Gallstones & Coeliac - is there a genuine connection???

Hi, I've recently done some reading, thanks to a member on here, about a possible connection between Coeliac and Gallbladder disease. My question is how substantiated is this?

The article I read was by a teacher, not a doctor or researcher, so is this just anecdotal, or worse, pseudoscience? I tried looking on PubMed and did, indeed, find one abstract about slow emptying of the gallbladder in CD patients, but I couldn't see much else.

Does anyone know of any legitimate scientific studies or reputable medical sites that have anything more reliable on this subject? It's important to me because I want to use it with my doctor to back up a connection between my current neurological disorder and my list of gastric problems - including gallstones - to a possible autoimmune cause, potentially Coeliac.

Any insights most gratefully received....

50 Replies

  • I have sjogrens which can be associated with gallstones and pancreatitis. Not sure if that helps you?

  • Yes, Chris, that is interesting. Sjorgens has symptoms that fit some of mine so it's like another link, and the fact that it's connected to pancreatitis, which is connected to gallstones is also very interesting. It's like looking at a web!

  • Hi,

    I had my gallbladder out last year and have just had a blood test for coeliac. The test was normal but I could have told them that as I avoid gluten due to the upset stomach I get when I eat it.

    Have you had any of the tests done?

  • Same as Starfish,gallbladder out coeliac test done after giving up gluten. Also under active thyroid.

  • Do you have coeliac disease, Beaton?

  • Hi Chancery,My gp would not test at first by the time he did I had already gone g/f but he did agree with me and has suggested I went back on gluten to get a diagnoses but understood that the pain I had suffered was probably enough to cope with.x

  • Ah doctors and their refusal to test.....

  • Yes, Starfish, I was tested in 2013, but I think the tests may be flawed due to me having a low IgA. I'm going to ask to have them redone with the right testing this time.

  • I'm sure you already know this, but make sure you include lots of gluten in your diet for several weeks prior to the coeliac test, Chancery, or the result might not be accurate.

  • Yep, Chickenmitch, I am sadly stuffing myself with wheat at every opportunity. I was not on a gluten free diet beforehand but it wasn't until I tried to follow the recommended 'consume X wheat a day' guidelines that I realised I don't really eat it that often. I don't enjoy it and my gut doesn't enjoy it (it always gives me acid reflux - I have oesophagitis), so although I've only been doing this for about a week I am sick of the bloody stuff already. And I feel like I am stuffing all the cells in my body. I swear I am going to gain a stone just trying to get this bloody test!

  • It's horrible I know but it will be worth it to get a diagnosis. Good luck!

  • Coeliac has many connections for medical conditions. I have been searching for more info as my wife has thyroid problem of which she has had Graves. Coeliac is a very complex disorder/disease which seems to baffle many doctors until they get the right blood tests done. Here in the UK we are behind the times with regards to which blood tests need to be done. I have also been checking PubMed for answers but also use as they sometimes publish links and are reviewed by a medical panel. Hope this helps.

  • Thanks for the tip for, oldsoldier. I've never tried that, but I will now. Couldn't agree more about the bad use of blood tests in the UK. Doctors place too much emphasis on them instead of interpreting them via the patient, and some of the base lines are atrociously out of date - I'm looking at B12 and thyroid, to name but two!

  • Pleased to have been some help. Coeliac is starting to be understood but the old method of diagnosis is a problem, as it is confirmed by colonoscopy. A colonoscopy does not extend to the full length of the colon, hence not ALL of the colon is examined. A leading researcher in the US explained it very well, his name is Alessio Fessano. He gave a lecture on the subject and his lecture was posted on youtube

    On a positive note, the UK has a world leader at Sheffield on Coeliac.

  • I have read some of the science reports from this man, but did not realise he was on YouTube. Thanks for posting, it's really very interesting and informative.

    Perhaps you could re-post this as a main post, to make sure that a lot of people get to see it? The information on gut bacteria /biome may be new and useful info for anyone trying to heal their gut.

  • Hi Oldsoldier, thanks very much for the video. I managed to watch 14 minutes of it before the damn thing started freezing on me and I had to shut down my computer! A buffering problem, most likely, so I'll try again tomorrow. What I saw of it was great so I'm looking forward to the rest of it. He's very passionate about his subject, which I love. It's the norm for doctors to be indifferent at best, or entrenched at worst, so it's great when you get one like this. It gives you faith in medicine again!

    P.S. Nice to see leaky gut syndrome made it in; maybe it will make all the docs who sneer/ed at it think twice.

  • Thank you. It is taking hold by Doctors but it is slow. Perhaps NICE will take notice.

  • Sorry to contradict you but coeliac disease is diagnosed by endoscopy (upper) - as in down the throat. A Colonoscopy is up the other end (bowel) through your anus.

    Anyone who has had both will definitely know the difference!

  • I stand corrected as to how coeliac is diagnosed by the NHS. Here is the link to the NHS diagnosis route I will certainly be reviewing the lecture as to see what is said. An endo is done with a 4 foot camera done the throat.

  • I have reviewed the lecture and the last question he was asked about was the use of an endoscopy. His words talk about the biopsy failing because the damage is patchy but also the damage can be beyond the endoscopy viewing range. The endoscope is 4 foot long and is not long enough to view the damage which would put most of the intestine out of reach for the endoscope. With leak gut due to zonulin is permeating in the rest of the intestine.

  • Yeah, I've often wondered about that one. I know they take five samples in gut biopsy, but so much of it goes undiscovered. Still, I suppose with blood tests plus biopsy it stands a fair chance of discovery. At least that's what I tell myself. Got to keep buoyant somehow!

  • The blood tests can be a problem as normal blood tests may not be looking for the right antibodies. My wife recently had blood tests done for her thyroid. When we talked with her Doctor she looked a bit blank about gliadin and gluton tests. This may be NICE recommendations as to what tests should be done.

  • Yeah, I recently gave my doc the NICE guidelines for celiac tests for someone with IgA deficiency and completely threw him - so much so he's asked for two weeks to contact the lab to see if I'm "allowed" to have them. An unbelievably ridiculous state of affairs.

  • Hi Oldsoldier! Just letting you know I finally got this video to play, and it was great stuff. I'm off to look up his book. Thanks again for giving me this link, it's been really helpful. X

  • Pleased for being a help.

  • I have Hashimotos - auto-immune thyroiditis and gluten sensitivity. My gall bladder was removed long before my thyroid diagnosis. I have read of the connection between low thyroid and gall bladder issues due to the slower metabolism of bile or raised cholesterol.

    Sadly like Coeliac testing the testing for thyroid is often incomplete....with just the TSH being tested. Best to also have the FT4 - FT3 - Anti-TPO - Anti-Tg so you really know what is going on. TSH is produced in the Pituitary Gland so not a thyroid hormone.

    When I was diagnosed all the Thyroid tests were in range - anti-bodies were high....

    I have weekly B12 injections.

  • Have you ever wondered what came first, Marz? Do you think that gluten sensitivity maybe triggered the whole sorry chain of events off? There should be a health warning on every loaf: "May destroy your metabolism".

  • You may have time to look at my edited profile to see what a colourful medical history I have had :-) Click onto my name to find it. Of course we do not know what happens first in our bodies as everything is so inter-connected....have a few ideas :-)

    Like your idea of a Health Warning :-)

  • Dear God, Marz, it's a miracle you are still standing. I don't know whether you are a wonder of human endurance or modern medicine. My money's on human endurance! I had yet another maddening, frustrating visit to the doctor's today so I find it impossible to believe modern medicine is responsible for anything other than early death!

  • They say Docs bury their mistakes :-) Obviously the modern medicine saved my life when I was hospitalised for 6 months with the TB - and the 16 months of TB chemo was pretty appalling. The problem has been that I was so ill before - during and afterwards - that all the other things went on too long before I did anything about them. Everything is relative - even now. So good to be feeling so much better and having an active life....

    Do hope you manage to sort out your Doc Chancery and are feeling good....

    There is an on-line summit at the moment with the guy in the video above and over 30 more specialists - it is a Gut Summit. Have you been watching ? Listened to Datis Kharrazian today - about the health of the gut and its impact on the brain - leaky gut - leaky brain - yikes :-)

  • Hoo yes, bury their mistakes is right, in more ways than one.

    Yes, thanks, someone on here kindly gave me the gut summit link but I STILL haven't had a chance to go watch and I'm itching to do it. Hoping to get a chance this evening. Can't get enough of the good stuff from doctors who a) care and b) know their stuff. Wish there was more of them.

  • I'm a coeliac and Kidney disease also recently be diagnosed with fibro It was my gastroenterologist who I was seeing for the coeliac that sent me for a scan for gallstones as was still in pain yet he classed me as strictly GF, not had gallbladder out yet they keeping an eye on things.... I asked him if there was a connection between all these and he that he would not rule it out. he told me that if you have one autoimmune disease then you will probably end up with must be a connection somewhere surely!.

  • Couldn't agree more, Venus. These diseases move in packs, like wolves. I'm a member of the B12 forum as well as the coeliac one and even my Trigeminal Neuraligai forum - which is, allegedly, nothing to do with autoimmune diseases - also has B12 deficiency coming up regularly, as well as a higher than normal incidence of gallstones. So go figure...

  • I'd developed gall stones and had my gall bladder out first. Then a couple of years later I was diagnosed with a Vit B12 deficiency and then found out I was intolerant to dairy and finally to gluten. For me the Vit B12 deficiency, causes by stomach surgery 15 years earlier, and not treated or diagnosed until issues and nerve damage had occurred.

    Looking back, the gluten intolerance was already there when the gall stones formed. unfortunately I wasn't keeping a log at the time so it is all a bit of a muddle.

    High levels of homocystiene from the B12D probably led to higher levels of cholesterol which formed the gall stones

  • Hi Pvanderra, I couldn't agree more about the homocysteine levels creating high cholesterol. I only found out recently that high carbohydrate consumption creates excess cholesterol, so it doesn't seem a great leap to me that "carbohydrate" may in fact be a wheat or gluten issue rather than carbohydrate across the board. Unfortunately it's too late for me to measure my homocysteine levels as I have been treated for B12, but I really wish I'd had it done now. It would have been really interesting to know!

  • Hi Chancery, I think that you are pursuing a really good line here, so another thing that may interest you is NCGS (non coeliac gluten sensitivity) and according to the 2nd link 6 out of 100 people could have this as opposed to CD which's thought to be 1 in 100. So you want to bear this in mind when having the IgA blood tests for CD and the first link may also interest you as it's about gluten attacking the gallbladder due to NCGS and or CD:

    I also think that NCGS could explain some of the other posters experiences regarding gall bladder issues. I also know that many members of GFG will be able to relate to your experiences with trying to get a diagnosis, so you are not alone.

    Lastly I hope that your perseverance pays off and any more queries/questions then you just ask away.

  • Hi Jerry, more great links, thanks. I find them fascinating, but I'm desperately trying to find something 'reputable' because I cannot take anything that even vaguely smacks of anecdotal or alternative into my doctor. He demands science every time, preferably backed by some ancient institution of a hundred years standing!

    But I'm glad you think it is a line worth pursuing. I've long felt my illnesses were degenerative, as in one was leading to another like a system breakdown. I just need some links, and not tenuous ones either. Ah, might as well go find a golden goose! And you are absolutely spot on to point out NCGS. I've suspected that culprit. The trouble with that one is it's not a recognised disease, and I don't think the NHS offers any help with it, either diagnosing or treating it. That's where coeliacs have the (very dubious!) advantage - at least theirs is a real disease.

    But there does seem to be some history of NCGS turning into coeliac disease. It seems to be a precursor. It annoys me that you have to either wait until your disease becomes highly damaging to get a diagnosis or go through the rest of your life not sure if you are a) doing the right thing in sacrificing gluten or b) maybe not treating your condition at all and thus setting yourself up for later disaster. Doctors shouldn't force people into this position but, bless them, they do. And all this for a label...

  • Following this because I have gallstones

  • Do you take B12 and folic acid supplements or inject B12 ?

    Also what kind of oil do you use to cook with. I've gone to only using olive oil and the natural fat in the meat I eat. I avoid Palm and soybean oils as I don't digest them and get diarrhea from them as well (besides the gluten and casein ).

  • Hi, yes, I am given injections of B12 by my doc. We cook with olive oil and occasionally sunflower oil, but basically very little oil at all! After gallstones we learned how to cook with a minimal amount and we've never really stopped!

  • And how about folic acid and a multivitamin? These help replenish the vitamins that are lost in the gut and not recycled via your hepatic loop (bile, illium, portal vein, liver). They also help B12 do its job.

    Even though your B12 was border line 'gray' area, have you noticed and neurological symptoms?

    I've thought that the paralysis of the gut may be due to low B12 i.e. Slowing down the vagus nerve.

    Also do you take antacids? I find my gut returns to normal faster if I eat an orange. The acidity balances out the alkalinity of the bile.

  • Yes, I have a daily multivitamin, which I double up to get more folic acid out it. I do, indeed, have neurological problems, severe ones, which you might remember from other discussions you've had with me elsewhere! I'm teasing you, but yes, I do. We have discussed my trigeminal neuralgia, although, like you, I can't remember which damn forum it was on, so I shouldn't tease you!

    The unfortunate thing with my neurological symptom is that it is not recognised as a normal part of these conditions, despite being a demyelinating disease. This is ridiculous, given that my disease is a) very rare and b) no-one knows the first thing in hell about it, so there's no earthly reason why it couldn't be due to an autoimmune condition. Try explaining that to a doctor though. If they ain't seen it in a book, it doesn't exist, no matter how illogical that is.

    I can't take antacids, more's the pity, as they obstruct my meds. I just have to suffer in silence! Oranges don't agree with me because I have oesophagitis - part of the problem, as far as I am concerned.

  • I find there is a lot of overlap between the pernicious aneamia forum and the gluten free forum. Although not as much discussion about B12 here as there is gluten free discussion on the PAS forum.

  • Yeah, that doesn't surprise me. I actually told my doctor today that I've always felt all my diseases were connected. I also told him about the gallstone/ coeliac connection and he wasn't as surprised as he might have been. He certainly didn't rush to correct me. On the other hand, I had just sprung IgA deficiency and a request for new coeliac tests on him, and I had a feeling he'd never heard of them so I think he was in shut-down mode - the fall-back position of doctors everywhere - that is if they haven't just said no to your face.

    Ah, if you want to be depressed, and feel that your disease and it's prognosis is hopeless just , visit your doctor...

  • Finding and interpreting the more technical articles in PubMed is never easy! I hope I've read this one right. It may well be the same one you found.

    It found that coeliac disease affected the gall bladder, causing the muscle to stop contracting ( Hypokenesia). This would lead to the formation of gall stones, I think.

    My husband had his gall bladder out some time ago and although he is not coeliac, he found that a mostly gluten free and low carb diet helped him cope with digestive issues afterwards.

  • Yes, Penel, I think you've found something concrete there; I hadn't seen that one - that's great, thanks. That does definitely seem to indicate coeliacs will have poor gallbladder reactions, so it would suggest that undiagnosed coeliacs, and those in a precursor state, as in suffering from gluten sensitivity, would have poor gallbladder function. So it IS arguable that gallstones may be a warning sign, or a precursor of coeliac disease.

    It's odd, you're not the only person here saying that they, or someone they know, avoids gluten because of gallstone problems. I had my gallbladder disease for a year and a half and it was acute, very severe. I had to stop eating fat entirely; it was the only way to stop attacks of biliary colic, although it didn't stop pain. Oddly enough, I had problems with wholemeal bread and used to eat a potato scone (white flour and potato) with my teeny meals. I used to prefer the expensive ones that were nearly all potato. I'm sure there's a significance to that. It never occurred to me to not eat wheat. I wish now I had tried it. I don't think it would have saved my gallbladder, which was too diseased, but I might have learned some valuable things and maybe even saved myself a lot of pain.

  • A couple of years ago a I read of a researcher who was publishing details of a study into childhood/adolescent gallbladder inflammation. The resulting conclusion was that young people presenting with suspected gallbladder diseases should be screened for coeliac disease.

  • Really? Now that is interesting, Jacks. I don't suppose you can remember where you saw it or anything about it so I can track it down? I have all these pieces of the puzzle and I'm trying to put them together to make a coherent picture - everything helps!

  • I did look for the link as I had it pinned somewhere on my computer and try to cite the research when I can. It was not that there is a genetic link but one of causation in juveniles and the likelihood of gallstones not being one of the 3 F's (female, fat, 40).

  • Ah well, not to worry, thanks for looking. If you ever come across it, please do let me know. I'd be really grateful!

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