Competition is supposed to breed competitive pricing. Instead the price of a well-known gallstone medication has risen from 45-cents to $5.10 for a 300 milligram capsule. That’s the wholesale price, before markup by a pharmacy. [LA Times Sept 1, 2016]
The problem is, there is no competitor to ursodiol (Actigall). the only approved medication for gallstones. And it typically takes months before the drug dissolves painful stones, which begets surgery. Ursodiol also must be taken 2-3 times a day. A 4-month course is typical. Some patients take the drug for 2 years before their stones completely dissolve. And there are side effects, like constipation, diarrhea, indigestion, dizziness, cough hair loss, back pain. [MedicinePlus.gov]
Consumers rate the effectiveness of this drug as good. [WebMD] However, gallstone sufferers may be taking the drug forever since many experience recurrence within 5 years.
Surgical removal of the gall bladder is often unnecessary, as surgeons often don’t find demonstrable stones when they remove this organ. [Annals Surgery Jan 2004] That is because the gallbladder pain is being caused by sludgy bile, not stones.
Overweight individuals on a crash course to lose weight often experience gallstones.
Home remedies for gallstones present a guessing game for consumers searching for a natural alternative to ursodiol. Vitamin C is cited as an antidote.
Vitamin C appears to be a good preventive, but maybe not a remedy that produces immediate relief. In one study supplemental vitamin C reduced the risk for gallstones from 8.2% to 4.7%. [BMC Gastroenterology 2009]
Apple cider vinegar is often suggested. But again. There is little evidence to prove it works. Same goes for lecithin. Otherwise it’s a crapshoot for most gallstone sufferers.
Gallstone flushes are a ruse. They produce the passage of soap stones, not gallstones. [The Lancet 2005] However, you find online videos at YouTube by unidentified “experts” who claim these flushes work. The problem with internet remedies is confusion.
A review of products available at Amazon.com to dissolve gallstones is another exercise that is no better than throwing darts. Artichoke, beets, apple cider, are commonly provided in these stone-dissolving remedies. However, consumer reviews appear to say these remedies work, which proves there are a lot of shills planted on these self-rated message boards.
This writer conducted a search of the medical literature and discovered iron is a component of gallstones. Iron hardens bile into stones. It can be chelated (bound up) naturally. Taurine, an amino acid, thins sludgy bile so it can flow around stones that block the gallbladder duct. The result of this investigation resulted in a dietary supplement that does dissolve stones. [Lifespan Nutrition] It is not a best seller because gallstone sufferers often want guarantees before purchasing. But for those who use the product, they know it works. At 18.3-cents a capsule, that is a far cry from $5.10 for a slow-acting drug that must be taken 2-3 times a day. Can you imagine gallstone sufferers must pay $10-15/day to find slow relief?