The gallbladder is our organ that stores and concentrates bile, releasing it as needed when we eat fat. Bile emulsifies fat for proper fat digestion and metabolism. A common health issue of the gallbladder is gallstones, which are stone-like, crystalline formations made of calcium and cholesterol that form in the gallbladder. They can vary in size from as small as a grain of sand to as large as a golf ball. According to the National Institute of Health, over 25 million Americans have gallstones.
Common causes of gallstones:
- Toxin, pesticide, and chemical accumulation in the body
- Blood sugar imbalances
- Birth control, Estrogen dominance, and Hormone Replacement Therapy
- Food allergies and sensitivities
- Chronic stress
- Low fiber diet/processed foods
- Low stomach acid production
- Rapid weight loss, low fat diets
- Poor quality fats and rancid oils (inflammatory seed/vegetable oils)
- Cholesterol lowering medications
- Leaky gut
- Both Hyper and Hypothyroid
- Parasites like liver flukes are often present with stones
If gallstones block the bile ducts in the biliary tract, inhibiting the release and flow of bile, they can cause a gallbladder attack. This is characterized by pain in the upper right abdomen, pain at the top right of shoulder blade or in between the shoulder blades, nausea, vomiting, and pain with a breath. Symptoms tend to be worse after meals or at night. While most gallstones don’t actually cause blockages and are painless, it’s important to note that most people do not have symptoms of gallstones until they have actual complications. Gallbladder removal surgery due to a gallbladder attack is extremely common, with over 600,000 being performed each year. But the good news is there is something proactive we can do at home to avoid this, which is doing a gallbladder flush, or a cleanse to remove gallstones from the gallbladder.
Now that you’ve learned about gallstones, you may be feeling curious or inclined to try a gallbladder flush. But it sounds a bit scary, doesn’t it? I completely understand if you’re wondering how involved it is, or if it hurts. These were questions that I was asking myself prior to doing my own gallbladder flush for the first time. So let me share my experience to empower you with the knowledge that not only is it relatively easy, it’s also painless. And it works!
The entire process takes seven days, but the actual flush happens the last day. The days prior to that are just preparation. The way I prepped for my flush was by drinking at least one cup of apple juice daily and eating two apples per day. The reason this is important is that the malic acid in apples and apple juice will help to soften the gallstones, making them easier to pass. I also added in a healthy green smoothie during this time (this isn’t mandatory, but I used apples and apple juice in the smoothie, which helped me meet my daily intake). In case you’d like to do the same, this is what went into my green smoothie:
- 1 zucchini
- 1 apple (I used Granny Smith which is higher in malic acid)
- 1 carrot
- ¼ inch ginger root
- ½ tsp turmeric powder
- 2 garlic cloves
- A handful of sprouts
- A handful of parsley
- A handful of basil
- 1 cup of apple juice
During this time I also started reducing my fat intake. Here it can be helpful to read labels if you’re not sure if something has fat in it. Normally I am a fan of healthy fats, but keep in mind that during the few days leading up to the flush you want to keep your fat intake low so bile is able to accumulate in the gallbladder, enough though it will release during the flush with a cleansing effect. So, I avoided things like cheese, nuts, nut butters, creamy sauces, avocados, butter, and oils. Instead, I opted for lean protein, fruit, veggies, and carbs. I also took the supplement Super Phosphozyme Plus by Biotics Research (25 drops, twice daily in water). This helps dissolve gallstones, making them smaller and easier to pass. It tastes like concentrated lemon juice.
On the sixth day, I didn’t take any supplements except the Super Phosphozyme, and I stopped eating at 2:00 p.m. It’s important to not eat or drink anything (except water) after this time. At 6:00 p.m., I mixed 1 tbsp of plain epsom salts into ¾ cup of water and drank it. I won’t lie, it tastes pretty awful. It reminded me of when I was sick as a kid and my mom would give me the Alka Seltzer Plus drink. I added some lemon juice to make it more palatable but my best advice is to just chug it, and then rinse your mouth out with water. Thankfully the taste doesn’t linger long. You’ll drink the same amount again at 8:00 p.m. Don’t skip it, as this is what helps flush out the gallstones easily!
At 9:45 p.m., after I had gotten all ready for bed, I went to the kitchen and juiced two pink grapefruits (you want at least ½ cup of fresh squeezed grapefruit juice, ideally ¾ cup), and you mix this with ½ cup of olive oil. I used a mason jar, sealed the lid, and shook well until they completely mixed (only fresh grapefruit juice will do this). Then I went to my room, drank my potion (which honestly was quite refreshing after the epsom salts), and immediately laid down in bed. This is key! You want to lay down on your back immediately after drinking, otherwise you might not get the stones out. Lay on your back and try to keep still for at least 20 minutes and go to sleep. I could tell my gallbladder was very active. The concoction of grapefruit juice and olive oil is what causes it to release a lot of bile at once, causing the flush. There was no pain and no cramping, but you can feel an awareness of something happening.
The following morning I woke up and drank the epsom salts again. I went to the bathroom and had my first bowel movement – nothing yet! I felt totally fine, but a little tired so I went back to bed. Two hours later, I drank the last dose of the epsom salt. Shortly after, I had another bowel movement and this time – stones!! They’re easy to spot as they’re round and they float. They’re either a pea green color or yellow. Mine ranged from the size of a grain of rice, to the size of a chickpea (this was a bit shocking to see, but as I mentioned, completely painless). Throughout the day, I went to the bathroom about hourly, passing stones about four to five more times. I actually wasn’t very hungry the whole time. I began rehydrating with water and coconut water. Then I had a glass of apple juice, followed by some berries. Then I made another green smoothie and ate a little popcorn in the afternoon. For dinner I had turkey wings with potatoes, carrots, and broccoli, and I felt like my digestion was back to normal. Overall I’d say it was totally worth it!
Gallbladder flush instructions:
Drink 1-3 cups of apple juice per day
Eat 1-2 apples per day (or take a malic acid supplement)
Take 25 drops of Super Phosphozyme Plus, twice daily
Optional – make a green smoothie with apples and apple juice
Start reducing fat intake, eat no fat on days 5 and 6
2:00 p.m. – stop eating and drinking! (just water is ok)
6:00 p.m. – mix 1 tbsp of epsom salts with ¾ cup of water and drink (may add lemon juice for taste and to prevent nausea)
8:00 p.m. – mix 1 tbsp of epsom salts with ¾ cup of water and drink (may add lemon juice for taste)
9:45 p.m. – make sure you’re all ready for bed. Then prepare your concoction of ½ cup of olive oil and ¾ cup of fresh squeezed grapefruit juice. Put in a mason jar and shake well until completely mixed.
10:00 p.m. – drink your concoction and then immediately lie down on your back and go to sleep
Day 7 – the flush (ideally on a day when you can stay home and rest)
Upon awakening the next morning, mix 1 tbsp of epsom salts with ¾ cup of water and drink. Don’t do this before 6:00 a.m.
Two hours later, mix 1 tbsp of epsom salts with ¾ cup of water and drink for the final time
Two hours later, you may start eating and drinking again, but start slow. Start with fruit juice, then a little fruit. An hour later, you may eat food, but keep it light. By dinner you should be recovered.
If you pass stones, it is recommended to repeat the gallbladder flush once a month until no more stones come out. This will help you achieve optimal health and protect your gallbladder.
David Jockers, DC. Beat Gallstones Naturally. https://drjockers.com/beat-gallstones-naturally/
National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Health Information: Gallstones. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/gallstones/definition-facts#:~:text=by%20releasing%20bile.-,How%20common%20are%20gallstones%3F,be%20treated%2C%20usually%20with%20surgery.
Abby Vallejo, RDN, CPT, CHC, graduated from the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay with a degree in Human Biology & Dietetics and went on to do her Dietetic Internship with Wellness Workdays, based in Hingham, Massachusetts. Abby is also a Certified Personal Trainer and Health Coach and enjoys training and counseling clients one-on-one to help them achieve their wellness and fitness goals. She is passionate about balance, wellness, and all things holistic. In her free time she enjoys going to the gym, traveling, eating, and spending time outside in nature.