A gallbladder flush is often cited as a strategy to cleanse your gallbladder (or perhaps even “save” a “bad gallbladder), especially by folks in the natural health and functional medicine world. However, what exactly is a gallbladder flush and how the heck do you do a gallbladder flush at home in the first place?
Read on for all the deets (plus my 6 simple gallbladder flush strategies).
GALLBLADDER 101: WHAT IT DOES
The gallbladder is a mighty, yet highly underrated organ in your body that is responsible for several important roles in your digestive and detox systems.
Some of the jobs of the gallbladder include:
- Signal the production of digestive enzymes in the pancreas
- Store waste products and toxins in bile from the liver to eventually excrete in your poo
- Breakdown fatty acids (like butter, bacon, avocado, etc.)
- Stimulate bowel movements and preventing constipation
- Helps balance hormones (like cortisol and estrogens) by excreting extra
- Gobbles up impurities and toxins from the liver
- Clears out excess cholesterol (prevents excess inflammation)
In short: your gallbladder is kinda a big deal.
Its primary roles are to help you poop, break down fat and clear out excess toxins, hormones and wastes. If your liver was “Batman”, your gallbladder would be “Robin”—the liver’s right hand man.
SIGNS OF GALLBLADDER PROBLEMS
Gallbladder problems are epidemic in modern day. In fact, approximately 1 million gallbladder removal surgeries happen every year.
And, while about 1 in 4 women and 1 in 8 men have overt gallstone disease (stones that block and congest their bile ducts and lead to painful gallbladder attacks and gallbladder removal surgery); a vast majority of folks in the Western world have some degree of “gallbladder congestion”…and they have no idea!
Common signs ad symptoms that indicate “gallbladder problems” include:
- Yellowing skin
- Bloating, IBS or constipation (frequent)
- You need coffee to poop
- SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), candida and recurring SIBO/candida after treatment
- Sensitivity to fats (even healthy fats)
- Feel worse on keto
- Pain on your right side (under your rib cage)
- Tend towards a low fat diet
- Tummy tenderness
- Skin breakouts and acne
- Histamine “issues” (to environmental exposures like allergens, molds and foods)
- Sinus congestion and poor drainage
- Stagnant lymph (feel puffy, inflamed, congested)
- Hormone imbalances (thyroid issues, estrogen dominance, missing period)
- Clay color, pale or green poo
- Floating stools
- Frequent belching after meals
- High cholesterol
- Difficulty breathing
- Dark circles under your eyes
- Cold hands and feet
- Multiple chemical sensitivities
- Excessive weight or wasting
Unfortunately, most people have NO IDEA that their digestive problems, hormone imbalances, skin breakouts, fatigue or food intolerances stem from a sluggish or congested gallbladder.
HOW THE GALLBLADDER GOES “BAD”?
So how do you end up with a “bad gallbladder” in the first place? It’s kind of a long story…
Some of the most common triggers for gallbladder congestion include:
- History of a low fat diet (fat stimulates the gallbladder to work)
- History of an eating disorder and/or chronic dieting (the gallbladder didn’t work that hard)
- Excess industrial seed oils, fast foods, packaged foods and processed foods
- Poor hydration
- Poor chewing and food break down (eating fast and on the go)
- Long-term plant-based diets (no complete amino acids to stimulate toxin breakdown)
- Long-term carb-free (veggies and prebiotics) diets (no fiber to stimulate good gut health)
- High intake of gluten, dairy, soy, grains, beans, corn, nuts, or seeds
- Birth control pills and long term medications
- BPAs in plastics (especially plastic water bottles)
- Mycotoxin/mold exposure
- Pesticides in food (non-organic produce and meats)
- Alcohol and smoking (frequent)
WHY DO A GALLBLADDER FLUSH?
A gallbladder “flush” is a term for cleansing and strengthening natural gallbladder function, mobilizing bile and gallstones to open bile ducts and clearing out any excess bile sludge so your digestive system can work better over all.
Contrary to popular belief, a gallbladder flush does not have to be a long drawn-out process where you guzzle a bottle of olive oil or take a ton of supplements. There are several simple, safe and effective gallbladder flush strategies you can do at home—like these 6 simple and safe gallbladder flush strategies to do at home.
6 SIMPLE & SAFE GALLBLADDER FLUSH STRATEGIES
#1. Apple Cider Vinegar + Warm Water
Raw apple cider vinegar contains malic acid that is therapeutic for gallbladder health—it helps to soften liver and gallbladder stones, open up the bile and liver ducts and promotes the painless release of gallbladder stones. To flush the gallbladder, stir 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar into 8 to 12 ounces of warm water. Sip daily, or up to 3 times daily if you’re experiencing gallbladder pain.
#2. Gallbladder Supportive Supplements
I am all about using supplements strategically, and to flush the gallbladder, there are some leaders in the pack including:
Extra Gallbladder Support
|Ox bile acids||Thins bile, breaks down cholesterol|
|Phosphatydlcholine||Boosts stomach acid|
|TUDCA||Reduces the congestion of gallbladder and increases bile acids|
|Beet||Dissolves pigment stones, reduces cholesterol|
|Digestive bitters (dandelion, ginger, milk thistle)||Aid in the elimination of toxins and detox and help release gallbladder-supporting hormones like cholecystokinin (CCK)|
In addition to the supports, you can add compounds like the following:
|Taurine||Thins bile, breaks down cholesterol|
|HCL||Boosts stomach acid|
|NAC||Breaks up stones|
|Inositol||Dissolves pigment stones, reduces cholesterol|
|Buffered vitamin C||Helps breakdown cholesterol bile, thins blood|
A few of my favorite formulas to check out include:
You can find these practitioner grade supplements HERE on my Fullscript store (simply create an email login and order any practitioner-grade supplements with Amazon-shipping speed!).
#3. Drop Keto Like It’s Hot …and Get Your Cholagogue-Rich Foods On
Super high fat diets and gallbladder congestion don’t mix. The gallbladder is the #1 organ responsible for breaking down fatty acids. Greasy stools, constipation, IBS, nausea or low energy got ya down on a keto diet? Your gallbladder needs some fiber and flushing love. No, you don’t have to cut out fat entirely, however, balance is king (think proteins, fats, fibers—especially cholagogues!).
Cholagogues are compounds in certain plant-based foods that support healthy bile flow, including:
- Bitter Greens
Some simple ways to consume these foods include:
- juiced cabbage + beet + celery
- beet or green smoothies
- ginger and dandelion tea
- sautéed dandelion greens, collard greens or rainbow chard
- cinnamon and turmeric spiced dishes (like cinnamon-spiced sweet potato fries, turmeric chicken curry or Moroccan chicken stew).
Acupuncture takes gallbladder health to a whole ‘nutha level. In one study, researchers combined acupuncture with standard drug therapy for gallbladder attacks. The patients who received both drug therapy and acupuncture in a combined treatment protocol had accelerated patient outcomes compared with patients using only drug therapy. The drug control group achieved a total effective rate of 50%. The acupuncture plus drug treatment group achieved a total effective rate of 98%.
#5. Coffee Enema
Coffee is a natural bitter—meaning it stimulates the gallbladder. An occasional coffee enema is a direct approach to flushing your gallbladder and supporting elimination.
#6. 2-Day Liver Flush
You can actually flush your liver to flush your gallbladder (remember: the liver is “Batman” and the gallbladder is “Robin”). Do not perform this flush if you are currently experiencing acute gallbladder attacks.
Here’s how to do it:
- Epsom salts, food grade
- Apple juice (pure, no added sugar)
- Red grapefruit juice (pure, no added sugar) or lemon juice, 4 oz.
- Extra virgin olive oil, 4 oz.
- Classic coke (optional; You can use caffeine-free coke or Zevia if desired).
Try to eat low-fat on the day of the liver flush. Starting at 6:00pm, follow the steps below.
6:00pm – stop eating or drinking.
8:00pm – mix and drink the following:
- 8oz – pure apple juice (no extra sugar added)
- 1 tablespoon Epsom Salt
Mix Epsom Salt in apple juice until fully dissolved. Any kind of apple juice is acceptable. Within 1-2 hrs you should have a good bowel movement.*
10:00pm – mix and drink the following:
- 4 oz – red grapefruit juice or lemon juice
- 4 oz – olive oil
- 4 oz – classic coke*
Drink the 12 oz drink. If you choose to use grapefruit juice, the juice from one Ruby Red grapefruit will provide just enough juice. It will take multiple lemons to get enough lemon juice.
After drinking the juice, coke, and olive oil mixture, immediately lay down on your right side and bring right leg up near your chest for about 45 minutes. Try to sleep on right side close to fetal position the rest of the night. This allows any gall sludge to move around and (hopefully) be excreted via your next bowel movement.
OPTIONAL: DAY 2
Upon waking – repeat the apple juice and Epsom Salt drink to encourage another bowel movement. Optional: Do 1 coffee enema during the day.