Can gallstones be dissolved?

By George Nava True II


I’m one of your avid readers when you were still writing for another newspaper. Is Rowachol effective in dissolving gallstones? How is it taken – before or after meals? – Espiritu Anore, Cebu City.

Thanks for following my column! Please tell your friends that Health Frontiers is now in the Daily Guardian, one of Iloilo’s most respected newspapers.  As always, I’m here to give you the medical advice you need to stay healthy. Please like their Facebook page and be sure to follow me here every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Rowachol contains essential oils and virgin olive oil packed in gastro-resistant capsules. This means that the active ingredients, namely, borneol, menthol, menthone, camphene, and cineole, are released in the intestine, not the stomach.

This medicine is used to break up or dissolve gallstones, or make it easier for them to pass out. Gallstones are hard deposits of digestive fluid that form in your gallbladder found beneath your liver. This digestive fluid (bile) is made in the liver and stored in the gallbladder to help with digestion. The Mayo Clinic said gallstones can be small like a grain of sand or as large as a golf ball.


Too much cholesterol

Doctors say gallstones form when your bile has too much cholesterol, bilirubin (a chemical made by the liver due to liver cirrhosis or blood disorders), or the gallbladder doesn’t empty completely (it normally sends bile to the small intestine).

The Mayo Clinic said gallstones usually form in females who are obese or have sedentary lifestyles. They’re common in people with liver disease, diabetes, certain blood disorders, and those who eat a high-cholesterol or low-fiber diet. Rapid weight loss is another risk factor for gallstones.

Rowachol increases bile production and reduces pain (one of the symptoms of gallstones). This makes it easier for the stones to pass out with the bile. The recommended dose for adults is 1 to 2 capsules three times daily taken before meals.

Precautions and warnings

Take this medicine only if your doctor has confirmed that you have gallstones and has prescribed this for you. Tell your doctor if you are taking blood thinners or medicines that are broken down by the liver. Don’t take Rowachol if you are allergic to any of its ingredients or allergic to sodium ethyl parahydroxybenzoate (E215) and sodium propyl parahydroxybenzoate (E217).

Let your doctor know if you are pregnant or breastfeeding before taking Rowachol. Possible side effects of this medicine include belching and a peppermint taste in the mouth that can be avoided if you take it on an empty stomach.

Some patients also develop mouth ulcers or have soreness in the mouth after taking Rowachol. Tell your doctor about this. Follow the prescribe dose. Overdosing may cause diarrhea, headaches, and an upset stomach.

A final note: The Mayo Clinic added that medicines to dissolve gallstones don’t always work or may take months or years to work. They’re normally prescribed for people who can’t have surgery to remove the gallbladder (cholesystectomy) which is recommended if you have frequent gallstones.

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