Cleansing the Liver and Gallbladder

Today’s post is really a continuation of the one I did a few days ago on natural ways to keep the liver and gallbladder healthy. It would be very helpful to read through that information before diving into the following information. The oil therapy included in the previous post, along with the other protocols mentioned, will help relieve the liver of toxins, but to get stones out, a formal cleanse is really the only way to go besides surgery. What’s nice is in the process of doing a cleanse you will not only remove gallstones without resorting to surgery, but also dramatically improve the overall health of the body, especially your digestion. A cleanse can also help clear up some seemingly unrelated issues, such as allergies and shoulder, upper arm and upper back pain.


 Did you know that gallstones are the fifth cause of hospital admission and the third most common surgical procedure (yipes!) Fortunately there are ways to get stones out using simple things such as Epsom salts, grapefruit juice and olive oil. Think of it—no expensive hospital stay, no days missed from work or play, no surgery and scars to recuperate from!!

There are a variety of liver/gallbladder “recipes” you can use for flushing out gallstones, and number will be presented at Self-help Health to give you options to choose from. Hopefully there will be at least one that works with your time schedule, personal preferences, and level of dedication. You’ll notice that most of the routines have certain things in common, but may vary in the number of days required, amount of olive oil taken, etc.

Some of the protocols call for special ingredients/products, while others only require things that are readily available, such as Epsom salts, olive oil and grapefruit juice. Regardless of which routine you end up using, be sure to choose a time when you will be able to rest the day after you take the Epsom salts and olive oil/grapefruit juice mixture (you’ll also want to stay close to a bathroom!). Also, before undertaking a cleanse that calls for several doses of Epsom salts, be sure your body can tolerate magnesium sulfate (Epsom Salt); I read recently that a few people have been known to have adverse reactions when taken in the amount called for in a liver cleanse.

Great Smokies Liver/Gallbladder Cleanse:

The following cleanse is from Dr. Wright at Great Smokies Medical Center in Asheville. It’s the first cleanse I tried, and unlike most liver cleanses you might find, this one mainly uses phosphoric acid as a way to “pre-soften” the stones, instead of relying on large quantities of apple juice. With this particular routine you may eat normally and perform all your usual activities during the days of preparation leading up to the actual cleanse.

Ingredients needed:

  • *Phosphoric acid (1 to 2 bottles, depending on preparation time recommended by healthcare practitioner)
  • Apple cider vinegar, organic if possible
  • Several fresh lemons, organic if possible
  • Epsom salts (4 TBS.)
  • Organic cold pressed Italian olive oil (1/2 cup)
  • 1 to 2 organic fresh pink grapefruit, depending on size
  • Organic coffee (3 TBS.)
  • Enema bag

For 3 days prior to the actual day of cleansing, take 45 drops of phosphoric acid 2 times a day in a small glass of purified water, followed by 6-8 ozs. of water to clear the vinegar-y taste of the acid. If you are allowed fruit juice in your diet you may use organic unfiltered apple juice instead of water. Phosphoric acid and, to a certain extent, the apple juice work to soften stones and facilitate their passage. By the way, the number of days and amount of phosphoric acid were what I was told to use; your actual number of days, amount of drops, and frequency of dosage should be confirmed by kinesiology or as directed by your doctor or health care professional. I got my phosphoric acid when doing this cleanse directly from Dr. Wright, but Super Phos 30, is available through Global Healing Center and other sources.

On the actual day of the cleanse, eat lightly at breakfast and lunch, avoiding fats, protein, and dairy. This leaves your food choices to whole grains, fruit and vegetables, unless your diet is normally grain and fruit restricted, which would leave just vegetables. Eliminate any non-essential medications and nutritional supplements the day of cleansing.

The timing of the various steps that follow is specific and designed to work with the body’s internal rhythm, so follow it as closely as possible:

  • Acidify your system by drinking 2 TBS. fresh lemon juice mixed with 1 TBS apple cider vinegar 3 to 4 times before 2 pm. Don’t eat or drink anything other than water past 2 pm or it could interfere with your results and/or cause nausea.
  • Some time before 6 pm mix the 4 TBS of Epsom salt in 3 cups of purified water & place in the refrigerator. To improve the taste, ½ tsp of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) or fresh lemon juice may be added to the mixture. (If you have an inflammatory bowel disease like Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis, or chronic diarrhea, decrease the Epsom salts to 1 TBS). See Tips section below for another idea for how to prepare the Epsom salts/water doses.
  • At 6 pm, drink ¾ cup of the Epsom salt mixture; set out the grapefruit & olive oil so they will be at room temperature for later.
  • At 8 pm, drink another ¾ cup of the Epsom salt mixture and get any bedtime chores done so that you will be able to adhere closely to the final part of the night’s schedule. Timing is critical to your success.
  • At about 9:45 pm, mix ½ cup olive oil with up to ¾ cup fresh squeezed grapefruit juice (pulp removed) in a blender or jar that can be used as a shaker. Mix or shake vigorously to blend. Finish any last minute things you need to do to be ready for bed at 10 pm.
  • As close to 10 pm as possible, drink the oil/juice mixture while standing up (drinking through a straw may make it more palatable). You may rinse your mouth afterwards with a small amount of fresh lemon or grapefruit juice. Try to get the mixture down within 5 minutes.
  • Immediately go to bed and lie down on your right side or on your back, if lying on your right side is not tolerated. Try to lie still for at least 20 – 30 minutes, and then go to sleep as soon as possible. If you have symptoms of hiatal hernia or esophageal reflux, you will want to elevate the upper part of your body with pillows or rest in a reclining chair for the first few hours after drinking the oil/juice mixture.
  • The next morning at 6 am or later, *if your bowels are loose, drink 1 qt. of purified water mixed with 2 tsp. crystal salt and fresh lemon juice. You may go back to bed if you desire.
  • Four hours later, administer an enema consisting of 1 qt. of warm water mixed with 1 cup of brewed organic coffee (information on this will be included in the next post on liver cleansing).
  • Two hours later, you may drink diluted fruit juice, or vegetable juice or water, if you are on a fruit restricted diet. Thirty minutes later you may eat fruit or cooked vegetables.
  • One hour later, you may begin to eat your normal diet, but keep it light.

*If your bowels are NOT loose the next morning:

  • At 6 am or later drink ¾ cup of the Epsom salt mixture and go back to bed if you desire.
  •  Two hours later administer the coffee enema and drink the last ¾ cup of Epsom salt mixture. Go back to bed if you desire.
  • Two hours later, if your bowels have moved you may follow the eating schedule in the section above. If they have NOT, take a dose of the lemon/vinegar mixture and then 10 min. later administer a coffee enema. Repeat this step every hour until your bowels move.

Anytime you’re on the toilet (which is likely to be A LOT during the cleanse), be sure to look for gallstones, which normally float because of the cholesterol inside, so fortunately they’re usually easy to spot. However, stones that are calcified, or contain heavier substances like protein, can sink to the bottom of the bowl. The lighter stones are usually pea green in color from the bile, but can be other shades or tan, depending on their make-up. Some of the liver’s toxins and waste may come out more as sludge than stones (thanks to the softening effect of the phosphoric acid, apple juice, or malic acid, depending on which particular protocol you’re following), or even as whitish “chaff” (cholesterol crystals that haven’t formed into stones yet) floating on top of the water in the bowl. Whatever form, be glad your body is saying “good-bye” to it all.

Sometimes during a cleanse, the bile and poisons it is causing to be released will produce spasms in the duodenum and small intestines, which cause some of the mixture to overflow into the stomach. This may result in a feeling of nausea or even vomiting of bile. In this case, try using peppermint tea (use prepackaged bags or 1 TBS. dried peppermint leaves to 2 cups of pure water, simmered for 5 minutes and strained).

Just know that thoroughly ridding the liver of all its stones may not be a quick process. It ended up taking me more than a year of doing monthly cleanses to get to a point where there were virtually no backed-up stones left. But that’s not to say it couldn’t happen much quicker for you! Most people have spent years doing things that have caused quite a build-up in the liver, so it generally will take some time to be stone free. With the first cleanse you do you will normally only get those stones that are at the front of “the pack.” So it’s recommended that once you start the cleansing process you continue to do so on a regular basis until you have little or no stones being released.

Until you reach that end result, you may want to follow a monthly schedule or do a cleanse as frequently as every two weeks, but normally no more often than that. After you are free of stones you will probably want to cleanse the liver twice a year, say in the spring and fall, as routine maintenance. Some health care practitioners recommend timing cleanses to coincide with the full moon or a few days after—supposedly you get better results and more stones out. But don’t cleanse when you are ill, or when it will put too much of a strain on the body.

TIPS: Here are a couple of “tricks of the trade” I’ve come up with to help make the whole cleanse process a little more tolerable, at least in my opinion: Instead of mixing the 4 doses of Epsom salts all at once as the directions state, make them separately. For each serving measure out 2 TBS of the ¾ cup of water and heat until boiling; pour that over the 1 TBS. of Epsom salts, stir until dissolved and refrigerate. Remove the mixture a few minutes before you’re supposed to take it, add a little bit more of the water, give it a stir and then hold your nose and down the dose in one gulp; use whatever remains of the ¾ cup of water (which should be around ½ a cup now) as a “chaser” to help get rid of the yucky taste.

You can also use the same idea for dealing with the oil/juice mixture taken at bedtime. In other words, don’t mix all the grapefruit juice in with the olive oil. Reserve some to use as a chaser—this way you have a smaller (albeit unfortunately more oil-heavy concoction) quantity of the mixture to get down and the reserved part of the juice can be used to clear the taste from your mouth. Also, try to use a light colored olive oil for the cleanse mixture—it’s usually got a milder taste and is easier to stomach than darker varieties—and that’s important when you have to down such a large quantity all at once. Bragg’s own brand of organic extra virgin oil is one of the easiest I’ve found to take in such a big dose. It’s mild tasting, which might not be a “plus” when you’re cooking and want a strong flavored oil, but is great when you’re having to down half a cup of the stuff all at once! Also, I’ve found that drinking the oil mixture through a straw (two are even better than one!), and even holding your nose, helps it go down quicker.

Dr. Hulda Clark’s Liver/GallBladder Cleanse:

One of the most widely used protocols for cleansing and detoxing the liver and gallbladder is included in Clark’s book The Cure for All Diseases. You’ll find it is quite similar to the previous one from Great Smokies Medical Center, although it doesn’t include using the phosphoric acid to soften the gallstones.

Dr. Clark is a big believer in the idea that metal-laden dental fillings and various parasites are the major causes of almost any health condition or disease. A toxic mouth can put a heavy load on the liver, burdening it immediately after cleansing, so she advocates replacing any suspect dental work, getting rid of parasites, and doing a kidney cleanse BEFORE you undertake her liver/gallbladder cleanse routine. I used the cleanse protocol given in The Cure for All Diseases a number of times over the years, but didn’t realize until putting together the information for a book I wrote  that some of the instructions have been slightly changed since the edition I have of her book. You can go to the website for her recipe and updated instructions.

One of the updates mentioned on the website is that you can substitute 3 cups of freshly pressed grapefruit juice, or freshly pressed apple juice, for the 3 cups of water used with the Epsom salts—I would assume that way the taste wouldn’t be nearly as unpleasant. After downing more than my share of doses of the Epsom salts mixture, anything that works to improve the taste sounds like a great idea to me! The website also recommends that the olive oil be ozonated, and says you can substitute 3 lemons for the grapefruit juice used as part of the olive oil routine at 10 pm, but to not blend the juice with the oil, i.e. drink a little oil, then a little juice, until both are gone. Apparently if you mix the lemon juice with the oil it sometimes gets slightly congealed/slimy and hard to swallow.

Her routine on the day of the actual cleanse includes eating a no-fat breakfast and lunch, such as cooked cereal with fruit, fruit juice, bread and preserves or honey (no butter or milk), baked potato or other vegetables with salt only. Not eating any oils or fats before the actual cleanse allows the bile to build up and develop pressure in the liver. Higher pressure pushes out more stones. The routine after 2 pm is much the same as the one from Great Smokies, with a few slight variations. Her website also lists an alternative plan—omitting the first Epsom salts dose at 6 p.m. and taking only the 8 pm dose that day. Supposedly many people still get stones out with one less dose. But if you try this routine and don’t get good results, do the full course next time. Her instructions for the last part of the evening are as follows:

At 9:45 PM, pour 1/2 (half) cup (measured) olive oil into a pint jar. Add 2 drops HCl to sterilize. Wash grapefruit twice in hot water and dry; squeeze by hand into the measuring cup. Remove pulp with fork. You should have at least ½ cup, more (up to ¾ cup) is best. You may use part lemonade. Add this to the olive oil; also add black walnut tincture. Close the jar tightly with the lid and shake hard until watery (only fresh grapefruit juice does this). Now visit the bathroom one or more times, if necessary, even if it makes you late for your 10 pm drink. But don’t be more than 15 minutes late or you may get fewer stones.

At 10:00 PM, drink the olive oil/grapefruit mixture, taking 4 ornithine capsules with the first sips to make sure you will sleep through the night (or 8, if you already suffer from insomnia). Drinking through a large plastic straw helps it go down easier and you may use oil and vinegar salad dressing, or straight honey to chase it down between sips. Take it all to your bedside if you want, but drink it standing up. Get it down within 5 minutes (fifteen minutes for very elderly or weak persons). Lie down immediately—you might fail to get stones out if you don’t. The sooner you lie down the more stones you will get out. Be ready for bed ahead of time. Don’t clean up the kitchen, if it will make you late.

As soon as you get the drink down, walk to your bed and lie down flat on your back with your head up high on the pillow. Try to think about what is happening in the liver. Try to keep perfectly still for at least 20 minutes. You may feel a trail of stones traveling along the bile ducts like marbles. There is no pain because the bile duct valves are open, thanks to the Epsom salts. Go to sleep, or you may fail to get stones out if you don’t.

The next morning you follow the same schedule as the Great Smokies cleanse, or follow Alternative Schedule 2, which includes taking a second dose of the oil mixture (but only ½ a cup) two hours after the 6 am dose of Epsom salts, and then the last dose of Epsom salts two hours later, around 10 am (supposedly this schedule can increase the number of stones you remove). After 2 more hours, you may eat. Start with fruit juice. Half an hour later, eat fruit. One hour later you may eat regular food, but keep it light. By supper you should feel recovered.

Clark’s website also suggests using a colander fitted inside the toilet seat to make sure you collect all the stones that come out. You may want to count them as closely as possible because she believes you will need to total 2,000 stones before the liver is clean enough to rid you of allergies or bursitis or upper back pains permanently. The first cleanse may rid you of these dis-eases for a few days, but after the cleanse, as the stones that were left in the rear travel forward, you’ll likely start getting the same symptoms again. You may repeat cleanses at two week intervals, but never cleanse when you are ill. (some of this information is excerpted from “The Cure for all Diseases”: Copyright 1995 by Hulda Regehr Clark, Ph.D., N.D. All rights reserved.)

By the way, there are some people out there who disagree with aspects of Dr. Clark’s information and viewpoint. They believe that much of what comes out during a cleanse is actually just bile that has solidified, and not actual gallstones. They say that it is better to focus less on the number of stones you’re getting out and more on the relief of symptoms. Regardless, the fact remains that the liver functions better with periodic cleansing and maintenance. I know I have had a variety of “debris” come out, and some of it has definitely NOT been just solidified bile, but without sending everything off to a lab I guess it’s hard to know for sure what’s what. 🙂

There are several other routines I want to present, including the one I finally settled on as being the easiest one for me personally to follow, but didn’t want to overload you with information here. So I will feature a few more options in an upcoming post and will also include details about using coffee enemas, something that initially sounded strange and yucky to me, but I have since learned how helpful and healing they can be for certain health issues.

FYI, you can get most liver cleanse ingredients and kits that already include almost everything you will need at any good health store, however I buy all my health supplies on-line at a couple of discount sites. One of my favorite places to shop is; use code CJG192 if you are a new customer and spend more than $40 and you will get a discount, plus can take advantage of their wonderful specials and trial offer section. Shipping is free on orders of $20 and up. There’s an extra 5% off on orders over $60. is another on-line favorite of mine. If you plan on shopping there, be sure to sign up for a free acct. at (now Rakuten), if you don’t already have one. That way you can use the eBates portal to shop at Vitacost (and 100s of other popular stores) and earn cash back on your purchases. Plus, eBates/Rakuten also offers some reward–I got a $10 gift card–when you place your first $25 order at a store through them. How does it get any better than that?!

CAUTION: Be sure your colon and process of elimination is in good working order before attempting a liver cleanse. If you are in ill health, you certainly don’t want to be doing something that may burden or tax your system further. And I highly recommend working with an alternative health care professional if you are new to this kind of thing, especially if you are going to use phosphoric acid.

Related Self-help Health posts:

Keeping the Liver & Gallbladder Healthy

Cleansing the Liver & Gallbladder Part II


p.s. Be sure to subscribe to Self-help Health so you don’t miss any future posts, and tell your friends to do the same. Also check out my website’s To Your Health page and Evolution Made Easier blog for more helpful health tips, tools and information.

Disclaimer: Please note that any information here is provided as a guideline only, and is not meant to substitute for the advice of your physician, nutritionist, trained health care practitioner, and/or inner guidance system. Always consult a professional before undertaking any change to your normal health routine.

11 thoughts on “Cleansing the Liver and Gallbladder

  1. rajesh kumar says:

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    • zirah1 says:

      Thanks. I just accessed the magazine and will read the article you mentioned later today. Looks like good info and will likely update the most recent post I did (Cleansing the Liver: Part II) to include a link to that. Plus, I plan to peruse the rest of the magazine; seems like a good resource to be aware of. 🙂


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