How to Do a Gallbladder Flush: 12 Simple Hacks

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Written By

Lauryn

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Expert Reviewed By

Dr. Lauryn Lax, OTD, MS

Dr. Lauryn, OTD, MS is a doctor of occupational therapy, clinical nutritionists and functional medicine expert with 25 years of clinical and personal experience in healing from complex chronic health issues and helping others do the same.

Gallbladder Flush - Vegetables, Cauliflower, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Radish, Kale

Thinking about doing a gallbladder flush, but no idea where to start? Look no further than these 12 simple gallbladder flush hacks to feel amazing inside and out.

Gallbladder 101

Your gallbladder is a small (but mighty) pear shaped organ on the right side of the stomach—next to the liver—that plays a HUGE role in daily detoxification. 

Its purpose is to hold bile the liver makes. The bile gets released into the small intestines after we eat to digest fats and vitamins. 

Bile also helps your body excrete wastes and stimulates healthy bowel movements (poo).

Symptoms of a “Bad” Gallbladder

Gallbladder Flush - Woman Suffering From Itchy Face

When your gallbladder is not well cared for, the outcomes are not-so-hot: Your gallbladder ducts become obstructed and congested with thickened bile—called “bile sludge” and gallbladder stones may form. 

 As a result you end up with a variety of symptoms, including:

  • Skin conditions (itchy skin, dry flaky skin or even yellowed or reddened skin, eczema, psoriasis) 
  • Yellowed eyes
  • Dark circles under your eyes
  • PMS, PCOS & hormonal imbalances
  • Need coffee to poop
  • Bloating & constipation 
  • Light, grey, or clay-colored stools.
  • Dark-colored or tea-colored urine.
  • Sensitivity to fats
  • SIBO & IBS
  • Fatigue
  • Brain fog
  • Right sided pain (under the rib cage)
  • Gallbladder attacks 
  • Back pain between your shoulder blades.
  • Difficulty losing weight
  • Autoimmunity

Bile sludge and a congested gallbladder are also a big reason why food intolerances and gut problems—like bloating and constipation, IBS and SIBO—occur in the first place, and why many people can become dependent on digestive enzymes and other digestive aids if the gallbladder sludge is not addressed. 

A lack of bile entering the intestine provokes leaky gut and dysbiosis. Bile is needed to keep toxins and pathogens at bay.  Thick bile sludge also congests pancreatic ducts—the organ that releases enzymes. 

Due to BOTH congested bile ducts and pancreatic ducts, the small intestine does not receive the optimal amount of bile and enzymes it needs to break food down. The intestines also send another message to the gallbladder and pancreas to send more enzymes and bile—further congesting the ducts. The enzymes and bile can’t get out and get stuck in a digestive gridlock!

As a result, you turn to more digestive enzymes or stomach aids like Tums, Beano, or Pepto Bismal to deal with the side effects you later feel. Or, in some cases, if the gallbladder gets “really bad”, doctors may suggest surgery and complete gallbladder removal.

What you really need to do is flush your gallbladder to improve bile flow so that your gallbladder is better able to break down food and help you detox—hormones, foods, toxins, pathogens, bacteria—daily!

The Root Causes of Gallbladder Insufficiency 

Gallbladder Flush - Unhealthy Products

Before we jump into flushing the gallbladder and improving bile flow, it’s important to know the root causes of gallbladder insufficiency. 

That way we can also remove some of these triggers to flush even better. There are tons of stressors that promote bile sludge—including: 

  • Super high fat or long-term low fat diets 
  • Super low fiber diets (eating less than 3 veggies daily)
  • Long term medication use (ie. PPIs, SSRIs)
  • Hormone replacement therapy (especially birth control pills)
  • Mercury and heavy metals in foods and dental work
  • Drinking out of plastic water bottles and consuming tap water and bad filtered water
  • Conventional toxic cleaning and hygiene products
  • Chronic mold exposure
  • Seed oils, processed foods, sugar/sweeteners
  • Alcohol, smoking and substance use

How to Do a Gallbladder Flush: 12 Simple Hacks

To gallbladder flushing we go! Here are 12 simple gallbladder flush hacks to help that bile sludge flow!

#1. Add Lemon & Sea Salt to Water 

Lemon water helps to stimulate the production of bile, which is necessary for the digestion of fats. Additionally, the acidity in lemon juice can help to break down and dissolve gallstones, which can cause pain and discomfort in the gallbladder. Drinking lemon water with salt may also help to keep the gallbladder and liver healthy by encouraging regular bowel movements.

You may have also heard about a liver gallbladder flush using olive oil and lemon juice. Mix 1-2 tbsp of olive oil and 1-2 tsp lemon juice. Shake and drink every morning or night on an empty stomach for one month. This will exercise your liver and gallbladder while supporting healthy bile flow. 

#2. Eat Cholagogue Foods 

Cholagogue foods are foods that stimulate the production and flow of bile in the liver and gallbladder. Some examples of cholagogue foods include:

  • Leafy greens such as dandelion greens, collard greens, and kale
  • Artichokes
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Radishes
  • Cabbage
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Apples
  • Berries
  • Lemons and limes
  • Celery
  • Fennel
  • Herbs such as dandelion root, milk thistle, and turmeric

#3. Take Digestive Bitters with Meals 

Digestive bitters are an herbal supplement that stimulate the release of bile from the gallbladder. This can also help to promote regular bowel movements and prevent the accumulation of toxins in the body. 

In addition to their effects on the gallbladder, digestive bitters are also believed to help improve overall gut health, by helping to improve the balance of bacteria in the gut, which can help to reduce inflammation and improve the absorption of nutrients.

#4. Sweat in the Sauna, Heated Yoga or a Detox Bath

Sweat naturally promotes the detoxification of the body. As the body sweats in the sauna or a hot epsom salt bath, it can release toxins which can help to improve the overall health of the liver and gallbladder.

#5. Try Dry Brushing 

Dry brushing is a technique that involves using a special “dry brush” to gently massage the skin in a circular motion. It improves circulation, reduces the appearance of cellulite, and promotes overall skin health—all of which are impacted when the gallbladder is congested. 

Dry brushing also stimulates the lymphatic system, which is responsible for removing waste and toxins from the body. This could potentially help to improve the health of the liver and gallbladder by removing toxins from the body.

#6. Drink Celery Juice or Beet Juice

Gallbladder Flush - Celery Juice

Celery juice is helpful for the gallbladder in multiple ways. For one, celery juice helps to dissolve gallstones over time, making them small enough either not to cause harm or to be able to pass through the bile duct. Celery’s sodium also expands the bile duct so it’s not restricted, in case a large stone does get “stuck.”

Beets and beet juice also improve bile flow and naturally relieve constipation by stimulating peristalsis in the digestive system.  Your gallbladder benefits from beets thanks to betaine—a compound that stimulates bile flow to digest fat and reduce cholesterol.

#7. Eat Something Green + Something Colorful with Meals

Fiber promotes regular bowel movements and prevent constipation. When food moves more quickly through the digestive tract, it reduces the amount of time that bile and other toxins spend in the gallbladder, which can help to reduce the risk of gallstones.

Fiber can also help to reduce the absorption of cholesterol in the gut, which can help to lower the overall levels of cholesterol in the body. High levels of cholesterol are a risk factor for gallstones, so by reducing cholesterol levels, fiber may also help to reduce the risk of gallstones.

Fiber is also beneficial for the gut microbiome, which can affect the overall health of the body, including the health of the liver and gallbladder. A healthy gut microbiome can help to reduce inflammation and improve the absorption of nutrients, which can help to improve the health of the liver and gallbladder.

#8. Do a Coffee Enema 

Coffee stimulates the production of bile and can help flush out any blockages in the gallbladder or bile ducts. Additionally, the warm water used in the enema can help to relax the muscles in the intestinal wall and stimulate the release of toxins from the liver and gallbladder. 

#9. Drink Bile-Flushing Tea

Look for teas with dandelion, turmeric, Hawthorn flower, lemon balm, chamomile and peppermint tea all help decrease inflammation, secrete bile, and reduce cholesterol. 

#10. Castor Oil Packs 

A castor oil hot pack can help to relieve painful spasms of the gallbladder and bile ducts. Castor oil packs are an “age old” home remedy using castor oil—a vegetable oil that is derived from the seeds of the castor plant (Ricinus communis). It has been used for centuries for a variety of things—as a laxative, to treat skin conditions, to promote liver detox and to calm down gallbladder attacks.

The primary active component in castor oil is a type of fatty acid called ricinoleic acid—a strong anti-inflammatory agent, that also has antimicrobial and detox properties, which can help to protect against infections, act as a laxative, treat skin conditions and promote detox.

The purpose of applying a heated castor oil pack to your gallbladder is to expand the bile ducts and relieve pressure. This can be very effective for calming down painful spasms of the biliary ducts, and if a small stone is trapped in a bile duct, the application of heat may relieve the blockage.

#11. Healthy Fats (But Not Toooooo Many) 

Dietary fats are vital for healthy bile flow: lipids signal bile release. If one is not consistently eating fats, bile is not regularly being cycled out (ie. Low fat diets). When bile is not regularly being cycled out, one is more prone to conditions like gallstones. That said, not all fats are created equal and super high fat diets can backfire—“clogging” or overtaxing the gallbladder (especially if we lack fiber and veggies in the diet). Aim to eat 1 to 2 servings of fats with meals, and include 2 to 3 colors with meals:

  • avocados
  • olive oil/olives
  • coconut oil/butter
  • tallow, lard & duck fat
  • ghee & grass-fed butter
  • soaked and sprouted nuts
  • fatty pastured and wild caught meats & fish
  • 100% dark chocolate 

#12. Supplement Smart

There are a handful of supplements I recommend for gallbladder “support” including:

Ox Bile

Ox bile acts like a digestive enzyme and mimics natural bile salts that prevent and reduce the formation of gallstones. Ox bile can help bind to and remove toxins from our body. It is best taken with meals and some digestive enzyme formulas include it as an ‘enzyme.’
Top Pick: Beta Plus or Digestzymes (You can find it in the  Fullscript store).

Phosphatydlcholine 

Phosphatidylcholine (PC)—a purified extract from lecithin—is one of the components of bile that helps protect against gallstone formation and dissolves cholesterol. You can supplement with it (up to 2000 mg day) to promote gallbladder strength and function. Top Pick: Body Bio’s liquid PC is my absolute favorite (You can find it in the Fullscript store). 

Liposomal Vitamin C 

Vitamin C stimulates the metabolism of cholesterol into bile acids by influencing an enzyme known as 7-alpha-hydroxylase. Top Pick: Numedica (You can find it in the  Fullscript store).

Probiotics & Fiber

Probiotics and prebiotics (fiber) help change the gut microbiota composition and bile acid synthesis to elicit health benefits such as cholesterol-lowering, weight reduction, and improving insulin sensitivity. Top Pick: Probiomed & Fibromin (You can find it in the  Fullscript store).

Summary

Sense a theme? Get that bile flowing and detox! 

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