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GallstonesGreen icon of gallstones

The gallbladder, a pear-shaped organ situated beneath the liver, serves as a repository for bile, a hepatic fluid essential for fat digestion. Upon food consumption, bile is channeled into the small intestine for lipid breakdown (Carey, 2019, Journal of Lipid Research). In Western medicine, gallstones, or cholelithiasis, are defined as solid, pebble-like substances composed of cholesterol and bilirubin that can obstruct the bile duct (Stinton & Shaffer, 2012, Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology). Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) views the gallbladder as a Yang organ complementary to its Yin partner, the liver. It governs physiological and psychological aspects, such as decision-making, emotional well-being, and muscle function (Liu & Chen, 2012, Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine). TCM attributes gallstone formation to phlegm and stagnant dampness that, when exacerbated, can solidify into stones. These Eastern and Western perspectives are both subjects of interdisciplinary research, as indexed in the National Institutes of Health database, providing a holistic understanding of gallbladder function and pathology.

Image of woman suffering from gallstones holding midsection and grimacing.

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