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What Is Gallbladder Cleansing? Does It Really Help?

What Is Gallbladder Cleansing? Does It Really Help?

Last Reviewed : 01/08/2021
What Is Gallbladder Cleansing? Does It Really Help?


Gallbladder cleansing is an alternative medicine remedy used to remove gallstones from the body. This alternative treatment is also known as gallbladder or liver flush.

The treatment involves a following specialized diet that prevents the formation of new gallstones formation or helps treat existing ones.

What is the function of the gallbladder?

The gallbladder stores the bile acid that the liver produces and secretes. The organ then deposits this bile in the duodenum to help digest the food we eat. It plays an important role in the digestion and absorption of fat.

Gallstones, on the other hand, are hardened deposits that form in the gallbladder. It is not clear what causes gallstones to form, but doctors suspect they develop when your bile contains too much cholesterol or bilirubin, or when your gallbladder does not open correctly.

 

Symptoms of gallstones

Gallstones can be as small as a grain of sand and grow to be large as a golf ball. In some people, gallstones may not show any symptoms, in which cases they will not require treatment.

Gallstones become a problem is when they lodge and cause a blockage in the duct. Symptoms will include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Jaundice
  • Pain in your right shoulder and between shoulder blades.

When gallstones symptoms become too much to bear, the only viable treatment is through cholecystectomy, which is the surgical removal of gallstones.

 

Does gallbladder cleansing really work?

To avoid surgery, people often look to gallbladder cleansing. Claimed by its advocates to be a natural remedy for removing gallstones, gallbladder cleansing can involve fasting but usually involves the ingestion of a combination of herbs, olive oil, and a specific type of fruit juice for several hours.

A mix of olive oil and lemon can also be used. Olive oil acts as a laxative but no evidence supports that it effectively treats gallstones.

It is claimed that gallbladder cleansing breaks up gallstones that are then passed through stool. However, there is no reliable evidence that proves the technique works.

The lumps patients see in their stool after gallbladder cleansing have been dismissed as globs of fat from the oil they consume as part of the cleanse.

 

Is gallbladder cleansing safe?


Gallbladder cleansing has been reported to cause adverse effects in some people. These include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.

The associated side effects may be due to the ingredients used in the cleansing process. People who undergo the process may see lumps in their stools the next day, but those are just the ingested oils and not actual gallstones.

Patients with asymptomatic gallstones do not need treatment. Those who develop symptoms must consult a physician to discuss treatment options.

Bile salt tablets and sound wave therapy are the non-surgical options available to treat gall stones. Medical treatment with bile salt tablets takes at least 6 months to show results. If surgery is not preferred, these medical options may be tried first. Gallbladder cleansing is another technique used to dissolve gall stones but it not well studied and there are no formal guidelines.



References

  • Eating, diet, and nutrition for gallstones. (2017).
    niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/gallstones/eating-diet-nutrition
  • Gaby AR. (2009). Nutritional approaches to prevention and treatment of gallstones.
    static1.1.sqspcdn.com/static/f/746362/21703173/1358792106653/Nutritional+Approaches+to+Gallstones.pdf?token=zBkVz0Kt%2BHLFZvHr%2BbztJ2qc4HU%3D
  • Picco MF. (2015). Gallbladder cleanse: A “natural” remedy for gallstones.
    mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/gallstones/expert-answers/gallbladder-cleanse/faq-20058134

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