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Celiac Disease Linked To Gall Bladder and Liver Problems

It is not mystery that those with gluten sensitivity have a higher incidence of developing autoimmune diseases. What is often times less discussed is the association of gluten intolerance and celiac disease with autoimmune hepatitis and cholangitis (gall bladder problems). These links are rarely discussed but have been known about and discussed in numerous medical studies. Now another study published makes the connection again…  
Long-standing, untreated coeliac disease is recognized to be a trigger for autoimmune disorders and is known to be associated with other autoimmune diseases, but the association with autoimmune hepatitis or autoimmune cholangitis is reported rarely. We conclude that in patients with autoimmune liver disease and unspecific clinical signs, such as iron deficiency, coeliac disease must be ruled out.


Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2003 Apr;15(4):423-7.

What The Gluten Free Warrior Says…

I commonly see patients in my office who suffer with different forms of liver and gall bladder diseases. Sometimes the only symptoms are abdominal and right shoulder pain. Often times they have been diagnosed with non alcoholic fatty liver disease or gall stones. Many or these individuals are considering having their gall bladder removed. I would recommend anyone suffering with liver or gall bladder problems of unknown origin be genetically tested for gluten sensitivity. Celiac testing is too inaccurate and not definitive for those who have non-celiac gluten sensitivity. If you cannot afford testing or if you doctor won’t order it for you, go on a TRUE gluten free diet. It is safe and in my experience almost always helps reduce symptoms. Remember, once your gall bladder is removed, you can no longer absorb and digest fat properly. Vitamins A, D, E, and K as well as the omega 3 fatty acids all need a healthy gall bladder for proper absorption. The side effects of these nutritional deficiencies can be devastating. Vitamin D alone has been linked to more than 20 terminal cancers. Now consider that liver disease can cause high cholesterol… Cholesterol medications can cause liver disease…Liver disease contributes to blood sugar abnormalities…contributes to fatigue…contributes to weight gain…contributes to fatty liver… We can go on and on and on. The point is, gluten intolerance can cause liver and gall bladder problems. Most liver disease in the U.S. has no known cause. It makes sense to investigate gluten as a causative factor. All the best, Dr. Osborne – The Gluten Free Warrior Don’t Forget to Leave a comment below. Sharing your story may help save someones life…

35 Responses

  1. My daughter was discovered to have gall stones at 2 yrs of. Age, she suffered periods of excruciating pain from birth, her hall bladder was removed age 2 and half, then she was discovered tohave coeliac disease age 4. So this is very interesting.

  2. My mother had her gall bladder removed in her 60s. 5 years ago she was diagnosed with cirrohsis of liver. She is 89 now. She eats lots of fatty foods.
    I wish we would have known all of this 30 years ago!
    Thank you for your article,

  3. I figured out that my son is gluten intolerant when he was 4 yrs. old. He is now 9 and is having alot of trouble. We recently discovered some foods that were previously safe have since added wheat. Because of this he was getting some gluten- but not much. During the past 3 months he has experienced: nausea, decreased appetite, weight loss, dizziness, chills, intermitten diarrhea and his eyelids are very pale- even though his iron levels tested normal. He also complains that his stomach gets “tight” and sometimes says it feels like someone punched him. We tried probiotics which have helped with appetite. He also gained a pound after begining them. But it seems the symptoms remain. I wonder if a trace of gluten could be causing these symptoms or if these are symptoms of a gall bladder problem. Our pediatrician ran the blood test for Celiac’s. It came back negative (no surprise there, I know it’s highly inaccurate). The doctor told me to let him eat anything and come back in a month. I need some direction from someone who gets it.

      1. Sounds like my son’s problems when he was 5, we have been gluten free and even oat free for 5 years, he is now 10 and doing great! Is he oat free? If not its sometimes a must. Do that 2 weeks. If still not better add corn free for a while until the stomach heals. Then add corn back in when he feels better and he will be better up for the task of corn, I find it hard on the already damaged stomach. Keep it up, you are on the right track!

    1. I have had my gall bladder removed about 5-6 years ago and since about then I can not eat wheat. Wheat flour gives me blurred vision, bad taste on my tongue, then bloating and diarrhea.
      Before gall bladder removal, I didn’t notice any problem consuming wheat products, pasta, bread, cookies and cakes.

  4. “Remember, once your gall bladder is removed, you can no longer absorb and digest fat properly. Vitamins A, D, E, and K as well as the omega 3 fatty acids all need a healthy gall bladder for proper absorption. The side effects of these nutritional deficiencies can be devastating. Vitamin D alone has been linked to more than 20 terminal cancers.”

    OK so I had my gallbladder removed four years ago and have subsequently realised that wheat and gluten causes problems. So what now, can I expect to die from one of those 20 terminal cancers? Any suggestions.

    1. Antony,
      Have your doctor measure you nutrient levels twice per year. I recommend using Spectracell labs for a comprehensive measure. Also have him measure your 25 OH D levels twice a year. Supplement accordingly. Take Max Digest to help compensate for the lack of fat absorption that comes with gall bladder removal.
      All the best,
      Dr. O

  5. Hi Dr. Osborne, thanks for the feedback. I avoid doctors like the plague, do you really think I should see “professionals” who were all too willing to whip out my gallbladder in the firstplace, and who think dietary advice plays no role in one’s health. When I asked the gastroenterologist who performed the surgery what diet I should follow after having my GB removed, he said eat whatever you want, patted me on the leg and walked out of the ward.

    I’m guessing gluten intolerance / sensitivity is in the genes as my mom had hers out almost fifteen years ago and is still in good health, despite the loss. Have stuck to a healthy low fat diet since the op, but this information about gluten and particularly wheat has been a REVELATION to me. Have virtually weaned the family off the stuff (wheat and corn) and have noticed a great improvement in health all around, not too mention weight loss. Recently been doing our best to follow what could be considered a Paleo diet, with green smoothies thrown in for good measure. Now and then when a bit of wheat does get consumed, it’s amazing the heartburn and gas that follows.

    Also interesting to note, that I lost my father to a heart attack in 2006. He wasn’t really a big meat eater, but loved his wheat goodies (bread, biscuits, cakes etc.) His cholesterol was low but looking back his heart obviously couldn’t handle the visceral fat in the “wheat belly” he had developed from eating the posionous grains all his life. All these years we’ve been brainwashed into blaming meat for heart disease and other ailments, when actually the biggest culprit was gluten in grains.

    Anyway thanks for the advice, will definitely start supplementing with Vit D and will look for a good digestive enzyme, as living in South Africa, not too sure we’ll be able to get the Max Digest here. Won’t be doing any bloodtests – like the “gastroenterologist” told me when I attended my consultation – if it ain’t cancer that’ll get you, then it’ll be the heart, but we all gotta die one day. Couldn’t believe his non-chalant attitude toward life, but he came highly recommended….So I’ll be as sensible as possible and just take it day by day. Do wish I had known about the whole gluten / wheat thing way back though, just maybe I’d still have my precious gallbladder.

    All the best to you and keep up the good work.


  6. My mother died from non-alcoholic cirrhosis a month after I was diagnosed w/Celiac. She had had trouble losing weight in her 50s, always looked bloated and was very fatigued all the time. She acquired diabetes in her mid-50s, and it all went downhill from there. She had breast cancer which resulted in a mastectomy, and we believe some of the drugs affected her liver also. She was never tested for Celiac. I have 4 sisters and a brother – two of them have a fatty liver already!

  7. I have been very worried about how i have been feeling for soem years now putting on loads of weight thought it was due to menopause was tested for coeliac and blood test said positive but had to have biopsy to verify this 5-6 weeks to wait for results two days ago thought i was going to die with pain in upper right abdomin and shoulder now i am waiting for scan as doc thinks its gallbladder. she told me while im waiting for scan i should not bother with this gluten free stuff when i looked on computer and saw that there was a link to gallbladder problems and coeliac i couldnt believe it. I am now going gluten free no matter what the scan says but not sure what i can eat for breakfast and snacks anyone out there who can suggest a good eating plan or a book wld be great thanks

  8. Try going all organic with your food and completely eliminating all GMO foods. It has now been shown that if you eat GMO foods that whatever pesticide/chemical or non-species element gthat was introduced into the product (say, corn), if eaten by humans, that tainted/laboratory messed-up “new” element in the food can be absorbed into the human gut. AND that new element can remain indefinitely and can continue to multiply and “send out” signals, more than likely causing Leaky Gut Syndrome.

    For some people who have compromised immune systems and/or are have a more frail health or body system, some of these things can really adversely affect them more so than other people. Watch Genetic Roulette, a 1.5 hour movie that is free through Saturday, 9/22/2012. I have watched it; chilling, chilling evidence and information as to WHY people are getting so horribly, horribly sick.

  9. I have had my gall bladder removed, and the information I got from the doctor was that it was “pretty beaten up.” Not sure what that meant, but am still having the same digestive problems with the added pain of not being able to digest meats and protein foods. I am fairly certain I am glucose intolerant, just as I am lactose intolerant. If I can’t eat dairy, grains or meat, what the heck am I supposed to survive on?

  10. thanks for yr suggestions i will go organic and also watch the video. How i feel at this moment in time i will try anything.

  11. I had my gallbladder removed 1 1/2 yrs ago. Still having problems with random things: achy stomach after i eat (anything), joint aches, fatigue, crabby attitude, the list goes on and on. I am not sure if it is gluten related, but i am going to find out. Thank you for your website and information.

  12. Recently read article that stated the body sees grains that are gluten free as gluten and react as if the body is consuming gluten. If youare gluten free but still don’t fell 100%, cut out ALL grains and you will see an enormous difference.

  13. My sister was diag. with celiac about 4 yrs. ago – for many reasons I tried the diet and found that I am EXTREMELY gluten intolerant and have been GF for 4 yrs. About a month ago I started having discomfort in my upper right side. Dr. said she thinks it is gallbladder inflamation, we have ruled out gall stones and I’m scheduled for a H.I.D.A. test this week. If it shows small or blocked ducts what next? I’ve tried apple juice, even though though it is mostly recommended for stones (I haven’t tried the vinegar yet as it is something I can’t stand anyway). It doesn’t seem to do much for me. I would rather keep my gall bladder if possible, so do you have any advice for me?

  14. I was diagnosed with celiac three weeks ago. I was devastated! No family history even though we always had stomach issues. I got a little depressed. My gastrologist sent me to nutritionist at the celiac center in NYC. She was good with introducing me to the Gluten Free items but was not preparing me with the physical and emotional stuff. When I told her of my pain in my buttocks, back and discomfort under breast she looked at me like something else is wrong with me and have to see another doctor. She was not sympathetic to my aches and pains. Also she said she would have to see my blood numbers to let me know if i have to be off all grains or if I can eat oats. I emailed her several times and never got back to me. I am still off the oats.
    Last week my pains in the back were excruciating so my daughter suggested I take apple juice with 1TB Apple Cider Vinegar which she saw on the internet. Within the hour the pain had subsided. I would suggest you try it. It worked for me. I dont know how often this should be done so Dr O if you could comment I would appreciate.

    1. Gluten can damage the acid producing cells in the stomach. Deficiency in acid can cause stomach and intestinal dysfunction leading to food putrefaction and subsequently referred pain into the back and abdomen. This pain referral is analogous to the arm pain someone might feel during a heart attack (i.e. heart damage refers physical pain – stomach damage refers physical pain as well). Minnie, You would probably benefit from using Ultra Digest, and Biotic Defense for a few months (supplements in the store). These supplements are helpful in restoring GI function after years of gluten induced damage.

      All the best,
      Dr. Osborne
      Dr. Osborne

  15. I have been gluten free for celiac’s for 15 yrs, and on grain free GAPS program for 5 yrs, just adding gluten free grains back into my diet in small amounts in the last 6 months. One year ago I got dx’ed with primary and secondary adrenal insuffiencey, and now gallstones and fatty liver. Any hints?!

  16. My 11 yo son started with “stomach pain”, reflux, nausea, constant headache Jan. 4. Eventual HIDA scan at 3%. Gallbladder removed Feb. 28. ALL symptoms resolved for 2.5 weeks. Then constant head pain, nausea, and reflux returned. Fortunately, abdominal pain has not returned. New gi md has suggested an anxiety disorder which I know is ridiculous. My son never had any problems before Jan. 3. Any ideas?

    1. Bevin,
      You might want to seek out a qualified Functional Medicine doctor for a second opinion. Consider gluten free diet and looking into other potential food allergies.
      All the best,
      Dr. O

  17. Hi I have been celiac and gluten intolrace for nearly 4 years in the past 4 months I have had realy bad pains in the top part of my stomach i have been told i have gallstons and have to have my gallblader out i don’t realy want to have it removed but carnt take the pain any more u have tryed Apple juice .viniger any sugestions please I have spoke to people that’s had there gallblader out and thay say thay are still getting the bad pains

  18. I have marble size gall stones. I have Celiacs disease. Is there a way to break down the stones? I am afraid to remove gall bladder only to have other serious issues with pancreas and then live later. Pros and cons?

  19. Hello my daughter is 28 years old she has celiacs disease was diagnosed a couple of years ago lately she’s been in a lot of pain they are doing an endoscopy today according to what they see she may have to have her gall bladder removed I’m so worried for her how is this going to affect her not having her Gall Bladder . She’s been put in the hospital a couple of times with liver and gall stone issues as her mom I’m so worried for her

    1. I didn’t know that celiacs and gall bladder problems were related. I had my gall bladder removed and never felt better. I am just coming to terms that I have celiacs. Different symptoms are still an issue. I had horrible problems with my gall bladder. I was told I was fortunate to have it removed before it ruptured.

  20. I was diagnosed 21 years ago by endoscopy and you have to be eating gluten food to have the diagnosis show you have it. I did the blood test but they were negative. I had my gallbladder removed 3 years before with a large gallstone. I also know of a lady that had cirrhosis of the liver and never drank in her life. Test when she died was she had celiac disease and that had caused it. The gluten was had to digest so it turned to alcohol. I used to eat gluten for dinner and act like I was drunk later in the evening and never had a drink this is called gluten ataxia.

  21. I have celiac disease, dx’d 14 yrs ago, been in GFD ever since. The last 18 mo I have been complaining of dull ache on right side just below ribs, have had bloods done several times since which have shown positive inflammation markers and low levels of folate and potassium. Started to have gallbladder attacks about 3 months ago — four separate attacks (severe pain in central upper abdomen, nausea, vomiting and urgent need to empty bowel), headache, chills. I have no idea what could be the trigger tho (initially thought soy protein). Ultrasound today showed no gallstones, all organs look normal. Having endoscopy in two days. Really confused as to why I’m having pain and these attacks all of a sudden. Autoimmune diseases run thru my family (dad had uncontrollable diabetes, liver problems although non-drinker, and MS; his mother had gallbladder removed after years of problems, ultimately she died from lymphoma). I’m certain of genetic connection but just worried about how to figure out and deal with the problems I am having. Really do not want gallbladder removed if that is suggested. Frustrated to say the least.

  22. When I had my first gallbladder crisis, my doctor recommended urgent removal. I skipped his advices because it was obvious that my money was more interesting for him than my health. I started my own research and after years I reached the exact conclusion above. I am celiac and the gallbladder problem is a consequence. I am just happy that I did this. Never trust a doctor, make your own research even if it’s longer.

  23. I had my gallbladder removed when I was 27 years old, only had 3 stones but big and blocked and inflamed the bile duct. In my early 40’s I was diagnosed with celiac disease and for a few years didn’t properly follow the GF diet until eventually I ended in hospital with severe anemia and realized I had to follow the diet properly. Three years later I was diagnosed with thyroid nodules and that was 8 years ago and I have them checked regularly. What I have found the hardest about being on the GF diet is the hunger, I eat properly with lots of vegetables and fruit, no meat, some fish and occasionally chicken and GF bread etc. After I went GF I found cereal products [GF] affected my blood sugar, hypoglycemia, so I don’t touch them now. Another thing is I can only eat a certain amount of food at a meal before I feel bloated or sickly but then an hour or two later I’m hungry again. I’m at a loss!

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