Welcome back to ‘Tried and Tested’, my series where I share my experience playing guinea pig with various ‘alternative’ health ‘treatments’.
This week I’m sharing my experience with the ‘Amazing Liver and Gallbladder Flush’. Sounds a bit whacky – well, in my experience it probably is!
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.
But my own experience had nothing to do with well-being…
Why I decided to do the Liver and Gallbladder Flush
I had read about the flush many times and some people claimed they had been able to expel loads of gallstones that had been clogging up their gallbladder, which then had helped them with all sorts of ailments and especially improved their digestion and detoxification.
But I wasn’t convinced that I should try it until a naturopath recommended it just before I had my FMT treatment.
At the time I had SIBO (or let’s say a breath test suggested that I may have had SIBO) and I had had recurring pain in the area of my liver. Suspecting gallstones, I had an ultrasound done but nothing showed up.
Now that probably should’ve put my mind at ease, but the proponents of this flush claim that only the big stones show up on an ultrasound. Hmmm…
Anyhow, after the naturopath recommended I do it before the FMT to help reduce SIBO in the small intestine, I thought I’d try it to see for myself. I really wanted FMT to work so I thought if I get the rest of the digestive system working properly, then the FMT should take care of the rest.
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 potentially causing pain and health problems. The liver and gallbladder flush is supposed to remove these stones.
For six days before the flush you’re supposed to drink up to two pints of apple juice. Apple juice contains malic acid which is supposed to help soften the stones. Alternatively one 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 some people claim also softens stones (again because of malic acid).
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 had 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’re supposed to 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 is supposed to relax the bile ducts and act 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).
- You drink this concoction at 10 pm and lie down in bed immediately on the right side in the fetal position.
- Then you take another dose of Epsom salt at 6 am and then again at 8 am.
- At 10 am the next day you can start eating again but it’s adviced to take it slow.
- One should then pass a few hundred stones throughout the day and the next.
- You’re also supposed to do a colonic a day before and three days after the flush or alternatively 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 passed about 200 small green stones in the next two days.
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 at all. So I decided to not continue with it.
If anything, I just felt rough and tired after the procedures.
What does the science say?
The ‘evidence’ for the flush is mainly anecdotal, but it’s believed that the procedure has been used traditionally in Mediterranean cultures.
The few studies that have actually looked at the procedure (1, 2) have come to the conclusion that the ‘stones’ are just a kind of soap from the olive oil reacting with the Epsom salt and lemon juice. The studies confirmed that the ‘stones’ seemed to consist mainly of fatty acids and not actual bile solids.
When I took one of my ‘stones’ in some toilet paper I was able to just squish it and it wasn’t solid at all, which for me confirmed the soap theory.
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.
I remain unconvinced.
If some people say it worked for them, fair enough!
From the way the stones looked they could’ve well been just the oil. 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…
I don’t think the procedure was dangerous or even that unpleasant but at the same time I felt it was quite harsh on my body and it certainly didn’t improve my health in any way.
So I personally cannot recommend it and I didn’t think the liver and gallbladder flush was ‘amazing’ at all 😉
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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