The Link Between Hypothyroidism and Gallbladder Health

Written by Dr. Nirvana

February 24, 2023

What I love about the body is that every organ and cell relies on each other. But that means when one area is out of balance that compromises another. This is especially true of the relationship between your thyroid and gallbladder.

Your thyroid plays a huge role in the regulation of your metabolism. When normal thyroid function is disrupted, it makes it more difficult for your gallbladder to properly dispose of cholesterol. Hypersaturation of bile & cholesterol crystallization are two main reasons why gallstones form in your gallbladder. If there’s too much or too little cholesterol in the bile, it may not flow through the bile ducts as normally. This in turn can lead to the formation of gallstones, gallbladder inflammation, or buildup in the biliary ducts.

Which means low thyroid hormone may precipitate low gallbladder functioning. The Sphincter of Oddi, which controls the release of bile into the small intestine, has receptor sites for thyroid hormones. When thyroid hormones are low, the sphincter may be unable to fully relax and release bile. And again, bile can accumulate causing gallstones or bile duct stones to form.

The thyroid also affects cholesterol metabolism. People suffering from hypothyroidism usually have a notable increase in LDL cholesterol. Hypothyroidism can also delay gastric emptying and cause bile flow to back up and create a kind of biliary sludge, easily resulting in stone formation.

Also, the inactive thyroid hormone T4 is mostly converted to the active form T3 in the liver. T3 is the thyroid hormone responsible for many of the neural and metabolic activities of the body. What’s important to know here is that fats are needed to make this conversion happen. So, if someone has had their gallbladder removed, bile is no longer concentrated but trickles out constantly from the liver. This means that often fats are not broken down properly and cannot be used in this conversion process. As a result, not enough useful thyroid hormone is made causing a sluggish thyroid. To make matters worse, most people without a gallbladder or with gallbladder issues limit fat in their diet, as it makes their symptoms worse. As we can see, however, we need fat to help make our thyroid hormones.

Here are two dietary recommendations to consider, depending on your specific bile issue:

To thin your bile, it’s recommended to eat cooked beets, artichokes, Jerusalem artichokes, carrots, and apples.

To flush the liver and gallbladder of congested bile: it’s recommended to eat cooked leafy greens, rocket salad, fresh lime/lemon juice, aloe vera juice, and grapefruit.

To improve bile function overall, incorporate more spices such as fenugreek seeds, cinnamon, turmeric & ginger.

And lastly, hydration is essential for liver detox and bile production. Approximately 85% of bile is made from water. So make sure to drink half your body weight, in ounces, per day of water.

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