The liver and gallbladder flush had crossed my path several times in my healing journey but I had always dismissed the idea of doing it.
The idea behind the flush is to release any stones that may be stuck in the gallbladder, thereby improving digestion and detoxification and leading to greater well-being.
I usually try to look at both sides of the coin and if I’m honest, the critics had convinced me this time…
The concept that the green ‘stones’ coming out the next day after the flush were just the olive oil turned into a kind of soap somewhat made sense, especially after I read these studies (1, 2) confirming that the stones seemed to consist mainly of fatty acids and not bile solids.
While the ‘soap theory’ has been around for a while and seemed plausible, I find that critics (like Quackwatch) aren’t usually people who have actually tried what they’re criticizing (and possibly get payed by Big Pharma) . I also tend to side with the party that makes the least money and gives away information for free – or maybe sells the odd book.
However, I couldn’t actually find any scientific studies validating the procedure apart from this commentary in the Lancet. Andreas Moritz, the main guy behind the flush, has some convincing comebacks against the ‘soap myth’ in his book, though when answering skeptic questions he usually only points to his book and his own experience.
On the other side, there were all the reports of people who tried it and felt better, the fact that it works with just the oil, the stones that are brown or even white in color and people still passing stones even after throwing up the oil mixture… The soap theory just couldn’t really explain that. Anecdotal evidence, I know, I know!
And then there’s the powers of the placebo effect…
But at the end of the day, if it works for some people, it really doesn’t matter why!
Why would people do a liver and gallbladder flush?
Bile is produced in the liver and stored in the gallbladder where it is concentrated. We need bile to emulsify and digest dietary fats and also to remove excess cholesterol and fat-soluble toxins from the body.
An over-concentration of bile in the gallbladder can lead to the formation of stones, which can block the bile duct causing pain and health problems. The liver and gallbladder flush is supposed to remove these stones.
So after having tested positive for SIBO and realizing that I had to do much more to get my digestive juices flowing, I decided to finally give it a go.
An ultrasound I did had shown that there weren’t any big stones, so I wasn’t worried about anything getting stuck.
The procedure is easy but unpleasant:
For six days before the flush you’re supposed to drink up to two pints of (good quality, ideally freshly pressed) apple juice. Apple juice contains malic acid which apparently helps to soften the stones. Alternatively you could take pure malic acid each day. Because I was on a low carb and low FODMAP diet at the time, I drank honey kombucha, which also contains malic acid and is said to soften gallstones (see this experiment here).
Moreover, you’re supposed to limit fatty and high protein foods, at least on the day of the flush. This is supposed to help the gallbladder to be in ‘purging mode’ and release more stones.
I only limited these foods on the day as I’d have difficulties getting enough calories otherwise. Even that was hard enough and reminded me of my vegan days when I was just always hungry.
On the day of the flush you should finish your last meal by 2 pm and then have nothing but water.
- At 6 pm you have a first dose of 2 tbsp Epsom salt mixed into 3/4 cup of water. The Epsom salt helps to relax the bile ducts and also acts as a laxative.
- At 8 pm you repeat this.
- Just before 10 pm you mix half a cup of olive oil with half a cup of fresh citrus juice (I used lemon).
- Drink this at 10 pm and lie down in bed immediately on your right side in the fetal position.
- It is advised that you keep still for at least twenty minutes.
- Take another dose of Epsom salt at 6 am and then again at 8 am ( you can go back to sleep in between).
- At 10 am the next day you can start eating again but it’s best to take it slow.
- You should pass a few hundred stones throughout the day and the next.
It is also advised to do a colonic a day before and three days after the flush. Alternatively, you could do a water only enema on the day of the flush and a few days after.
My experience was not too pleasant.
On the day of the cleanse I just felt hungry and miserable. The Epsom salt tastes bitter rather than salty but wasn’t too hard to get down. The olive oil mixture actually tasted a lot better than expected as the citrus juice emulsifies the oil.
I managed to go to sleep fairly soon but woke up two hours later to use the bathroom and had trouble going back to sleep afterwards.
I started feeling more and more ill to the point where I threw up most of the oil mixture.
Still, I finished the procedure and in fact passed about 200 small green stones in the next two days. They could’ve well just been the oil from the way they looked but because I threw most of that up maybe it’s unlikely?! Who knows…
(I read later that people often throw up if they failed to cleanse beforehand as the oil mixture gets pushed back up. That’ll teach me for next time I guess…)
So did I feel better?
I don’t think I felt much different afterwards but it is believed that some people pass up to 2000 stones before they’re gone.
So I decided to give it two more tries prior to my FMT treatment in order to improve my SIBO and digestion.
I spaced the flushes about three weeks apart. The second and third time were a lot easier and I managed to keep the mixture down. Sleeping was always difficult and I felt pretty rough the next day. I passed plenty of the green stones after the second time and a few more the third time.
However, I have to say it didn’t make much of a change to my digestion and overall well-being. So I decided to not continue with it.
I remain unconvinced of both the supporters and the adversaries.
From the way the stones looked they could’ve well been just the oil – I squished some in toilet paper and they were not very solid at all! On the other side it did still work despite me throwing up and it did feel like something was moving in my gallbladder. Who knows…
However, I didn’t feel that it was dangerous or massively unpleasant (apart from the throwing up part and the fasting ) so I don’t think there’s any reason not to try it if you’ve been thinking about it, you have trouble with fat digestion or you’re facing gallbladder surgery. It would definitely be less dangerous than surgery! And if it doesn’t work then the other options are still there…
Have you tried the Amazing Liver and Gallbladder Flush? Or are you thinking of giving it a go? Share your experience with me in the comments…
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