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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???

    I had mine out (non functioning) and haven't felt that pain since. It decided to die on me while on vacation, emergency surgery was done. I had been having attacks for a few years prior. I have been gluten-free for four years now! Celiac, yes.

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    Guest fellipe oliveira

    Posted

    Its important to notice that not only celiac patients, but non celiac gluten sensitivity patients may as well experience these gallbladder and fatty liver issues. So, if you get tested to celiac disease (blood tests and bowel biopsy) and it gets all negative, you may have a non celiac gluten sensitivity. So, the best way for you to see if you have it or not, is eliminating all the gluten from you diet (no cheating!!) and see how it goes (its a matter of months, not days or weeks, though you may feel better within days).

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    I'm reading this due to the fact that I'm scheduled for gallbladder removal in one week. My situation: known gallstones and mild shoulder pain for 15 yrs.; diagnosed celiac for 8 yrs. (although I know I've had it my whole life - I'm 50); strictly gluten-free, very little dairy and low fat diet; random gallbladder attacks began a few years ago and are increasing in frequency and intensity; recent Hida scan revealed a few stones and ejection rate of 15.8%. Sounds like everyone's experience is different, but many people have told me they felt so much better after removal. These 'attacks' I would not wish on anyone, and although I eat healthy, exercise daily and maintain a healthy weight, they are only worsening. I think years of undiagnosed celiac took their toll on the gallbladder, and at this point, removal is the only option, then move on.

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    Very interesting connection. My husband thought about the connection since I eat gluten free because it just bothers me. I have been tested twice and seem not to be celiac, however I am convinced that I definitely have an intolerance to it, so I avoid it. I had my gallbladder removed 3 weeks ago. I had no stones, it just stopped working. The ejection was 8% (normal is 35%). Maybe from previous years of damage?

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    I'm having mine out in less than a month and I have a really bad feeling about it. I may take another desperate angle and put it off. I feel that I've modified my diet appropriately right now to live and keep the pain down to where I can sleep at night. I do the gall bladder/liver flushes every month, I had gobs of small stones in the beginning, now just 20-40 pea size mostly every flush. It's only nearly a year since I learned this what was wrong (after three years of doctors visits) Most all U.S. doctors use a wait and see approach to GB problems, which means do nothing. I'm GFDF for a few months now, still tons of pain after meals.

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    My gallbladder was removed at age 18. The doctor said he'd never seen so many stones in his life and that I was way too young to have gallbladder trouble or so many stones. A few years ago I began having intense pain in my abdomen. I could not eat and I couldn't even keep water down. I lived on soda crackers and noodles and water, uncomfortably. I did not lose a pound and in fact looked even more bloated. Had an endoscopy and the do toro couldn't figure out what was wrong. My boss mentioned celiac disease. I asked my doctor for a test and she thought I was crazy but ordered it. By the time I took the test I was already gluten free for a few weeks and the test came back negative. I started eating gluten again. My symptoms came back, I had insomnia, joint pain, headaches, dry eyes, inflamed gums, bloating, GERD. I finally decided to stood eating gluten again and all of those symptoms have disappeared. If I eat gluten one day thinking that I'm not a celiac but rather just sensitive to the stuff, the symptoms come back. I can remember way back when I was young even before I had my gall bladder out having strange symptoms. I have always wondered why the doctor said what he said when he removed my gallbladder and why in the world no one investigated my situation any more. Thanks for sharing the article because now, 20 years later, I finally understand what happened! No more gluten for me, ever!!!

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    I have had my gallbladder out after a trip to the doctor proved it was not working at all, and in fact dead as he would say it. That was almost 8 years ago. Now since then I have had more trouble with food and what I eat than anything when I am on a low fat diet it helps but does not get rid of the symptoms. Now it is worse even though I am losing weight after a baby. After this article I think I am making a appointment with the doctor and demanding a test done because I don't want to live with this any longer if I can help it. It seems to be getting worse and not better.

    I had mine removed in 2011 and I now have eczema. My liver is also very sore. I read we should take a lot of flax seed oil.

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    I was 20 when I had my first 'symptom' which was extreme heartburn or so I thought. 1 year later after 6 ER visits all being told I have gastritis and given a script for demerol ( yeah they had no clue what I had -.- ) My last visit I was vomiting blood and bile I had lost 25 pounds and couldn't eat anything, they finally decided to diagnosis me. CT scan showed complete blockage and my gallbladder was so infected you could literally. feel it through my skin. Recovery was awful and it was 15 years before I discovered that I was poisoning myself with gluten. I have seen an unimaginable amount of dr's that were all clueless... being poor does not give you good diagnosis.

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    Six years ago I had eight gall bladder attacks in two months. The doctor figured out what they were because my mother told me what they were. (The doctor thought it was my heart or my esophagus). I was then sent to a surgeon. My ultrasound showed hundreds of stones. She said I needed immediate surgery. I instead researched and found the connection with celiac. Large numbers of my family have GERD and gallbladder issues so I was intrigued. I did two flushes and went gluten free. I have never had another attack.

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    I am at a loss - my teenaged son has: (1) GERD, (2) celiac disease (positive blood test), and (3) a hiatal hernia. He has been gluten-free for over a month. CT scans, endscopy biopsies, and HIDA scan (showing 50% gallbladder ejection fraction) have all been normal. He takes Levsin, Ativan and Dexilant (generic equivalents) daily.

     

    Doctor has not been able to resolve his constant intense stomach pain, nausea, feelings of loose bowels, headaches, vertigo, and hot spells. He has lost over 40 lbs in two years.

     

    Has anyone else been in this situation? What works?

    Hi, how is your son? My teenage son has the same symptoms he has been on a milk free diet (milk proteins) for 12 years. He still suffers also rhinitis and eczema, dizzy spells, terrible tummy pain and headaches. The rest is identical!

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    Can someone answer this? I have been gluten free for over 20 years and I am having gall bladder issues since 2008. I am celiac, so if I am not consuming any gluten, then why would I have gallbladder issues? My mom had her gall bladder removed.

    Thanks so much!

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    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.

    That's not true of everyone. I am celiac, keep strictly gluten-free, and have found my health has improved immensely since my stone-filled gallbladder was taken out. Only thing that has changed is that I now must eat smaller meals, and more frequently. But the docs told me that would be the case at the time it was removed. It's a healthier way to eat, anyway.

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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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