Importance of Bile – Keep it Flowing!
ByJoanne Aponte, ND •April 27, 2022
Bile is a substance made by the liver and then stored in the gallbladder. When we eat fat bile is released from the gallbladder. Bile’s main job is to help us absorb fat from our intestines, but it does not end there. Bile plays a very important role in our digestion and ability to detoxify. If you do not make enough bile or if you have poor bile flow out of the gallbladder, it can lead to a variety of digestive issues and inefficiency in our body’s detox system.
Actions of Bile:
- Bile helps absorb fats from your food and fat soluble vitamins.
- Helps detoxification by aiding elimination of toxic substances from the liver
- Eliminates cholesterol and reduces insulin resistance
- Has an antimicrobial action in the small intestine
- Stimulates intestinal motility in the colon (i.e. promotes bowel movements)
- Protects against toxins secreted by gut bacteria (endotoxins), reduces intestinal inflammation and helps maintain a healthy gut lining.
Signs that you have low bile:
- Gas, bloating, belching
- Fullness after eating and nausea
- Stomach pain or burning
- Deficiency of fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K)
- Acid reflux and GERD
If you do not have enough bile, this increases risk of bacterial infections in the intestines including H. pylori, C. difficile and SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth). Low bile can lead to more intestinal inflammation and leaky gut. Ensuring optimal bile flow and production is key in these conditions and should be considered in patients with history of SIBO to help prevent relapses. Bile can also benefit and improve autoimmune conditions including psoriasis by reducing intestinal inflammation, decreasing intestinal endotoxins and healing a leaky gut.
Herbs that promote bile flow and production:
- Herbs called choloretics increase production of bile by the liver. These include Milk thistle, Curcumin, Berberine, Chelidonium and Cynara scolymus (artichoke)
- Cholegogues increase bile secretion from the gallbladder. These include Beberine, Chelidonium, Chionanthus, Dandelion root, Milk thistle, Curcumin, Cynara scolymus (artichoke)
Sometimes taking a bile supplement will be beneficial. Taking a supplement of bile (often called Ox bile) can give the gallbladder time to rest if there are gallbladder issues. Bile supplements can also help dissolve gallbladder stones dissolve by improving the bile: cholesterol ratio.
If you’ve had your gallbladder removed you may need to take a bile supplement if your liver cannot produce enough. Signs that you need bile after gallbladder removal would be digestive symptoms or diarrhea after eating fatty or fried foods or any of the symptoms listed above.
Ensuring adequate bile flow is an important part of any gut healing protocol that we don’t want to miss!
Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health practitioners with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health program.