Detoxifying diets like the Master Cleanse promise rapid results if you fast for a few days and drink only certain prescribed concoctions. The Andreas Moritz liver cleanse is another such diet that claims to help you cleanse your liver and gallbladder to flush out gallstones.
The Andreas Moritz liver and gallstone cleanse claims it can help you flush out gallstones naturally; however, a research study has shown this claim to be untrue. The method involves drinking fruit juice for six days in preparation for the cleanse and then consuming Epsom salts, olive oil and grapefruit juice over a period of 16 to 20 hours.
What Are Gallstones Exactly?
Gallstones are not actually stones; they're hardened deposits of bile or cholesterol that form in your gallbladder. A small organ tucked under your liver, your gallbladder's main purpose is to store the bile produced in the liver. The gallbladder injects the bile into your digestive system as required.
Gallstones are formed if your bile contains too much cholesterol or bilirubin, a chemical produced in the liver. The particles crystallize and eventually form stones. Gallstones can range in size from as small as a grain of sand to as big as a golf ball, according to the Mayo Clinic. You could have only one or multiple.
According to the UK's National Health Service, many people don't even realize they have them, since gallstones usually don't cause any symptoms and don't require treatment. However, if a gallstone gets stuck in one of the bile ducts and creates a blockage, it can trigger sudden, sharp pain that can last for up to a few hours. Known as biliary colic, it can also cause nausea and vomiting.
Read more: Foods to Avoid When You Have Gallstones
Introducing Andreas Moritz
According to Moritz's Ener-Chi Wellness Center website, he was a practitioner of Ayurveda, iridology, shiatsu and vibrational medicine. Born in Germany in 1954, he apparently had several illnesses as a child, which compelled him to study diet, nutrition and natural healing at a young age.
Moritz moved to the U.S. in 1998 and developed a healing system called Ener-Chi that claims to target the root causes of multiple chronic illnesses by using a series of light ray-encoded oil paintings to instantly restore vital energy flow, known as chi, in the body. He passed away in 2012.
The Andreas Moritz Cleanse
Moritz authored 16 books in his lifetime, including the Amazing Liver and Gallbladder Flush among other books on health and spirituality.
Read more: Foods You Can Eat With Gallstones
In the book, Moritz says his liver cleanse is a home remedy that can help you get rid of gallstones by yourself without any pain or surgery. It promises that following the prescribed method will help you pass the gallstones in your stool.
The Cleanse Ingredients
The liver and gallbladder cleanse concoction is made of commonly available items. The ingredients are apple juice (or sour cherry juice if you have diabetes or aren't too fond of sugary drinks), Epsom salt, pure extra virgin olive oil and either fresh pink grapefruit juice or a combination of orange and lemon juice.
The instructions specify that the fruits and juices should ideally be organic and the cherry juice should come in a glass bottle. The Epsom salts should be the kind that can be consumed, not the bath kind.
Preparing for the Cleanse
The liver and gallbladder flush requires six days of preparation, followed by 16 to 20 hours of actual cleansing, which are split over two days. Moritz recommends doing it on a weekend, when you have enough time to rest and not on a full moon day, when your body tends to retain water.
During the preparation period, you have to drink 32 ounces of apple juice or 8 ounces of sour cherry juice every day. This is in addition to your regular water intake of six to eight glasses per day. For the first five days you have to drink it in between meals throughout the day, and on the last day you have to drink it in the morning and do the cleanse in the evening.
The Cleanse Method
For the actual cleanse, you have to mix 4 tablespoons of Epsom salts with 24 ounces of filtered water and drink it in four parts; at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. on the first day and 6 a.m. and 8 a.m. on the second day. At 10 p.m. on the first day you also have to drink a mixture of 4 ounces of olive oil and 6 ounces of either grapefruit juice or a combination of orange and lemon juice. The mixture has to be shaken thoroughly.
Moritz's book lists contraindications and detailed instructions, like what to eat and drink during the cleanse, the correct position to be in, how to make the concoction more palatable and how to cleanse your colon before and after.
The Effects of the Cleanse
Moritz says the malic acid in the juice you drink during the preparation period softens your gallstones, making it easier for them to pass through your bile ducts. He notes that some people may experience bloating or diarrhea since both juices have a strong cleansing effect.
Moritz claims that the Epsom salts relax and dilate your bile ducts and sphincter, which helps the stones pass out easier. While you can expect a few bowel movements during the cleanse, Moritz also says that you should be able to feel the stones pass along your bile ducts like marbles, but without any spasms. Pea-green, white or tan-colored gallstones in your stool are supposed to signal success. He warns that there may be hundreds of them.
Moritz notes that if you opt to do the cleanse with sour cherry juice instead of apple juice, you may reap some of the benefits of sour cherries. The benefits include a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, reduced inflammation in the joints, inhibited tumor growth and better heart and brain health.
So, Is it Legit?
An April 2005 study in the British journal the Lancet describes a patient who did the cleanse and passed multiple semi-solid green stones. The researchers state that upon microscopic examination of the stones, they found that the balls lacked any crystalline structure, melted to an oily green liquid when heated and contained no cholesterol, bilirubin or calcium, which are the components of gallstones.
The researchers then experimented with olive oil and lemon juice and found that it created green balls similar to those the patient had passed, leading them to conclude that the patient was only expelling the ingredients of the cleanse and not any gallstones. The researchers had to surgically remove the patient's cholesterol stones. The study was published in 2005, the same year that Moritz first published the book.
Treatment for Gallstones
Gallstones are a medical condition and it is imperative that you seek medical treatment for them.
If your gallstones don't cause any symptoms, your doctor may recommend active monitoring to ensure you don't develop any complications. Gallstone complications can cause inflammation in the gallbladder, resulting in persistent pain, fever and jaundice. People with health conditions like liver cirrhosis and diabetes are more at risk for complications.
If you're experiencing mild pain, your doctor may prescribe painkillers. Acute pain may require a gallbladder removal surgery.