia, one might be wise to request a blood test for celiac disease. The anti-endomysial antibody test is currently the most reliable and available test.

    Now, given the low level of clinical suspicion for celiac disease, I anticipate the suggestion that absent gall bladder emptying, atresia, and gall stones might occur in the absence of celiac disease. I did another Medline search, and I cant find a single study that has tested atresia patients or gallstone patients for celiac disease. My answer to the suggestion that gall bladder disease may occur in the absence of celiac disease is that there is no evidence to support such a contention. Considerable evidence exists, however, which points to celiac disease as a likely cause of gall bladder malfunction, atresia, or stones. As for childhood gallstones, there appears to be only one answer.... it is associated with celiac disease.

    A view that incorporates the association of gall bladder disease, and celiac disease, but does not preclude the above, has been expressed by Dr. Joseph Murray, of the University of Iowa, who is a gastroenterologist specializing in treating celiac disease. He believes there are several triggers that can activate Celiac disease in genetically susceptible people. One of them is: Surgery, particularly GI (gall bladder, etc.) In any case, the connection between celiac disease and gall bladder disease is well known.


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    I found out am celiac 4 years ago, and am having worsening gallbladder problems this past year, I have 1 stone, and it is functioning below normal. My question is, will I feel better having the gallbladder out? My GI doc says not everyone feels better...so I am not sure what to do. I'd like to find out from other celiacs if they improved after removal or not? I wonder if the percentage of people who do not feel better after removal are celiacs who do not know it and are still eating gluten???

    Hi Natascha.

     

    Don't-what ever you do-have your gallbladder removed. This will result in celiac issues worsening. And will ruin your health. Removing the gallbladder, removes the catchment of bile. Without a gallbladder , increased bile occurs from continual flowing from the liver. This has the same affect of an over active gallbladder which is also a cause of celiac issues-A no win situation. You will find your heath issues escalating to unbearable levels. I am living proof. Body/health completely shut down in 3 years after surgery. For this to happen to a gym junkie is sad. Look up post-cholecystectomy syndrome to find out what will go wrong.

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    I was 16 when I had my first attack. What was eventually diagnosed as celiac disease capitalized my adolescence and young adulthood. I've spent thousands of my personal money seeking treatment - as a 22 year old caretaker, that's a big commitment. After gallbladder removal, complete gluten-free diet, AND lactose avoidance (ANYONE with celiac, AVOID LACTOSE! Your guts are too damaged to process it, for 6 months to 2 years!) and over twenty doctors, I'm finally finding some peace. Thanks internet.

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    I found out am celiac 4 years ago, and am having worsening gallbladder problems this past year, I have 1 stone, and it is functioning below normal. My question is, will I feel better having the gallbladder out? My GI doc says not everyone feels better...so I am not sure what to do. I'd like to find out from other celiacs if they improved after removal or not? I wonder if the percentage of people who do not feel better after removal are celiacs who do not know it and are still eating gluten???

    YES GET IT OUT! It was a life changing surgery for me.

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    Hi i have been having problems all year seems like I have gull bladder problems light colored bowel movements food in the bowel movements loose bowels yellow bowels . very dry skin mouth sores. I'm still worried but reading everything lets me know what to be tested for.

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    I think it is important that before gallbladder surgery people be tested for celiac disease. For years I went undiagnosed after my gall bladder removal and it almost put me in the hospital because my liver was becoming so damaged. I think knowing I had a gluten intolerance would have saved me a lot of heart ache and money. Instead stupid doctors almost killed me because they couldn't relate the gallbladder removal to celiac disease, thanks to my own diagnoses and a healthy gluten free diet I finally feel the way I should have my whole life.

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    I've had gallbladder issues for years as well but am reluctant to take gallbladder surgery. For now I've just been dieting and sticking to a healthy lifestyle though. Thanks for the article I'll keep this in mind!

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    Ron, superb article. I've come to a similar conclusion of the connection between celiac and gallstones but with the main fault being a lack of essential minerals (and GI tract issues are causing malabsorption).

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    This is an excellent and enlightening piece, however, it is unclear to me whether the good Doctor is advising the gallbladder be removed if you have celiac and gallbladder problems or whether getting it removed will worsen the situation. I was diagnosed to have celiac when I was a baby and although I have NO gallstones, my ejection fraction has gone from working perfectly 5 years ago to functioning now at only 8%. I have no pain as long as I take the prescription for of "Pepsid" (Famotidine 20mgs 2X a day). In addition no nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. I do not eat any junk food, fast food or fatty foods and never have due to the celiac and the IBS it causes. Not that I have not cheated on occasion but due to being very careful my whole life, the cheating was tolerated. I have been searching and searching the internet for answers of why my gallbladder would go down in function so dramatically in such a short period of time when I am otherwise healthy. This correlation is fascinating to me, but as I said, I am left hanging whether removal of the gallbladder under these circumstances is advisable or not. I am left hanging as to the conclusion of this article. Please conclude!!

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    Guest Chrisy McIntosh

    Posted

    Thank you! I have celiac and a painful gallbladder, but no stones. I also have loads of polyps, the largest is 5mm. It's so nice to have someone recognize a connection. Things have improved for me since a strict gluten free diet with less gall bladder pain however it's interesting that when I've eaten out and been glutened by mistake, I am sick for days and my gall bladder hurts. Thanks for all your work and giving me hope.

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    This is an excellent article with good information because I had my gallbladder removed for working at only 10% almost 2 years ago and am still having terrible problems. My liver function tests have been elevated since before the gallbladder was removed and all I have been told is that I have a fatty liver. I am now changing doctors and need to be tested further for celiac disease the blood test came out negative but I have been told that it is not always accurate and that I should have other tests done. I am now going to a liver specialist and celiac specialist to see what they can find out. This is a terrible frustrating time and really causes a lot of worry.

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    Guest joyce l peterson

    Posted

    I am getting my gall bladder out, I burp a lot with unexpected gas and very bad bloating, which is making it hard to breathe. I have pain and hot liquid comes up and burns the back of my throat, I have diarrhea, nausea, and can't eat certain foods, and weight gain.

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  • About Me

    As co-author of "Dangerous Grains" and "Cereal Killers", the study of the impact of gluten continues to be a driving passion in my life. I am fascinated by the way that gluten induces illness and impedes learning while it alters mood, behavior, and a host of other facets of our existence. Sure, the impact of gluten on health is an important issue, but that is only the most obvious area of impact. Mood disturbances, learning disabilities, and the loss of quality of life due to psychiatric and neurological illness are even more tragic than the plethora of physical ailments that are caused or worsened by gluten. The further I go down this rabbit hole, the more I realize that grains are a good food for ruminants - not people. I am a retired school teacher. Over the last decade, I have done some college and university level teaching, but the bulk of my teaching career was spent working with high school students. My Web page is: www.DangerousGrains.com

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