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Would you like a liver flush with that colon cleanse?

I have to apologize for last week’s post. I’m not apologizing for the subject matter (the obsession that reigns supreme among some alt-med aficionados over “cleansing” their colons to “purge toxins” and achieve the super-regularity of several bowel movements a day). Rather, I’m sorry I probably didn’t emphasize quite strongly enough just how disgusting one of the links that I included was. Among all the glowing testimonials found there touting how lovers of that “clean feeling” inside felt after having supposedly rid themselves of all that nasty fecal matter caked on the walls of their colons and achieved the Nirvana of many bowel movements a day (or, as one happy customer put it, “awesome adventures in the bathroom” and another put it, “I have not noticed anything really weird come out of me yet, but I am sure that there will be”), there were also links to various pictures people took of their own poop, complete with graphic descriptions. A couple of years ago when I showed an acquaintance of mine the Dr. Natura website shortly after I had discovered it, he declared it the “grossest thing on the web.” Sadly, I had to assure him that it was not–not by a longshot. However, I will try spare you any links to anything significantly grosser, preferring instead to leave finding them as an exercise for interested readers.

After having apologized for perhaps grossing out some of our readers, who come to this site for science- and evidence-based discussions of various so-called “complementary and alternative medicine” therapies, not pictures of the various excretions of the human body proudly lined up by the humans who produced them, I thought about what might be a suitable followup this week to such a topic. There really is only one followup that’s appropriate to this stuff, believe it or not. The problem with which I wrestled is that it really is pretty much as disgusting as last week’s topic, if not more so. (You’ll soon see why.) So there I was, trapped on the horns of a dilemma. Hesitating only momentarily, though, as any good general surgeon would do (remember, before I specialized in breast cancer surgery I was a general surgeon, as prone to dive into big brown on the loose as any other general surgeon), I decided just to dive in to the topic as I would have in the old days dived into a particularly foul belly full of purulence, particularly since this week’s “CAM” modality of choice claims to be able to take away a big chunk of the “bread and butter” practice of general surgery by curing a common surgical disease without all that nasty cutting, even if these days it’s almost always done laparoscopically.

So, are you ready for liver flushes? Of course you are. Don’t you want a way to “remove gallstones without surgery“?

Of course you do.

First off, so that I don’t repeat the same mistake as last week, be advised that some of the links mentioned here will lead to some disgusting pictures, particularly things that people have fished out of their own feces, although not as disgusting as last week. (Don’t ask me why they spend so much time examining and picking through their own waste; if I understood it, I probably wouldn’t be writing about it. The fact that believers in this particular therapy are prone to straining through their stool looking for nuggets that prove the therapy “works” is, in fact, why some may consider this topic to be even more disgusting than last week’s. Click at your own peril.) So, warning completed, what sorts of benefits can you expect from liver flushes? To answer that question, let’s go to a woman who is the very embodiment of all that is bad about CAM in that she blames all cancer on a liver fluke (hence her interest in “flushing them out of the liver) and claims to be able to cure virtually any disease, Hulda Clark, for some input, from her book, The Cure for All Diseases (you didn’t believe me when I told you she claims to be able to cure virtually any disease, did you?):

“Cleansing the liver of gallstones dramatically improves digestion, which is the basis of your whole health. You can expect your allergies to disappear, too, more with each cleanse you do! Incredibly, it also eliminates shoulder, upper arm, and upper back pain. You have more energy and increased sense of well being.

Pretty amazing, eh? I can’t figure out why such flushing would eliminate allergies or shoulder, arm, and back pain, but then I’m not Hulda Clark. I suppose her latter example might have been meant that it will get rid of the referred pain of gallbladder and other biliary disease, which is often perceived radiating to the right shoulder and upper back, but I suspect that might be attributing too much medical sophistication to someone who blames a liver fluke for all disease. In any case, let’s continue with her rationale for this particular form of “therapy”:

It is the job of the liver to make bile, 1 to 1.5 quarts in a day! The liver is full of tubes (biliary tubing) that deliver the bile to one large tube (the common bile duct). The gallbladder is attached to the common bile duct and acts as a storage reservoir. Eating fat or protein triggers the gallbladder to squeeze itself empty after about twenty minutes, and the stored bile finishes its trip down the common bile duct to the intestine.

For many persons, including children, the biliary tubing is choked with gallstones. Some develop allergies or hives but some have no symptoms. When the gallbladder is scanned or X-rayed nothing is seen. Typically, they are not in the gallbladder. Not only that, most are too small and not calcified, a prerequisite for visibility on an X-ray. There are over half a dozen varieties of gallstones, most of which have cholesterol crystals in them. They can be black, red, white, green or tan colored. The green ones get their color from being coated with bile. Notice in the picture (pg. 545) how many have imbedded unidentified objects. Are they fluke remains? [Note: Your friendly neighborhood surgeon-blogger almost spit up his drink upon reading this question; suffice it to say that, no, they are not fluke remains.] Notice how many are shaped like corks with longitudinal grooves below the tops. We can visualize the blocked bile ducts from such shapes. Other stones are composites- made of many smaller ones- showing that they regrouped in the bile ducts some time after the last cleanse.

Hulda’s apparently never heard of ultrasound, which is very good at visualizing both gallbladder and liver stones. If there were gallstones or liver stones there, ultrasound would almost certainly be able to detecit them in the vast majority of cases. Certainly, ultrasound is also very good at detecting bile duct obstruction as well. Best of all, it’s a noninvasive, relatively inexpensive, and radiation-free test–just the sort of test that any CAM practitioner or patient should love! And, in the uncommon cases where ultrasound fails, CT scans can often see biliary obstruction and stones. Also, I don’t know where Hulda got the idea that gallstones are common in children, but they aren’t. I could quote epidemiology, but a less boring way is to have you just ask yourself: How many children do you know or have you seen who have needed gallbladder surgery? Not very many. How many adults, now? I will give Hulda credit for one thing, though. She’s correct that some cases of gallstones are completely asymptomatic or only mildly symptomatic (usually bloating or other vague GI symptoms). And guess what? These days, we evil allopathic surgeons who are constantly castigated for “medicalizing” and “overtreating” everything generally don’t recommend cholecystectomy just for the presence of stones. If the stones are truly asymptomatic and only incidentally found on a study done for other reasons, we usually leave them alone, except sometimes in cases where a case of cholecystitis would be very dangerous, as in elderly diabetics or patients with other comorbidities. We usually wait for symptoms to occur, and in an impressive percentage of cases they never do. The stones remain asymptomatic, and the patient takes them to the grave. In the case of vague symptoms that might or might not be attributable to gallstones (a not uncommon clinical situation), before taking out his gallblader, we will tell the patient that, although his symptoms are probably due to gallstones, we can’t be absolutely certain that something else isn’t going on and we can’t guarantee that the surgery will relieve all his symptoms.

But I digress somewhat. Let’s get back to Hulda Clark’s claims:

At the very center of each stone is found a clump of bacteria, according to scientists, suggesting a dead bit of parasite might have started the stone forming.

Wrong.

Most gallstones do not contain any such thing. Gallstones and liver stones form when cholesterol and/or bile salts in the bile form tiny crystals, which then enlarge. Most gallstones are cholesteral gallstones, and liver stones are much less common. Not that that stops Hulda:

As the stones grow and become more numerous the back pressure on the liver causes it to make less bile. Imagine the situation if your garden hose had marbles in it. Much less water would flow, which in turn would decrease the ability of the hose to squirt out the marbles. With gallstones, much less cholesterol leaves the body, and cholesterol levels rise.

Not quite. In any case, if true obstruction were present and increasing the “back pressure” on the liver, it would be fairly straightforward to demonstrate by observing dilated biliary ducts in the liver on ultrasound. As is the case with most tubular structures in the body (small bowel, colon, bile ducts, ureters, etc.), when bile ducts are blocked, pressure behind the blockage causes them to dilate proximal to the cause of the obstruction, in the case of chronic obstruction quite impressively. Distal to the obstruction they tend to be normal in caliber or even collapsed (otherwise known as “distal collapse”). That’s how we figure out initially whether the obstruction is somewhere within the liver or if it’s in the bile duct outside of the liver. This part of surgery is not particularly complicated. It’s simple fluid dynamics, and that’s how we can usually tell where an obstruction is. It ain’t rocket science, as they say. So why don’t we see dilated bile ducts in all of these patients complaining about “liver stones? Hulda has an answer, of course:

Gallstones, being porous, can pick up all the bacteria, cysts, viruses and parasites that are passing through the liver. In this way “nests” of infection are formed, forever supplying the body with fresh bacteria. No stomach infection such as ulcers or intestinal bloating can be cured permanently without removing these gallstones from the liver.

The vast majority of stomach and duodenal ulcers are caused by H. pylori. Is Hulda claiming that gallstones form a “nest” in which H. pylori dwell? On what evidence? None, of course. Hulda’s a bit different than most liver flushers, though, in that she emphasizes her all-powerful and all-explaining liver fluke as the cause of cancer and “all disease.” She thus recommends the use of her “zapper” to “kill parasites” before doing a “liver flush” to flush them out. Most practitioners selling liver “cleanses” emphasize their flushy goodness as a means of eliminating “liver toxins” (whatever that means) and “stones”:

The liver is the gateway to the body and in this chemical age its detoxification systems are easily overloaded. Thousands of chemicals are added to food and over 700 have been identified in drinking water. Plants are sprayed with toxic chemicals, animals are injected with potent hormones and antibiotics and a significant amount of our food is genetically engineered, processed, refined, frozen and cooked. All this can lead to destruction of delicate vitamins and minerals, which are needed for the detoxification pathways in the liver. The liver must try to cope with every toxic chemical in our environment, as well as damaged fats that are present in processed and fried foods.

So what, exactly, does a liver flush entail? Most liver flushes involve drinking large quantities of fruit juices of some kind, usually along with epsom salts and oils such as olive oil. For example, here’s one protocol found (where else?) on CureZone that resembles many that I have seen:

Materials:

1 gallon apple juice (freshly pressed)

2 ounces orthophosphoric acid (Phosfood from Standard Process or Ortho phos from Nutra-Dyn)

Enema bag and colon tube

Coffee

Epsom Salts

Whipping cream and berries

Olive oil

Protocol:

Add one bottle (2 ounces) of orthophosphoric acid to the gallon of apple juice. Shake and refrigerate. Over the next three to five days, drink the gallon of juice (3 to 4 8-ounce glasses a day) between meals. Be sure to rinse your mouth out with baking soda and/or brush your teeth after drinking the juice to prevent the acid from damaging the teeth. Eat normally during the liver flush.

On the day following whatever day you finish the gallon of juice, eat your normal breakfast and lunch.

Two hours after lunch, drink 1-2 tablespoons of Epsom Salts dissolved in warm water.

Four hours after lunch, do a one pint coffee enema.

Five hours after lunch, drink 1 tablespoon of Epsom Salts dissolved in warm water.

Six or seven hours after lunch, eat a dinner of heavy whipping cream and frozen or fresh berries – as much as desired.

At bedtime, drink 1/2 cup of olive oil. A small amount of orange, grapefruit, or lemon juice may be added if desired. Immediately after drinking the oil, go to bed and lie on your right side with knees drawn up for 30 minutes. You may feel nauseated during the night. This is due to the release of stored toxins from the gallbladder and liver. This is normal and a sign that the protocol is working.

Upon arising in the morning, do a coffee enema.

Ah, yes, the coffee enema, arguably the most ridiculous “CAM” therapy there is, other than homeopathy. I still haven’t figured out how the coffee enema “flushes” the liver. I also still haven’t figured out why anyone would want to partake of the glorious caffeine-laden coffee bean in any way other than the usual way. Certainly, enemas are a rather difficult way to get a morning caffeine fix!

There are, of course, many variations to the basic “liver flush” protocol. Here are but a few:

  1. Hulda Clark’s Liver Cleanse-Gallbladder Cleanse
  2. Dr. Kelley’s Liver-Gallbladder flush
  3. Are You Stoned? Liver-Gallbladder flush
  4. Liver flush protocol with apple juice and orthophosphoric acid
  5. “Classic Coke” liver flush and gallbladder flush (Egads, this one requires a good slug of magnesium citrate!)
  6. “Cleansing or Surgery” liver and gallbladder cleanse (with four gallons of apple juice!)
  7. Olive oil liver/gallbladder cleanse
  8. Seven day program liver/gallbladder cleanse
  9. Dushan’s grandmother’s liver/gallbladder cleanse

The list goes on and on and on and on. (And so will you if you try these cleanses.)

So what will happen if you do this (besides your producing a lot of unusually stinky and liquid poop)? Well, you will find things in your stool. If you read the many testimonials and look at the disgusting pictures on all the websites touting liver flushes, you will see photos proudly displayed of greenish balls or various other things that sort of look like–well, sort of “stone”-like. Naturally, the liver flushers claim that these are gallstones–without actually proving that’s what they are. Indeed, although it is certainly possible to pass gallstones into the stool and occasionally even find one, it’s highly unlikely to pass such huge numbers of stones (as claimed by testimonials) without previous clinical symptoms of gallbladder disease or without easily detectable stones on ultrasound examination. In some cases, the number of “stones” observed in the stool would have required a gallbladder the size of a football to hold them all! And, given that more always seem to “come out” when additional flushes are done, it would seem to imply that there is an endless supply there to be “dumped” out, a concept that defies plausibility, given that gallstones do not form rapidly enough to replace all the ones supposedly “flushed” out. In any case, check out this testimonial to see what I mean:

I just completed my 3rd liver cleanse. Whew! 1st cleanse 250 small stones pea size or less brown and green. 2nd cleanse 460 stones, small stones pea size or less brown and green. 3rd cleanse 260 stones light and dark green. Many marble size and 2 almost as big as golf balls (I saved these!) I highly recommend Andreas Moritz’s book, “The Amazing Liver Cleanse”. I followed to the letter and did colosan and colonics before and after. I read your testimonials and thought I would add my information.

As a surgeon, I feel obligated to point out that I have never seen a common bile duct (the tube that runs from the liver to the duodenum, through which bile passes) the diameter of a golf ball. The claim that anything so large could “pass” thanks to these flushes strains credibility to the breaking point. This testimonial gets a bit closer to what may be the truth behind liver cleansing:

I did a ‘liver cleanse’ or gallbladder flush about 6 nights ago! I’m a 50 year old female in good health. I’m not overweight and have no health problems. I’m active and have been a schoolteacher for 25 years.

I did not have any symptoms of gallstones nor did I have an ultrasound. I just had always been curious to try a gallbladder flush and see if anything came out- as they say most everyone has these gallstones and it’s good to get them OUT.

I did the flush at about 9:30 p.m. And I vomited about 12:30!!! I thought oh hell what an un-pleasant waste of time. BUT the next morning I DID pass some (25?) gelatinous looking things that were greenish – none larger than a small pea. I felt lousey – bloated and not hungry the next day. But since then I’ve felt great!!

I think I vomited because I ate some plain white rice and drank some carrot juice about 5pm. I have been researching various liver/gallbladder cleanses and most say NOT to eat all day and to drink organic apple juice and only that for at least 2 days prior. I took only 4oz of fresh squeezed lemon juice followed by 4 oz of olive oil at about 10 pm. I nearly gagged **YUK** as I was taking it! I will do it again but will follow your directions. I wish I had come across this website BEFORE I did my flush!

Note that this is an asymptomatic woman with absolutely no evidence of gallbladder or liver disease by clinical history, lacking the classic symptoms of right upper quandrant abdominal pain after a fatty meal (more succinctly known as biliary colic)–or any GI symptoms at all! (Although she certainly did produce some symptoms, didn’t she?) Because of curiosity, she made herself miserable for a couple of days with this “liver flush” and then noticed something “coming out.” These “gelatinous things” were almost certainly not gallstones. There are several varieties of gallstones. Of these, cholesterol stones can be rather soft and easily broken, but I don’t think they could be correctly described as “gelatinous.”

In any case, if these “flushes” actually flushed gallstones in to the GI tract, to be removed via the feces, it would be fairly straightforward to test scientifically, as I’ve pointed out time and time again in other venues. All that’s needed is an ultrasound machine and a willing radiologist, and possibly a biliary surgeon to evaluate symptoms and response. (Whether any IRB that is truly dedicated to human subject protection go for the protocol, however, I can’t guarantee.) Certainly, the ultrasound machine is not an onerous requirement, either. Ultrasound machines have become quite ubiquitous, as the price has fallen dramatically (and the quality has increased dramatically) in recent years. Virtually every OB/GYN practice that does prenatal care has at least one in their office, if not one in each exam room. Many general surgeons have them now, too; as do most emergency rooms. Pretty much any self-respecting breast cancer surgeon has at least one. There are even good portable ultrasound machines that fit into briefcases, and you can even find ultrasound machines in very poor parts of China and India, where, unfortunately, they are used to determine the sex of fetuses, so that parents can abort the females they don’t want. All that’s left is to draft a scientifically valid protocol with the proper controls and then to follow through and document symptoms, physical examination, diagnosis, pre-flush stone load in the gallbladder, and post-flush stone load in the gallbladder rigorously with high quality ultrasound examinations. Not surprisingly, it’s still never been done, as far as I can tell. I search in vain for actual physical evidence to support the claims of liver flushers.

What has been done, however, is a lovely little study that suggests just how much self-delusion is involved in liver flushes. Like the case of colon cleanses, when seasoned con men learn how liver flushes actually “work,” they will be likely to tip their hats in appreciation for such simplicity and perfection, a scam, where the remedy induces the “evidence” of its efficacy. But on to the case report to which I refer that a group in New Zealand contributed to the Lancet:

A 40-year-old woman was referred to the outpatient clinic with a 3-month history of recurrent severe right hypochondrial pain after fatty food. [Note: Here "hypochondrial" means "below the ribcage,' not "hypochondriac."] Abdominal ultrasound showed multiple 1-2 mm gallstones in the gallbladder.

She had recently followed a “liver cleansing” regime on the advice of a herbalist. This regime consisted of free intake of apple and vegetable juice until 1800 h, but no food, followed by the consumption of 600 mL of olive oil and 300 mL of lemon juice over several hours. This activity resulted in the painless passage of multiple semisolid green “stones” per rectum in the early hours of the next morning. She collected them, stored them in the freezer, and presented them in the clinic.

Microscopic examination of our patient’s stones revealed that they lacked any crystalline structure, melted to an oily green liquid after 10 min at 40°C, and contained no cholesterol, bilirubin, or calcium by established wet chemical methods. Traditional faecal fat extraction techniques indicated that the stones contained fatty acids that required acid hydrolysis to give free fatty acids before extraction into ether. These fatty acids accounted for 75% of the original material.

Experimentation revealed that mixing equal volumes of oleic acid (the major component of olive oil) and lemon juice produced several semi solid white balls after the addition of a small volume of a potassium hydroxide solution. On air drying at room temperature, these balls became quite solid and hard.

We conclude, therefore, that these green “stones” resulted from the action of gastric lipases on the simple and mixed triacylglycerols that make up olive oil, yielding long chain carboxylic acids (mainly oleic acid). This process was followed by saponification into large insoluble micelles of potassium carboxylates (lemon juice contains a high concentration of potassium) or “soap stones”.

In other words, the “stones” that liver cleansers are so proud of and go to such effort to strain their poo for after doing their flushes are not gallstones and were almost certainly the product of the actual flush itself! (Cue the con men tipping their hats in appreciation.) It makes perfect sense, if you think about it. These protocols usually involve fasting and then consuming up to a half liter or more of olive oil at one time. That could easily provide the conditions for this sort of reaction to take place. Neat, isn’t it? The very sign of “success” of the liver flush is something that has nothing to do with gallstones and everything to do with the results of the flush itself. Indeed, it’s quite clear that, even if you don’t have gallstones, if you do a liver flush and then look closely enough, you’ll find things in your stool that very much look like gallstones that are really due to saponified oil. Now I know (and you do too) why virtually every liver flush protocol includes large amounts of olive oil or similar oils plus epsom salts or orthophophoric acid and fruit juices. Unfortunately, I have not seen any more recent studies, and I’m not sure if any are really needed after the investigators discussed above conclusively showed that they could mimic these “stones” chemically.

In any case, it’s a beautiful scam. People do these flushes, they see things that look to them like gallstones being “flushed” out, and they believe it works. Consequently, they keep doing it. Because these flushes involve materials that don’t have to be purchased from a “healer” (although certainly many “healers” sell various “supplements” to “aid” liver flushes), they can be viewed more as a means of healers to demonstrate their skill and keep the patient coming. (And going, too!) It also serves as a way of “demonstrating” the efficacy of “detoxification.” After all, if this “flush” appears to cause “gallstones” to be eliminatd as promised, then perhaps the other detoxification modalities beloved of alt-med believers are also “flushing out toxins” as claimed and might be worth a try. (Never mind what the “toxins” are.) In this light, liver cleanses might indeed be viewed a “gateway” CAM therapy that leads users to the even more scientifically implausible ones, like homeopathy (which at least has the advantage over liver flushes of not making one spend long periods of time on the porcelain throne). To me the ironic thing about liver flushes is that they are so strongly advocated by CAM believers, who frequently castigate “conventional” medicine for “iatrogenic diseases or complications” (iatrogenic=caused by doctors). What, then, can we call these “stones” coming out of people using liver flushes, given that they are caused by the very CAM therapy that claims to be getting rid of them?

I’m open to suggestions.

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Leave a Comment (146) ↓

146 thoughts on “Would you like a liver flush with that colon cleanse?

  1. Andrew says:

    Since I work in dental research, I couldn’t help but notice the advice to brush your teeth “to prevent the acid from damaging the teeth”. After drinking acidic juice, applying an abrasive pressure to the teeth is the worst thing you can do to them — the acid will soften them and that will wear them away. You should chew gum or something to stimulate saliva.

    I’m always impressed when quacks show enough attention to detail that even the little trivial details have mistakes in them.

  2. daedalus2u says:

    I suggest the term phonasasogenic. From the Greek, phon (sound), anas (duck), genic (producing). Produced by the sound of a duck, produced by a quack.

    A Google search turns up no hits, presumably this is the first instance of use of the term.

  3. qetzal says:

    Ah, yes, the coffee enema, arguably the most ridiculous “CAM” therapy there is [LINK], other than homeopathy.

    For my money, the coffee enema (and its varous siblings*) is the most ridiculous therapy, bar none. At least homeopathy invokes magic, and we humans have a millenia-old tradition of believing in magic.

    I don’t think the same can be said for pouring coffee up one’s butt. (Actually, I’d be interested to know where the idea of coffee enemas came from. Subject for a future post?)

    *When I was a grad student in San Diego, The Reader routinely ran ads for enemas in many assorted ‘flavors,’ including – I kid you not – pina colada.

  4. daedalus2u says:

    Sorry I spelled it wrong, it should be

    phonanasogenic

    phon anas ogenic

    Still no google hits.

  5. TsuDhoNimh says:

    phonanasogenic … I like that word. How fast can we mainstream it?

    If we all blog about it, write articles about it, and use it in posts to relevant newsgroups we can get Google-fu for it quickly.

  6. overshoot says:

    “liver toxins” (whatever that means)

    You’re not with the terminology, is all. “Toxins” is the modern term for what used to be called “evil spirits.” If you consider the properties of each, you’ll note that it’s just a change of name to keep up with the times; the old one had lost its marketing punch.

    In a discussion with a rather woo-zy recent convert to these “flushes,” [1] I asked her how it was working. I got the usual detailed [2] descriptions. I then noted that the protocol didn’t seem to be working and got the predictable indignant response; I pointed out that the recent ones were producing just as much “evidence” as the one right after forty-plus years of “neglect” — so if she was making any progress, it wasn’t much. For some reason the discussion stopped there.

    [1] and isn’t that an appropriate term?
    [2] TMI!!!!!

  7. overshoot says:

    Ah, yes, the coffee enema, arguably the most ridiculous “CAM” therapy there is [LINK], other than homeopathy.

    At least homeopathy does no direct harm. Considering its history, that used to be quite a claim to fame.

    Coffee enemas? I can think of several ways for them to be outright lethal. Maybe I should dig around for horror stories.

  8. TsuDhoNimh says:

    quetzal:

    Caffeine enemas are one legitimate older therapy for the migraine headaches that can be stopped by caffiene. If the patient was unable to drink coffee, and there were no caffiene suppositories on hand, filling the lower colon with coffee could get enough caffeine into the body to diminish the nausea and headaches.

    “Clysters” served the same purpose until IV therapy was developed. I’m wading through some late Renaissance and early modern medical texts, and the symptoms and recipes appear that they were staving off dehydration in many cases.

  9. Joe says:

    Overshoot wrote “At least homeopathy does no direct harm.”

    It would appear that way. However, one doesn’t know if their vehicles (water, alcohol and sugar) are contaminated. In addition, some succussers get tired of the process and may not sufficiently dilute the prep. On top of that, manufacturers have been known to add clinically useful amounts of real drugs to make the stuff work. The latter two should disqualify them as homeopathy; but most folks cannot tell.

  10. Stu says:

    Chemically unsound, but worth the alliteration methinks:

    Orthophophorized Olive Oil Orbs(TM).

  11. overshoot says:

    Per Joe:

    Overshoot wrote “At least homeopathy does no direct harm.”

    It would appear that way. However, one doesn’t know if their vehicles (water, alcohol and sugar) are contaminated.

    That’s an interesting point to bring up with the woo-zy: how does their brand of woo deal with fraudulent pseudo-woo? Zircam is a good example of something that is advertised as “homeopathic” and had a good run trading on the regulatory pass that homeopathy gets (esp. in the company’s home state of Arizona) but isn’t homeopathic in any sense that Hahnemann or his followers would recognize.

    You get some amazing contortions defending stuff like the all-lactose “Laetrile” that TsuDhoNimh cited.

  12. BlazingDragon says:

    I am surprised that more of these “stones” haven’t been chemically analyzed. The one analysis, pointing out they are made of the main fatty acid component of olive oil should damn the entire field… but of course it won’t.

    There are so many legitimate problems that don’t have adequate diagnoses and/or treatments… why do people just make up stupid crap (pun intended) like this? I guess if I understood that aspect of human nature, I’d be a millionaire many times over.

    Unfortunately, the vast majority of people don’t have the understanding of chemistry to “get” why the chemical analysis (and mimicking) of these “gallstones” is so deadly to the “theory” used to push these liver cleanses. If a scientist tries to explain this to a lay person, we’ll just be told we’re part of the “evil big pharma, big food” conspiracy anyway.

    This all sounds like a really unhealthy anal fixation (weren’t we supposed to get over that in childhood)? Yeesh.

  13. Joe says:

    Overshoot wrote “Zircam is a good example of something that is advertised as “homeopathic” and had a good run trading on the regulatory pass that homeopathy gets (esp. in the company’s home state of Arizona) but isn’t homeopathic in any sense that Hahnemann or his followers would recognize.”

    That brings up an interesting point- what does homeopathic mean? As I recall, Zicam was listed as 1X and, on that basis, people say it is too concentrated. I thought that once it was diluted and succussed that was enough. So, I asked a colleague, who knows much more about homeo than I do, what constitutes homeo. She replied “How long is a piece of string?” Since then, I have been measuring bits of string.

  14. DBonez says:

    “What, then, can we call these “stones” coming out of people using liver flushes, given that they are caused by the very CAM therapy that claims to be getting rid of them?”

    Could they be called: Gulliballs or Knowledge Nuggets?

    Or how about:

    Rectally Obfuscated CAM Knowledge Stones = Rocks.

    As in poop rocks.

    Okay, I’m done with the adolescent poop-jokes.

  15. qetzal says:

    @TsuDhoNimh -

    Any refs for that “legitimate” use of coffee enemas?

  16. TsuDhoNimh says:

    qetzal … I’ll look for them. “Cafergot” – caffeine and ergot mixed as tablet or suppository dates from the 1950s so I’ll have to find the really old pre-WWII stuff.

  17. Joe says:

    David wrote “As a surgeon, I feel obligated to point out that I have never seen a common bile duct (the tube that runs from the liver to the duodenum, through which bile passes) the diameter of a golf ball.”

    I note the “stone” was not produced as the result of liver activity. However, does this suggest the possibility that a really large “stone” (albeit rare) could cause a serious intestinal blockage?

    While acknowledging that there are simpler procedures for producing these nodules (as I recall, Orac cited one last year); is anyone else awed by the multicomponent method these quacks have developed? Before I went to grad school, I spent ten years in industry using soaps and making emulsions; I could not have imagined anything like this.

  18. Joe says:

    qetzal asked “@TsuDhoNimh -

    Any refs for that “legitimate” use of coffee enemas?”

    I am interested in the response. However, “legitimate” is a bit slippery. There are things today (such as coffee enemas and bleeding) that were considered “legitimate” in medicine before, and during the early years of, modern medicine.

  19. qetzal says:

    Joe,

    I agree. But treating headaches with caffeine is at least based on real pharmacology (unlike bleeding). If coffee enemas were knowingly used as a way to deliver caffeine to treat headaches, I would consider that much more of a science-based approach.

  20. overshoot says:

    RE: legitimate coffee (and other) enemas

    IIRC, this is from before the safe use of intravenous fluid administration. If someone Way Back When could not tolerate oral hydration, medicinal caffeine, etc. then an enema was a relatively safe way to get the stuff into them.

    To a large degree obsoleted by the ability to start a line.

  21. David Gorski says:

    I note the “stone” was not produced as the result of liver activity. However, does this suggest the possibility that a really large “stone” (albeit rare) could cause a serious intestinal blockage?

    Now that you mention it, I forgot the topic of one of the all-time favorite medical student and resident pimpfest topics: Gallstone ileus. Damn. They’re going to take away my general surgery credentials for forgetting to mention that. ;-)

    In any case, gallstone ileus is a very uncommon cause of intestinal obstruction. In some cases of chronic cholecystitis, the inflammation leads to a connection being formed between the inflamed gallbladder and the duodenum called a fistula. Fistulas can be large enough to allow the passage of fairly large gallstones straight into the duodenum, bypassing the common bile duct, whose lumen is normally less than 1 cm in diameter. However, gallstone ileus is an uncommon cause of intestinal obstruction. Indeed, there are few ways for a resident or medical student to impress their attending more than to correctly make the diagnosis of gallstone ileus.

    Given its uncommonness, gallstone ileus is not really particularly relevant to whether liver flushes “work” or not.

  22. BlazingDragon says:

    Dr. Gorski,

    I think the question was whether one of these oleic acid/potassium salts “gallstones” produced by these quack-y flush “recipes” could actually act as a bowel obstruction themselves (i.e. could they be formed in the stomach/small intestine, then go on to lodge further down the intestines and create major problems)?

    But the gallstone ileus was interesting too :)

  23. David Gorski says:

    I tend to doubt that these things could cause obstruction because while in the body these things seem to remain fairly soft. I suppose it’s possible for them to cause obstruction, but I am unaware of any documented cases of this happening.

  24. wertys says:

    As proud as I am of my country, I am ashamed to acknowledge that Australia has produced arguably the biggest ‘semi-respectable’ sCAM-artist in Dr Sandra Cabot author of the monster best-seller ‘The Liver-Cleansing Diet’. See sandracabot.com for details. She is so huge in Australia, and is medically qualified (and possibly still practising). I am not a GP but I still spend precious consultation time explaining why this parasite is a fraud and a quack. I can only imagine the angst she has caused my primary care colleagues. Just as creationism is a largely North American problem, and homeopathy the bane of the UK I submit that Australia has the Liver Cleansing Diet (TM).

  25. lfusher says:

    FLAT EARTH MENTALITY
    —————————–

    “It conflicts with my education, therefore I can’t allow it to be true”

    http://curezone.com/forums/am.asp?i=61992

  26. metamorph says:

    Hmmm. Ran across your post. I have a degre in electrical engineering, have my own consulting company and got sick while I was renovating a house. I’d never been to a doctor in my life before. i was 37 when I got sick. Not exactly an idiot. After 2 years of going to the doctor with fatigue, lypomas, chronic headaches, atrial fibrilaltion (yes I got it recorded in the emergency room), severe muscle cramps, cognitive difficulties, yellow stool and eventually fibromyalgia symptoms and jaundice I was really sick of being treated like an idiot and being offered drugs with ridiculous side effects for “depression” and “anxiety” (here take this for 3 months but watch out for a life threatenting rash and body shocks) Perhaps they should invent a drug for being really pissed that you are spending tens of thousands of dollars on doctors that are more concerned with their ego’s than actaully helping someone :-) Thankfully i haven’t lost my sense of humor. So what is one supposed to do without a diagnosis? You find another path. Thankfully I found a healer in Hawaii and am 90% better. Everything the CAM therapists say was true for me. Even my corporate lawyer brother went to do the same thing with his wife and was amazed. I am sorry that a reasonably inexpensive side-effect free therapy would threaten your very existence. Class of 1492! The world IS flat. Do us all a favor, keep cutting people open for unneccesary surgery (I met a girl in the waiting room who had had her gallbladder removed becuase she was “dizzy” then finding that it made no difference proceeded to medicate her on bipolar medicine). I’d be f’ing bipolar if you destroyed the integrity of my organ system for a guess. So leave the rest of us who would prefer to work with the body’s natural healing power alone. The same force that made me can heal me. try ripping off your fingernail (I dropped a beam on mine) and watching it grow back. Hmmm. how is that happening. what drug could I take to make that happen? what surgeon could regrow your finger? I know what my body feels like, I live in it, it was sick now it’s better, that’s science enough for me.

  27. metamorph says:

    Oh yeah and my typing is a little off. It wasn’t worth my time to fix. :-)

  28. metamorph says:

    Pardon me while I go and do a liver flush. It cured me of hepatolithiasis. Then I’ll probably do a colon cleanse which cured me of chronic lancing pains in my small intestine, then I might even do the master cleanse which makes me feel light as a feather. It’s sad to see intelligent people who dismiss what they have never experienced. Don’t you ever get tired of cutting people up and never wondering how the disease mechanism get’s started?

  29. Harriet Hall says:

    Gee, maybe we should listen to metamorph. If we do, we should also listen to all those patients down the centuries who were cured by bloodletting. Maybe we shouldn’t dismiss bloodletting without experiencing it. I have an old lancet I would gladly lend to metamorph the next time he has a fever. :-)

  30. David Gorski says:

    Hey, Harriet, forget the lancet. Just use a knife, like Theodoric of York. ;-)

  31. Stu says:

    I have a degre in electrical engineering

    And if humans were made up out of copper wire, that might actually mean something.

    I also love the spectacular internal inconsistency.

    So leave the rest of us who would prefer to work with the body’s natural healing power alone. The same force that made me can heal me. try ripping off your fingernail (I dropped a beam on mine) and watching it grow back.

    Uhuh… and this right after

    I met a girl in the waiting room who had had her gallbladder removed becuase she was “dizzy” then finding that it made no difference proceeded to medicate her on bipolar medicine). I’d be f’ing bipolar if you destroyed the integrity of my organ system for a guess.

    Why doesn’t she work with the body’s healing power and watch it grow back?

    It’s sad to see intelligent people who dismiss what they have never experienced.

    So true. Perhaps I’ve been wrong to dismiss crucifixion out of hand.

    Jeebus Tapdancing Christ.

  32. lfusher says:

    Explanation of the liver flush
    http://curezone.org/blogs/fm.asp?i=985357

    Billary Sludge
    http://curezone.org/blogs/fm.asp?i=985356

    Enterohepatic Recirculation
    http://curezone.org/blogs/fm.asp?i=985359

    Avoided Gallbladder Surgery by Flushing
    http://curezone.com/forums/fm.asp?i=413584#i

    Re: Bright green stones….Are they from the liver or Gallbladder
    http://www.curezone.com/forums/fm.asp?i=332024#i

    intrahepatic stones
    http://curezone.com/ig/i.asp?i=520

    stones in removed gallbladder
    http://curezone.com/ig/i.asp?i=896

  33. David Gorski says:

    None of the links refute anything I’ve said.

    Tell me: Do you have a study in which ultrasounds were done before and after liver flushes in order (1) to document presence of stones and (2) to document their absence after the flush (or at least a decrease in their number)? Do you have a study that shows that these stones are not what the New Zealand group who studied the question say they are? Please post a reference! Secondhand anecdotes without hard evidence don’t count.

    No, you don’t have any such study?

    Thanks for playing. Goodbye.

  34. Stu says:

    And oh, I forgot:

    then I might even do the master cleanse which makes me feel light as a feather

    I wonder what you were full of.

  35. Stu says:

    lfusher: the plural of anecdotes is not data.

  36. lfusher says:

    Ignorance is not knowing what is known.
    Stupidity is not accepting what is known.

  37. weing says:

    So you’re saying you’re stupid and not ignorant.

  38. Harriet Hall says:

    Real stupidity is accepting what one thinks is known and ignoring what is really known even after one is shown clear evidence.

  39. David Gorski says:

    So you’re saying you’re stupid and not ignorant.

    The two are not mutually exclusive. ;-)

  40. Stu says:

    I swear, one more of these CureZone Forum > Decades Of Medical Research clowns and my head will explode.

    At which time, I guess I’ll just have to work with my body’s healing power and watch it grow back.

    Wait. Watch with what?

    Oh, I’m so confused…

  41. Stu says:

    Amateur.

    Care to play again Captain Clueless?

  42. metamorph says:

    Thanks i got a good laugh out of your repsonses :-) Very healing.. . I recently had an ultrasound showing nothing remarkable, however I do have some large green balls of bile sludge in a lab kit that my liver doc gave to me wihch I am taking in to the stanford medical lab so I’ll post the results. In the end it really doesn’t matter as long as I feel healthy. The only way I got here was by ignoring “medical” advice. Time to go and do some bloodletting… :-) and I’ll throw in some bikram yaga raw food and herbs for my liver. toodles.

  43. Harriet Hall says:

    to the flushers,

    We fully understand why you think those are gallstones.
    Do you fully understand why we think they aren’t?

    I guess you don’t really care. metamorph says the truth “doesn’t really matter.”

    Maybe not to you, but the truth matters a great deal to most of us.

  44. lfusher says:

    It is understood by veteran flushers that the term “stones” is generously used to describe the green and tan expulsions as a result of the flush. Are these rock hard objects. No. They are soft and mushy as opposed to the rock hard stones that have calcified. The issue is their composition and origination. Their composition is consistent with gall stones (simply not yet calcified) Their origination is NOT from the oil. Remove the gallbladder, they can still be produced. Don’t use the oil they can still be produced. They will continue to be produced if diet and lifestyle are not altered. The flush empties the bucket. Don’t fix the leak in the roof and the bucket keeps filling.

  45. Harriet Hall says:

    We fully understand why flushers think they are eliminating gall stones that have not yet been calcified.

    Do they fully understand why we think they aren’t?

  46. lfusher says:

    Just be clear, what I am referring to, at the moment, is the build up of substances which congest the liver, just like the sludge in a car’s oil filter. It can manifest in different ways. But it is clear that the oil mixture causes a forceful contraction of the liver and bile which cleans out this accumulation, the make up of which is consistent with gallstone chemistry.

    So, by all means re-state your objection, so that I clearly understand your perception. I keep an open mind. Do you?

  47. HCN says:

    I have an open mind… just fill it real evidence. Something along the line of real science (and no, the CureZone does not qualify).

  48. weing says:

    Exactly how does the liver forcefully contract? Have you ever checked an anatomy and histology text?

  49. Harriet Hall says:

    The original claim was that gallstones are being eliminated. Now that you realize that’s impossible, you’re trying to salvage the argument by saying they’re really sort of “pre”-gallstone material.

    My objections, in brief,

    1. There is no evidence that substances build up and congest the liver.
    2. The liver can’t contract – it has no muscle fibers.
    3. The bile is not formed to clean out sludge from the liver; it is formed to aid in digestion.
    4. The theories of the flushers are not compatible with everything else we know about body physiology.
    5. The alleged benefits and many testimonials are compatible with what we know about human psychology and placebo response.
    6. There is no evidence from controlled studies that these flushes result in any improved outcome compared to placebo.
    7. The kind of “evidence” presented by the flushers is the same kind of “evidence” that any quack can offer for whatever he’s selling; it won’t stand up in court.

    To understand these objections, you have to understand quite a lot about human anatomy, physiology, psychology, the scientific method, and the many sources of human error that allow us to fool ourselves and jump to false conclusions.

    Do you understand these objections to the point that you could argue my side in a debate?

  50. David Gorski says:

    Just be clear, what I am referring to, at the moment, is the build up of substances which congest the liver, just like the sludge in a car’s oil filter. It can manifest in different ways. But it is clear that the oil mixture causes a forceful contraction of the liver and bile which cleans out this accumulation, the make up of which is consistent with gallstone chemistry.

    Poppycock.

    Harriet laid out some of the reasons why.

    But, hey, perhaps you could educate me. Show me high quality scientific and clinical trial evidence indicating that:

    1. Show that substances build up and congest the liver “just like the sludge in a car’s oil filter” (I do so love specious alt-med analogies)

    2 Demonstrate that liver flushes result in “powerful contraction” of the liver to remove that sludge. Ultrasounds of the liver showing sludge before and no sludge after (or less sludge after) flushes would be mandatory.

  51. lfusher says:

    You’re not going to find any hard science clinical trials on this because there is NO MONEY IN IT for the pharmaceutical companies. Choose, if you wish to have your body sliced and diced or choose to consume toxic medications because a pharmaceutical financed study says it’s the way to go.

    I had been placed on Neurotin for shoulder pain and arm numbness and never knew just how dangerous a drug that was until I started researching it.. I had gone through three doctors and an MRI to get to that point. Even after 2 months I was still feeling the pain and numbness. My first exposure to the liver flush was that it could eliminate shoulder pain.. For more than a month I approached it with skepticism and concern for the protocol. Went ahead with it anyway. Bottom line – the pain stopped and I took myself off the neurontin.

    Our trusted medical community also believed these were safe treatments because the pharmaceutical companies said so. Not to mention the disaster in the 1950’s which was thalidomide.

    http://www.adrugrecall.com/plavix/side-effects.html

    http://www.adrugrecall.com/fosamax/side-effect.html

    http://www.adrugrecall.com/paxil/birth-defect.html

    http://www.adrugrecall.com/trasylol/trasylol-lawyer.html

    http://www.adrugrecall.com/viagra/blindness.html

    So, if your state of health is perfect, congratulations. You have NOTHING to lose by bashing an alternative therapy, which by every account has subjectively helped many OPEN MINDED people who have tried it.

    I don’t expect ANYONE to blindly do or try anything, But there is enough out there for intelligent people, who may be suffering from conditions, medically unresolvable or extreme, who may find resolution down an alternate path, quite in contradiction to established medical protocol.

    Oh, by the way, as far as the contractions are concerned, many, not everyone, but many people feel it within minutes of consuming the oil. It’s unmistakable.

  52. David Gorski says:

    You’re not going to find any hard science clinical trials on this because there is NO MONEY IN IT for the pharmaceutical companies. Choose, if you wish to have your body sliced and diced or choose to consume toxic medications because a pharmaceutical financed study says it’s the way to go.

    Same old lame excuse alt-med aficionados have whined since time immemorial. It wasn’t convincing years ago, and it’s not convincing now. In fact, it would be relatively inexpensive to do a pilot trial. All it would take is a wiling radiologist with an ultrasound machine, which can be purchased these days for around $20,000 or even less. Many physicians, particularly OBs and general surgeons, have them in their offices. Next, all you’d have to do is to document the presence of gallstones and/or liver stones before treatment and then document the absence of said stones (or at least a clear and measurable decrease in number ) on ultrasound after treatment. Add to that an analysis of what is fished out of your poo showing it to be gallstones, and you have strong evidence.

    Why is it that no one’s ever done that if your flushes work so well? It’s not expensive, and any physician with an ultrasound could do it.

    Oh, by the way, as far as the contractions are concerned, many, not everyone, but many people feel it within minutes of consuming the oil. It’s unmistakable.

    That’s not your liver contracting. That’s your intestines, because most flush regimens include some fairly irritating stuff and often include purgatives.

  53. Harriet Hall says:

    lfusher,

    You asked for my objections. I listed them and asked if you understood them. Your subsequent comments made it clear that you did NOT understand and that you did not WANT to understand. Your mind is made up. You have rejected scientific medicine, unfairly characterizing it as “have your body sliced and diced or choose to consume toxic medications because a pharmaceutical financed study says it’s the way to go.” And you prefer untested, irrational treatments that have “subjectively” helped patients (i.e., placebos).

    How do you think an organ can contract without muscle fibers? Are you at least willing to admit that your sensations might have had some other cause (intestinal contractions)?

    You talk of no money for testing. Let me ask you this: if liver flushes were adequately tested in multiple double-blind studies and were shown to be ineffective, would you stop using them?

    And for your information, the safety of drugs is totally irrelevant to the question of whether liver flushes work as advertised.

  54. T_Govett says:

    Criticising alternate therapies is fair game but to ridicule individuals seeking relief from a long term health condition either physical of psychological in origin is callous practice. You can call people with mental problem names, such as nutcases and you can call people with undefined feelings of not being well disgusting poo pickers but it doesn’t help the individual overcome their problem. What do you have to help the poor unfortunate chronic health sufferer?

    Thoughts and feeling are quite different and just because some practice appears disgusting doesn’t mean to say is bad. Disgust is an emotional response and doesn’t have to be a controlling factor. Mixing feelings and thoughts lead to irrational thinking and in the extreme phobias.

    Have you seen this rather well written article?

    TREATMENT OF GALLSTONES WITH CHINESE HERBS AND ACUPUNCTURE by Subhuti Dharmananda, Ph.D., Director, Institute for Traditional Medicine, Portland, Oregon

    This is the link

    http://www.itmonline.org/arts/gallstones.htm

    I enjoyed your essay which exposes more about yourself than you would imagine.

  55. vineet says:

    Dear David,

    I think the best thing for mankind would be, if you could give the Liver/Galbladder flush to some patient, who is suffering from Gallstones. Which you yourself have seen/detected via Ultrasound or x-ray.

    This would be the first rate experience on whether it works or not ?

    Pls give first hand examples instead of only talking about theories…

    Thanks…

  56. weing says:

    lfusher,
    Just keep on flushing. It works for you because your real problem is that you are full of sh*t.

  57. David Gorski says:

    Criticising alternate therapies is fair game but to ridicule individuals seeking relief from a long term health condition either physical of psychological in origin is callous practice

    Please specify: Who is “ridiculing individuals seeking relief from a long term health condition”? And how? Certainly I was not.

    I was, however, ridiculing the very concept of colon and liver flushes, both of which richly deserve it.

  58. vineet says:

    Hi All,

    Pls go through the following link. It has some more information.

    http://curezone.com/forums/am.asp?i=61992

    May be u can give some more comments ?

  59. HCN says:

    vineet: There is one problem with giving comments on “Curezone”… it is heavily moderated. No comments that question their point of view are allowed.

    How about you address the points made on this blog posting? Address the comments posted by Dr. Hall, Dr. Gorski and the others, please.

  60. Harriet Hall says:

    All the comments by the flushers fall into a pattern: they have not understood the objections I listed above.

    I have no respect for people who don’t even try to understand your position and still try to argue against it.

    I would urge the flushers to try to really understand the scientific and logical objections to flushing, to understand them as a debater would in trying to prepare the “con” side of a debate. Only then can they engage in a rational discussion with us.

    I suppose that’s too much to ask!

  61. pmoran says:

    We surgeons, along with anatomists, pathologists performing post-mortems, and radiologists, have a far more intimate aquaintence with gallstones and the contents of the liver and bile ducts than any TCM practitioner or Western advocate of the flushes. If they had had the opportunity to share our experience they would also know that any medical benefits from flushes is entirely due to the power of suggestion. They are a dramatic “cleansing” event, and it would be amazing if people did not feel better for it.

    I have tried to explain our position here.

    http://quackwatch.com/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/flushes.html

    There is no shame in being misled in medicine — it is a very complicated area and the mind has a powerful influence on our perceptions.

  62. vineet says:

    Hi everybody,

    First, how about if all the medical persons who are taking part in this Blog, do actually check whether it works or not ?

    For this, if somebody who has an obvious gallstone which is visible via an ultrasound or xray or any other means, be given a liver/gallblader flush. To check whether the stone is flushed out !!
    Subsequently after the fulsh the ultrasound or xray can be done again to verify !!

    Whether those other stones are of olive oil or not is not that important.. what first needs to be established is whether the liver/gallblader flush works or not ??

    only surgeons who get patients having gallstones can do it…

    The other question is whether there is any possible ill effects by dong the flush ??

  63. weing says:

    “The other question is whether there is any possible ill effects by dong the flush ??”
    In someone with real gallstones you may precipitate biliary colic and or pancreatitis. The latter could be fatal.

  64. Harriet Hall says:

    “First, how about if all the medical persons who are taking part in this Blog, do actually check whether it works or not ?”

    That’s not how it works. It’s up to the person making the claim to provide evidence. We are not the ones making the claim, and we have no reason to think it’s even remotely plausible.

  65. T_Govett says:

    I have liver flushed and quite quickly realised that the green stones couldn’t possibly be gallstones because the volume is just far to great. However, not all the debris that emerged was green or soft. One “stones was very hard white crystalline material shaped like a plug and there were 5 very hard (looked like discarded chewing gum) stones. I had been been diagnosed with biliary sludge which made it impossible to determine the presence of gallstones. The blood test indicated that the bile flow was being restricted. I undertook twelve flushes over a year and the last flush produced the white stones. Cholesterol is down by a third, the gallbladder is verified clear by a follow up ultra sound and I feel great. I no longer produce green stones if I liver flush, although I’ve now stopped.

    Yes it could have cleared upon its own and I will never now if the liver flushing was worthwhile and people like me won’t until so money i found some where to fund some serious experimentation. If we all pay by the word to make our opinion I am sure we will raise enough money. Although Harriet may need a mortgage. (smile)

    One other aspect that doctor discussed with me was biliary stasis. For some modern lifestyle reason the entero-hepatic cholesterol cycle stalls and the bile thickens. Does this coagulated bile have a greater tendency to produce green stones than “fresh” bile.

    There are so many questions that need to be addressed and whether they are gallstones or not isn’t the primary arguments.

    Although gallbladder surgery is very successful technically. Unfortunately if you look at the statistic 40% of patients have a return to the original condition after a year or even two. This level of success is unsatisfactory to the patient and a drain of resources. Other complementary therapies may be beneficial providing they are put on a scientific footing.

  66. weing says:

    Do you mean 40% of patients develop stones in their gallbladders again after gallbladder surgery?

  67. T_Govett says:

    Patients complain about pain and discomfort and it is this that returns. Gallstones are not a medical condition and many people with gallstones remain symptom free.

    I wasn’t very impressed by your “full of sh**” comment above.

  68. weing says:

    Ssorry. Should have said constipated instead.

  69. everblu says:

    Hello Friends, I’m here to find a way to get rid of gallstones without surgery, since I can’t afford health insurance. Is there any way (medically condoned) that I can “do it myself”? My gallbladder is so full of stones I can feel it after a meal. The blockage also causes edema so severe in the evenings that my legs and feet swell up like balloons. I say blockage simply because that’s what it feels like, on my right side, just under the ribcage. Hope I’m not too late to this forum. Appreciate any advice.

  70. Stu says:

    everblu: Sadly, no.

  71. AntiVax says:

    http://whale.to/m/cleanse1.html

    but not medically (allopathic) condoned, so its looks like the surgery :0(

    “Maybe not to you, but the truth matters a great deal to most of us.”

    LOL!

  72. Stu says:

    You were funny for a while, but now… just really, really sad.

  73. Harriet Hall says:

    everblu,

    There is a possibility that your symptoms are due to something other than gallstones. You need a proper diagnosis and scientific medical advice. Figuring out how to afford medical insurance should be your first priority. If you are destitute, there are free clinics, Medicaid, and doctors who do pro bono work.

  74. oderb says:

    A provocative report on the gallbladder flush was recently described in a letter by Dr Nicholas Gonzalez (I know he’s everyone’s favorite oncologist on this site – and my doctor for the last 18 years), in Townsend Letter June 08 (everyone’s favorite medical publication I’m sure….)

    He quotes from an article in American Family Physician, February 15, 1998 (57(4) 785

    “Home Remedy may prevent surgery in some patients”

    (North American Primary Care Research Group) Results of a study examining the efficacy of a traditional home remedy for inducing gallstone expulsion using lemon juice, olive oil, cascara sagrada, and garlic/castile enemas suggested that this protocol has the potential to safely eliminate the need for gallstone surgery in a substantial number of patients. Six patients with symptomatic cholelithiasis proven by ultrasound were included in the study. The subjects completed a three day protocol and collected gallstones recovered from the enema.

    All of the patients passed stones. No side effects were observed except for mild nausea in one patient. Intermittent ultrasound was performed for three hours per day each day of the protocol. A final ultrasound assessed the clearing of cholelithiasis. Five of the patients were asymptomatic for follow up periods ranging from two to twenty seven months; mild symptoms returned to one of these patients after three months. The patient who remained symptomatic underwent cholecystectomy about one month after the home remedy protocol.
    One of the asymptomatic patients who passed all of her stones underwent cholecystectomy anyway under the advice of her physician. The investigators believe, that with modifications, this protocol could safely eliminate the need for surgery in patients with
    cholelithiasis. Richard L. Garrison MD, University of Texas Medical School, Houston.

    Gonzalez remarks that ‘ in many of our patients the gallstones did resolve on subsequent radiographic studies, though not always.’

    He also said that many of the stones that were passed do consist of olive oil, but not all.

    Hardly conclusive but suggestive..and supporting the comments above urging a simple study to see if this remedy is for real, or simply an urban legend of sorts…..

  75. Harriet Hall says:

    I’m puzzled. I checked the American Family Physician archives and found no such article. This is not the kind of thing AFP would put in an article; it sounds like the kind of thing AFP would have printed in their “Tips from other journals” section as a brief news item. At any rate it is a second-hand report of a study published elsewhere. Where was it published? It is a preliminary study with only 6 subjects. It doesn’t impress me, especially since Gonzalez admits some of the stones were olive oil and doesn’t offer an analysis of the ones that weren’t.

  76. AntiVax says:

    “You were funny for a while, but now… just really, really sad.”

    Thanks. You have to mix it up when you play the fool. ;0)

    I get that with Allopathy, hard to know whether to laugh or cry most of the time.

    Hall: “Gee, maybe we should listen to metamorph. If we do, we should also listen to all those patients down the centuries who were cured by bloodletting. Maybe we shouldn’t dismiss bloodletting without experiencing it. I have an old lancet I would gladly lend to metamorph the next time he has a fever.”

    One of your old remedies, not so bad as mercury http://www.whale.to/a/allopathy4.html

    and the Lancet was for vaccination, killed millions over 2 centuries http://www.whale.to/v/lancet.html

    “The lymph used was of unknown origin, kept in capillary glass tubes, from whence it was blown into a cup into which the lancet was dipped. No pretence of cleaning the lancet was made; it drew blood in very many instances, and it was used upon as many as 276 during the first day (on board ship). …..no one can estimate the number of healthy, innocent children, as well as adults, who are inoculated with syphilis or other foul disease.”–William Tebb 1884

    PMoran: “There is no shame in being misled in medicine — it is a very complicated area and the mind has a powerful influence on our perceptions.”

    Surgery isn’t exactly a cure is it and never will be. Talking of being misled http://www.whale.to/a/hoaxmed.html

  77. AntiVax says:

    “The word detox does not appear in the main textbook on cancer or the main medical textbook…the word in medicine refers to heroin addicts and getting them off heroin…they do not conceive that their are such things as toxins created by a tumour…where do they think it all goes?”—–Ralph Moss http://www.whale.to/c/moss.html

    “enemas are one of the oldest healing modalities in human literature…Coffee enemas have been in the Merck Medical Manual for decades, until 1977, when editors of the manual claimed that this revered therapy was eliminated for ‘lack of space’ in the new manuscript. The reality is that coffee enemas became the focal point in criticizing alternative cancer therapies”.—Dr Patrick Quillin, PhD, RD (Beating Cancer With Nutrition) http://www.whale.to/cancer/detox.html

  78. HCN says:

    Sigh… remember “antivax” is John Scudamore. He is the fellow whose bum was burned by “satanic black lines” while he was on psychedelics. He had it written in one of his webpages…
    From w w w .whale.to/b/cbblack.html … ” I also burnt my ass on it some years back when I was experimenting with psychedelics, similar to a chemical burn right through my trousers, where the trousers were unscathed apart from
    a flattening of the cord. I thought, first, that I had been given a
    metaphysical kick up the backside! Perhaps I had.”

    But, since I have referenced it often enough, he changed it just before January 2007, perhaps he found it embarrassing. Here he is talking about the evils of “allopathy” (whatever his definition of that is), encouraging folks to push coffee up the wrong way… and he has experimented with psychedelics! But it is archived here:
    http://web.archive.org/web/20051122144515/http://www.whale.to/b/cbblack.html

    Trust me, burning his bum hit his intellectual center.

  79. Joe says:

    The liver flush described in oderb’s post has been examined:
    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2006/07/your_friday_dose_of_woo_would_you_like_a.php
    It is an extensive discussion of this nonsense.

    Near the end of that post, Orac cites an experiment which reproduces the “formation of gallstones” from the ‘flush’ formula in a beaker. The olive oil is digested to oleic acid, when that is combined with other ingredients “stones” develop. Undigested olive oil may, sometimes, be associated with these “stones.”

    The bottom line- we know why these “flushes” seem to work.

    We are left to wonder who first tried this nauseating process.

  80. AntiVax says:

    HCN: Oh really http://www.whale.to/b/cbblack.html

    You must have missed the 60′s mate. But I guess anything that might break your pharma brainwashing is forbidden.

    All your dear leaders run the coke and heroin trade, didn’t you know that, here is another link for you http://www.whale.to/b/drug_war.html

  81. Fifi says:

    It’s not surprising that President Bush (Cheney, et al) and purveyors of new age woo both share an intense hatred for “reality based thinking” and evidence based practices. The new age woo movement has been integrally interlinked with both the wackier end of the military intelligence community (a little bit of checking up on the past and present activities of General Stubblebine is quite informative) – both interested in mind control techniques, amongst other things. Which is not to say that the US military hasn’t also done mind control experiments in hospitals, it’s just to point out that pretending that woo is some kind of “alternative” and not somehow involved with the military, drugs and mind control experiments is just flat out untrue and actually it’s quite the opposite. Woo is about as status quo as you can get with its rejection of “reality based thinking” that exactly mirrors that of Bush, Cheney and all (a group implicated in importing drugs to the US to subsidize their “side” of the internal struggles in South America).

  82. Fifi says:

    It’s worth noting that PM Tony Blair was also a supporter of woo so all this pretense that woo is somehow anti-establishment is just more smoke and mirrors.

  83. Fifi says:

    If anything, proponents of woo like Bush and Blair actually reveal just how aligned against reality based thinking (and EBM and critical thinking) those in power and pushers of woo actually are – though the woo promoters point the finger elsewhere (at the audience actually) as a means to distract from the man behind the curtain pulling the strings and pushing the levers.

  84. vinny says:

    Fifi, the biggest charlatan in the political world is the false prophet, Obamamessiah. Antivax, I had another look at whaleto site and WOW, antivax you are one wild and crazy guy.

  85. Harriet Hall says:

    Please, let’s keep politics out of this blog.

  86. Harriet Hall says:

    Antivax,

    This is a science-based medicine blog.

    If you have any science to offer us, please do so directly instead of repeatedly sending us to your poorly organized and difficult-to-read website. In case you hadn’t noticed, we do not consider your website a balanced, reliable source of scientific information. We want primary sources, not secondary. And please stop giving us outdated references. A lot has happened in the last century that invalidates your assertions.

    Try to understand: “enemas are one of the oldest healing modalities” is entirely irrelevant to the question of whether science has shown them to do any good. Bloodletting was also one of the oldest healing modalities known to man.

  87. AntiVax says:

    “Try to understand: “enemas are one of the oldest healing modalities” is entirely irrelevant to the question of whether science has shown them to do any good. Bloodletting was also one of the oldest healing modalities known to man.”

    You should try one, best I’ve ever felt after 7 days coffee enema and juice diet. Only way I take my coffee nowadays ;0)

    That’s why Gerson and Kelley were curing cancer while you still can’t ;0) http://www.whale.to/cancer/gerson.html

    “It is well established that a properly conducted Gerson therapy will rescue 50% of terminal patients. Gerson was curing 50% terminal cancers, and 100% stage 1 and 2 cancers.”– Frank Hourigan.

    “your poorly organized and difficult-to-read website. ”

    Hard to read wearing pharma blinkers ;0)

    “we do not consider your website a balanced, reliable source of scientific information.”

    I would hope not, it is the antithesis to Allopathy!

    “And please stop giving us outdated references.”

    Is that in line with Blair’s ‘let’s move on’ line over the Iraq war? And do all studies become invalid at a certain age?

    “A lot has happened in the last century that invalidates your assertions.”

    Oh really, has vitamin C changed in any way? Maybe the germs have come to love it, like they do your antibiotics ;0) ??

    “This is a science-based medicine blog. ”

    No matter how many times you repeat it, it isn’t going to become true, but nice try ;0)

    “See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda.” — George W. Bush http://www.whale.to/vaccine/repetition.html

    “Trust me, burning his bum hit his intellectual center.”

    At least I have one ;0) You are like a one trick pony that’s audience died long ago from boredom. In your world does no one ever do anything except watch TV?

    “Antivax, I had another look at whaleto site and WOW, antivax you are one wild and crazy guy.”

    Cheers. Crazy world out there, I guess you haven’t noticed.

  88. Harriet Hall says:

    Thanks, Antivax, for providing us more examples of logical fallacies and poor critical thinking abilities. We can always use you as a bad example.

    When I said the antiquity of enemas doesn’t prove their efficacy. You answered, “Try one.” Have you tried bloodletting? Just wondering…

  89. tryitandsee says:

    for years i’ve been having pains in my lower-right abdomen. i thought it was my appendix. so i got tested. my appendix was removed yet i still had the pains. next a couple doctors (i’ve seen dozens for different reasons) suggested i get an ultra-sound. so i did. turned out my gullbladder was packed with stones. very interesting to see one of my organs filled to the rim. the surgery was expensive and i wasn’t too hot on the idea of having a second surgery in less than two months. eventually i ran into someone who told me all about the liver flush. i was like, “what the hell did you say?” sounded like bull to me, and i was almost sure it was. but what did i have to loose? well, a few stones, i guess. i took epson salts and the olive oil drink. and the next morning i saw green balls in the toilet. some floating, others on the bottom of the toilet. it was cool but i figured it had to be the olive oil or some other food residue. so i took it to the labs of the university of chicago. i have a friend who knows someone who offered to help me out and run the tests on a couple of the stones – yes , i fished them out of the toilet!! sick!!!!! then, i told my doctor about it. he said not to expect anything. i was way ahead of him. i was psyching myself up for another surgery, trying to prove to myself it was the only thing i can do. then i recieved the lab results. the test explained the stones were made of bile salts, parasitic infestation of some kind and one was calcified, in which case the technician explained to me that’s why it sank. i went back to my doctor and told him. he didn’t believe it. and, frankly, neither did i. then i got another ultra-sound. and the result? my gullbladder was less than half-full of stones unlike before when it was completely filled up. since then i’ve done slightly more than ten flushes and eventually another ultra-sound detected a clear gullbladder. as for the pain? well, that went away at flush number four or five. and my complexion has dramatically improved, of which i noticed it’s changes after the third flush. i had acne for fourteen years.

    i think it’s safe to say that, not only is america a young country, naive politically and socially, but we’ve also gone waaaay off base in the field of medicine in particular. doctors here for the most part seem to be great at relaying long-held information, but in the world-wide picture, they can learn a lot from more “open-minded” parts of the world. no offense, docs. it’s not just you. it’s time to rid ourselves of pride and admit that we, as a nation, can use some guidance. since my gullbladder ordeal, i’ve learned of more than a dozen people who’ve naturally cured themselves of the “incurable”. a few from cancer and another arteriorsclerosis. and then AIDS. crazy, i know. his doctors didn’t believe it either, all fourteen of them who each did a blood work-up.

    cheers.

  90. David Gorski says:

    If your testimonial is indeed true, your doctor should be more than happy to publish it as a case report. I know if one of my patients had a response like that the first thing I would do is to submit the case report to a surgical journal.

    In the meantime, you’ll excuse me if I remain skeptical.

  91. Stu says:

    David: Especially since you’d've discovered the first person who had evolved a “gullbladder”.

    I wonder where it would be?

  92. Fifi says:

    Stu – Making it’s located somewhere in France next to the “gaul” that nwtk keeps going on about! Or maybe it’s specific to the astral body and is another symptom of “sprouting angel wings” like upper back pain/shoulder tension is considered in some new age circles?

  93. Stu says:

    I’m sorry, I got as far as “astral body” before I passed out.

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