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I have two, half-inch gallstones, which I've been told by my surgical doctor, are too large to enter the duct, although they could obstruct the opening at some point. Fortunately, I have not experienced all the problems so many others have. I only "feel" them, mostly when seated,leaning over. I eat a low fat diet; mostly fruit, vegetables, whole grains, with some chicken and turkey, occassionally. I workout and walk 3 miles daily. My question is about dissolving the gallstones. I've read about Actigall and herbal remedies. The surgeon told me that because of the size of the stones, it would take up to two years to dissolve them. I do not want surgery in the future; and would like to try dissolving them, I don't care how long. If I take Actigall and they become smaller, could they enter the bile duct? Would trying milk thistle and globe artichoke work as well as Actigall? I read that Actigall has a success rate of 40-80%. Is that only for small stones or all sizes of stones?

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replied March 12th, 2011
Gallbladder Disease Answer A20733
Hello and thank you for posting your medical question on E health Forum.

Actigall is ursodiol, (ursodeoxycholic acid), a naturally occurring bile acid which is used to dissolve gall stones. Gallbladder stone dissolution with Actigall treatment requires months of therapy. Complete dissolution does not occur in all patients and recurrence of stones within 5 years has been observed in up to 50% of patients who do dissolve their stones on bile acid therapy.

Conservative management to avoid symptoms due to gall stone disease and control it include:

1) Avoid mental stress and overstrain
2) Avoid eating special food and deep-fried, and fat free food.
3. Be on a gall stone specific diet. (Described below)
4) Lifestyle and Dietary habit changes: Paying attention to regular meals on time; Avoid excessive food and/or drink at one meal. By eating right, one can avoid formation of gallstones and also flush out the existing ones.

Important aspects of a Gallstone diet that you might consider follow:

1. First and foremost drink plenty of water.

2. A diet rich in water soluble fibers (found in fruits and vegetables).
The inclusion of at least 3-4 servings of vegetables a day and two to four servings of fruit each day is a must in a gallstone diet. Include fruits like - Dried fruits (dates, apricots, prunes, raisins); raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, blueberries, and oranges. Include more of vegetables like beans, corn, and broccoli.

3. Include a lot of whole grain bread, corn bran, cereals, buns, muffins, bran flakes, whole wheat cereals, whole grain pasta, and brown rice in your daily diet.
Whole grains - help to flush out gallstones; also enhance the digestive system.

4. To avoid risk of developing more gallstones, make sure you stay away from red meat, fried and fatty food items, onions, alcohol, and eggs. Staying away from heavy proteins like cheese, butter, and whole milk is also a good idea.

You might consider consulting with your treating doctor for additional information when you see him the next time. The specific management and need for surgery can be decided after weighing the pros and cons.

I hope you find the information here helpful.

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