The Spiritual Reason Behind Gall Stones and Pancreatitis

Article written by Dr. Michelle Strydom MD

More than 80% of gall stones are formed by an excess of cholesterol. Therefore to understand how gall stones develop and the spiritual root behind it, you need to first gain a background understanding of high cholesterol which is explained on page 328.

Now that you have a background on cholesterol, let’s understand what the gall bladder is normally used for: The liver makes bile from cholesterol. Once the liver has made the bile, it stores the bile in the gall bladder. The gall bladder is situated under your liver, on the right side of your body, just under your rib cage. When you eat, nerves and other hormones stimulate your gall bladder to contract and the bile is pushed through a tube (called the bile duct) into your gut. Once in your gut, bile helps digest fat and cholesterol so that it can be absorbed into the bloodstream.

The liver also removes excess cholesterol by putting it into the bile in the gall bladder. When the gallbladder contracts and the bile is squirted into the gut, the cholesterol is removed from your body with your stools when you go to the toilet. If you put salt in a glass of water it would dissolve. If you were to carry on putting salt in the glass of water, eventually a point will be reached where the salt will no longer be able to dissolve. This is because there is too much salt in the glass of water and as a result the salt just falls to the bottom of the glass without dissolving. This is exactly what happens when there is too much cholesterol in the gall bladder. Eventually there is so much cholesterol that it can no longer dissolve in the bile. The result is that cholesterol forms clumps in the gall bladder – in other words gall stones. As I mentioned above, the great majority (about 80%) of gall stones are caused by an excess of cholesterol. The spiritual root is low self-esteem, self-hatred, self-condemnation and anger towards yourself concerning a specific issue or issues in your life.

The cause of the other 25% of gall stones is an excess of pigments (a pigment is a colored chemical) in the gall bladder. An example of a pigment in your body is haemoglobin (a red pigment) which makes up part of your red blood cells. Haemoglobin carries oxygen in your blood stream. Certain diseases cause break down and destruction of red blood cells (haemolysis). This can be caused by autoimmune diseases where the immune system destroys the red blood cells. Your immune system is the army of cells in your body that were created to protect you from harmful viruses, bacteria, parasites, fungus, toxins and cancer cells. When the cells of your immune system see these harmful substances floating around in your blood stream and body tissues, they kill or remove them, thus helping to protect you from getting sick. However, whatever goes on in your thought life, your brain converts into a physical reaction. When you attack yourself spiritually through thoughts of self-hatred, self-rejection and self bitterness, the immune system is redirected to attack your own body tissues, while ignoring the true enemy which is viruses, bacteria, cancer cells etc.

Thus the immune system, which was originally designed by God for your good (protection against infections, cancer etc), begins to cause destruction and disease in your body. (Autoimmune diseases are discussed in more detail on page 200). One of the ways in which autoimmune diseases cause damage in your body is by attacking your red blood cells and causing them to break down. When your red blood cells break down, the red pigments (haemoglobin) which were inside the red blood cells are released into the blood stream in excessive amounts. The liver removes this pigment from your blood stream and tries to get rid of it by putting it into the bile in the gall bladder, just the same as cholesterol. However when there is too much pigment in the gall bladder, it cannot dissolve in the bile anymore. The result is the pigments form clumps in the gall bladder, thus forming gall stones. The spiritual root in this case is the same as the cholesterol gall stones – a low self-esteem, self-hatred and self-rejection.

Break down of red blood cells (haemolysis) can also be as a result of inherited diseases (e.g. sickle cell anemia, spherocytosis and elliptocytosis). As explained in the chapter on cholesterol, your genes in your DNA contain instructions on how to make each of the different parts of your body. In genetic diseases, the genes are defective and as a result the instructions on how to make a specific part of your body are muddled up. In diseases causing break down of red blood cells, the gene which has instructions on how to make red blood cells is defective. The resultant muddled up instructions lead to the production of abnormal red blood cells with the wrong shape. One of the normal functions of your spleen is to remove worn out, old red blood cells. However, when your spleen sees these abnormal red blood cells – it thinks that they must be worn out and it removes them from the blood stream and breaks the red blood cells down. The result is that a large amount of the red pigment, haemoglobin (that was inside the red blood cells) is released into the blood. The liver removes this excess pigment from your blood and attempts to get rid of it by putting it into the bile in the gall bladder. When there is too much pigment in the gall bladder, it cannot dissolve in the bile anymore. As a result the pigments form clumps in the gall bladder and gall stones are formed.

This can also result from a defect in the gene that has instructions on how to make various enzymes that are needed for the normal function of red blood cells (Glucose 6 phosphate dehydrogenase, pyruvate kinase and pyrimadine 5’ nucleotidase). The result of this gene defect is that not enough of these enzymes are produced –> the red cells can’t function properly blood –> they break up releasing a lot of pigment into the this leads to gall stones as explained above. If there are other family members in generations before you that had a problem with gall stones, it is important for you to read the chapter on genetically inherited diseases on page 153. In this case, where healing is concerned, you not only need to repent of your sins, but the sins of your fathers also. This is all related to self-hatred.

However, most of the time gall stones from excess pigments are a result of bacterial and parasite infections, especially malaria. (Other common infections leading to pigment gall stones include E.coli, Clonorchis sinensis and ascaris lumbricoides). This is where the second spiritual component of gall stones comes in which is fear, anxiety and stress. Before reading this section any further, I recommend that you gain a background understanding of how long term fear, anxiety and stress affects your body – please turn to page 180.

A thought life dominated by fear and anxiety puts your body into stage 2 and 3 of stress. In this toxic state, the hypothalamus in your brain stimulates the production of large quantities of stress hormones. One of these stress hormones is cortisol, which in excessive quantities, directly kills and prevents the production of the different cells of the immune system. As a result the immune system is damaged and you have no defense against parasites and bacteria. Malaria results in the break down of red blood cells (by the spleen), with a resultant release of a large amount of the pigment haemoglobin, which was inside the red blood cells. The excess pigments lead to gall stones, as explained above. Other bacterial infections lead to an excess in another type of pigment in the gall bladder called bilirubin. An excess of bilirubin leads to gall stones the same way that an excess in cholesterol or the red pigment haemoglobin does.

Most gall stones are a mixture of cholesterol and pigments. Whatever the cause, this is all traced back to self-hatred, self-condemnation, self-rejection as well as fear, anxiety and stress in your thought life.

Stage 2 and 3 of stress alters the way in which the central nervous system processes sensory information coming from the organs in your body. The nerve that stimulates your gall bladder (called the vagus nerve) is told what to do by the central nervous system, which is under control of the hypothalamus in your brain. Remember the hypothalamus is the area in your brain that translates your thoughts into a physical reaction. When you have long term fear, anxiety and stress in your thought life, the hypothalamus alters the way in which the central nervous system functions. This results in the central nervous system sending ‘wrong instructions’ to the vagus nerve that stimulates your gallbladder, causing it to malfunction of “misfire”. Misfiring of the vagus nerve causes abnormal contraction of the gall bladder. The gall bladder does not contract very well which leads to slow, sluggish flow of the bile. When the bile flow is slow and sluggish, cholesterol and pigments begin to accumulate and this is another factor leading to the formation of gall stones. The gall stones exacerbate the slow flow by physically obstructing the flow of bile.

Another problem with sluggish flow is that it predisposes the gall bladder to infection. A river that is running fast is healthy to swim in because the water is clean. A still deep river that is hardly flowing at all allows diseases such as bilharzias and the eggs of mosquitoes that cause malaria to settle there. The principle is the same in the human body: When flow of bile is sluggish, infection soon sets in and you end up with cholecystitis (inflammation and infection of the gall bladder). You are also predisposed to infection because of a weakened immune system by stress, as previously explained. This infection can lead to long standing (i.e. chronic) inflammation in the gall bladder even in the absence of gall stones.

Most of the time gall stones do not cause any symptoms. However in 10% of cases they result in complications, for example:

  • They can obstruct the flow of bile, leading to slow sluggish flow with subsequent infection (cholecystitis) as I have already explained.
  • The pain of gall stones is either due to inflammation and infection of the gall bladder (cholecystitis) or because of what is called biliary colic. When the gall stone (or stones) is small, it can pass through the bile duct into the gut. It is then passed out of your body in your stools. When the gall stones are large, they get stuck in the bile duct. This blocks the flow of bile and the pressure in the gall bladder and bile duct builds up. This stretches the gall bladder, causing inflammation and pain, which is what biliary colic is. The pain is felt in the upper, middle part of your abdomen (70% of patients) or in the right upper part of your abdomen (20% of patients). It can radiate to the upper middle part of your back between your shoulder blades or your shoulder. Less commonly the pain can be in the left upper part of your abdomen or the lower part of your chest. The pain is typically of sudden onset and lasts for about two hours. The pain comes and goes. If the pain lasts continuously for more than six hours, this suggests a complication has developed such as cholecystitis or pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas).

Gall stones are also sometimes associated with intolerance to fatty foods and indigestion. When the gall stones get stuck in the bile duct and obstruct the flow of bile, this can lead to an accumulation of the bile pigment bilirubin. The excess bilirubin can be deposited in body tissues, causing jaundice which is yellow discoloration of the eyes and skin.

If you have gall stones, my advice to you is to get rid of that self-hatred, self-rejection and anger towards yourself as fast as you can: Not only to avoid the complications of gall stones (which leads to surgery where your gall bladder is removed), but the other serious complications that you read about in the chapter on cholesterol. Jesus died to give you an abundant life (John 10 v 10). God wants you to enjoy who you are. A healthy self-esteem comes from understanding who you are in Christ, and learning to see yourself as God sees you. The chapter on page 498 will help you with this. You also need to remove fear, anxiety and stress from your thought life – see page 523.


Pancreatitis is a complication of another underlying problem. Over 90% of pancreatitis is caused either by gall stones or alcohol abuse. In both cases the spiritual root is very similar – they both involve a low self-esteem and self-hatred. If you drink alcohol a lot (binge drinking or long term alcoholism), the relevant chapter for you to read is “Addictions” on page 216. Otherwise if you hardly ever drink alcohol, then the cause for your pancreatitis is most likely gall stones, and you need to read the information on gall stones above.

Some rare causes of pancreatitis include:

  • Medical investigations such as ERCP and angiography.
  • Trauma – for example a stab wound or the ends of a bicycle hand bar that physically damaged the pancreas.
  • Damage after surgery.
  • Medical drugs, for example thiazide diuretics (water pills), azothioprine and sodium valproate (an anti-epileptic drug).
  • Viral infections (especially mumps) and scorpion venom.
  • Metabolic – high levels of fat (hypertriglyceridaemia) and calcium in the blood.

The normal functions of the pancreas are:

  • Metabolism of carbohydrates – the pancreas produces insulin when there are high levels of sugar (glucose) in the blood. Insulin removes the glucose from the blood and stores it in body tissues. The pancreas produces glucagon when the blood sugar levels are too low. Glucagon stimulates the liver to release more sugar and fats into the blood stream.
  • The pancreas also produces an alkaline juice which contains water, sodium, potassium, bicarbonate and digestive enzymes (amylase, lipase, trypsin etc). The pancreatic juice is released into the pancreatic duct, from where it flows into the gut, to help digest the food you eat (see the picture of the pancreas and the pancreatic duct on the previous page).

Pancreatitis is caused by injury to the pancreatic duct resulting in the digestive enzymes being exposed to the pancreas tissue. These enzymes cause damage, inflammation, bleeding and in severe cases death of the pancreatic tissue:

As illustrated in the picture on the previous page, gall stones can block the bile duct as well as the pancreatic duct. This leads to reflux of bile up the pancreatic duct, which impairs the flow of the pancreatic juice. This then results in an accumulation of digestive enzymes in the pancreas, which then damage the pancreatic tissue.

Alcohol makes the pancreatic juice more viscous (thick). This leads to the formation of protein plugs that block the pancreatic duct, impairing the flow of pancreatic juice. This results in an accumulation of the digestive enzymes which then cause damage to the pancreatic tissue.

A person with pancreatitis has pain in the upper, middle part of the abdomen that can radiate to the back. The pain is typically eased by leaning forward or getting onto all fours. Some people experience pain in one or both loins and gain relief by lying on one side. Sometimes the pain is brought on by eating, especially fatty foods. Application of heat brings relief. The person also has severe nausea and vomiting. When the pancreatitis has been present for a long time, the person loses a lot of weight (because of malabsorption and not eating properly due to pain). The person’s stools become pale, they have an abnormally offensive odor and float on water (this condition is called steatorrhoea which is due to fats not being absorbed in the gut).

There are serious life threatening complications that can occur in pancreatitis. There is a very high price to pay for not loving yourself. Therefore my advice to you is to get rid of that self-hatred, self-rejection and anger towards yourself as fast as you can. Jesus died to give you an abundant life (John 10 v 10). God wants you to enjoy who you are. A healthy self-esteem comes from understanding who you are in Christ, and learning to see yourself as God sees you. The chapter on page 498 will help you.

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