How Turmeric Benefits Gallbladder Health—What if You Have Gallstones?

7 minute read

It should come as no surprise that turmeric is useful for treating several health conditions. Used for centuries in traditional medicine, this spice has proved its worth far beyond the kitchen.

Curcumin is the powerful compound in turmeric that gives it the healing powers we seek. Even when it comes to gallstones, turmeric may be better off in your medicine cabinet rather than the spice rack.

Turmeric to Prevent Gallstones

Your gallbladder sits right below your liver and is responsible for releasing digestive enzymes. Gallstones are hard deposits made of cholesterol, bile salts, or bilirubin that accumulate in your gallbladder.

Deposits are caused by the presence of excess cholesterol in the bile or when your gallbladder is unable to breakdown all the bilirubin (produced by the liver to destroy old red blood cells). Gallstones can be as small as a pea or as big as an apricot.

For the most part, people do not experience symptoms, but there can be discomfort and pain that alerts you to the presence of gallstones. When they block the duct that sends enzymes to your digestive tract you can begin to experience nausea, vomiting, fever, and abdominal pain.

If they block the duct that transports bile, you will experience a “gallbladder attack” that lasts for up to three hours and is much more painful.

Turmeric’s strong anti-inflammatory properties make it ideal for preventing the formation of gallstones via a few different methods. Studies have found that gallstones caused by a high cholesterol diet can be significantly reduced with the appropriate turmeric therapy.

When combined with black pepper, turmeric was found to be even more effective at reducing cholesterol and bile levels, therefore preventing gallstone development.

When combined with capsaicin (the compound that makes chili peppers spicy), turmeric increases production of antioxidant enzymes in the liver, which also reduces gallstone formation.

Turmeric additionally   as well as inflammation associated with gallstone blockages. When combined with the herb chelidonium, turmeric reduces pains associated with biliary dyskinesia, a disorder where bile cannot move through the duct (typically caused by gallstones).

Turmeric and Gallbladder Health

Along with preventing gallstone formation, turmeric has been proven to benefit and relieve symptoms of other gallbladder issues. These include:  

Stimulates Bile Flow

Bile is essential for the proper digestion and absorption of vitamins and fats. Turmeric helps ensure bile flow is maintained.

Certain drugs or the presence of gallstones can inhibit bile movement, but turmeric helps to restore this so you do not miss out on any nutrient absorption.

Recovery After Surgery

Sometimes surgical removal of the gallbladder is necessary. In these cases, turmeric has been shown to expedite healing and recovery and provides relief from post-surgery pains.

Studies have found that turmeric is completely safe to take after gallbladder surgery and works as well as many painkillers when it comes to alleviating pains.


This is a condition where bile ducts become infected and inflammation is severe. Because of turmeric’s anti-inflammatory properties, it is able to reduce inflammation in the area via biochemical pathway inhibition.

In this way, it helps to allow time for the infection to heal and reduces the inflammation that can spread throughout your body.


Cholestasis is a condition causing a reduced flow of bile from your liver and can develop as a result of blocked ducts or infection. Turmeric’s protective role for the liver serves as a proactive measure to prevent this condition.

In addition to this, curcumin reduces inflammation that is associated with cholestasis, which prevents liver fibrosis from developing. Because inflammation can spread to other organs, turmeric extract prevents this by eliminating it at the source.

Infection Protection

Curcumin also possesses anti-microbial properties, making it perfect for fighting infections.

Liver fluke is a common virus that causes inflammation of the liver and is commonly caused by eating uncooked fish. This infection can trigger cholangitis and bile duct blockage as well as bile duct cancer if not treated.

Studies found that curcumin supplements are effective at fighting this infection as well as other microbe-based infections to better protect you from serious diseases.

Cancer Benefits

Bile duct cancer can occur if any duct issue or inflammation is left untreated. By inducing apoptosis of bile duct cancer cells, turmeric can prevent the development of tumors and the spread of cancer.

In addition to this, turmeric can activate cell death (apoptosis) in gallbladder cancer too. Gallbladder cancer is very rare and has a low survival rate because it is difficult to detect in early stages, but turmeric can help as a proactive measure to provide support and anti-inflammatory protection for your gallbladder.

Metabolic Health

Curcumin has the ability to lower cholesterol levels, which makes it a benefit for your metabolic health. Reduced cholesterol levels are essential for optimal liver and gallbladder function.

| Related: 12 Natural Ways to Make Your Liver Healthy Again |

Along with improving antioxidant defenses, turmeric extract keeps your cholesterol low so that your gallbladder is better protected against infection and disease.

Should You Take Turmeric if You Have Gallstones?

Despite the benefits, there has been concern over the fact that turmeric can cause gallbladder contraction. Studies have found that turmeric has the ability to hasten gallbladder emptying by way of causing contractions.

While this may be beneficial to a healthy individual, it could bring extreme pain and discomfort to those with gallstones. So it is best to speak with a doctor before starting a turmeric therapy if you have gallstones.

Basically, turmeric can be helpful in preventing gallstones. If you already have them and what to try, though; you should consult with your physician first.

The Bottom Line

There are numerous advantages to taking turmeric to help ease pain or treat gallbladder disorders, but when it comes to gallstones, you should proceed with caution. While turmeric can help alleviate inflammation and pain, it may also cause pain.

Of course, the same could be said for prescription medications too. With turmeric being a more natural option, it may be worth checking with your doctor and then checking into what turmeric can do for you.

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