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Gallstone treatment in TCM

Gallstones are stones or lumps that develop in the gallbladder or bile duct when certain substances harden. If they block the bile duct they can be extremely painful.
Some of the chemicals that exist in the gallbladder, such as cholesterol, calcium bilirubinate, and calcium carbonate, can solidify into either one large stone or several small ones.

According to Harvard Health Publications, 80 percent of gallstones are made of cholesterol. The other 20 percent of gallstones are made of calcium salts and bilirubin.

Diagnosing a gallstone with Western medicine requires ultrasound scanning equipment, or by having the patient injected with a dye so the problem can be seen through x-ray.

Treatment methods include using shock-wave treatment to shatter the stones, or surgery to remove the gallbladder. In some mild cases, medication is prescribed to dissolve small and noncalcified stones. But it may take months or years of treatment to dissolve your gallstones in this way, and gallstones will likely form again if treatment is stopped.


Many people think, “Gallstones are no big deal! If I have gallstones, I can just get an operation to remove the gallbladder; problem solved!” Unfortunately, this view is completely mistaken, because after the gallbladder is removed, since the underlying condition was never addressed, patients will develop excruciating pain from newly formed liver stones.

So what can I do? Does TCM have a better solution?
Yes, we do!

Traditional Chinese Medicine believes that the secretion of bile depends on the nourishment of hepatic yin and liver blood. An insufficiency of hepatic yin and liver blood results in pathological bile, which easily leads to gallstone formation. On the other hand, the storage and excretion of bile will be affected by the excretory function of liver Qi. If the liver Qi is weakened and cannot completely excrete toxins, the bile will flow poorly and accumulate, which then can easily lead to the formation of gallstones. 

Chinese medicine has very effective herbs that can supplement the liver yin and blood, help the liver to excrete toxins, and also help break down gallstones. If acupuncture needles are also used in conjunction with herbal medicine, acupuncture will help the Qi of the liver and gallbladder meridians flow smoothly, and gallstones will shrink or even disappear after a period of time, and will not come back again.