- Gut dysbiosis and inflammation are common symptoms in people with chronic illness, whether you have a gut-related diagnosis or not. If you experience either of these, it might be worthwhile to investigate gallbladder health and liver support as a treatment option.
- Although it’s considered a “nonessential” organ, the gallbladder is in charge of a number of important bodily functions, like glucose metabolism, toxin management, and fat digestion.
- TUDCA is a bile salt that’s been used to support gallstones for centuries. Recent studies show promising effects on liver and gallbladder health when using TUDCA for gallstones.*
The Do’s and Don'ts of TUDCA Supplementation
If you’ve ever struggled with a chronic health condition, then you’ve probably explored treatments for two common symptoms of long-term illness: gut dysbiosis and inflammation. This is because our gut and our drainage pathways often take a hit when illness strikes — no matter the root cause.
While the internet offers a lot of fast answers for how to cure your inflammation and gut dysbiosis, there may be one key, unknown component missing in your healing journey: the gallbladder.
Small but mighty, the gallbladder works behind the scenes to help us digest fats and eliminate toxins from the body. Even if you’re not dealing with gallbladder stones or gallbladder pain, sluggish bile (the digestive substance stored in the gallbladder) can take a toll on your cellular health.
Luckily, there are a few things you can do to intervene on your gallbladder’s behalf. One of them is supplementing with TUDCA.
Table of Contents:
- Why Your Gallbladder Is Important
- What Happens If Your Gallbladder Isn’t Functioning Properly?
- What Happens If Bile Stops Flowing?
- What Is TUDCA?
- TUDCA and Your Gallbladder
- Other Supplements and Ways to Support Your Gallbladder
Your Gallbladder Matters More than You Think: Why Your Gallbladder Is Important
For an organ you can technically live without, you might wonder why gallbladder health is so essential. Believe it or not, the gallbladder’s role in the body is crucial — especially for someone fighting a chronic health condition.
There are so many benefits to eating healthy fats. But did you know the gallbladder assists in the digestion of those fats? When we eat fatty foods, the gallbladder secretes bile into the intestinal tract to improve fat digestion.
We know how harmful bad bacteria and other microorganisms can be to the gut. Luckily, bile is a natural antimicrobial that targets would-be invaders. When it’s secreted by the gallbladder, bile can mop up bad bacteria that’s made its home in our microbiome.
When bile makes its way through the digestive tract, some bile is transported back to the liver to be reused. A small percentage is secreted through the stool, removing fat-soluble toxins from the body.
Some studies suggest that patients who have had their gallbladder removed are more susceptible to insulin resistance and metabolic issues. Although the reasons behind this are still being studied, it’s exciting to know that a healthy gallbladder is one way to protect against insulin resistance.
What Happens If Your Gallbladder Isn’t Functioning Properly?
Sludgy bile, gallstones, and metabolic issues… yikes. The gallbladder plays a huge role in our overall health. Although gallbladder issues aren’t typically life-threatening (with the proper care), it’s important to stay ahead of them.
A Weakened Gallbladder Is a Good Place for Pathogens to Hide
Ideally, the bile secreted by your gallbladder should be thin and easily moved. However, it’s common for people with gallbladder issues to deal with sludgy bile. This sludgy bile struggles to travel in and out of the gallbladder — meaning it can’t properly do its job. While stagnant, it also becomes a place where pathogens (like parasites) love to hide.
Patients struggling with gallbladder issues commonly experience stomach pain, particularly when digesting fatty foods. They may notice undigested fats in their stool as well.
Gallstones are the most common condition associated with the gallbladder. They can cause extreme pain and infection, prompting emergency removal of the gallbladder itself. Gallstones form from sludgy bile and an imbalance of chemical makeup within the gallbladder. Estrogen dominance and a high toxic burden may also be root causes of gallstones.
What Happens If Bile Stops Flowing? The Dangers of Cholestasis
Cholestasis occurs when the bile in the gallbladder stops moving entirely. This may be caused by gallstones, other obstruction in the gallbladder, or liver infection. Cholestasis can also happen during pregnancy. It may be treated using over-the-counter medication, supplements, diet, or possible gallbladder removal depending on the severity of the symptoms.
What is TUDCA?
TUDCA (aka, Tauroursodeoxycholic Acid) is a bile acid that naturally occurs in the body. Its job is to help to increase bile flow from the gallbladder and stabilize mitochondria.*
For patients struggling with chronic illness, chronic stress, or a sluggish liver, bile may not be moving through the gallbladder and digestive tract optimally. This is why it can be beneficial to supplement TUDCA for gallbladder health — to increase bile flow.* This not only gives the liver a break but can benefit intestinal health and improve bowel function down the line.*
TUDCA supplements aren’t anything new. They’ve actually been around for centuries and were most famously used to treat the liver in Chinese medicine.
TUDCA and your Gallbladder
If you suspect your gallbladder is unwell, TUDCA is a promising intervention. Since it encourages bile flow, it helps your liver to remove toxins, thins sludgy bile, and protects your gallbladder and liver health.* If you suspect pathogens like parasites are hiding in your liver, TUDCA can work as an intervention for this as well.
TUDCA and Gallstones — Does TUDCA Dissolve Gallstones?
TUDCA is commonly used as a supportive supplement for gallstones.* Gallstones can’t be removed individually from your gallbladder — so if they cause extreme pain or infection, the entire gallbladder must be removed. Removing an organ should always be the last option when treating a patient.
Luckily, for many patients, the intervention of TUDCA is changing their prognosis. One recent study monitored 70 patients with gallstones. The patients were given a nightly dose of TUDCA to encourage gallbladder emptying and were monitored by ultrasound. In just a few weeks, symptoms were significantly reduced in patients and their gallstones had shrunk significantly.
TUDCA and your Microbiome
Since bile benefits the gut microbiome, it makes sense that TUDCA can have a positive impact on the microbiome by increasing bile flow. Although studies are still being conducted, we do have recent evidence that TUDCA can increase intestinal barrier and immune system function based on a pig study.
Along with a supplement like Gut+, many of our customers have seen promising effects when using TUDCA for digestive distress and constipation.
TUDCA and Ox Bile — A Dynamic Duo
When supplementing TUDCA, we highly recommend using it alongside ox bile. TUDCA is just one of four essential bile acids that the body needs to thrive. In order to support proper fat digestion, it’s important that we use all four bile acids, and ox bile provides these.
Ox bile also helps to ensure that the natural balance of the four bile acids isn’t disrupted — so the benefits of TUDCA can be fully appreciated.
Other Supplements and Ways to Support Your Gallbladder
While bile acids like TUDCA are incredibly helpful, they aren’t the only way to provide aid to the gallbladder and liver.
Here are some other ways you can protect your gallbladder and boost bile flow:
- Include plenty of healthy fats in your diet. Contrary to popular belief, healthy fats actually encourage the flow and production of bile (just make sure you know the difference between good fats vs. bad fats). If you can tolerate them, eat them!
- Take Balance Oil (omega 3 and omega 6). One study showed that people with lower fatty acid levels in their bodies were at a higher risk for developing gallstones.*
- NAC and Liposomal Glutathione supplements. Both have been shown to increase bile production, similar to TUDCA.
- Milk thistle. An herbal remedy, milk thistle has shown promising effects in the removal of cholesterol-driven gallstones.
- Bitter foods. Specifically, greens like arugula and dandelion root have shown to increase digestive enzymes and bile flow.
- Liver support through detox. In a world filled with toxins, it’s important to support the liver by avoiding airborne chemicals, environmental pollutants, mold, and endocrine disruptors in our skin and body products.
TUDCA Offers a Light at the End of the Tunnel for Gallbladder Sufferers
For years, conventional medicine has offered only one solution to gallstones: gallbladder removal. The new and re-discovered science surrounding TUDCA for gallstones is incredibly promising. It allows us to think of a future where removal of an essential organ isn’t the only cure.
Sannasiddappa, T. H., Lund, P. A., & Clarke, S. R. (2017). In Vitro Antibacterial Activity of Unconjugated and Conjugated Bile Salts on Staphylococcus aureus. Frontiers in microbiology, 8, 1581. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2017.01581
Di Ciaula, A., Garruti, G., Wang, D. Q., & Portincasa, P. (2018). Cholecystectomy and risk of metabolic syndrome. European journal of internal medicine, 53, 3–11. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ejim.2018.04.019
Sun, Q., Gao, N., & Xia, W. (2022). Association between omega-3/6 fatty acids and cholelithiasis: A mendelian randomization study. Frontiers in nutrition, 9, 964805. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnut.2022.964805
Vang, S., Longley, K., Steer, C. J., & Low, W. C. (2014). The Unexpected Uses of Urso- and Tauroursodeoxycholic Acid in the Treatment of Non-liver Diseases. Global advances in health and medicine, 3(3), 58–69. https://doi.org/10.7453/gahmj.2014.017
Cabrera, D., Arab, J. P., & Arrese, M. (2019). UDCA, NorUDCA, and TUDCA in Liver Diseases: A Review of Their Mechanisms of Action and Clinical Applications. Handbook of experimental pharmacology, 256, 237–264. https://doi.org/10.1007/164_2019_241