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Why Optimizing Bile Flow is Crucial for Hormone Balance

You probably know that your gallbladder helps you emulsify and absorb fats from foods you ingest by breaking them down into small lipid particles. But did you know that your gallbladder also  plays a crucial role in hormone balance?

This small organ, nestled beneath your liver, secretes bile which is a vital body fluid that plays an important role in the absorption of nutrients in the small intestine as well as flushing the liver of toxins. Bile contributes significantly to hormone balance by helping your liver process and eliminate excess estrogen from the body. Proper functioning of the gallbladder ensures that used up hormones are metabolized (or carried out) efficiently (by your liver). 

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that 70% of patients with a cholecystectomy (gallbaldder removal) are female   Source    

Let me tell you a quick story of a dear friend’s sister who almost lost her life end of last year due to this problem: she had her gallbladder removed some time after she entered menopause but (of course) that didn’t fix her problem with gallstones: she continued to have issues with gall crystals forming and blocking the ducts that lead to the liver. So at the end of last year she had another surgery to remove the crystals from the ducts. Unfortunately the doctors damaged her liver in the process and she ended up with blood poisoning and being already very thin, almost didn’t make it. She continues to feel nauseous and is still not feeling good but no alternative diet, detox support or liver support is even suggested. This is how she is supposed to feel and just wait to get better. I am convinced that if she had taken topical bioidentical hormone therapy, she would not have even ended up needing that surgery. 

But let’s dial this back a bit and talk about what your gallbladder and bile are actually important for:

The Importance of Bile

Bile has many functions; one of these functions is to lubricate the small intestines and stool. Less lubrication can result in constipation and too much can lead to diarrhea. A blockage in this area also increases the accumulation of toxins in the body, which creates oxidative stress, backing up waste matter. 

Bile also transports toxins out of the liver into the feces, and keeps everything flowing. If bile is not continually being produced and flowing, cholesterol stones can form.

Your bile is actually produced by your liver, but your gallbladder is the one that holds it and squeezes it out into your pancreas. A healthy liver also plays an important role in nutrient distribution by effectively processing energy as well as storing vitamins and minerals for later use. To give you an example: fat soluble vitamins, like A, D, E and K can only be broken down in the body if there is adequate bile flow. 

In today’s society, the liver is often overburdened and cannot perform its essential functions: 

  • Blockages in the gallbladder (such as gallstones and bile duct stones or bile getting vicious) will negatively impact your nutrient absorption

  • These stones can also hinder your bile’s ability to remove toxins

  • So your liver cannot function optimally anymore which can result in unpleasant symptoms such as bloating, constipation and stomach pain, nausea, but also fatigue, sluggishness, headaches, PMS, irritability, sleep issues and bad skin.  

Importance of Liver & Bile for Women (in Peri and Menopause)

Detox: As I mentioned above, your liver is the main organ that’s managing your estrogen metabolism and can therefore play a role in hormone-related cancer risk for women. 

Gallbladder issues in peri and menopause: The other way round, estrogen plays a crucial role in gallbladder function by promoting the flow of bile. As estrogen levels decrease during perimenopause and menopause, the gallbladder may not contract as efficiently, leading to a sluggish or stagnant bile flow. This reduced contraction and flow can contribute to the formation of gallstones, small deposits that can block the bile ducts. The risk of gallbladder issues, such as gallstones or inflammation (cholecystitis), tends to increase in this stage of life. 

There is evidence that oral synthetic estrogen therapy also can contribute to gallbladder issues, however, I never recommend oral estrogen nor synthetic estrogen therapy. Making sure that you fill the hormone gap in your body naturally with natural, bio identical hormones is key to protecting your brain, heart, bones and tissues, but also your gallbladder. 

Thyroid health: The liver and thyroid have a synergistic relationship, because T4 is converted to T3 by bile in the liver. T3 is your active thyroid hormone, metabolized from iodine. I see this a lot in my practice that a thyroid problem is actually the result of a bile or liver malfunction rather than anything to do with the thyroid.

How to Support the Liver to Produce More Bile:

  1. Cut out the crap: remove refined flours, gluten, alcohol and other sugars, also reduce all industrial and packaged foods (especially non cold pressed vegetable oils - go back to my previous article here to read more), heavy meals, dairy, and also watch out for toxic body care products, cosmetics or cleaning products – your liver will thank you! 

  2. Nourish your liver with bitter herbs and foods: dandelion, arugula, broccoli sprouts, cilantro, cruciferous vegetables, Swiss chard, turmeric, desmodium, milk thistle or black radish. Make sure to choose organic to limit the amount of pesticides.  This is a great product that you could use for a month to give your liver some support in clearing out the toxins. 

  3. Try Intermittent Fasting: Bile is continuously produced in the liver and stored in the gallbladder when not eating.  Intermittent fasting can be a good way to increase the bile that is concentrated in the gallbladder. Go back to my previous article to see how to do IF right as a woman.

  4. Castor oil packs Since you place the pack directly on your liver, you are exerting an anti-inflammatory effect on your liver that  improves its action. It can even help reduce cholesterol and elevated liver enzymes. Lowering systemic inflammation is also a key strategy for reducing estrogen dominance, PCOS and adrenal issues. Read more about castor oil packs and how to do them here

  5. Try Diaphragmatic Breathing Exercises: An interesting area of research in supporting the liver is diaphragmatic breathing exercises. The liver is positioned just below the diaphragm, and many people have shallow breathing. During deep diaphragmatic breathing, the diaphragm pushes down and massages the liver, stimulating bile production. Diaphragmatic breathing is said to help activate the liver and its detoxification pathways. When you are stressed, the breath is shallow, which keeps stress producing toxins inside the liver. 

If you are interested in joining one of my upcoming Liver Detox Programs, book a free discovery call here to find out more.

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