What is a Gallbladder Cleanse?

Gallstones afflict millions of people each year and some chronic sufferers and others concerned with gallbladder issues are resorting to a gallbladder cleanse in an attempt to prevent, treat, and control this painful condition. The gallbladder is a small organ that stores and manages bile, which is a liquid produced in and secreted by the liver to aid in the digestion of food. The liver connects to the gallbladder where it dumps the bile, and then the bile travels through the bile duct on a journey to the small intestine to work on breaking down undigested food. The main purpose of bile is to emulsify fats and neutralize acids.

Though using a gallbladder cleanse as a treatment for gallstones is not supported by the mainstream medical community, many alternative healthcare practitioners recommend it not only as a preventive tactic for gallstone sufferers, but also as a corrective measure for a poor diet. Gallstones form when liquid bile hardens and forms stones due to incorrect proportions of cholesterol, bilirubin, and bile salts. If these stones are large enough, they can block the bile duct and cause severe pain. Many believe this is a result of too much fat and oil in the diet, too much spice, very cold liquids, and stress.

The purpose of a gallbladder cleanse is to break down gallstones until they are small enough to pass through the bile duct. There are many versions from which to choose. Some are designed to be completed in one day, some in five days, and some over a period of several weeks. Most involve avoiding certain foods and increasing amounts of others. Foods touted as promoters of gallbladder health include apples, radishes, parsnips, lemons, limes, and seaweed.

Oils are also utilized for a gallbladder cleanse.
Olive oil is mixed with lemon juice and sipped for one of the fast flushes, and flaxseed oil is added to foods in another. Alternative health practitioners encouraging gall bladder cleanses also advise participants to avoid foods high in fat, meat, and dairy. Vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes are suggested as healthy foods to aid in preventing gallstones.

A gallbladder cleanse has risks, and a medical practitioner should be consulted before engaging in any sort of cleansing process. The biggest risk is that gallstones can become lodged in the bile duct during a cleanse and medical attention should be sought at the onset of any sharp pains. It is also important to note that studies have suggested the "stones" expelled in feces after a cleanse are soap stones. There are two types of stones: cholesterol stones and soap stones. Cholesterol stones passing through is the goal, but stones analyzed after a cleanse have indicated most, if not all, are the soap variety. Soap stones are produced from oil, so the oil ingested to rid the body of gallstones may have actually just produced its own.