Is the gallbladder cleanse safe for gallbladder sludge and stones?

I hear questions all the time about cleanses – especially is the gallbladder cleanse safe for people with sludge and stones? The answer, as usual, is *sometimes*. Let’s go over the cleanse, the effects and results, what to expect and also who it is and isn’t safe for because it certainly isn’t safe for everyone and the gallbladder cleanse does have some risks. For other options for gallbladder sludge and stones there is a detailed post on that here.

The Gallbladder Cleanse

First off, it’s best to use some expert guidance to help make the gallbladder cleanse safe for you.  I would highly suggest working with a practitioner or at the very least getting a good book that can explain all of this in much more detail.  I like The Liver and Gallbladder Miracle Cleanse by Andreaz Moritz. It’s a nice overview of what is going on in your body, and detailed instructions about the cleanse. These directions are taken from that book.

This is a great book that will help you to determine is the gallbladder cleanse safe for you as well as to walk you through the steps.

This is a great book that will help you to determine is the gallbladder cleanse safe for you as well as to walk you through the steps.

6 days of prep followed by 16 to 20 hours of actual cleansing.

You will need:

  • 6 1L containers apple juice – if intolerant to apple juice can buy food grade
    malic acid at wine making shops. Use 1 tsp malic acid in 32 oz water instead.
  • 4 tbsp Epsom salts dissolved in 3 8 oz glasses of water
  • ½ cup cold-pressed EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
  • 2/3 glass fresh grapefruit juice (pink) or fresh lemon and orange juice combined
  • 2 pint jars, one with a lid.

Prep: Days 1-5
Drink 32+ oz apple juice daily for six days. The malic acid softens the gallstones and makes their passage smooth and easy. May have bloating, diarrhea. Drink the apple juice slowly throughout the day away from food. Be sure to rinse your mouth out to avoid acid damage to your teeth. Avoid cold/chilled foods – room temp or warm foods only. Avoid animal products, dairy and fried foods, avoid overeating. Also avoid medications and supplements that are not absolutely necessary

Day 6
Drink all 32 oz apple juice in the morning. Eat only light food and simple. Steamed veg, rice, no fats or oils. No liquids other than water after 1:30 pm
6:00 pm: Mix 4 tbsp Epsom salts to 24 oz water
Drink 6 oz of the epsom salts mix now – chase with lemon water to take the taste out of your mouth. It tastes gross and this is the start of your actual cleanse.
8:00 pm:  Drink 6 oz Epsom salt mix
9:30 pm: If you haven’t had BM then do water enema to trigger colon release
9:45 pm: Wash and juice your grapefruits and remove pulp. Mix ¾ glass of juice with ½ glass olive oil in pint jar and shake hard to mix this (vile) brew.
10:00 pm: Drink the oil and juice concoction in one go if you can and immediately lay down. Lay with your head higher than your abdomen or on your right side with knees to chest. Meditate on your liver and try to lie still for 20 minutes – may do castor oil pack at this time as well. Go to sleep if you can. You may need to wake in the night to have bowel movements. In rare cases may experience nausea or vomiting during the night – this can be normal.

Day 7
6:00 – 6:30 am: Upon awakening (but not before 6 am) drink the third Epsom salts mixture. If you’re thirsty when you wake up you can drink a glass of warm water before the Epsom salts
Rest, read or meditate – it is best to stay in an upright position
8:00 – 8:30: Drink the fourth glass of Epsom salts
10 – 10:30: You may start freshly pressed juice at this time. Half an hour later you can eat light food. By evening or the next morning you can start light food.

Day 8 – 10
Continue on light, clean foods. Also can be helpful to continue 6-8 oz apple juice daily for the following week to continue to soften any gall stones that are continuing to move
*in case of nausea, vomiting headache try coffee enema, liver support, hot water with lemon.

What to Expect with the Gallbladder Cleanse

Putting the question of is the gallbladder cleanse safe aside for the moment, it is clear that it’s not especially pleasant. Anyone who has had any internal experience with Epsom salts can tell you it’s not one easily forgotten. They taste vile and your body clearly rejects them swiftly via horrible, liquid bowel movements.  Now – will this clean out your bowels like they’ve never been cleaned? Yes. Yes it will.  Again, will you enjoy it? Probably no. The actual cleanse itself is really asking your body to do some serious work.  The malic acid in the apple juice is meant to soften up any small stones and help them to pass more easily and the Epsom salts, in addition to flushing the pipes, will also help the bile ducts to dilate and open so that more sludge and stones can pass through. It is not uncommon to experience nausea, vomiting, abdominal discomfort, diarrhea and general ickiness.  If you actually had larger stones in the gallbladder then it is also possible to force one into the bile duct and induce a medical crisis – we’ll talk about that more in the Is the Gallbladder Cleanse Safe section.

Effects and Results from the Gallbladder Cleanse

Aside from not feeling terribly well on the actual day of cleansing, many people report feeling fantastic after the cleanse – literally like they have been cleansed or lightened somehow. The bowel movements during the cleanse will often contain bright green residues that area actually bile sludge or tiny stones finally encouraged to come out of the body by the oil and citrus mix.  This causes the gallbladder to contract strongly, hopefully purging the entire gallbladder contents into the intestine.  This is exactly what you’re after with this cleanse – we want to see these little green residues. It means that either your bile is flowing strongly and was able to rise to the challenge of the oil mixture, or that your gallbladder contracted strongly and discharged old sludge and debris. Either of those options are good.

Essentially we’re looking to eliminate a build-up of fat soluble toxins that are bound to the bile and accumulating in the gallbladder in the form of sludge. This will long-term help your overall liver processing, aid your body’s ability to digest fats and generally contribute to well-being. Also if you’ve been having symptoms of gallbladder sludge then this should help to reduce some of those.

So Is the Gallbladder Cleanse Safe for Gallbladder Sludge and Stones?

The most accurate answer to that question, is no.  I’ve heard a number of horror stories of people starting the gallbladder cleanse only to push a stone into their ducts and end up having an emergency surgery to remove the gallbladder.  Most of the people doing the cleanse were trying to avoid exactly that outcome, so that’s not thrilling.  If your gallbladder has sludge but no stones then typically that makes the gallbladder cleanse safe for you.  If you actually have stones, then this is probably not a good idea. If you haven’t really been to a doctor and don’t know if you have sludge or stones or just poor digestion, then I honestly wouldn’t suggest it – just because there is a chance you do have stones and could push one that’s a little too big into a place it can’t get out of – hello emergency surgery! 

This is a gallbladder with some serious stones - you don't want to get one of those stuck in your ducts anywhere.

This is a gallbladder with some serious stones – you don’t want to get one of those stuck in your ducts anywhere.

I know everyone wants to hear that the cleanse is perfectly safe and harmless, but it isn’t.  This is a powerful tool and if it’s used incorrectly it can be harmful or even life-threatening if you can’t get to the ER. There are risks to the gallbladder cleanse and shooting something out of your gallbladder that gets stuck is one of them. Also you have to be prepared for the dehydrating effects of the Epsom salts – the diarrhea they give you can be quite watery and contribute to a severe loss of fluids if you’re not careful to replace them.  Outside of that the whole process can be reasonably unpleasant – the diet is great, the apple juice is fine, but the cleanse itself is pretty vivid. That’s not a reason not to do it, it’s just important to be prepared.  For some more gentle options for dealing with gallbladder sludge and stones look here, and for help supporting liver function in general look here. The gallbladder cleanse can be a fantastic option with fabulous results, the you have to be sure that you’re a good candidate and that you have enough knowledge to make the gallbladder cleanse safe for you.

32 thoughts on “Is the gallbladder cleanse safe for gallbladder sludge and stones?

  1. nicole

    I have small stones and sludge in my gallbladder. I ordered natural gallstone tablets and like to know if it’s safe ? I take 1 tablet 3 times a day to crush/dissolve the stones and after a week 1 other tablet in the am and at night to flush the stone. Thank you

      1. Nicole Koerner

        I’m using Gall Cleanse- Natural Dietary Supplement. I’m still experiencing some nausea. I was told by my doctor not to advice stone crushing/passing. He wants me to have surgery done and I’m not for it but I was told that the stone can lodge in the pancreas. Is that possible? I don’t know what to do at this point, but some people took the gall cleanse supplement for about 2- 4 months and no stones were noticed on the ultrasound.

        1. amyneuzil Post author

          Hi Nicole,
          Yes – it is entirely possible for a stone to lodge in the pancreas or the bile duct. That is why I don’t suggest an aggressive gallbladder cleanse if you have known stones. I don’t have any experience with that particular supplement, but if you choose not to do the surgery then make sure you’re following a clean gallbladder diet and doing all of the gallbladder supportive things like water, fiber and lecithin. Also the general liver and gallbladder supportive care. Good luck and I hope the nausea is resolved quickly!

  2. Juan

    I read that Malic acid doesn’t get into the gallbladder. Nothing does, except bile from the liver. That the only thing that can get into the gallbladder reservoir. I also hear that bfore Apple juice or apple cider get to the liver /interstinal Area, Malec acid will have been already been broken down to insignificant levels because of the acid and enzymes in stomach acid that destroy all of that.

    So Malec acid never touches the stone in order to soften them, really.

    Cause anything you swallow goes through the mouth, then the esophagus then the stomach then the small intestine the big intestine then out the anus. When contents reach the opening of the small intestine the liver activates the gall bladder via bile. Nothing else.

    1. amyneuzil Post author

      Hi Juan,
      Yes – this is why it’s so difficult to actually dissolve stones and also why the cleanse isn’t safe if you actually have stones and not just sludge. The cleanse is helpful only for sludge but becomes unsafe if there are actual stones because it CAN NOT dissolve stones and so you risk pushing them into a duct and getting them stuck, which is a medical emergency. Does that make sense?

  3. Bruce

    I was not johndus, but having horrible attacks 8-12 hours agonizing pain, pain would stop within a few minits of dry heaves or vomiting, sign that a stone was stuck, and fell thru or back into gallbladder, as the severe pain quit very soon after puking. Over last 8 months have done several flushes, following all instructions very carefully, I have never had any pain with a flush, some mild discomfort, and passed many stones, and some large ones, had a fullness around gallbladder, after an attack that occurred 2 weeks in-between flusheds ,so did an extra flush the night of the flush felt movement in the area of fullness, next day fullness was gone and passed large stone.

    I did this flush the first time reasoning, I could wind up in the er anyway, so I put my wife on alert, be ready if anything goes wrong to the er we go!

    I had 3 major attacks within two weeks prior to first flush,.

    Have done 9 flushes over 8 months flushes all painFREE

    Bad side had over 12 painful attacks over the same time period, of note the intensity of the pain and length of attacks we’re half as bad as the first 3, my general health improved greatly, which is why I endured the attacks, have also lost weight was 285 at first attack, now 8 months later at 220.

    Just did another flush last night, only passed a couple stones and a lot of yellow green stringy fluid bile? So maybe am getting clean.

    Attacks use to happen weekly, now been 5 weeks since last attack.

    Gallbladder can be the size of a small plumb to the size of a large grapefruit and even the size of a small melon which is rare.

    Bile duct size can vary too, from the size of the ink resivore of a writing pen (plastic tube hold ink) to size of a soda straw.

    Once a person knows the risks they need to make a decision that they can live with, I knew I was headed for a surgery cause of the agonizing pain, and felt I had nothing to loose, thus far have avoided the surgery, will continue to flush once a month till no stones come thru for two consecutive flushes.

    Hope all goes well for any who are dealing with gallbladder issues later Bruce

    1. amyneuzil Post author

      Thanks so much for sharing Bruce – I’m so very glad this has been beneficial for you and that you made an informed decision about the risks. Congratulations on your weight loss as well! Sounds like you are on a great path forward.

  4. Chuck Martin

    From what I’ve read, what’s passed during the “flush” is not gallstones, but the result of the saponification of the fat and the alkali. In other words, soap “stones.”

    1. amyneuzil Post author

      Hi Chuck,
      I’ve reaad that too – although honestly, saponification is exactly what happens in the early stages of a gallstone, so I really don’t know how they can tell if it’s new saponification or old (i.e. actual stones a person needed to get rid of).

  5. Luis morales

    Hey so I’ve done the flush several times now with great success on the first try and less then great every time after. The first time I released ALOT of stones small and large(have the pics). I was able to sleep throughout the whole night and felt great the next day immediately. But unfortunately I got back into bad habits and my symptoms came back (pressure in upper right abdomen, bad fatigue, pain that shoots around to my back and problems with digestion and bowel movements.. even problems fully emptying my bladder and also just not being as sociable and energitic obviously due to the fatigue). The other couple times I’ve done it, including recently, I have been stuck up all night back and forth from the restroom to bed and for the acception of one time out of 3 or 4 flushes I felt worse off after the flush than before. Any advise on what I should do or why that might be? My diet now is great. I do the digestive bitters, drink acv, take digestive enzymes, take probiotics and prebiotics, take hep 194, eat foods like kimchi, kefir and Greek yogurt every day and drink kombucha every day. Everything I eat is organic and good portions, I don’t drink excessively, and I’ve been getting some real improvements with that alone. My bowel movements have improved(still have bad gas though which is also getting Better) the pressure has gone down a lot, some days better than others and even the flow of my urine has improved(which I don’t know how that is related but it is somehow) But It’s just not the same as how I felt after that first flush. Just don’t know why it doesn’t work for me like it did that one time. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.

    1. amyneuzil Post author

      Hi Luis,
      The one possibility I can think of is that you may have a larger stone in the gallbladder that is just too big to be flushed out. Have you had a GB ultrasound? It might be useful just to see what is in there. Well done on all the lifestyle changes! It could be a good idea to give the lifestyle 6 months or so and then try the flush again (if you’re sure there aren’t stones that could put you in danger). Keep me posted – I’d love to hear how it all goes.

  6. Brent Shifley

    I am a diabetic. Since juices how have a great tendency to spike my blood sugar levels, is there a process that is more “diabetic friendly”?

    1. amyneuzil Post author

      Hi Brent,
      There is a substitute for the apple juice if you don’t like it (or can’t tolerate it). I don’t have as much experience with it, but it’s Malic acid, which is the active ingredient in the apple juice. If you’re in that sort of situation, I’d suggest getting the book, which goes into a whole lot more detail. It’s The Liver and Gallbladder Miracle Cleanse by Andreas Moritz. He talks a lot about substitutions for different health problems. Just be sure to check with your doctor to make sure the cleanse is safe for you.

    2. Zenaida

      Hi! I tried to drunk apple juice, apple cider vinegar and epsom salt.I followed the procedure that I had read also in fb that for a day til night. I finished that and flushed next morning maybe hundreds of stones then on the orher day went to hospital for ultrasound to sure if stones are all running out but when I got the result I read still have. What can I do? I reapet the cleansing or go to the doctor for surgery?

      1. amyneuzil Post author

        Hi Zenaida,
        Great questions and please remember that a lot depends on the size of the stones. If you have larger stones the gallbladder cleanse isn’t going to be strong enough to flush them out because they can’t soften enough to fit through the ducts. There are things you can do to shrink them over time but it does take a lot of time (often a year or more) and so that isn’t a good solution if you are having a lot of pain or gallbladder attacks. If you have very large stones or a lot of pain and attacks regularly then I think considering surgery is a good option. If not then trying a long-term strategy to help shrink the stones could be worth it. Something like this. Good luck and keep me posted!

  7. Laura

    I had my gall bladder removed 12 yrs.ago. I still get attacks after eating good and bad fats. Will bitters in a tincture form soften up the sludge in the bile ducts?

    1. amyneuzil Post author

      Hi Laura,
      Ugh. Yes – I’ve seen so many people who had their gallbladder removed but still get attacks. Typically it is just sludge in the ducts and this will certainly help. Every now and then it’s actually a little stone in there or a “stricture” meaning the duct has narrowed down and is closing up. If it’s a stricture unfortunately the only thing I know of that helps is going back and surgically removing the duct too. The vast majority is just sludge though, and yes – the bitters will help along with a liver and gallbladder friendly diet. If you’re not seeing improvement in a couple of months I’d talk to your doctor again for an ultrasound – maybe there’s still a little stone in there or something. Let me know how it goes for you!

  8. Cyndie

    5 days ago I had a colonoscopy. Prior to it, I had to drink Miralax to cleanse my colon for the procedure. Is that the same is using Epsom salts to do this liver cleanse? I would much rather use Miralax if I can because it has no taste. Also since I just had my colonoscopy when would a good time be to start the gallbladder and liver cleanse? I also read you should cleanse the kidneys at the same time. How do you do that at the same time?

    1. amyneuzil Post author

      Hi Cyndie,
      Good question! Sadly, Miralax isn’t the same. It is a laxative, but doesn’t have the muscle relaxing properties of magnesium and so it won’t help the ducts to open to allow stones and sludge through. I’d give your body a couple of weeks before you start the gallbladder cleanse because it’s just been through a procedure and deserves a break before starting something new. In terms of cleansing the kidneys at the same time, honestly I think it gets too complicated and I feel like cleansing is hard work and should probably be done in sequence instead of all at once. Of course there are a million opinions out there so do what feels right to you. Again though, I’d wait for a couple of weeks after doing the GB cleanse and then start on the kidneys.

  9. Grace

    Can I try this flush? I have gallstones and now im suffering from jaundice.My doctor told me that I need operation but im afraid. Is it safe to try this flush?

    1. amyneuzil Post author

      Oh my goodness Grace,
      When you have stones I honestly wouldn’t suggest the gallbladder cleanse because you risk pushing a stone into one of your ducts and blocking it. With jaundice and stones, I wouldn’t try it. I know the surgery is scary, but it’s scarier if it’s an emergency procedure due to the cleanse. All the best to you.

  10. Lynn Z

    Thanks for the encouragement. Hopefully I will be able to get an ultra sound soon to help resolve my problem. But may not be until the new year. Sadly our insurance is in jepardy as the company my husband works for is going through contract negotiations…..and they may be going on strike.
    So, I am praying that I don’t have any more episodes for a while!
    Thanks again.

  11. Lynn Z

    This article was VERY helpful. I believe I am in need of having my gallbladder checked out as I have had several nights in the past year being woken from terrible stomache pains. I have contemplated a cleanse and this makes me thinkotherwise and to first have my gallbladder checked out with an ultra sound at the Dr.’s office. Thanks for the very insightful evidence of what acleanse is supposed to do and the effects during it.

    1. amyneuzil Post author

      I’m so glad this has been helpful to you! And I’m thrilled you’re getting the ultrasound before jumping into the cleanse – it’s so much safer. All the best to you and I hope you find a simple solution to your stomach pains!

  12. Andrea

    Hi, I just wanted to leave a comment, because I did a gallbladder flush about 15 years ago and you did a great job of describing it. This was before the Internet was the source it is today. I was in my mid twenties – a young mother in good health. The flush itself truly was traumatic – I woke up several times to vomit and felt nauseous, dizzy, and like I was full of toxins. I did pass a lot of bright, fluorescent green blobs – some larger than others. It was hard to tell if they were stones – they seemed more like dense fat. I continued to feel like walking death for the remainder of the day after the flush, but then, I started feeling great, which lasted for several months. I have suffered from chronic abdominal problems since childhood, and I felt felt better than I ever had before. I wanted to repeat the process later, but after experiencing the difficult physical trauma of the flush, I just could never bring myself to do it again and would stop right before the big day. Now, all these years later, I feel even more hesitant. I would like to repeat the feeling of health and vitality post-flush, but I fear that I would have a lot more toxins in play that might make it dangerous for me. Also, if I never taste Epsom salts again in my life, it would be too soon. Absolutely the most vile flavor possible. I thought that drinking all the olive oil would be the hardest part, but it was a cakewalk compared to the Epsom salts.
    I am curious though, do you know if there is a more risky, intense reaction with increased age? How about if long-term prescription medications are involved? I’m wondering if the risks of having something go wrong increases with age and related toxin exposure /buildup?
    Thanks for your help!

    1. amyneuzil Post author

      Hi Andrea,
      Thanks so much for sharing your experience – I’ve heard the same thing from a number of people. It really can be overly intense! I honestly haven’t seen any research on toxin burden with age, but logically it makes sense that the older we are the more exposure we’ve had and so there would be a greater toxin build-up. Also with age I would think there would be more chance for sludge to get thicker, denser, and ultimately turn into stones. So I feel like your intuition is right on. Having said that, it sounds like your body really benefited from cleansing, but maybe this particular cleanse was a little overly dramatic. Maybe something a little slower and more gentle but still aimed at cleaning out that liver without quite so much emphasis on the gallbladder – and certainly no epsom salts ;). There are a couple of good packaged cleanses on the market that could be helpful. There’s a 7 day one from Orthomolecular products that I love, and the 21 day cleanse from Standard Process is great too (although do it in the warmer part of the year because most people find they get chilly more easily during the 21 day). Lots of options, but yes – sounds like the big old epsom salts bomb isnt’ for you.

  13. mukul

    Please send to it on mail id for bile duct pressed and blockage and in large the liver so plz suggest and send the complete practical and effective solution.

    Mukul kanjolia

    1. amyneuzil Post author

      Hi Mukul,
      If your liver is enlarging it is best to work with a local doctor to help you – that isn’t something you should try to do at home. Best of luck to you!

      1. Fdh

        Im afraid for this procedure my dr advise me not to do any mind of this wil block the duct. Kindly tel me the safest way. Or furthr more if i had only appl juc of company? Which hav 40% of rwal juc.. can i try this?
        Last ques if i eat 5 apple daily? Will
        it work?

        1. amyneuzil Post author

          HI there,
          So generally if you’re afraid about it, don’t do it. Also if your doctor advised you not to then really don’t do it! Always trust your gut feelings and your doctor – they know your situation far better than I do. Just for information though, the 40% real juice probably won’t work because the malic acid in apple juice is what we’re looking for and it has to be very concentrated. The same with 5 apples per day simply because the juice is so much more concentrated.

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