Tag Archives: gallbladder sludge and stones

Pharmaceutical drugs and gallbladder issues

If you’re struggling with gallbladder sludge and stones you may also be struggling to find your triggers, and one of those triggers might just be drugs – drugs and gallbladder can be linked.  Certain foods, stress, times of day – lots of things can trigger an attack or give you twinges. Sadly, the effects of pharmaceutical drugs are often overlooked, even by your doctor so be sure to check your medicine cabinet, and use the tips below to write your own health timeline. This can give you the valuable information you need to find your own personal gallbladder triggers.

Pills! Have you checked to see if your drugs and gallbladder are linked? Photo by Slashme at English Language Wikipedia.

Pills! Have you checked to see if your drugs and gallbladder are linked? Photo by Slashme at English Language Wikipedia.

Pharmaceutical Drugs and Gallbladder – What Drugs Can Cause Problems

See this research, from the Journal Drug Safety, for more details.

  • Birth Control Pills – Just like high levels of your natural estrogens are implicated in gallbladder trouble, so too are external estrogens.  Even more so because these synthetic estrogens can be difficult for your body to process and eliminate.
  • Hormone Replacement Therapy – Much the same as birth control pills.
  • Lipid Lowering Drugs – Especially Clofibrate, but other drugs haven’t been studied as widely so it’s best to have some caution with the whole group.
  • Thiazide diuretics – There is conflicting research about this group of drugs, but many studies suggest they do cause problems. This includes Chlorothiazide (Diuril), Chlorothalidone, Hydrochlorothiazide (Microzide), Indapamide, Metolazone.
  • Ceftriaxone – This antibiotic can cause gallbladder sludge and stones fairly quickly, but the problems should also resolve after the drug is discontinued.
  • Octreotide – Long term use of this injectable synthetic hormone (synthetic somatostatin) is linked to gallbladder stasis and gallstone formation.
  • Hepatic Artery Infusion Chemotherapy – This is linked to such severe problems your doctor will typically suggest that you remove your gallbladder before starting treatment.
  • Erythromycin and Ampicillin – Both of these antibiotics are linked with hypersensitivity-induced cholecystitis. That means that your body’s reaction to becoming sensitive to the drug includes inflammation of the gallbladder.
  • Cyclosporine – This immunosupressive drug, which is often used for psoriasis has had mixed reports of causing trouble for your gallbladder.
  • Dapsone – This antibiotic has also seen patchy reports of gallbladder issues.
  • Anticoagulant treatment – This link is unclear, but it seems that people with gallbladder inflammation are at increased risk of emergency gallbladder removal after starting anticoagulants.
  • Narcotics – These drugs are well known in slowing down the motion of your bowels, and that slowing can have a profound impact on your gallbladder function.
  • Anticholinergic medications – Specifically oxybutynin might be linked to an increased risk of gallbladder cancer, but actual research is needed.

Drugs and Gallbladder – What Drugs Actually Help?

  • CisaprideResearch has shown that in squirrels fed a high-cholesterol diet, Cisapride helped prevent the formation of crystals in the gallbladder, which are the precursors of gallstones. Sadly, this drug has been removed from the market due to side-effects.
  • Erythromycin – This drug can also be given to increase gastric motility (this is called a prokinetic, like Cisapride), and in spite of the fact that people with hypersensitivity reactions can have gallbladder issues from the drug, it can also solve gallbladder issues.

What About Drugs Not On This List? Write Your Health Timeline.

Every person can have a unique reaction to any drug or substance, which is part of what makes medicine so challenging.  It’s a good idea to do a timeline of your gallbladder symptoms.  What were the stressors in your life at the time symptoms started? Were there major emotional stressors? New drugs? Diet changes? Other conditions?  This will help you to pin point the factors that might be contributing to your own issues and may indeed reveal a link to a pharmaceutical drug.  Even if that drug is not known for causing gallbladder issues, it can be worth investigating.  Talk with your doctor to see if there is a different type of drug that might address the same issue or if there is a way you can discontinue for a while to see if your gallbladder issues change at all.  After all, your body is always unique.

Lifehack: Get rid of Gallbladder Sludge, with water.

Every now and then I realize that for all my talk about gallbladder sludge, I haven’t emphasized the MOST IMPORTANT THING, which is water. In terms of getting rid of sludge of any kind in life, water is the key. Can I say this again? If you want to get rid of gallbladder sludge, water is absolutely vital. Let’s review.

Your gallbladder is a small little sac-shaped organ that is connected to both your liver and your intestines by thin tubes. Your liver makes bile, which helps your body to emulsify the fats from your diet in order to absorb them, and also helps you eliminate fat-soluble toxins including excess hormones. Bile is usually very fluid, but once it gets to the gallbladder your body starts to pull out the water and concentrate it, helping it to become more effective.  By pulling out this water you make the bile thicker and more goopy. If you pull out too much water or there isn’t enough in there to begin with, then goopy turns into sludgy. This one simple factor can lead to sludge pretty quickly.

Want to get rid of gallbladder sludge? WATER is the biggest key.

Want to get rid of gallbladder sludge? WATER is the biggest key.

Get Rid of Gallbladder Sludge Long-Term:

If you have gallbladder sludge, and the pain that goes with it, you know how important it becomes to eliminate it quickly.  Here are some of the quick things you can do to get rid of gallbladder sludge for good:

  1. Boost your water intake quickly and make it a life-habit.  The more fluid your bile is, and the more well-hydrated you are, the faster you will flush out that sludge and the less likely your bile will get too thick in the future.  Did you know that according to a New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center Survey, 75% of American Adults are chronically dehydrated? Wha????? If you have gallbladder sludge my guess would be that you’re one of the 75%.
  2. Boost Your Fiber, Just Like Your Grandmother Told You. Fiber helps to bind to the fat soluble toxins and bile salts that are eliminated and pull them out of your system so that your thrifty body doesn’t recycle them.
  3. Eat Sensibly For Your Gallbladder. This means ix-nay the fried foods, trans-fats and excess animal fats and add more fruits, veggies and lean proteins.
  4. Boost the Power of your Water With a Little Lemon. Lemon and other acids, like apple cider vinegar, help with both detox and hydration, both of which help with gallbladder sludge. Super!
  5. Consider a Gallbladder Cleanse: BUT the gallbladder cleanse has it’s own risks so it’s only safe if you know, because a doctor did the appropriate testing, that you don’t have stones.  If you only have sludge and you’re not pregnant, then this could be helpful.




Get Rid of Gallbladder Pain Short-Term:

So, if you’re having a gallbladder attack you’re probably not sitting down at the computer to read about it, but hopefully, you’ll google it later and remember it for next time.  As soon as you start to feel an attack coming on:

  1. Guzzle The Water: Again, the quickest way to clean out goop is to dilute it and thin it out.  Your body will thank me for it. This is especially important if you get nausea or vomiting with your attacks because the vomiting makes dehydration worse quickly, which just makes the sludge worse.  Even if you have stones that are causing the pain water will help them to pass if they’re going to.
  2. Add Lemon or Apple Cider Vinegar: Taking a shot of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice at the start of an attack (followed by a BUNCH of water) will help head the attack off before it gets into full swing. Also adding a little lemon juice or apple cider vinegar to the vast quantities of water you’re drinking (ahem) will help it to be more effective.
  3. Slather on the Castor Oil: Castor oil is anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving in it’s own right, but it is also especially “lubricating” to the lymphatic flow around the liver and gallbladder, which comes in handy when that whole area is jammed up with pain, inflammation, and sludge.
  4. Consider some Supplements: There are a few things that help in the short term.  Water and the acidic juices are the biggest things, but some others include digestive bitters and lecithin.




Doesn't this look awesome? Don't be one of the 75% of adults who are dehydrated. And Get rid of the gallbladder pain for good!

Doesn’t this look awesome? Don’t be one of the 75% of adults who are dehydrated. And Get rid of the gallbladder pain for good!

So – will water and proper hydration fix the problem permanently?  It could, but not if you’re still eating fast food or if you have a major hormone shift contributing (like pregnancy ladies, sorry.) But if your diet is reasonably good and your hormones close to normal, then yup. The water is the key. Simple, right?



Is gallbladder sludge linked to your gut bacteria?

Gallbladder sludge is an initial step in the development of gallstones. It causes many people pain but is arguably too early for surgery.  There are, of course, many natural ways to address this issue including a basic protocol, lecithin, and castor oil packs and research is indicating that probiotics might be helpful as well. While it stands to reason that a healthy digestive tract, i.e. one with a thriving colony of beneficial bacteria, will help protect against any digestive disease it is still nice to see the results on paper.

This study, published in the online journal PLoSOne, was actually conducted on different types of mice. These mice were from four groups of genetically related strains that were purchased from different vendors with a very different treatment of the mice in terms of their good bacteria. The researchers use genetically similar mice because genetics plays a role in gallbladder stone and sludge development so having similar genetics eliminates that variable and puts all the mice on an even playing field. The groups of mice differed mostly in their gut flora.  One vendor maintains the mice in a germ-free environment but doesn’t introduce any good bacteria. Another colonizes the mice with a healthy bacterial flora and then maintains a pathogen-free environment after that.

Good gut bacteria like these may be able to help prevent gallbladder sludge and stones. Image from Rocky Mountain Laboratories, NIAID, NIH

Good gut bacteria like these may be able to help prevent gallbladder sludge and stones. Image from Rocky Mountain Laboratories, NIAID, NIH

All of the mice were fed a “lithogenic diet”  meaning a diet that is known to induce gallstones. This diet was essentially similar to a high-fat human diet. Specifically 1% cholesterol, 15% triglycerides and 0.5% cholic acid (one of the components of bile – in humans we would produce this naturally). Results were based on gallbladder weight, the percentage of mucin (or mucus) in the bile, cholesterol crystal formation, sandy stone formation, and presence or absence of true cholesterol stones.




The study found that the mice with the good flora were more resistant to gallbladder sludge than the mice without the good flora. The total gallbladder weight was lower which is important because it represents a measurable way to test inflammation. Inflamed gallbladders grow thicker walls that have a higher content of immune cells and inflammatory particles.  Also the mice without the good flora showed higher percentages of mucin and researchers were able to determine that the good bacteria actually influence the gene expression of those mice.  Healthy gut bacteria is able to down-regulate the action of mucin genes, which contribute to mucus formation in the digestive tract.

Actual cholesterol crystal formation, sandy stone formation and cholesterol stones were also all significantly less in the mice with healthy gut flora.

What Does This Mean for Humans With Gallbladder Sludge?

Mice aren’t people, and although this is certainly something to think about, we can’t jump to the conclusion that gallbladder sludge can be prevented by good bacteria.  We can, however, use common sense to say that chances are having healthy digestive bacteria can help our bodies to maintain healthy digestion. That means that gut inflammation will probably be lower with good flora, there will probably be less mucus, and digestive processes will run more smoothly.  Logically it makes sense that this would lead to less gallbladder sludge formation.

How Do I Get Healthy Gut Flora?

Of course, there are a million probiotic formulas out there all claiming to be the “best” and as a consumer, it can be very difficult to wade through unless there is specific research on a specific product for the specific issue you’re having (which happens only in a handful of cases). There are not any products currently on the market which are researched for gallbladder sludge.  There are a number of ways to increase your good bacteria, many of which are from food.

Increasing Your Good Gut Flora

Your gut bacteria are 100 trillion friends you didn’t know you had. Take care of them!

  • Reduce Antibiotic Use. If at all possible, minimize or eliminate all antibiotics from your life.  Life-threatening illnesses are a different matter and some situations do require antibiotics but work with your doctor to minimize usage that is not absolutely necessary. Antibiotics kill off your good bacteria along with any bad bacteria and overuse is linked to obesity, serious digestive disease along with the more globally threatening antibiotic resistant bacteria.
  • Moderate Processed Foods. Processed foods are typically filled with preservatives, emulsifiers, stabilizers, colors and other chemicals that are foreign to your body and to your more fragile gut flora.  A whole food diet has been shown to foster a very different digestive environment than a processed food diet and so eating foods with fewer chemicals will help your host of tiny helpers.
  • Increase Dietary Fiber.  If you’ve read this blog before you probably know I’m a big fan of fiber. Fiber, especially soluble fiber, helps to feed the good bacteria and provides material for fermentation in your gut.  All of those good bacteria really like fermentation and need the “prebiotics” or bacteria food that the fiber provides.
  • Get More Fermented Foods. Naturally fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, sourkraut and other fermented veggies like spicy kimchee are all rich sources of good bacteria and can help to reintroduce those good strains into your digestion.
  • Grow Some (Organic) Veggies. Many of our good bacteria are soil microorganisms that we are supposed to through contact with, well, soil.  We are supposed to have these good bacteria from the earth and historically we would have got plenty of them by gardening, harvesting, farming and eating vegetables that aren’t “sanitized” before being put on grocery store shelves or irradiated to prevent foreign plant diseases from entering the country with produce. So growing some of your own or buying from a good local organic grower.  Rinsing your veggies as you normally would won’t eliminate all of the healthy bacteria so as long as they haven’t been sprayed with pesticides and herbicides they’re a great source of some of your most potent good flora.
  • Take a Supplement.  The supplements are always an option if that is easiest for you, but don’t forget to do some of the rest of it too. In terms of supplements, every digestive tract is different so it can be helpful to rotate through different types of products with different strains of beneficial bacteria because there isn’t a great way to predict which strains will colonize best in your system.

 

 



Help! I Still Have Gallbladder Pain After Removal.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this – “I got my gallbladder removed, even though I didn’t want to, but I’m still having gallbladder pain after removal.” “They told me the surgery would fix it, but…” Yup.  Sometimes the surgery doesn’t actually make the pain disappear, so now what?  Good news, there is a lot you can do about this, but it helps to know exactly what you’re dealing with.

How Could I still Have Gallbladder Pain After Removal?

There can be many causes for this, but the simple version is that typically when the gallbladder is removed, all or part of the duct work stays behind. Therein lies the typical culprit.

All those skinny little tubes are ripe for problems that can lead to gallbladder pain after removal. GallbladderAnatomy.png by LukesAnatomy (talk); conversion to SVG by Angelito7 (talk) - GallbladderAnatomy.png, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=29818837

All those skinny little tubes are ripe for problems that can lead to gallbladder pain after removal. GallbladderAnatomy.png by LukesAnatomy (talk); conversion to SVG by Angelito7 (talk) – GallbladderAnatomy.png, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=29818837




Here are the four “S’s” of gallbladder pain after removal:

  1. Stones – Sometimes there are still gallstones, or small calcified spots left in the remaining ducts or even in the ducts from the liver that head towards the (now missing) gallbladder. These hurt just as much as the stones in the gallbladder itself.
  2. Sludge – There can be sludge still in the remaining ducts, even if the stones are gone.
  3. Steatosis – If there have been gallbladder issues for a long time sometimes the liver becomes fatty. Fatty liver, also called “hepatic steatosis” can have no symptoms, or it can feel a whole lot like gallbladder pain – especially the low-grade, chronic type that doesn’t flare up strongly but doesn’t go away either.
  4. Something else – Remember you can have fleas and ticks on the same dog.  Remember gallbladder, and your other internal organs, don’t have sensory nerves the way your fingertips do because you’re not supposed to be reaching out and touching anything with your gallbladder. This is part of why people can feel gallbladder pain so differently – for some it’s classically under the right rib cage, for some it’s between the shoulder-blades, for some it’s on the left side, for some it’s just nausea and for some it mimics a heart attack. It can happen that you have “gallbladder pain,” the doctor finds gallstones, you remove the gallbladder and there’s still something else that was actually causing the pain to begin with.

Now it feels like we’re back at square one, right? You did the surgery, but the problem is the same.  So now what?

Stopping Gallbladder Pain After Surgery

  1. Talk to Your Doctor. Step 1 really should be a follow up ultrasound to see if there are any stones remaining. This will give you a good idea of what you’re working with.
  2. Work on Gallbladder Sludge. This is the most common cause of ongoing pain and working on cleaning out your remaining sludge will help clear those ducts and also helps with a gentle liver detox. Really working on this should bring improvement within a month. If it doesn’t, or if your symptoms get worse then skip straight to step 4. There’s a whole post on supporting your gallbladder as well as one on liver health below.
  3. Give your Liver Some LoveThis can be done at the same time as step 3 – each one helps the other so that you get the best results if you’re supporting your liver and clearing out sludge at the same time.
  4. Get Your Doctor on Board. You have lots of vital organs in your abdomen and we don’t really want to see any of them in trouble.  If your symptoms are not getting better, if they’re getting worse, or if your gut is telling you that there’s more going on then talk with your doctor. There can be hernias, pancreatitis, infections, tumors and other problems that your body can only tell you about in so many ways so don’t ignore symptoms just because you got your gallbladder removed.

It can be easy to get discouraged, but you’re still on the right track. The surgery sometimes isn’t an instant fix, but you’re still moving forward – just follow the steps and trust your gut. If you feel like there’s something bigger going on then talk to your doctor. Otherwise give your liver and ducts a little pampering and you’ll be good as new in no time.



How To Do A Castor Oil Pack the Lazy Way

A castor oil pack is something that sounds not-glamorous. Not-glamorous to the same extent as say a mustard plaster, or possibly even an enema (gasp).  I get that. This isn’t a sexy sounding topic, but the thing is, doing a castor oil pack is one of the simplest, gentlest, best life hacks for liver health, gallbladder function and even women’s hormones and breast health. I honestly think if everyone would do these on a regular basis, we’d have world peace. Okay, not quite world peace, but we’d all be a lot healthier.

What is a Castor Oil Pack?

Simply stated, this is a great way to help your body absorb castor oil through your skin to help the local area (meaning the skin in that area but also the underlying organs and structures) and your health in general. Why, you might ask, do you want to absorb castor oil through your skin?  There’s a whole post on it here, but the quick and dirty is that castor oil topically gives you a tremendous immune boost, anti-inflammatory benefit, and also a gentle detoxification.  Hard to get all of those things anywhere else with so little effort.

The Traditional Castor Oil Pack

There is a formal way to do this, popularized by Edgar Cayce and many other practitioners. I don’t usually do it this way, but it’s probably the best way to do it.

Castor oil pack - picture by Pete Markham from Loretto, USA

Castor oil – picture by Pete Markham from Loretto, USA. This bottle is from the light-keepers house at Split Rock Lighthouse in Minnesota.

You Will Need:

  • Organic flannel – about 1/2 yard (or meter) of organic flannel, folded into a square
  • Organic, hexane-free castor oil
  • A Mason Jar or something similar to put the saturated flannel in after
  • Plastic wrap to cover the outside of the castor oil (it’s preferable to use something non-plastic, but it’s also messier.)
  • A hot water bottle or heating pad
  • 90 minutes




Directions for a Castor Oil Pack:

  1. Saturate the folded flannel with the castor oil. The first time you do this it will take a fair bit of oil. You want the flannel to be full of oil, but not dripping everywhere.
  2. Put the flannel square over the area you’d like to treat – usually the right side of your abdomen under your rib cage (for liver/gallbladder), but it could be over your lower pelvis (for menstrual cramps, hormone balance, fibroids, or really any other uterine issue), over your breasts for fibrocystic breasts, or even over a sore joint, skin rash or other inflammatory issue.
  3. Wrap the pack and the area of your body that it’s covering with plastic wrap. This has no therapeutic value, but it helps to keep your house clean because castor oil is heavy oil and will stain.
  4. Put a hot water bottle or hot pack over the castor oil pack
  5. Lie back and rest for 90 minutes (NICE!!) This is potentially the best part of the castor oil pack.




So – this is great. It allows your skin to absorb as much castor oil as it possibly can because the cloth is saturated so it can just keep soaking up the oil for that gorgeous 90 minute rest.  The problem is, who *actually* has time for a 90 minute rest? Therapeutically it’s a great idea, but practically it’s a little difficult – hence Dr. Amy’s Slightly Lazy Castor Oil Pack…

Dr. Amy’s Slightly Lazy Castor Oil Pack – Castor Oil Life Hack

This is probably not quite as perfect as the traditional method, but it’s a whole lot easier, and because it’s easier it’s a lot more likely to get done. This is an awesome castor oil life hack.  It’s quick and easy detox, anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving awesomeness.

You Will Need:

  • Organic castor oil
  • A pair of pyjamas that can be dedicated for the rest of their natural lives to castor oil. They will never be the same again.
  • A hot water bottle of heating pad if you want.

Directions for The Lazy Castor Oil Pack:

  1. Slather a good layer of castor oil over the area you want to treat:
    1. Liver/gallbladder – the right side of your abdomen under your rib cage, including your right side and even the right side of your back. Honestly I pretty much just cover my whole stomach and back and leave it at that.
    2. Uterus – slather your whole lower pelvis
    3. Breasts – just cover the whole area
    4. Joints, rashes and other local inflammation – put a good layer over the whole area
  2. Throw on the chosen pajamas
  3. If you have a hot water bottle or hot pack, go for it.
  4. Go to bed for the night
  5. When you wake up the next morning the oil will be absorbed, your body will be working on the castor oil and enjoying the anti-inflammatory benefits, and you really only spent 5 extra minutes putting on the oil.

This method provides an easy way to work this into a busy lifestyle.  Granted, the 90 minute rest has it’s own therapeutic benefit and if you can do it, I would highly recommend it.  If you can’t work that in (like I often can’t) then by all means do the lazy method. This gives you the opportunity to work castor oil in more frequently – even doing it a few times per week.

After having my daughter I was doing lazy castor oil packs over my abdomen and pelvis 3-4 nights per week just to help my body to deal with the anesthetics, surgical recovery and pain.  I feel like my recovery was far more smooth and easy than it otherwise would have been, simply because I was able to use castor oil so frequently.  If I had to take 90 minutes and do the full castor oil pack experience I wouldn’t have been able to fit it in at all.



Castor Oil – The Best Thing You Never Knew You Needed

I was reminded the other day how many people don’t know about all of the cheap and easy old-timey remedies that people used to rely on, like castor oil.  Many of these remedies have been used for centuries, simply because they work.  Castor oil is one such helpful substance that really does fix just about everything as well today as it did in it’s first recorded use 3000 years ago.  Really, if it’s been working for 3000 years, chances are it’s going to keep working.

Castor oil - picture by Pete Markham from Loretto, USA

Castor oil – picture by Pete Markham from Loretto, USA. This bottle is from the light-keepers house at Split Rock Lighthouse in Minnesota.

There are internal uses for castor oil, but I wouldn’t necessarily suggest them simply because this isn’t a gentle plant – it’s a kick in the pants (literally).  Castor oil taken internally is a laxative strong enough not only to induce bowel cramping and diarrhea, but even to induce labor contractions in pregnant women.  I actually used it to induce labor for myself recently and I can honestly say the castor-oil cramps were almost as bad as the labor pains. Eek!   Not a lot of fun, but if you’re impatiently waiting for a baby it does work. The reaction is so strong that castor oil is even reputed to have been used by fascist mobs in Italy in the 1920s as a form of intimidation (I would be intimidated).  Essentially these mobs would force feed their victims castor oil and turn them lose to have an agonizing and embarrassing bout of violent diarrhea. This, I suppose, made the victims then comply with whatever it was the fascist mob wanted in the first place. Ummm… Yeah. So don’t use it like that please.




While I’m obviously not a big fan of internal use in all but the most dire circumstances, topical use of castor oil is a miracle strong enough to make it a necessary part of every medicine cabinet.   The uses for topical castor oil are threefold:

  1. Digestive – Castor oil over the liver and abdomen helps to treat constipation, inflammatory bowel, liver congestion, gall bladder disease, bowel adhesions, lymphatic congestion, hepatitis, liver cirrhosis and  even infections in pelvic organs such as bladder and vaginal tract. For anyone looking to cleanse the liver or eliminate gallbladder sludge, this is a necessary.
  2. Skin – Topically castor oil can help with bacterial or fungal skin infections, rashes, acne, boils, abscesses, age spots, sebaceous cysts, warts, preventing stretch marks, ringworm, skin keratosis, swollen lymph nodes and eczema. It takes redness out of rashes through a strong anti-inflammatory action and softens even the most resistant skin, so it’s also a great natural beauty tool.
  3. Pain – Topical castor oil can also be used to mitigate or relieve internal pain and inflammation from many causes.  This includes uterine cramping and abdominal pain related to the menses, joint pain and inflammation from arthritis, bursitis or tendinitis, muscle and ligament sprains, pain due to fluid retention in extremities, painful lymph nodes, even pain from appendicitis (although you still need to get to the ER post haste)

So – let me say this a different way. TOPICAL castor oil can help with:

  • Constipation
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Abdominal pain and inflammation
  • Adhesions after surgery
  • Lymphatic congestion
  • Hepatitis
  • Liver detox
  • Gallbladder sludge
  • Gallstones
  • Pelvic infections
  • Menstrual cramps or pain
  • Fungal infections
  • Acne
  • Boils
  • Abcesses
  • Age spots
  • Eczema
  • Stretch mark prevention
  • Keratosis
  • Rashes
  • Joint pain and inflammation
  • Muscle and ligament sprains and strains
  • Painful lymph nodes

The reason for it’s dramatic success in so many areas is simply the size of the primary molecule, ricinoleic acid, which comprises about 90% of the oil’s volume.  Ricinoleic acid is strongly anti-inflammatory and is a small enough molecule to penetrate into the deepest layers of the skin as well as into the lymphatic channels.  This penetration and effect is even better if you use heat on the area being treated. I recently had to have a C-section to deliver my little girl (the same one that was induced with castor oil – as it turns out her head was bigger than my body could handle).  Castor oil topically over the C-section scar has helped it to soften and heal and really helped with the initial post-labor pain.

The best news is that 8oz of organic castor oil will run between $5 and $10 depending on how fancy a store you like to shop in.  That 8oz will last most of your natural life because there’s really only so much you can use at once. Stay tuned for instructions on how to do an at home castor oil pack – both the conventional instructions, and my own much lazier method. 🙂

The castor bean plant, also called Palma Christi, or Palm of Christ.  Possibly because of its hand-shaped leaves, possibly because castor oil is as close to a miracle as I’ve ever seen.



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.