Is passing gallstones through the use of olive oil a myth? Can someone really pass gallstones/kidney stones on any particular cleanse?
There are a few naturopathic ways that have been proposed to cure gallstones. These cleanses involve use of Epsom salt laxatives, lemon juice, and olive oil. Or apple juice and apple sauce diets with the use of olive oil in the final stages. There are numerous blogs in which people report passing 20-30 peas sized stones after these cleanses and feeling much better. There are two proposed scientific reasons for this phenomenon.
First, in looking at the true chemistry, anatomy, and physiology behind what is occurring, it does not seem scientifically possible for people to be passing 20-30 gallstones. Instead, what is likely happening is people are witnessing saponification between the oil and pancreatic enzymes.
Saponification is a process in which animal fat or vegetable oil is treated with a strong alkali (base) to form a fatty acid and glycerol (soap). These cleanse use olive oil (fat) which mixes with pancreatic enzymes (alkali substance), the same process as creating soap. This reaction leads to a solid formation, which is seen during deification. The second theory is that these stones are simply coagulation of olive oil precipitating out. Once again, not true stones.
Based on the anatomy of the gall bladder, stones greater than 5mm would get trapped in the common bile duct (the anatomic exit of the gall bladder). The report of stones 1-2 cm in size is virtually impossible.
The problem with any of these cleanses is they are high in fat which can cause the gallbladder to contract forcefully, which can lead to worsening pain from gallstones or trapping of a present stone in the common bile duct. Overall, there is no scientific evidence that this works.
In regards to kidney stones, there are no traditional cleanse that works to destroy or rid stones. There are, however, many naturopathic or herbal remedies, which may help to pass or prevent stones. These remedies typically increase filtration by the kidney by increasing the volume of fluid delivered to the kidneys. For example, celery seed and watermelon seed teas work at increasing filtration of kidney.
Ways to try to improve kidney stones:
- Increase fluid intake
- Get adequate magnesium consumption (can be found in whole wheat bread)
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