Even though bile supplements have been used medicinally for centuries, it is only recently that they’ve gotten attention. Research shows that bile has many more roles in our body than we previously realized. The benefits of bile range from balancing the gut microbiome to acting as a hormone.
As a result, bile acid supplements like TUDCA have gotten very popular. Some of these supplements are made with inhumane practices though and they have been known to cause some terrible side effects like diarrhea. Don’t worry – there are ways you can increase your bile production naturally without bile supplements.
How to Increase Bile Production Naturally
There are two ways that food and herbs work to increase bile: choleretics and cholagogues.
This refers to foods and plants which stimulate the liver to make more bile. Some choleretics work by helping the liver convert cholesterol into bile acids.
Cholagogues are substances which cause the gallbladder to contract and release bile. This prevents bile from building up in the gallbladder where it can turn into “sludge.” The old, sludgy bile can then turn into gallstones. Once the sludgy bile is released from the gallbladder, the liver will be triggered to produce new bile.
Caution: If you have gallstones, taking cholagogues could cause the stones to get stuck. While some people purposely take cholagogues to “squeeze out” their stones, it could backfire and end up very painful. Consult your doctor before taking any herbs for gallstones!
Foods for Increasing Bile Production
After leaving the liver or gallbladder, bile binds to fiber in the large intestines. Toxins in the waste also bind to the fiber. Once bound, they are eliminated from the body through our bowels.
Without enough fiber in the diet, the old bile – along with toxins – will be reabsorbed by the body and sent to the liver for filtering. Our liver becomes overloaded from having to filter out all of those toxins. It also won’t produce new, fresh bile because it is using the recycled bile. The bile becomes sludgy, which contributes to inflammation and gallstone formation.
Numerous studies show that increasing fiber content can improve bile excretion and reduce gallstones. Oat bran is a particularly good source of fiber to stimulate bile production naturally.
Red Kidney Beans
Red kidney beans induce gallbladder contractions. They are also rich in fiber, which further improves bile flow.
Taurine and Glycine Foods
Bile acids bind with the amino acids glycine or taurine to form conjuncted bile acids. These are stronger than their unconjugated forms. If you are not getting enough glycine or taurine from your diet, then your bile acid will be weak and health problems can occur.
Some sources of taurine and glycine include:
- Brewer’s yeast
- Some nuts and legumes
Artichoke leaves are a well-known for their bile stimulating properties. Medicinally, artichoke leaves are usually taken as an extract but you can also add more artichoke to your diet to get benefits.
Bile is stored in the gallbladder and released when you eat foods with fat in them. If you eat a very low-fat diet, bile won’t be released and can become “sludgy.” The bile sludge can then turn into gallstones. This is one of the reasons that low-fat diets and severe calorie-restriction diets are linked to gallstones.
To keep your bile flowing, you should eat fat with each meal. The key here is to eat just a small amount of fat and choose fats which are easy for the body to break down, such as unsaturated fats.
Herbs for Increasing Bile Production
Coptis is a genus of plants. There are several species of Coptis but Coptis Chinensis is the most common. It has long been used in Chinese medicine and is recommended as the best alternative for bear bile.
Coptis contains various compounds, including berberine. Studies show that the herb increases bile levels, helps convert cholesterol into bile acids, improves bile emptying, improves fat breakdown and decreases gallstone formation.
Stone Breaker (Phyllanthus niruri )
Also called chanca Piedra and known as bhumyamalaki in Ayurvedic medicine, stone breaker has long been used to treat gallstones (hence its name) and liver disorders. Research shows that it is a potent choleretics. In addition to this, stone breaker herb has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits due to its high phenolic content. Other species of Phyllanthus, such as Phyllanthus amarus and Phyllanthus emblica also have these benefits.
Dandelion both stimulates bile production and increases bile flow from the gallbladder. It also has numerous other scientifically-backed benefits for the liver.
While best known for reducing inflammation, turmeric is a choleretic. It is actually the compounds Bisacurone B and ar-turmerone that primarily give it this benefit, so extracts of the curcumin compound won’t be as beneficial.
Milk thistle is one of the best known herbal remedies for liver health. It protects the liver by preventin certain free radicals from forming. It also stimulates the production of new liver cells. A healthy liver will better be able to produce bile. In addition to this, milk thistle increases bile production and secretion.
Elecampane (Inula Helenium)
This plant is commonly used for treating coughs. It also has skin benefits and balances the gut microbiome. These benefits may be partly due to the plant’s ability to stimulate bile production. Read more about elecampane benefits here.
Some other potential herbs for bile production are:
- Fenugreek seek
- John’s wort
- Kutki (Picrorhiza kurroa)
- Moonseed (Tinospora cordifolia)
Best Herbal Supplements for Increasing Bile
Because each herb works in a slightly different way to increase bile acid, you will get better results if you combine multiple herbs together. Luckily, there are a lot of good brands which make herbal supplements for gallbladder support. I recommend:
- Gallbladder Complete (Amazon)
- Banyan Botanicals Liver Formula (Website, Amazon)
- VitaLiver Herbal Extract (Amazon)