Lecithin for Blocked Ducts and Gallbladder Sludge

If you’ve had gallbladder sludge, blocked ducts in your gallbladder or blocked ducts in your breast you know just how painful and horrible this can truly be. In good news there is a reasonably simple food supplement that can make a huge difference while you’re working on clearing things out, called lecithin.

What is Lecithin?

Lecithin is naturally occurring in such common foods as soy, egg and sunflower seeds. It’s a compound called a phospholipid, which is a phosphate head bound to long lipid tails. The phosphate head is water soluble, and the lipid tails are fat soluble so lecithin is a great natural emulsifier, meaning it helps to blend fat and water. Lecithin  is used as a food additive frequently for this very reason – it helps to keep fats suspended in a water solution. As a supplement it is sold in both a granule form that you can add to cereal, oatmeal, soups or just about any other food as well as a capsule.  The granules have a nice, nutty sort of flavor that adds well to things and the capsules are , well, just capsules.

Lecithin helps emulsify gallbladder sludge and open blocked ducts in the gallbladder or breast. It's commonly found in soy, sunflower and egg. Photo by John Sullivan

Lecithin helps emulsify gallbladder sludge and open blocked ducts in the gallbladder or breast. It’s commonly found in soy, sunflower and egg. Photo by John Sullivan

Why Does Lecithin Work for Blocked Ducts And Gallbladder Sludge?

Gallbladder sludge is a thick waxy build up of cholesterol and other sterol-type fats bound to bile salts.  Under normal circumstances this is a fluid mixture, but when it gets too thick it becomes waxy and semi-solid.  Blocked breast ducts are also filled with a condensed form of breast milk that is very fat-rich.  Therapeutically , we are looking for this same emulsifying action – we want to allow water to easily add into the mixture to loosen things up and get them moving. Quite literally we want to emulsify the gallbladder sludge or thickened breast milk with water so that it can pass.Lecithen, as a potent emulsifier, does a great job.

How To Take Lecithin For Gallbladder Sludge

If you’re having mild trouble with gallbladder sludge that gives you low-grade symptoms or frequent mini-attacks then 4000 – 5000 mg per day in divided doses will help to prevent further attacks and keep the sludge moving.

If you’re having a strong acute attack that isn’t serious enough for the hospital then 4000-5000 mg every 4 hours with lots of water until it resolves (not more than 24 hours without talking to your doctor or knowing for sure that it truly is gallbladder sludge and not a gallstone emergency). If the lecithin isn’t producing any changes or the symptoms get worse please do seek medical attention because if gallstones get stuck in a duct and block bile flow completely it can be a medical emergency.

How to Take Lecithin for Blocked Milk Ducts

If you’re having recurrent blocked ducts or always feel like you’re hovering on the cusp of a blocked duct then 1200 mg four times daily will help to prevent further issues.

If you’ve already got a blocked duct that you’re trying to loosen up then 4000 – 5000 mg every 4 hours with lots of water until it resolves.

How to Make The Lecithin Work it’s Best

There are a few things you can do to support the action of lecithin so that you’re getting the most benefit from it:

  1. Water – obviously we’ve got the fat, but we need the water to make the emulsifier work.  Aim for 10 8 oz glasses per day if you’re having issues with blocked ducts or gallbladder sludge. **Lecithin will not work without water**
  2. Heat – physically warming up the area can help to relax and open ducts, as well as “melt” the fatty plug. A hot compress such as a hot water bottle, infrared heating pad or wash cloth soaked in hot water over the breast area or gallbladder area (on your right side just under your rib cage straight below the nipple from the front to the back at the same area) will help to loosen things up and get them moving.
  3. Castor Oil – if you’ve read my blog before you know how much I love castor oil. *Love* castor oil. It can be rubbed on the breast tissue (be sure to wipe off completely before your baby nurses) or over the entire liver/gallbladder area to reduce inflammation and help to get things moving as well.  Even better is the combo of castor oil + heat.  Just be sure to put on an old T-shirt because the oil is heavy and will stain clothes. Here’s more information about castor oil in general and castor oil for gallbladder health.
  4. Rest – blocked ducts and gallbladder sludge are both reasonably difficult for your body.  They produce a lot of inflammation and can lead to infection and other problems if left untreated so you will need more rest, more support and generally a little more TLC while this is going on.

Other Uses for Lecithin

Lecithin, as it turns out is great for lots of things:

  • Natural source of choline
  • Improves brain heath, cognitive function and memory, possibly even ADHD
  • Reduce cholesterol and triglycerides and increases HDL (the good cholesterol)
  • Used in the formation of neurotransmitters such as acetylcholine
  • Supportive in pregnancy, as a source of choline, to help prevent neural tube defects and help healthy brain development
  • Mildly anti-inflammatory
  • Helps to gently improve anxiety
  • Helps to supplement nutritional deficiencies created by alcohol consumption.

Lecithin is a simple, safe, low-cost, beneficial supplement for blocked ducts, gallbladder sludge, and blocked bile ducts but don’t forget the water!

17 thoughts on “Lecithin for Blocked Ducts and Gallbladder Sludge

  1. Tamara

    Do you have any brand suggestions of sunflower lecithin?
    Im always looking for clean, non-gmo brands that go through testing to be free of heavy metals, chemicals, pesticides etc.
    Thanks so much,

    1. amyneuzil Post author

      Hi Tamara,
      There are several good non-GMO brands out there – even NOW brand, which is pretty much everywhere, is non-GMO. I’m not aware of any who do independent testing for heavy metals, pesticides, and all the rest. That, I haven’t seen. If you do find one, please let me know! Thanks for being here!

  2. Pancreatitis Guy

    How does the lecithin pass from the liver into bile, given the liver processes only blood. Lecithin needs to be introduced intravenously?

    1. amyneuzil Post author

      Hi Pancreatitis guy,
      IV lecithin is possible, although as far as I’m aware it isn’t commonly used. Lecithin, happily, is well absorbed when you ingest it with foods, especially foods with a little bit of fat, and from your stomach and small intestine it gets absorbed into the blood stream where it can then travel to your liver. Lecithin is, in fact, used to enhance the absorption of many other compounds used medically. I hope this helps and thanks for reading!

  3. Sarah

    I have lecithin softgels that contain olive oil as an added ingredient. Will these lecithin particles still attach to gallbladder sludge, or are they already “occupied” by the olive oil? Thanks for your help!

    1. amyneuzil Post author

      Hi Sarah,
      That is a really interesting question, and I can’t honestly say for sure. My guess would be that some of the lecithin particles are busy emulsifying the olive oil, but that there are probably many left over to do good work in your body. Does that make sense? Thanks for reading!

  4. Cynthia DiFuria

    I have gallbladder sludge. I’ve been to emergency twice, exactly a year apart. Both Ultra Sounds showed sludge, no stones. My Dr. and the Gastro. Dr. immediately wanted to remove my gallbladder. I have researched and have read enough to know that it doesn’t solve any problems, only causing more. Of course there are reasons to remove it in serious situations. My question is how do you know when to stop taking Lecithin. Will the gallbladder pain subside? Do you have to continue to take a pill now and then to keep it from recurring? Does it hurt when the bile leaves the gallbladder, do we poop green (lol)? I bought the Lecithin, and I’m working up to the 4,000…but may keep it at 3,600 mg, just to see how it goes, and lots of water. Thank you so much!!!

    1. amyneuzil Post author

      Hi Cynthia,
      Great question! I usually have my clients start to taper down their gallbladder support when they are symptom-free. That means no attacks, no lingering discomfort, no stool changes. Some people never have any symptoms other than occasional attacks and for those people it can be a bit harder to assess because we really don’t know what is going on “under the hood,” so to speak. In that case it’s really just trial and error – if you’ve been attack-free and symptom free for 6 months, try tapering off and see how your body does. Hopefully it can tell you (without an attack) if it still needs some extra support. I hope this helps!

  5. Kiley

    Hi, is there any benefit to granules over capsules? Ultra sounds show I have no sludge or stones but I get pain when I eat nom animal fats and have.low bile from my liver.

    1. amyneuzil Post author

      Hi Kiley,
      I tend to prefer the granules to the capsules because you can kind of mix them with your food, but in terms of usefulness I think they’re both great. Thanks for being here!

  6. SUE

    Hi, I have gallbladder stones and have tried using soy and sunflower lecithin before but I cannot tolerate the side effects. Mainly, i get more pain inflammation and my body feels like it “slows down”? Could you kindly respond and provide any insight why this occurs and make any suggestions. THANKS!

    1. amyneuzil Post author

      Hi Sue,
      It could be that the lecithin, which acts as kind of a lubricant for the bile flow, gets things moving enough to move a bigger stone over the duct opening? It’s just a theory, but I think that might be it. Sticking to things that increase bile flow, rather than lubricating the system might be better. Something like the bitters, or even taking a digestive enzyme with ox bile. Let me know how it all goes!

  7. kat

    I’m actively taking lecithin to reduce my Gall bladder sludge with the intention to bring the biliary duct down from 10mm. I’ve also read that resitant starch helps and have also incorporated potato starch and jerusalem artichoke insulin can also help to increase butyric acid to help stop the recycling of the sludge back into my biliary duct but I’m unsure when is the most beneficial time to take them and also the correct dosage for it. Would it be best to take this all before or after a meal or in between and any suggestion on dosage would be greatly helpful? My doctor has told me it is impossible to change my prognosis for an ERCP procedure which I’m terrified of having. Any help would be amazing as I’ve read nothing anywhere else about making actual dietary changes to help gall bladder sludge – have read your other posts (thank you!)

    1. amyneuzil Post author

      Hi Kat,
      Yes – resistant starch is something I’m just trying to wrap my head around, too. In animal and in vitro (meaning cell studies or test-tube studies) it seems to have a pretty big impact, but the dose used in animal studies is pretty huge and probably not useful to look at for human studies. (Like in this one, they used 8-12% of the total dietary intake. Yikes!) My favorite summary article is this one by healthline. They suggest 50-60 grams of resistant starch per day, saying that “excess amounts seem to pass through your body when you reach 50 – 60 grams per day,” and although they’ve cited lots of research, I can’t find exactly where that came from. So, as far as I understand you can work your way up slowly to a 50 – 60 gram per day dosage, but do it slowly because otherwise your gut flora won’t be able to keep up and you’ll experience some gas and abdominal discomfort. It can be taken with food and it’s important to make sure you’re drinking lots of water (just like taking fiber). Also MAKE SURE you’re potato starch is actually raw potato starch and not cooked, because the cooked potato starch just converts to sugars really quickly and will hurt, rather than help. I hope this helps and let me know how it all goes!

  8. Kim

    How much water is good for this sort of thing? Half the body weight? Or should it be more to flush the sludge?

    1. amyneuzil Post author

      Hi Kim,
      I try to use the eight 8 oz glasses as a baseline, and then increase from there if you’re actively losing weight or trying to flush something through. Honestly, if you get the eight glasses you’re doing better than most. 🙂

  9. Pingback: Gallbladder Sludge in Pregnancy - What Now? | To Health With That!

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