Instructions for a Gall Bladder Flush
The gall bladder flush is a therapy that has been around a long time. It is controversial, even in the natural health community. Many herbalists I know don’t believe its beneficial. However, I have done it a few times myself and used it with others and have seen it provide tremendous benefits.
It definitely increases bile flow, causing the gall bladder to empty its contents. This seems to ease gall bladder pain and may help to dissolve and/or pass gallstones. However, it has not been proven to do so. Even still, I’ve known a number of people who have stopped severe gallbladder pain and avoided surgery using the proceedure.
People have thought this proceedure passed gallstones because people who use it will typically pass small greenish-grey balls about the size of peas. These are not stones. They are composed of soap, which is created by an alkali interacting with fat. In this case, the large quantity of olive oil used in the cleanse mixes with a large quantity of bile to saponify (i.e. turn into soap) the fatty acids. Normally, enzymes would break this down to absorb the fatty acids, but it appears that the extremely large quanitity of oil is more than the body can assimilate, so they are passed intact.
A medical doctor told me that the large amount of oil causes the gallbladder to go into spasm and completely empty its contents and that this could theoretically cause a large stone to get lodged in a bile duct. This would require surgery for removal. I have had one person tell me that this happened to them when they did this proceedure, so the risk is real. However, I’ve also used this proceedure for myself and clients many times, as well as talked to others who have used it safely with hundreds of people. So, I believe the risk is very small, and since surgery is the primary medical treatment for gallstones, the proceedure just hastened the need for it.
As I mentioned, I tried this proccedure several times when I was younger. Later, I used some of the herbs mentioned here to assist my gallbladder, which I knew had problems. Then, during a very intense period of stress in my life I had a gallbladder attack so servere that it made it difficult to breathe. I think that had I not been under so much pressure at the time that I would have tried this proceedure before having surgery. However, I submitted to the surgery because I was just so overwhelmed.
As I’ve seen happen to other people who have had their gallbladder removed, I have side effects as a result of the surgery. My colon does not move as well as it used to (bile is a natural laxative). I also have a harder time digesting fats. However, I understand that over time the bile ducts enlarge slightly to try to store more bile, so this problem appears to be easing as time passes.
So, I would encourage people to at least try this therapy before submitting to surgery. If it works, great. If not, have the surgery.
Other Uses for the Flush
In addition to being used for a sluggish gallbladder or for gall stones, there are some other situations where this proceedure may be helpful. My friend Thomas Easley uses it for people who need to bring their cholesterol down before medical testing. As some of you know, the medical establishment has lowered the normal ranges for cholesterol in the mistaken belief that this will prevent heart disease. The normal range should actually be about 175-275 with 200-250 being optimal. People within this actual normal range are being encouraged to take drugs to lower their cholesterol.
The problem is, that you can lose your insurance for failing to comply with doctor’s orders, so if you can reduce your cholesterol naturally, you can avoid having the doctor prescribe the drugs. This can also help with medical testing for insurance purposes, as a lower cholesterol level may earn you a better insurance rate.
The reason this proceedure works for this purpose is that bile is mostly composed of cholesterol. In fact, 50-60% of the cholesterol manufactured by the liver is used to make bile. This is why low fat diets can actually increase cholesterol. Monounsatured fats, like those found in olive oil, appear to be very good at helping to lower cholesterol by encouraging bile production.
By increasing bile flow, this proceedure could aslo improve digestion and metabolism of fats. Theoretically, it could also be beneficial in fatty liver disease or in clearing fatty tumors and deposits (along with other remedies).
Here’s the standard way to do a gall bladder flush. Start by fasting for 24 to 48 hours on fresh, raw apple juice. Do not use bottled or frozen juice. Malic acid, an ingredient in the apple juice, is reported to soften the stones. Edward Shook claims this in his Advanced Treatise in Herbology. If you can’t fast, try eating very lightly and taking an herbal laxative (like LBS II or cascara sagrada) to clear the colon. You could also take Fibralgia, which contains malic acid and magnesium, for a similar effect.
Just before going to bed at the close of the fast, drink 1/2 cup of olive oil and 1/2 cup of lemon juice (you can also use grapefruit juice). Mix these together thoroughly like you would shake up a salad dressing. The lemon juice cuts the olive oil and makes it more palatable. It sounds and smells worse than it tastes. Next, lie on your right side for a half hour before going to sleep. In the morning, if you don’t have a bowel movement, take an enema. This procedure may need to be repeated 2 days in a row.
Generally, you will pass some dark black or green objects that look like shriveled peas the day after drinking the olive oil and lemon juice. This may not happen. Remember that these objects are not gallstones. Chemical analysis has shown they are little balls of saponified fatty acids (soap). Besides, objects that large could not get through the bile ducts. Only a stone that is 2 millimeters in diameter or smaller could be actually be passed.
Even if this proceedure does not pass any stones, it usually eases the pain and discomfort and allows the problem to become asymptomatic again. You see, most people with gallstones don’t know they have them, because they cause no symptoms unless the gallbladder becomes irritated or inflammed. So, this proceedure appears to eases gall bladder inflammation (and therefore the pain) and allows the person to resume a normal life without surgery.
Variations on the Proccedure
I had one practitioner report to me that it worked equally well to take three Tablespoons of lemon juice mixed with three tablespoons of olive oil every night for 30 days. A midwife friend of mine recommended taking a dose of Epsom salt about two or three hours prior to taking the olive oil and lemon juice. Follow the directions on the container of Epsom salt as per the dosage.
There are also herbs that can help, especially if you want to work with this problem more long term. For instance, NSP’s Gall Bladder Formula has been helpful for some. Hydrangea has been helpful for others. I’ll explain more about these remedies next.
Can You Dissolve Gallstones?
I have no documented evidence that herbs or nutrients can dissolve gallstones. However, there is some antecdotal evidence that they might. To understand what remedies one might use for long term care of the gallbladder and for dealing with stones, we need to know that gallstones come in two basic varieties.
The most common are gallstones made from cholesterol. About 80% of stones are this type. The other 20% are composed of pigments, bilirubin and calcium (usually calcium carbonate, the same kind of calcium found in urinary stones). In the picture on the left which I got from Wikipedia (Emmanuelm at en.wikipedia) you can see a gallbladder filled with stones. According the caption, the large yellowish colored ones are the cholesterol stones. The smaller greenish ones are calcium stones.
Hydrangea could help to dissolve the calcium based stones. It works well for kidney stones and some people have reported to me it worked for gallstones, too. Magnesium helps with urinary stones (including helping to prevent them from forming) so it may help with gallstones, too. This may also explain the benefit of Epsom salt in the proceedure.
According to Shook, the malic acid in apple juice helps with the cholesterol stones. It’s possible the olive oil does, too. At least some natural healers think this is the case. Fibralgia contains both malic acid and magnesium and might be helpful for gallstones when taken regularly.
Dehydration is part of what causes these stones. Water is needed to keep the components of bile in solution, so drinking plenty of water is important for keeping your gallbladder healthy.
Herbs called cholagogues increase the flow of bile. This can be helpful, along with water, to increase bile flow, which may help to dissolve stones slowly over a period of weeks and months. Herbs that have this property include Oregon grape, dandelion root, artichoke, barberry bark, yellow dock root, fringetree bark, turmeric and celandine. Any of these can be taken before attempting the gallbladder flush to increase its effectiveness, or afterwards to continue improving gallbladder function.
I do not know if CurcuminBP would work in place of turmeric for increasing bile flow. But, it can help with the inflammation (and pain) of the gallbladder attack. GallBladder Formula can be helpful, too. It’s not a very strong cholagogue, but it does have anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic properties. The wild yam in it is particularly good for relaxing the gallbladder and easing the inflammation.
Of course, if these procedures do not bring relief, medical help should be sought.