Liver Gallbladder Flush Guide
updated April 2013
updated April 2013
About 6 years ago (I had just turned 19) I was struggling with my health. After my first semester of college: eating cafeteria food, drinking, smoking, not sleeping enough … I just felt unwell most of the time. I had a lingering sore throat/cold, constant fatigue, moderate acne on my face and back that seemed to be getting worse, acid reflux and stomach pain/discomfort that bothered me on a daily basis. The digestive issues had been a life-long problem. I had surgery to remove a cyst in my bile duct at age 7. And always had slow digestion/constipation for as long as I can remember. Had been taking prilosec/prevacid for reflux since age 15.
I decided it was time take some responsibility and try to eat healthier. At the time I had read a few books about the Raw Food Diet, and that was the route I took. I probably went on a 75% raw mostly vegetarian diet overnight, which was a huge change from eating basically a Standard American Diet. I cut back on drinking alcohol a lot. Initially I felt great - my stomach felt noticeably better within days. My skin looked 90% clearer within a week. I had more energy and just felt cleaner. After a few weeks things went downhill. I either put myself into some intense state of cleansing or was just not eating enough/the right foods for myself at the time (or both).
After about 2 months of eating a high raw mostly veg diet, I was feeling VERY lethargic, low energy, had lost a lot of weight (muscle and fat), found that I was healing very slowly from minor injuries - like if I scraped my hand on something it would take really long to scab. And I tired to increase the amount of cooked food and animal products to balance myself back out, but my stomach had become REALLY sensitive to everything suddenly. If I ate fried food, or bread, or heavy meat I would have immediate sharp inflammatory pain that would last hours. And that made me feel even worse, so I was forced to keep eating this super clean diet. My hair seemed to be thinning, my joints were achy, I couldn't really exercise strenuously without getting exhausted in 5 minutes, my teeth and gums became more sensitive.
So… skip ahead about a year of struggling to find a balance with my diet, and feeling pretty shitty - fatigued, depressed, underweight, digestive pain - I came to the conclusion that there must be something not functioning with my digestive system itself. And I read up on every type of cleanse I could find. I tried a juice fast, which lasted about 2 1/2 days before I felt like I was going to pass out from starvation. I tried taking various herbs, vitamins, and supplements. Eventually I came across this liver flush thing on the internet, and knowing that I had a history of problems with bile flow, settled on the idea that I must have gall stones/sludge in my liver and gallbladder, and that was why my digestion wasn't working no matter what I ate. I actually tried a liver flush once early on, and did not prepare well for it. I ended up just having burning diarrhea for 2 days and thought "I'll never do that again." Months later I came back to it though, and had read dozens of people's personal accounts of how liver flushing had helped them.
I also realized I have a gluten intolerance and that cutting out all wheat/gluten for a period of months was very important. I had both a blood and stool test at a Naturopathic doctor that showed raised antibodies to gluten/gliadin, among other things. Also showed a moderate imbalance of bacteria/fungus in my intestine - in other words "Candida overgrowth".
From around early 2009 to 2011 I was doing regular Liver Flushes - about once a month. What I can say for sure is that after doing just a couple, ALL of my health problems started turning around. It was like being injected with a burst of energy. Mentally, physically, emotionally I was less fatigued, had a much easier time getting up and going. My digestion felt better all around - I no longer felt stuffed after a small meal. I started gaining healthy weight back without even trying. It didn't take long actually til I weighed more than I ever did eating a regular diet.
So, now its 2013… my diet has changed considerably. I am not even close to vegetarian anymore. I eat a lot of veggies, pretty good amount of meat, eggs, and dairy, not as much fruit, not much processed food, gluten free. My thoughts of what is ideal have changed a lot mostly based on my own direct experience. I think from a logical perspective raw food makes a lot of sense. Humanity's closest relatives in the wild are doing just fine eating all raw, and though chimps may eat some insects and meat, they aren't stuffing their mouths with chicken eggs and ground cow meat every meal. The question is how much have humans changed our bodies/digestive systems in thousands of years of eating domesticated food… Some people seem to do really well on vegan and vegetarian diets, and some just don't. There's no reason to be dogmatic about it. Do what works - be practical.
I still do the occasional liver flush every few months to kinda reset my digestive system, and usually some sludgy stuff or tiny particles of solid bile comes out. But overall I have been feeling consistently good since doing the long series of liver flushes. When I don't feel good it's always because I am stressed and not eating well or not eating enough. My skin rarely breaks out. My circulation is definitely better. My mood is more consistent. I still have a sensitive digestive system but I've realized more lately how much of a role stress plays in that.
I highly recommend recommend reading The Amazing Liver Gallbladder Flush by Andreas Moritz before attempting a flush. He addresses various issues that could come up if you are taking medications, have a serious illness, etc.
The goal of this cleanse is to remove bile "stones" (solidified, wax-like globs) from the liver and gallbladder. You'll also be cleaning out the intestinal tract. And most importantly you'll be squeezing out your liver like a sponge, so that it can get to work cleaning your blood and assisting your entire body in detoxification. If your liver is backed-up, then your blood is not being filtered properly, and detoxification can't really take place because there is no space in the blood to transport anything.
Here is my version of the Hulda Clark/Moritz Liver flush:
• apple cider vinegar, unfiltered, unpasteurized, organic (helps to soften and loosen stones)
• cold-pressed organic olive oil (taken with citrus juice on flush day. causes liver to squeeze out a massive amount of bile, carrying stones with it)
• epsom salt (magnesium sulfate), can be found at any drug store (is a safe and effective laxative. acts a smooth muscle relaxer. it dilates and relaxes the bile ducts, allowing stones/sludge to pass easily and painlessly)
• lemons and/or grapefruits (loosens and softens stones. taken with olive oil on flush day. makes it much easier to drink the oil)
• citrus juicer (simple non-electric kind)
• pure water (do the best you can)
• blender (A hi powered blender, like a vita-mix, is the best)
3-4 days leading up to your flush day do the following:
-drink the juice of 2 large lemons a day. this can be simply diluted in water, or you can make lemonade: water, lemon juice, honey/agave, pinch sea salt OR drink 2-3 oz of Apple Cider Vinegar per day. whichever you prefer. the vinegar is easier and faster but can disagree with some people.
-take 2 tablespoons per day of any of the following cold-pressed oils: olive, flax, coconut, hemp. this keeps bile flowing.
Diet During Prep Days:
The goal here is to not consume anything that is going to cause inflammation in the gut, while eating easily digestible food. Depending on what your regular diet is you may need to make little or no adjustment, or change a lot. You want to have a few days of real calm digestion before the flush.
If you eat a really terrible diet (lots of processed food, cheap meat, fried stuff, white sugar, etc) you will probably have a very unpleasant flush experience. You may want to make some permanent changes to your diet for weeks/months before doing a flush.
The majority of my diet before flushing would be: smoothies, soup, steamed veggies and sweet potatoes, brown rice or quinoa, eggs, small serving of fish or meat, salad with soft greens, some cheese, tea, kombucha.
AVOID: wheat, soy, white rice or flour, processed meats, processed sweets (or any white sugar), too many nuts/seeds (nut butter okay), excessive alcohol and caffeine, anything with preservatives or food coloring or chemicals.
make sure you get enough salt, this helps you feel grounded and have energy. Celtic Sea Salt is by far the best, most healthy salt in my opinion. Sea veggies are great too - look for Maine Coast Dulse and Kelp shakers at your local health food store.
drinking apple juice and/or homemade lemonade will help to soften stones. But too much sugar while cleansing is not the best idea for some people.
it's really important to keep your bowels moving during these days. if you don't naturally go one or more times a day (a clear sign of sluggish bile flow), take either an herbal laxative or 1 teaspoon of epsom salt every day. Swiss Kriss is a good herbal laxative. it can be found at most health food stores. Also "Senna Leaf Tea".
This day it is important that you eat strictly. Chew your food well. Eat enough to satisfy but don't stuff yourself. Do not fast leading up to the flush - this will not help remove stones. For some reason a lot of the versions of Liver Flushes on the internet are set up as 3 or 5 day juice fasts followed by the flush - I totally disagree with this - you need solid food to keep your intestines moving. You need to be nourished and feel grounded (minerals in the blood) because the flush will take a lot out of you, literally.
Finish eating solid food around 4:00 pm
Have a juice, lemonade, tea, kombucha anytime the rest of the day.
I have it laid out here so that you will be getting in bed at 11 pm. If you want to adjust the schedule by moving everything forward or backward an hour or two that's fine. just keep the spacing the same.
7:30 pm Mix up the epsom salt so it has time to fully dissolve before drinking: 2 tablespoons epsom salt, 3 to 4 cups water, pinch of sea salt. Put it in a large glass or jar and stir/shake so that everything dissolves.
8:00 pm Drink first half of epsom salts (you can take your time with this. no need to chug)
9:00 pm Drink second half of epsom salts (you might start having trouble towards the end getting it down. if you can get down 75% that's probably good enough. don't make yourself sick)
As you prepare your oil/juice make another epsom salt mix for the following morning. This way, when you wake up, all you have to do is drink the stuff.
Before you drink the oil/juice, the epsom salts should have kicked in and completely emptied you out. You should be having huge liquid bowel movements. This sounds gross, but usually makes me feel really good after. If this isn't the case, its okay to move ahead and drink the oil. Your body may not be stimulated to empty until you do that.
***A big emptying from epsom salts usually leaves me feeling dehydrated and thirsty. It's very important to be hydrated before drinking the oil and going to sleep. If you don't have enough water in your system, it's more likely you will feel nauseous. So 20-30 mins before drinking the oil have a glass of water. i also often tend to squeeze too much grapefruit juice, so i drink some of it 30 mins before the oil***
Castor Oil (optional)
I usually do a castor pack or just rub down my entire abdomen with castor oil before drinking olive oil. Supposedly, castor oil helps the lymphatic system open up and flow better. I wouldn't say castor is necessary but it's nice. Your skin will be super soft the following day. It can be a bit messy so put a towel on your bed. don't wear your favorite t-shirt.
11:00 pm Oil/lemon/grapefruit
-Pour 4-6 oz olive oil into a glass (MEASURE - no estimating) (depending on your body size. start w/ 4 oz. if you get that down and feel you could do another ounce or two, go ahead)
-Juice some combination of lemon, grapefruit. i usually do 1/2 a lemon, and 1 large grapefruit. it's usually around 6-7 oz. the sweetness of the grapefruit covers the oil well.
-Have everything ready so you can lay down soon after downing the oil. go to the bathroom.
-Drink the oil and juice quickly (10 mins at most). you can either sip them back and forth separately or mix them together. i definitely prefer separate. it helps to not breathe through your nose while drinking the oil. when you're done rinse your mouth out with a little water - straight lemon juice isn't good for the teeth.
11:15 pm Lay down in bed. Over the next 30-60 minutes, you may (not necessarily though) feel a lot going on in your upper abdominal area - perhaps feelings of pressure. This is your liver and gallbladder squeezing out a tremendous amount of bile in response to the large amount of fat you just consumed. If you are ready to sleep, go ahead. I usually listen to music for awhile or watch a show/movie. It can be hard to fall asleep immediately after downing all the oil. It can help to massage your liver/GB during this time. this is just below your rib cage, from the center to right side of your body. Massage deeply and slowly.
If you wake up in the middle of the night (or can't fall asleep) feeling nauseous, sip some water, try to find a comfortable position. Nausea usually comes 90 mins or so after the oil - it is not from the oil itself, but from all the bile the liver has just squeezed out. Sometimes it can help to stand up and walk around a bit. Keeping your upper body raised helps - use an extra pillow under your shoulders. Bouts of nausea usually only last 30 mins or so. I have vomited once or twice doing a flush, only when i've tried to do more oil (7+ oz) than normal though.
One solution for getting rid of nausea quickly: As soon as you start feeling nauseous, start sipping some of your epsom salt mix that you prepared for the following morning. Almost always works.
**I've experimented with drinking a larger quantity of oil, with the idea that this will create an even stronger bile flow and more stones will pass. But I find that 6-7 oz is really the maximum amount the body can handle. Drinking too much is almost a guarantee you are going to feel very sick and/or vomit.**
8:00 am (or whenever you wake up) Give your body 15 mins or so to awaken. you'll probably be going to the bathroom immediately. Begin drinking epsom mix.
9:00 am Second half epsom mix - you do not need to drink all of the morning epsom and often people say it just tastes so awful that they can't drink it. That's fine. Drink at least half (which would be 1 tablespoon of epsom). You just need enough to get your intestines moving and to get rid of all the sludge/stones/bile that your liver has pushed out.
10:00 am Okay to eat at this point. Start slowly. Eat water rich foods.
Stones (this word doesn't describe what this stuff is very well. "congealed bile sludge" would be better but "stones" is easier) will begin to come out in your bowel movements when you wake up or within the first couple hours of being awake. The biggest passings usually happen 1-3 hours after the morning epsom salts. Stones can range in size from resembling gravel to being an inch in diameter. All stones float in the toilet water. They have a distinct and horrendous smell. At some point in the morning, you will probably be running to the bathroom every 10 minutes due to the epsom salts. This can really take a toll on your soft tissues. Using wet wipes instead of toilet paper can help!
The huge flow of liquid moving through your intestine tends to wipe out your flora. I recommend taking probiotics and eating fermented foods following a flush. It is normal to feel fatigued both physically and mentally the day after a flush. Get plenty of sleep!!
You should continue to eat very healthy for the rest of the day. And then you can be less strict from there with your diet. The whole point of these flushes is to get your digestive and detox systems of your body functioning at a higher level, so that if you choose to eat some french fries or cookies, your body is capable of dealing with it.
Although in the days following a flush your system may feel a little more sensitive than normal - you've cleared out your intestine completely so you will be feeling everything you put into your body.
You can do the flush during the day instead of at night, if it fits your schedule better. Some people have a lot of trouble sleeping after the oil and prefer just being awake. It can also be better for people with sluggish digestion as they will have had the entire night to digest the previous day's meals.
In this case wake up - have some tea, but no food. Then start the epsom and follow the time table above. Take the 2nd round of epsom salt about 4-5 hours after the oil. And when your stomach feels ready start eating. You will start passing stuff in the late afternoon or evening and probably continue into the next day.
A note on flushing in general:
You can follow this flush procedure every 7 to 10 days, if you like. Some authors recommend taking 2-4 weeks off between flushes but I've done 2 in a short period of time and felt fine. It does take some time to soften and loosen the "next batch" of stones between each flush. You may not pass any stones or very few on your first flush. This does not mean they aren't there! And even if you don't pass stones, the flush is still highly beneficial. Most people need to do upwards of 15 flushes to remove the majority of their stones. This is the most important cleanse you can do! if your bile is not flowing properly, you won't be getting the benefit of the food you're eating and you won't be able to detoxify your body tissues. your intestine cannot truly be clean and healthy until your liver is.
The reason this cleanse works so well is because it as a "Top Down" cleanse - if you were to draw a flow chart of the human body the liver is at the VERY top. Your liver is like the sewage treatment plant of your body. And every other organ and tissue is affected by how efficiently your liver works. Colonics are good for cleaning the large intestine, but if you have a lot of sludge sitting in your liver/gallbladder/bile ducts, then your intestine is just going to get dirty again.
Same with intestinal dysbiosis - aka Candida - or any imbalance of micro organisms in the gut. Without a consistent bile flow (and with the wrong foods) you can't achieve the proper balance. Undigested food, especially simple sugars, feeds yeast and fungus. The basic "Candida Diet" from any of the dozens of books and websites is Low Sugar, No alcohol, No simple starches, No yeast, no dairy, no processed food, in combination with increased probiotics, and usually strong anti-fungal like Oil of Oregano. And people usually report success following a program like that for a few weeks. Most people arrive at the conclusion they have candida problem because of skin problems (acne, eczema, rashes), mental fog, or digestive problems and I've read so many personal accounts on forums of those symptoms being improved or completely healed from following a strict dietary regimen. I would just add a few liver flushes to that to increase bile flow and clear out the intestine.
I highly recommend reading The Amazing Liver Gallbladder Flush by Andreas Moritz (although I don't agree with his ideas on diet (staunch vegan) or the cause of gallstones. You'll understand just how vital it is to have your liver functioning at full capacity. A healthy person has 6-8 cups (48 + ounces) of bile flowing from their liver through the gallbladder and intestines daily. Someone with severe bile occlusion (blockage) may only have 1 cup. Digestion is compromised. The body's ability to detoxify itself is limited. Harmful micro-organisms take over the intestine
Liver flushing is not something you just do once or twice and that's that. It is more of a process that you go through over the course of a year or two. And once you start the process by doing a couple flushes, you may really need to keep it going.
Your First Flush:
The first one is usually the worst from my own experience and more than a dozen people I've spoken with about theirs. It may take longer than I've described here for stones to make their way out your body. It may take longer for epsom salt to have its laxative effect. You may feel really nauseous a couple hours after the oil, and generally just feel like crap physically and emotionally. As far as I know, there's no way around this. It's common to be depressed for a day or two after - or to experience an intense emotional release of long-held feelings - it's amazing how connected our minds are with our physical body. In Eastern Medicine, it is said that old emotions are stored in the liver.
So, be forewarned.
Leave a question/comment if you want and I'll get back to you!!