Image courtesy of Ambro at
Image courtesy of Ambro at

Check out the updated version of this blog from 2021 here!

Are you experiencing gallbladder issues even after diet adjustments? The issue could lie in a sludgy or stone-ridden gallbladder. Thankfully, Naturopathic Doctor* Amy Neuzil has several natural tips to flushing and rebooting the gallbladder for maximum digestive function!

The key to getting rid of sludge and stones is to do these four things at the same time:

  1. Increase bile production – Stimulate your liver production of bile or actually take bile salts to make sure that lots of bile is flowing through the gallbladder and intestines.
  2. Liquify and move the bile – Keep the bile liquid and moving quickly so it can start to wash out the pre-existing sludge and stones.
  3. Shrink the stones – If there are stones there, then we have to make them smaller so that they wash out easily. If you suspect stones, I would suggest making an appointment with your doctor to see how many there are and how big they are.
  4. Dump the bile – Once bile gets dumped into your intestines it’s out of the gallbladder, but many times we reabsorb that same bile from our intestines to use again, because we’re just hoarders by nature. In this scenario you have to make sure as much bile as possible is actually leaving your body.

Increasing Bile Production – Choleretic
       Increasing the amount of bile produced will help your body flush out gallbladder sludge and stones. Substances that do this are called “choleretics” and fortunately there are some great options out there, and lots of them are foods. My favorite foods that increase bile production are artichokes – you can actually feel your saliva production increase when you eat them, and that same response is happening with bile. Young beet greens and possibly the beets themselves help too. Herbal bile flow stimulants include chamomile, chicory, blessed thistle and many of the bitter herbs. In terms of finding products, I love digestive bitters before each meal (right now I’m addicted to some from Urban Moonshine – their citrus bitters are the bomb!) Another great way to go is Standard Process A-F Betafood, which makes everything nice and simple, or Panplex 2-Phase from Integrative Therapeutics which is a strong digestive complex with ox bile in it.

Liquify and Move the Bile – Cholagogue
       Cholagogues promote discharge of bile from the system – keeping it moving downward out of your liver and gallbladder and into your small intestines. In terms of naturally eliminating gallbladder sludge and stones, this is key! Again, all of your bitter foods will stimulate bile flow so adding raw bitter greens like arugula and some of the bitter lettuces or dandelion greens will help. In terms of supplements, the digestive bitters are a great idea here too, or liver support products. Some of my favorites include Milk Thistle from Gaia Herbs, Lipotropic Complex from Integrative Therapeutics, or Livaplex from Standard Process.

Shrink The Gallstones
       Shrinking gallstones can be tricky naturally, just because we can’t actually break things up; we have to just slowly dissolve them from the surface. This is a long prospect. Essentially we need things that are acidic enough to leech calcium out of stones – but be careful because they’re usually also acidic enough to leach calcium out of your teeth, so rinse your mouth out with water after you take them so the acid doesn’t stay on your teeth. My favorites are Standard Process Phosfood liquid – it’s super sour but works great to start shrinking stones. Apple cider vinegar before meals is a great strategy too.

Dump The Bile
       We want to prevent the bile that your body is dumping into your small intestines from being reabsorbed. This means binding it to something like fiber so that you can’t reabsorb it at all. Consume fiber a couple of times per day between meals (with lots of water to also help you flush things through). I really like Fiber Plus Powder from Orthomolecular because it’s a good blend of soluble and insoluble fiber and tastes great (apple cinnamon), plus it’s a high dose in every scoop.

Now hopefully you have a better understanding of what you’re trying to do when you’re cleaning out liver and gallbladder sludge and stones, but if you have any questions or comments, just leave them here and I’ll get back to you.  The natural methods do work, but if a stone gets lodged in a duct then that is actually a medical emergency and requires emergency surgery, so go to the ER if you need to. Don’t worry – if that happens, you won’t miss it.  It’s excruciating pain and often jaundice.  Otherwise, naturally eliminating your gallbladder sludge and stones is a great way to go. In general, incorporating more of the gallbladder and liver-friendly foods into the diet would help almost everyone.


by Amy Neuzil, ND*. Amy is available for consultation at Peoples Wellness Center North. You can visit her blog for more wellness entries.


*Naturopathic doctors are not currently licensed in the state of Texas.