Gall, Guile, Gumption, and Guts.

The Common Vein Copyright 2008

Ashley Davidoff MD

Your little soul seems to have stirred more spirit in

The bubble bubble toil and trouble of culture

Than it has in the stirring of lipids in the gut

The mechanisms by which you function are glorious

And you concentrate and store

A golden colored fluid that looks like a yellowing to green virgin olive oil,

And your flow is controlled by unique mechanisms of the

Juice gates and  sluice gates of sludge

And the way the bile flows up

Your beautiful spiral valves of Heister

Were an unrecognized lesson for the waterscrews of Nebuchadnezzar and the Eureka! man

And of course you provide the yellow color for sludge and sewerage

Not a great attribute I know

But nevertheless a function to rid our body of bili waste

Yet somehow when the surgeon’s laparoscopic knife,

Snuffs out your fire

The body seems no worse for the loss.

This seems so odd to me, since I trust the value of what is natural

And what has evolved with the wisdom of time

Maybe you were not designed to receive the diets of the day,

And your doom is a stone throw away from extinction

But that story will not come in my lifetime – and perhaps not for the next few thousand

And perhaps even …. not at all

Since we may in fact in the science of the day

Be ignorant of your true secrets.

So I will sing to the stories of your glory Hallelujah!

Or rather as the house of the fluid that stirred the story

As you excited innumerable cultures

Sometimes a part of a deity,

Sometimes as a vital force of the body, and

Sometimes  with your gall, guile, gumption, and guts.

We start in Babylon a mere 3000 years ago

When you were a part of a godly soul – the liver

Who was seen as the deity who would predict the outcome of war

And you stood there in all your glory

A pouch of green fluid in the sheep’s warm, wet, and bloodied liver of sacrifice

And you spread your hepatoscopic influence under the godly protection of your mother organ to the

Etruscans, Greeks and even into Ezekiel 21:21.


In the Chinese Culture of Qi

You are the Yang of judgment and courage

What noble attributes you are afforded!

In the Judaic culture they called you mererah by your bitter taste –

And in in Jeremiah 9:1 and Deutoronomy 29:18

You are paired with wormwood as something bitter and undesirable

While the the Greeks and Aristotle especially

Studied you in nature and found you were missing in certain species

Including the dove, deer, and horse

And above this you were given the honor of producing a humor of Hippocrates

One of the four that drove the body

To balance or imbalance, and to health or disease

You produced the yellow bile while your neighbour the spleen produced it in black

And when the balance shifted to yellow, melancholy was the order of the day

And when it was black – one had better stay back

Cause ’twas, the choleric nature that came to the fore.

In addition you were thought to represent the element of earth

With a  quality that was cold and dry

And not only that….

You gave character to the person

In the form of  gluttonous, introspective, and sentimental behaviour

Who knows where all this came from?

But it was used for hundreds of years

Even as we turned from BC to AD

And even by the doctors of kings

Galen himself

Who saw you as protector of the liver and a source of emotion

Then came Paracelsus with his hermetical ideas of harmony

The seven in the sky aligned with seven of the earth aligned with seven in the body

And you were aligned with Mars in the sky and and iron on the earth

In all fairness however, the world became a little better,

As he  started the move away from the humors

And finally toward other chemistry

 Vesalius learned you from the source

As his studies of anatomy Fabrica 5

Were real and true

And then da Vinci as well as Harvey appreciated your gracile and pear like form

When it came to literature “claw us on the gall” by Chaucer meant add insult to injury

While he used honey and gall as opposites of taste

And the “gall of the dragon” was to be an extreme punishment.

Shakespeare explored, used and exposed you in so many  rich ways

In his ” “let the galled jade wince,”  “gall a new healed wound,”  “but the gout galls the one, and the pox pinches the other.”

 Irritation is the order of the day

“Some galled goose of winchester would hiss,” and “‘twould be my tyranny to strike and gall them, “, and ” as fearfully doth a galled rock.”

Seem like an advanced form of irritation and perhaps an implication of  anger

“Let there be gall enough in thy ink”

Reveals his knowledge of the use of oak galls  in the creation of purple black ink

“But I am pigeon-liver’d and lack gall”

Reveals his knowledge of the lack of the gall bladder in pigeons and his familiarity with the work of Aristotle

(Even when an ogle on Google was not around )

And then “and take my milk for gall you murdering ministers”

As lady Macbeth describes the prejudice of the day

With her desire to unsex herself

And the differences between man and woman

The one for bitter boldness and the other maternal comfort

The Zulus of South Africa are a proud and feared nation

And they have as their medicinal and spiritual leader

the Sangoma

Who wears a headress with the garnered gallbladders of goats

Symbolising and elevating the organ as a  receiver and giver of life

Just like its counterpart the uterus

Which has similar pear like shape and spiritual function.

And so we turn back to the advancement of science

And the time in 1733 when Louis Petit suggested we remove the stone of affliction

And when Carl Langenbuch in 1882 did just that

And we futzed many years later with the fuzzy technology of gallbladder  lithotripsy and Urso

Only to come up with a better laparoscopic solution 100 years after Langenbuch

The waves of sound brought great things in detection,

And found that about 1 in 8 who ate the western diet

Suffered the fate of the state of a gallbladdder with stone

And the percutaneous drainage under the eyes and guise of sound waves

Was a also great advance in the very sick

Yet we come back to the question as to why you are around?

A question and answer yet to be found –


But after a lot of fun and games through history and literature

We can only hail you O bladder of Gall

As the source of gall, guile, gumption, and guts.


Aristotle History of animals Doves have no gallbladders and they are emblems of guilessness