It is quite possible to have gallstones without being aware of them. Gallstones are usually small pebbles formed from liquid bile and the problems start when they get stuck in a duct, trapping bile in the gallbladder or blocking the flow of fluids from the pancreas. The symptoms of gallstones include pain in the upper abdomen and tenderness under the ribs on the right side of the body, accompanied by nausea and vomiting.

Chinese Medicine practitioners say gallstones are caused by damp heat in the liver and gallbladder. There are different types of gallstones. If they are very large, an operation is the best solution. Those which are less than 1.5cm/half an inch in circumference can often be successfully dissolved or expelled by Chinese herbal medicine.

The burning damp is believed to concentrate into stones, in much the same was as boiling sea water will produce salt. Chinese herbs used in the treatment include lysimachia, pyrrosia leaf and rhubarb. In China, large stones are sometimes treated internally, but the regime includes a stay in a Chinese Medicine hospital where an intensive course of extremely strong herbal medicine is used to dissolve them, and so avoid the need for surgery. This is a common practice, successful in most cases, but it calls for constant observation by the doctor over a period of several days and since there is not, as yet, a Chinese Medicine hospital in Britain, it cannot be carried out here.

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