Gallbladder Cleanses With Olive Oil and Lemon

olive oil with citrus
Olive oil and lemon slices. (Image: fixouillou/iStock/Getty Images)

Gallbladder cleanses, sometimes referred to as gallbladder detox or gallbladder flushes, are promoted for a wide variety of reasons. Some claims are based on the idea that your gallbladder or other organs are filled with unnamed toxins that must be flushed out. Other gallbladder-cleanse proponents claim the regimen will remove gallstones without surgery, and also tend to claim that gallstones are responsible for a wide range of symptoms and diseases. Although drinking a large quantity of olive oil and lemon juice is not inherently dangerous, there are risks you should consider before choosing to conduct a gallbladder cleanse.

Gallbladder Cleanse

Large quantities of olive oil and lemon juice, as well as Epsom salts, are common ingredients in the gallbladder flushes supposedly intended to remove gallstones. According to Quack Watch, a website devoted to debunking unscientific medical claims, the mixture of oil, citrus and salts results in gelatinous oil globs in the stool, which proponents claim are expelled gallstones. However, real gallstones are not gelatinous. They are hard, do not float in water, and cannot be removed by consuming special drinks.

Detoxification

Gallbladder cleanses are also promoted as a way to flush toxins out of your gallbladder and body. Although toxic chemicals and substances do exist in our environment, your body removes these toxins very effectively via your liver and kidneys. According to the Skeptic’s Dictionary website, the word "detox" has no scientific or medical meaning outside of a drug addiction rehabilitation setting. However, you can help your body remove toxins by protecting liver and kidney health with a well-balanced diet, plenty of exercise and moderate use of alcohol.

Dangers

Attempting to cleanse or flush your gallbladder with olive oil and lemon juice isn’t necessarily dangerous, unless you are using a gallbladder cleanse to replace medical attention. For example, CureZone.com lists a number of symptoms and disorders supposedly cured by gallbladder cleanses or liver flushes, including acne, chronic abdominal pain, chronic fatigue and even high cholesterol. Many of these symptoms and conditions are signs of serious and potentially fatal problems, such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes and compromised organ function. Waiting for a gallbladder cleanse to alleviate or cure your symptoms instead of seeking immediate medical attention could literally mean the difference between life and death.

Additional Considerations

If you are hoping a gallbladder cleanse will help you avoid surgery for gallstones, you should discuss it with your physician. According to the Mayo Clinic, asymptomatic gallstones generally don’t require treatment at all. Additionally, some gallbladder cleanses encourage pre-cleanse fasting for several days. Fasting can leave your body dangerously malnourished and is not advisable, warns the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.

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