The gallbladder is an active storage shed, which absorbs mineral salts and water received from the liver and converts it into a thick, mucus substance called “bile,” to be released when food is present in the stomach. The gallbladder is a small, pear-shaped sac which is situated just below the liver and is attached to it by tissues. It stores bile and then releases it when food passes from the stomach to the duodenum (the first part of the small intestine) to help in the process of digestion. It has a capacity of around one and one-half fluid ounces. When food leaves the stomach, a secretion causes the gallbladder to contract and expel its contents into the duodenum, where the bile disperses the fats in the food into liquid. Pythagoras, the 6th Century BC Greek mathematician, believed that life is based on the four elements of earth, air, fire and water which correspond to the body’s “humors”: blood (hot and moist), phlegm (cold and moist), yellow bile (hot and dry) and black bile (cold and dry). The perfect or imperfect balance of these humors supposedly determined one’s health and intelligence. We still speak in terms of “melancholia” (excess black bile, leading to depression) and “phlegmatic” (sluggish or impassive) and scientists have named the heavy mucus secreted in the respiratory passages – phlegm. Pythagoras was kind of a “square”. Oh, come on; where’s your sense of “humor”?

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