Do I Need a Gallbladder?

Only one thought-provoking sentence regarding the Gallbladder has appeared in TCM medical literature over the past 1,000 years. It says, “The Gallbladder controls all the body’s organs.” No textbook reference after this mention gives any explanation of why or how this control function works. Over millennia, different doctors have had different ways of interpreting this statement.

East and West

The Gallbladder is a tiny organ with enormous capabilities, including the ability to impact so many other things. According to TCM, the Gallbladder is highly necessary. However, Western medicine often views this organ as expendable. The understanding is that the Gallbladder doesn’t have a major impact on overall health. From the body–mind–spirit perspective, nothing could be further from the truth. Today, many people with infections or discomfort related to the Gallbladder undergo surgery to remove this organ, which is important for life’s daily activities. In North America, about a half-million people undergo gallbladder removal surgery every year.

Do People Need a Gallbladder?

According to the National Digestive Disease Clearing House of the U.S. Health and Human Services, the answer to the question, “Do people need a gallbladder?” is this: “Fortunately, the gallbladder is an organ people can live without. Your liver produces enough bile to digest a normal diet. Once the gallbladder is removed, bile flows out of the liver through the hepatic ducts into the common bile duct and directly into the small intestine, instead of being stored in the gallbladder. Because now the bile flows into the small intestine more often, softer and more frequent stools can occur in about one percent of people.”

Symbolism and Function

In the West, people sometimes talk about a person as “not having guts” or “indecisive”. In Eastern culture, we refer to this person’s equivalent as someone with “a small Gallbladder”. This phrase is rooted in a deeper understanding and appreciation of the body, mind and spirit aspects of the Gallbladder. In Eastern culture, strong Gallbladder function helps you have guts. It’s the Gallbladder’s responsibility to help you make decisions quickly and easily.
In ancient times, if someone exhibited any outward signs of having a weak Gallbladder function—indecisiveness, lack of guts, being weak-willed or fearful—the organ’s internal energetic level would be tested through pulse diagnosis. Individuals with a poorly functioning Gallbladder were quickly excluded from being a bodyguard or soldier. It was understood they would not have the will to fight fiercely, have the mental sharpness to make split-second decisions, or have what it takes to perform duties requiring courage and stamina.

Over Time

Often, when a person without a gallbladder ages, we see the effects of this critical missing organ and its relationship to faculties like mental sharpness, the ability to make decisions smoothly and easily, memory loss, confusion and more. It’s well known that individuals without a gallbladder also struggle with dietary issues. They may have difficulty eating heavy or greasy things, like pizza, or cheesecake, or dairy foods. While Gallbladder removal can significantly impact individuals at the physical level, it can impact them at the mind and spirit levels as well.
Excerpted from Digesting the Universe: A Revolutionary Framework for Healthy Metabolism Function.

Learn More

Understand the relationship between the Liver and the Gallbladder: The Gift of Good Flow
Come back tomorrow! Our blog will explain the wisdom and intelligence of the Liver/Gallbladder partnership.