Have you ever heard of a “liver flush” or “gallstone cleanse”? Considering doing it? This article found you at the right time!
Today, we will look into what actually causes gallstones and why cleanses or flushes ultimately fail to deliver on what is promised.
Some interesting facts:
- An estimated 20 million people in the United States have gallstones or a history of surgery to remove them. (1)
- There are annually ½ a million gallbladder removals (2)
- Annually only around 1 to 2% suffer from any serious symptoms and complications, which includes pancreatitis and obstruction of the bile duct (3)
- The ‘gallbladder business’ is worth billions of dollars a year in the US alone (4)
- Annually around 800,000 people are hospitalised for gallbladder disease (2)
What actually are gallstones?
The gallbladder is a small organ involved in the secretion of bile so as to aid the digestion of fats.
When you eat any fat in your meal, it is the job of the gallbladder to release the bile, which will then not only break down fat with the bile salts, but also dissolve any excess cholesterol.
It is believed that what are actually termed ‘cholesterol gallstones’ can be formed in several different ways:
- When the gallbladder fails to empty its store of bile regularly.
- There is more cholesterol in the bile than it can dissolve.
- Too much bilirubin is present in the bile which causes crystals of cholesterol to form.
- When there are too few bile salts to break down all the fat.
Who is at risk of getting gallstones?
There are several factors that can predict the risk of having gallstones, including:
- People who are obese and as such have greater amounts of cholesterol secreted in their bile.
- A high fat/high cholesterol diet such as the typical western diet which typically causes more cholesterol to be secreted into the bile.
How do you know if you have gallstones?
Even if you have stones in your gallbladder, most often they will not cause you any problems, it is only when they pass into what is called the common bile duct or ducts to the pancreas and block the flow of bile into the intestine that the symptoms most often associated with gallstones can occur, which can include:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Jaundice (yellow eyes and skin)
- Indigestion after consuming a meal high in fat
- Pain under the right shoulder or the right shoulder blade
- Severe pain occurring in the upper abdomen that comes on suddenly and can be anything from half an hour to many hours in duration.
Confirmation of gallstones being the cause of the problem is normally done with the use of an abdominal ultrasound test.
Liver Flush/Gallbladder Cleanse
Many alternative health practitioners will tell those looking to rid themselves of gallstones that they will need certain ingredients to facilitate a cleanse, and typically include the following items:
- Half a cup of olive oil
- Some lemon juice
- Epsom salts
The lemon juice is supposed to aid the release of the stones (and no doubt make it all taste somewhere near drinkable), while the Epsom salts are supposed to allow the opening up of the bile ducts.
Finally, the olive oil is meant to stimulate the gallbladder and bile ducts to contract and expel any stored gallstones.
The fact that this procedure is very unpleasant for your body and can easily make you want to vomit should be warning enough.
Your body is simply trying to defend itself from what it senses as something abhorrent and so anti-health. The addition of the lemon juice is just a way to try and trick the body into thinking that whatever it is drinking is in no way harmful, which of course is exactly what it is.
There is no scientific evidence at all that backs up any of the supposed effects that these ingredients are claimed to have of ridding a person of their gallstones.
Many people claim that doing a ‘flush’ or ‘cleanse’ definitely helps them and there can be many factors involved with regards to why the person feels a benefit from having done one.
- They are benefiting from the placebo effect. As the saying goes ‘seeing is believing’. So, if the person sees what they believe to be gallstones eliminated from their body, then this alone can bring about a sense of achievement and feel good factor. Even more so if they have paid good money for it at a clinic.
- The inevitable stimulating effect that the procedure will have on the persons body will in effect give them an ‘energy kick’ or ‘high’ in the short term as the body goes into overdrive as it tries to deal with the toxic load of the oil and epsom salts. This ‘energy kick’ or ‘high’ will have to be paid for later on as the persons body recoups the energy it used dealing with these toxins. It is well known that people can become addicted to these unhealthy practices due to this stimulating effect alone and the ‘high’ they experience from it.
- The laxative effect of the oil can convince many people who suffer from elimination/digestion issues that it is beneficial for their bodies,but unfortunately they do not understand that it is the body’s way of dealing with an emergency (dealing with the toxic load of the ingredients of the flush or cleanse) that this very situation arises, so it can never be called healthy or health promoting in any sense.
The Evidence Against Liver Flush Or Gallstone Cleanse
A 40 year old woman was suffering from recurrent severe right hypochondrial pain after consuming fatty foods and after investigation by an outpatient clinic was found to have multiple gallstones in her bladder.
On the advice of her herbalist she implemented a ‘liver cleanse’ regime consisting of apple and vegetable juice until 6pm but no food, followed by the consumption of 600ml of olive oil and 300 ml of lemon juice over several hours.
The end result was the elimination of multiple semisolid green ‘stones’. These ‘stones’ were then sent to a clinic for examination.
Analysis of the woman’s green ‘stones’ showed that they contained no calcium, bilirubin or indeed cholesterol , which is what real gallstones would have been expected to contain (5).
The green ‘stones’ were simply the result of the action of gastric lipases on the olive oil (drunk during the ‘liver flush’), with eventual saponification into what essentially are called ‘soap stones’.
The liver flush had failed to remove any of the gallstones the woman was suffering from.
Personal experience with the liver flush
I did my liver flush many years ago before I discovered the raw food diet. It is a horrid experience and just thinking about it makes me want to vomit.
Drinking ½ cup of olive oil just before going to bed, feeling nauseous all night long, having a restless sleep with nightmares, waking up from feeling totally sick, feeling as if my liver was under a hammer all night long – was it worth it?
No! Furthermore, what I thought were gallstones were nothing more than the oil that I had drunk.
Compare this experience to being on the most detoxifying vegan diet of raw fruits and veggies, the function of my liver and my digestive system has now been restored and all I had to do was to bring the right food into my body and give it my best care.
Harming the body by consuming non-foods, such as epsom salts and oils (as is the case in gallbladder cleanses and liver flushes) can never be a way to create true health. We wrote an article about the negative effects of oils here.
The fact, that there is no evidence to back up claims of gallstone elimination, along with the procedure being of an abhorrent and unnatural nature should be all the reasons anyone needs to avoid these kinds of so called “health” practices.
Eating a low fat, raw vegan diet is the most natural and best way to detox and allows your own body to heal itself naturally.
What are your personal thoughts and experiences with liver flushes? Please post your comments below!
2) Tseng M. Dietary intake and gallbladder disease: a review. Public Health Nutr. 1999 Jun;2(2): 161-72.
3) Friedman GD. Natural history of asymptomatic and symptomatic gallstones.
Am J Surg. 1993 Apr;165(4):399-404.
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23 thoughts on “Why You Should Avoid Liver Flush Or Gallstone Cleanse”
I was so pleased to read this! I've never been drawn to this kind of flush, despite the enthusiasm of my friends. I prefer the gentler cleansing produced by raw veggie juices and smoothies.
This is extremely gentle
Great post. I had gallstones before i went raw and I used herbal teas and tablets called Pedra Quebra to dissolve the stones naturally.
If anyone is interested they should be able to get them on Amazon – and then go raw of course!
Hello from the Philippines.
Hi Yulia! I did 8 liver cleansing but the last three I did it without epsom salt and olive oil. I just used the 6 big daily apples for 6 das and 3 avocados for the cleanse. The results are not the same but it is not as traumatic as before. I continue the clense because even I am in 811rv I still have my tongue with a white/yellow coated (many months already), probably due to candida. Do you think I should continue or stop even this more natural variant? Thanks!!
The liver cleanse is not to remove any gale bladder stones. The liver is a blood filter, similar to a multilayer oil filter in a diesel engine fueling system. When this filter is stuck with dirt, the pump needs to press harder and thus it will fail or the filter will be clogged sooner or later.
The liver is almost the same system. The inner vessels and lobe layers will get stuck and clogged by time and the heart will have harder time to pump the blood, most often high blood pressure is the result. Liver cleansing is an important factor. You say that vomiting is something that comes from the body’s repulsive action, which in this case is dump way of thinking.
Our body reacts to incompatible things by the sensation of vomiting, but also by things we do not appreciate by taste and feeling. Drinking the emulsion of grapefruit and olive oil never made any special sensation to me, the bitter salt is awful and many people vomit when they taste it. That does not means that it harms the body. I do not drink it with pleasure, for sure, but I do not vomit from it.
You get similar effects when you drink Borax, the salt of boric acid, it cleans your body and turns it from acid to neutral or basic in just 1 or 2 days with one half teaspoon a day in a liter of water. It destroys kriters that affect blood and cause cancer and all Candida hypes. It kills worms, can be used to kill ants and roaches, can be used as a baking agent similar to backing powder and can clean your tiles and WC bowl. You can also use it as a natural insect spray for plants.
Now, liver cleansing can be done with red rice, it can also be done with a combination of King of Bitters (andrographis paniculata) and Stone Breaker (Chanca Piedra or Phyllanthus Niruri). If ever you taste king of Bitters, I can tell you that more than 80% of all people vomit, it is nothing more bitter on the Planet, in Europe Centaurium can compete with it and that plant does the same effect anyway.
The King of Bitters is the workhorse for everything, it’s ability to dissolve blood cloth and thus destroy thrombosis and varicose, flush water from tired legs, it is one of those remedies that makes the top of the list in Ayurveda. Beside that it destroys all kind of kriters that can affect blood and cause a high risk for cancer. Note that it does not removes cancer, it can help to reduce the size of tumors. It is good for many other problems like flu, cold, asthma, for example.
This said, do not avoid liver flush, do it with conscious presence and be aware that it helps to clean the liver and free the flow in it. But, prior to do it, diet for 2 weeks without albumin or fat, just eat veggies, and drink every day 1 litter of apple juice, natural one and not cold. A mix of apple vinegar and honey in water to make a sour sweet drink does the same effect, it dilutes the mud in the liver.
And remind this, not all what you do not like or what makes you vomit is things one should avoid. Curing the body is often a bitter experience.
I did 9 liver cleanses following the book by Andreas Moritz. Only 2 of them I felt nauseous but I had eaten too many plant fats (I am vegan) and oil during those two. The stones that came out were all different colors and sizes and when you cut one of the stones in half it is bright green and hard. I dont see how olive oil can get hard in our body over an 8 hr period of time. Reading his book before doing this was helpful to understand the process. I agree that taking in so much olive oil and the cleanse, how necessary is it? Of course health can come from raw fruits and veggies. Both take different kind of mind set and commitment. I personally love raw foods but with a child and to interact with society, there are no vegans even near where I live, so for now vegan cooked with lots of fruits and raw.. is life.
My wife did a gal bladder flush but it was more involved than the ones described. It took two weeks of a raw food diet before the oil was attempted. The stones in the toilet were red. It eliminated the pain she was having and the need for gall bladder surgery.
I came here because I have become convinced that doing gall bladder/liver flushes are not going to really help in the long run.
Your article impressed upon me that I have been right all along. I even had a well known Dr. send me an email telling me to drink a tsp. of Apple Cider Vinegar before eating meals. I tried that only to end up with heartburn, which I do not, normally, suffer from. I also have felt like a stone is stuck in my bile duct.
I have started taking Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth again, and the results, bowel wise, were phenominal. I have also taken Chanca Piedre. I feel like it was doing a better job until I started drinking the vinegar. So, I think I’ll just stick to the CP and keep on using my Ginger & Turmeric supplement. It helps me digest my food 50% faster, which keeps me from gaining extra weight and helps my Thyroid.
As far as my gall bladder is concerned, I am talking to my Dr. on Friday to set up to have surgery to remove it. I know 3 women, my youngest daughter included, who have had theirs removed and are having very little ill effects from it. My daughter’s had hers out due to it only working at 20%. The main problem, she has had is, she gets heartburn. The other is what happens when eating something she shouldn’t. Then she has a “dump.” But since she has had constipation problems, she considers this a blessing. I told her about the vinegar remedy so she decided to try drinking pickle juice. She said, within 15 minutes, her heartburn was gone. I met three other ladies, who also said they are glad they had theirs removed and that they can eat anything they want. One gal said she was coiled up in her closet with the pain. She is very happy with having her’s removed.
I don’t know if this is well known or not, but once the gall bladder is removed, and psuedo one grows in it’s place. While it does not do the job of the gall bladder itself, it does help with directing the bile where it needs to go for better digestion. (I may need to do more research about this, though.)
I read a study where it has been shown that night gall bladder removal is always the open surgery, wherein, the day surgery has been Laparoscopic.
If you decide to get your gall bladder removed, two questions you need to ask are, do they use the CholeVision method and do they remove the Dioxide Gas before using dissolvable stitches. I found out, leaving the Dioxide Gas inside the patient is what has caused the serious discomfort after surgery. Using CholeVision gives the surgeon the ability to see exactly where the organs are for more precise cutting.
I also have a Mesenteric Hernia, which is genetic. I was told I was, probably, born with it. This sure explains all the years I’ve had problems with constipation and pain in my abdomen that traveled clear up and over into my upper back. It also could have been the gall stones. All I know is, I am not going to live with this discomfort for the rest of my life. I am having
I have changed most of my diet to vegetables, but I also implement low fat turkey and chicken with my salads. As I’ve learned, by trial and error, that, with my gall bladder having stones and not working properly, it is best to keep a low fat diet. I feel so much better when I do. One of my mainstays was peanut butter. After suffering with a five hour attack, I realized I cannot eat it any more. I also found out, and this is in my experience, I cannot ingest Coconut Oil yet I have read where some, so-called, experts claim gall bladder sufferers should use it.
Something I read, and I think it should be shared, is that one main reason people have gained so much weight is because they are eating low fat foods that doesn’t give the liver the opportunity to do it’s job. You can Google for this information.
One more thing, I also have been diagnosed with Hypothyroid. My gall bladder not doing it’s job is blocking my Thyroid from doing it’s job. Getting it out is my best option. I think all the many diseases and illnesses I have now are because my gall bladder has not been functioning correctly for some time. Due to it not doing it’s job, my body has suffered a major breakdown, and, mainly, all in a two year period. Thank God I have a Dr. who believes in testing, testing and more testing. If it wasn’t for her, I would not have ever found out why I had become so depressed, listless and feeling so crappy all the time.
I wanted to keep my gall bladder, but recent experience tells me that it is not in my best interest to do so. I also am well aware of horror stories of people ending up in the ER because they have gall bladder attacks that go on for days, have ended up with Pancreatic disease and have had the liver become fatty and not able to do it’s function properly or at all. I don’t know about you, but I would rather not have to look at, down the line, possibly, losing my liver and professionals trying to find a liver donor match for me. I have a very rare blood type so finding a donor would be, exponentially, difficult.
I hope I have, in some way, helped you to make the right decision for you. Mainly, though, I do not agree with the gall bladder/liver flushes that are permeating the internet on web sites as well as youtube videos. But you have to make your own choice. One more thing, I saw where someone is suggesting it is a good idea to use soap flakes to do cleanses. I will tell you, right now, if something isn’t meant for the body, do not consume it. In the long run, something will go wrong. Maybe not in the short term, but, definitely, in the long term, consequences will be paid.
Your the first one I have found that mentions diatomaceous earth and gallstones. Does it help you or make it worse? R
Every time I take it I have an attack. I’m trying to use it to flush the stones out but it would seem my stones are made of calcium which is rare. I wondering if it’s making the attacks worse? What has been your experience with dt and stones?
When you have your gallbladder removed the bile continually drips, you don’t grow a new one. The bile drips into your intestines and can cause them to be damaged. A lot of people develop pancreatitis after gallbladder surgery and if you I your pancreas removed you will then be insulin dependent diabetic. Instantly. Seems to me that most of the nay sayers are Drs that of course benefit from cutting on you and those that listen to them. A million gallbladder surgeries are done every year at around 20,000 a pop. Only several thousand are actually necessary. That’s a fair chunk of change. Do you think that they want anyone to find a way to get rid of gallstones? They will do all they can to vilify anything that might make them obsolete! You need your gallbladder and I will try anything I can to be able to keep it.
Patricia, thank you for the most insightful and truthful comment in this stream!
The Gallbladder is an organ that serves a purpose. It helps you digest your food. Without it, you will not function as well. There is no way around this. I hear a lot of rationalizing to justify how you will be ‘okay’ without it. You will be better with it. It’s there for a reason.
Certainly if it is clogged, it won’t be working properly. Getting it unclogged leaves you with a working organ. Cutting it out leaves you missing an organ. You are better off with a working organ.
It’s incredible that you would say that you are convinced that doing a liver flush isn’t going to help when you appear to have never tried one before. Many others have given testimonials that it worked for them. But it takes work. Jumping to surgery looks to me like the “easy way out” but it can never be reversed, and leaves you with less.
I have done 7 Liver Flushes this year based upon Andreas Moritz book with a few upgrades. Every time there are different types of stones. There is no way they were made from the olive oil. They are not all green, some are brown or tan and sometimes there is very fine chaf, again not green. I have never thrown up and only been nauseated on one of the flushes. Olive oil and lemons are not toxic if you buy good quality.
I am a nurse and I can tell you that doing a liver flush monthly until there are no stones excreted is much easier than putting your body through the TOXIC medications they give you to put you for surgery and the 6 weeks you have to take off work to recover. Also then you don’t have the function of the gallbladder, which is actually important to digestion. God did not put extra parts in our bodies, they all have a function to help our bodies perform as they should. I have had many people wish they had done liver flushes instead of getting their gallbladder removed.
If you do the Liver Flush with proper prep and quality ingredients you will enjoy the benefits of it.
I did the gall cleanse. After my doc told me I had to have my gall bladder taken out, I was determined to not go under the knife, no matter how small the procedure. Does it taste awful, it sure does. But if you are determined to get rid of the pain associated with gallstones, you would try anything. I would have 10 babies without medication before I agree to the pain gallstones cause…and I have a pretty high threshold for pain. According to my scan, I had 2, one measuring 5cm and another measuring 2 or 3 cm. Once I flushed, yes there were alot of green pebbles and also, I felt soooo much better, no pain! I actually did not pass my stones until I did a pass the next day. I can assure you, they were my stones. I measured them. Plus they were way more shinier than the ones I passed initially, like actual stones persons use for jewelry making. I have not had one pain since and that was 8 years ago.
Did it hurt doing the flush? Did you experience any side effects? And did you get a test from your doctor to see if the gallstones were really gone?
Andreas Moritz has replied in his book to the accusations that the stones that result from the flush are only soap stones made of olive oil. Here is his reply. It would be useful if you could discuss every one of his points:
There is an effort on behalf of certain well-known herbalists, doctors, and establishments to discredit the beneficial effects of the liver flush by stating that these gallstones are actually “soap stones” made of olive oil or are produced by the liver in response to the sudden ingestion of large quantities of olive oil. These individuals have their own reasons for making such statements, which is not for me to comment on. They have obviously never done a liver flush themselves. Otherwise they would realize what these stones are made of and what happens to their body when they release them. Below are a number of responses to such a claim:
1. Olive oil does not assume the putrid smell that emanates from most released gallstones. The smell is unlike that produced by fecal matter.
2. Olive oil cannot congeal into such relatively hard or dense structures, even if it were chemically altered and manipulated in a laboratory. This is even more impossible, given the short time frame the olive oil has to travel through the GI tract and the total unavailability of any thickening agents.
3. Analysis of released gallstones reveals that the majority contain all the basic ingredients that make up bile fluid. Organic matter may also be present. Many of these stones consist of layers and layers of old, dark-green bile, something that does not happen overnight. The rest of the stones are the typical calcified gallstones found in the gallbladder. The dark-red or black bilirubin stones some people pass during their flushes certainly cannot pass as olive oil ―soap stones.‖
4. The olive oil mixture does not even go through the liver, as it would if it were combined with food. Therefore, during the liver flush, the liver does nothing but release gallstones and bile. Neither the liver nor the small intestine can act as a soap stone factory.
5. Once the liver and gallbladder are completely clean, no more gallstones are released after ingesting the oil/citrus juice mixture. If these stones were indeed made from olive oil, they would also occur during a liver flush done after the liver has been completely cleansed and all bile ducts are clear and open. However, this is not the case. The liver flush produces no more stones once the liver is clean, regardless how much olive oil one ingests. Besides, the olive oil consumed during liver flushes does not always produce the same results. During one flush only 50 stones may come out, whereas during the next one, as many as 1,000 may be expelled.
6. Because of intolerance to olive oil, some people have used, for example, clear-colored macadamia nut oil during their flushes and produced precisely the same green-colored stones. Cholesterol stones that exactly match these green stones can be found in the bile ducts of dissected livers.
7. If stones were just blobs of olive oil, why do so many people get cured from chronic illnesses such as asthma, allergies, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and even paralysis, after passing numerous ―soap stones‖ during their liver flushes?
8. Many people have released stones of different colors: black, red, green, white, yellow, and tan. Olive oil does not have coloring agents in it to produce stones of different colors.
9. People who have sent their stones in for chemical analysis have received reports that almost all the stones were made from cholesterol and salts. These constituents are identical to those in the cholesterol stones found in gallbladders that have been removed. A very small number of ―stones‖ consisted of organic matter of unknown origin. These could easily have been trapped in the bile ducts along with the gallstones.
10. Quite a few individuals, including me myself, have sometimes passed green cholesterol stones on the evening of the flush, even before taking the olive oil mixture. Others, who had already done several liver flushes, have reported stones coming out during the apple juice phase, all without the help of olive oil. The stones that come out on their own have no different shape, color, and smell than the ones released during the actual flushes.
11. It is conventional medicine, and not the author, that proved the presence of cholesterol stones in the bile ducts of the liver. The medical term for these stones is ―intrahepatic stones,‖ or ―biliary stones.‖ These green stones, made of cholesterol and some bile constituents, are, in fact, oily and decompose when exposed to warmer air temperatures and oxygen. Cholesterol itself consists of about 96 percent water. These cholesterol stones are quickly broken down by destructive bacteria when released into the environment. This does not occur, however, while they are trapped in the bile ducts of the liver.
12. Plenty of photographs have been taken of dissected livers and are in the medical archives of university clinics that show the presence of these stones in the bile ducts of the liver.
13. It is a medically proven fact that millions of people regularly pass green sludge consisting of sometimes dozens of green cholesterol stones in response to eating a very fatty meal. These stones are not composed of the oils or fats that were ingested. They are forced out of the liver and gallbladder along with the expelled bile. Unfortunately, unlike during liver flushing, some of the stones get caught in the common bile duct or even in the pancreatic duct. There is no difference between the stones that are released involuntarily and those passed voluntarily during a liver flush.
The liver flush is not the result of a placebo effect. The calcified stones released by the gallbladder, usually after five to eight liver flushes, are identical to those found in dissected gallbladders. They do not disintegrate and remain stone hard. Only semicalcified stones may shrink in time; yet the calcified shell remains intact.
I personally suffered over forty gallbladder attacks during a period of more than ten years, and my gallbladder was packed with stones, causing a painful, short spinal scoliosis. Since my first liver flush I never suffered another attack. The scoliosis, among other health problems, vanished after my twelfth flush. After that, none of my yearly flushes has produced any stones, although I used exactly the same procedure. My gallbladder is completely clean and efficient now.
Thousands of people from all over the world have saved their gallbladders through liver flushing. Others have fully regained their health and even saved their own lives by doing this flush. Those who intentionally promote or spread the strange and unsubstantiated claim that liver flushing produces olive soap stones, rob their compatriots and themselves of the opportunity to take care of their own health. This is something they will have to live with.
Alain…thank you for all your input and fact checking! It worked for me…n I want to do it again! Hope to clean out my system thoroughly because the doc was already talking about surgery and he didn’t even know for sure if My gallbladder was the issue ?
I had a patient who had painful gallstones, he was too old to have surgery and lived in daily constant pain. He did the gall bladder flush and was pain free the next day and has been since. I don’t think that looking at one persons excretions is “evidence” and in my experience this is a quick painless way to cleanse the gall bladder. I’ve done it twice in the last 10 years and it’s not that bad at all. You make it sound horrendous!
If I am pregnant, 14 weeks, can I do the cleanse? I did it before and it worked, however I don’t think epson salt is safe in pregnancy. Can I do it without the epson salt? Dr prescribed me pills simce I had an attack last week but I don’t think they will work. I’d rather do the cleanse.
Personally, we would not do it during a pregnancy.
As I understand the skepticism about these types of alternative cures, this article doesn’t make any solid point. My mother-in-law did the cure because it worked wonderfully for her son and since she had had stones in the past, she wanted to see if she still had some left. But when she did it, nothing came out. If the stones were just saponified olive oil, she would’ve seen them. Also, when my boyfriend did it the first time, his stones were beige (cholesterol) and when he did it a second time the stones were green (bile). So these aren’t clearly just oil stones.