Some people suggest home remedies to help get rid of gallstones or manage symptoms. Examples include a gallbladder cleanse, dandelion, and milk thistle. However, more research is necessary.

There are two types of gallstones: cholesterol gallstones and calcium bilirubinate gallstones.

Cholesterol gallstones primarily consist of undissolved cholesterol. Calcium bilirubinate gallstones consist of excess bilirubin, which is a pigment that forms during the breakdown of red blood cells.

Not everybody with gallstones will experience symptoms. When symptoms do develop, they can include:

  • pain in the upper right abdomen
  • pain in the right shoulder or between the shoulder blades
  • nausea
  • gray stool
  • diarrhea
  • vomiting

Although more research is necessary, it may be possible to manage symptoms of gallstones with home remedies. Some people also claim that some home treatments can help remove gallstones. However, it is best to contact a doctor for advice before trying any remedies for gallstones.

Read on to learn more about the possible home remedies for gallstones. This article also discusses medical treatments, preventive tips, and more.

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Some people recommend home remedies to treat gallstones and manage related symptoms. However, in most cases, there needs to be more research into the effectiveness of home remedies for gallstones.

It is best for a person to contact a doctor for advice before trying any home treatments for gallstones. The doctor can advise on whether they feel natural remedies may be beneficial or if they recommend medication or surgery.

Gallbladder cleanse

A gallbladder cleanse may help a person treat gallstones.

People who recommend this method claim it breaks down the gallstones and flushes them from the body. An older 2009 article states that while scientific evidence to support a gallbladder cleanse or gladder flush is minimal, anecdotal reports indicate it may be helpful for some people.

A gallbladder cleanse may involve fasting most of the day and consuming tablespoons of olive oil and lemon juice in the evening. Another version of the cleanse involves consuming only apple juice and vegetable juice throughout the day, then taking olive oil and lemon juice in the evening.

This diet may be unsafe for people with diabetes or blood sugar issues. It is important to contact a doctor for advice before beginning any kind of fast or cleanse.


A 2022 review suggests that dandelion products may be beneficial against gastrointestinal disorders, including gallstones.

This might involve drinking dandelion teas or coffees to remove their gallstones. However, more research into the benefits of dandelion specifically for treating gallstones is necessary.

It is best for a person with gallstones, gallbladder issues, or kidney problems to contact a doctor before consuming dandelion.

Learn more about dandelion.

Milk thistle

People have used milk thistle medicinally to detoxify the liver for centuries. While it may support the liver and gallbladder, there are no studies evaluating its effects on gallstones specifically.

A person may take milk thistle as a tonic, capsule, or tablet form. While some medical professionals might recommend milk thistle to treat some conditions affecting the liver, there needs to be more research about the benefits of milk thistle for gallbladder health and gallstones.

Learn more about milk thistle.

Lysimachiae herba

Lysimachiae herba is a popular traditional Chinese medicine remedy for gallstones. Research from 2015 suggests it may be beneficial for treating or preventing cholesterol gallstones.

The supplement is available as a powder or liquid. It is best for a person to seek medical advice before taking lysimachiae herba for gallstones, as more research is necessary.


Research has shown that extracts of artichoke stimulate bile production and aid both gallbladder and liver function.

However, there is no research specifically focusing on the effects of artichokes on gallstones.

It is essential for a person to contact a doctor before taking artichoke extract. This is because it may cause a gallbladder attack if there is a bile duct obstruction.

Learn more about artichoke extract.


Psyllium is a soluble fiber derived from the seeds of the Plantago ovata plant.

An old 1975 study found that psyllium hydrocolloid protected hamsters from the formation of cholesterol gallstones. A slightly more recent study from 1999 supports these findings.

Scientists still need to study the effects of psyllium on treating or preventing gallstones in humans.

Castor oil pack

Castor oil packs are a popular remedy among some naturopaths and natural living enthusiasts for a wide variety of issues. Some people and organizations, such as the charity The Weston A. Price Foundation, recommend castor oil packs for improving gallbladder health and reducing pain and discomfort.

To apply a castor oil pack, soak a cloth in warm castor oil and place it on the abdomen, then cover with a towel. Some people choose to place a heat source, such as a hot water bottle or heating pad, on top. Leave the pack on the abdomen for up to an hour.

However, there are no scientific studies to support the use of this treatment for gallstones.


Acupuncture may relieve gallstone symptoms, although the research is very limited.

In an older 2012 study on 60 people with cholecystitis (gallbladder inflammation), acupuncture alleviated back pain, stomach ache, and nausea while also regulating the volume of the gallbladder.

It is important to note that this research does not look specifically at gallstones and may only relieve symptoms rather than help people pass the stones.

Learn more about acupuncture.

Medical treatments may not be necessary if gallstones do not cause any symptoms. However, doctors may recommend surgery or other treatments.


Surgery for gallstones usually involves removing the gallbladder. This type of surgery is called a cholecystectomy.

Cholecystectomy ensures that the gallstones cannot reform. A person’s doctor can provide more information about what the surgery involves.

Learn more about gallstone surgery.

Nonsurgical treatments

Nonsurgical treatments are generally not as effective as surgery for gallstones, as there is a risk that the gallstones will return. However, doctors may recommend nonsurgical treatments if a person is unable to undergo surgery.

Possible treatments include:

  • Oral dissolution therapy: This involves taking medications that contain bile acid to break up the gallstones. It can take months or years for all of the gallstones to break up. Examples of medications include chenodiol and ursodiol.
  • Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP): This involves inserting an endoscope down a person’s esophagus and into the duodenum. This allows the doctor to use tools to remove small gallstones.
  • Shock wave lithotripsy: In rare cases, a doctor may use this procedure to blast the gallstones to break them down into smaller pieces. They may use this in combination with oral dissolution therapy.

It may not be possible to completely prevent gallstones from forming. However, maintaining a moderate weight and consuming a balanced diet may help.

Avoiding foods high in saturated fat may help prevent gallstones, as cholesterol may play a role in their formation. Instead, it is best to consume a diet rich in whole grains, vegetables, and fruit.

However, losing a significant amount of weight too quickly can increase the risk of gallstone development. A dietitian or healthcare professional can help advise on a safe and effective way to lose weight.

It is best for anyone considering trying natural treatment for gallstones to contact a doctor first.

A person should also consult a doctor if they experience symptoms of gallbladder problems or a gallbladder attack. These include:

Here are some common questions about gallstones.

What can dissolve gallstones?

Medications containing bile acid can help to break up gallstones. Examples include ursodiol and chenodiol.

What is the fastest way to cure gallstones?

Surgery may be the fastest way to cure gallstones. It typically involves removing the gallbladder. This helps to ensure that gallstones cannot return.

Can gallstones go away on their own?

In some cases, gallstones may travel down the bile duct and into the small bowel. A person may then pass the gallstones naturally. However, gallstones may return. Having surgery to remove gallstones prevents this.

How to get rid of gallstones without removing the gallbladder?

There are some nonsurgical methods of treating gallstones, namely:

  • oral dissolution therapy
  • ERCP
  • shock wave lithotripsy

A person may also try home remedies to treat gallstones naturally. However, more research into the effectiveness of home remedies for gallstones is necessary. It is best for people to contact a doctor for advice on treatments.

Some individuals use home remedies to try to help treat gallstones. Examples include a gallbladder flush, dandelion, milk thistle, and acupuncture.

However, there is limited evidence that home remedies and natural treatments are beneficial in managing gallstones.

A doctor may recommend surgery to remove gallstones. This may involve removing the gallbladder, which will prevent gallstones from recurring. Other treatments may be available if surgery is not suitable.

It is best for a person to contact a doctor before trying any home remedies for gallstones. They can advise on what treatments they recommend and ways to manage any symptoms they experience.