I know you’ve heard the saying before: “all disease begins in the gut.” This is a sentiment shared by medicine systems around the world.

  • In Ayurveda, when digestive fire (“agni”) is lacking, “ama” (toxins, unproductive bacteria, etc) builds up and in turn, destroys agni further. This ama spread throughout the body creating illness, allergies & stagnation.
  • In Chinese Medicine, “spleen Qi” (the strength & warmth of digestion) transforms all food and drink into healthy body tissues. When spleen Qi is deficient, undigested food and fluids linger and build up as “dampness.” As digestion, peristalsis and elimination slow down, pathogens have a better chance of feeding & thriving.

Digestive enzymes can provide temporarily relief from the symptoms of poor digestion; they can also help those who have pancreatitis or lack a gallbladder. Long term, however, your body can become dependent – so in the meantime (or instead), work on building your digestive fire naturally.

I’ve written a bunch of articles on how to improve digestion in the past (search ‘digestion’ or click here & here) but today I want to revisit & highlight the overlooked role of the liver/gallbladder.

Bile is essential for proper digestion. Thick bile, or impaired bile flow, congests the gallbladder and bile ducts (and can also get blocked on its path from the liver to the GB — and then to the intestines). Just before the bile duct reaches the small intestine, it joins with the pancreatic duct, and voila – thick bile will interrupt the flow of pancreatic (digestive) enzymes! You want to work on moving this bile to access your own enzymes. In fact, in one study, 46% of patients who has pancreatitis also had thick or viscous bile.

Healthy bile flow is important for ALL digestive issues as it helps break down fat, scrubs the villi, escorts toxins & excess hormones out (when mixed with fibrous food) and much more.

5 Ways to Improve Bile + Enzyme Flow Naturally without Digestive Enzymes

  1.  The late herbalist Dr. Christopher recommended a pinch of powdered cayenne pepper in warm water before a meal to naturally stimulate your own digestive process and enzyme release. Cinnamon helps too – and regulates blood sugar.
  2. Fermented foods are a rich source of enzymes (and probiotics) and can be eaten as a ‘side’ with your meal (think sauerkraut & pickles).
  3. Eat more raw beets and leafy greens. The cellulose in greens will attach to the toxic bile and escort it to the toilet like a non-stop flight! Beet kvass is a fermented food (kills 2 birds with 1 stone) & beet juice is also excellent. 
  4. Drink fenugreek tea before or take small sips with a meal. It acts a decongestant for the bile ducts and helps support normal bile flow. Add ginger for extra power.
  5. Drink a big glass of water 15-20 minutes before each meal. This will super-hydrate your stomach, encouraging it to produce more hydrochloric acid and increasing the flow of bile and pancreatic enzymes.

Other tips:

  • Eating one green apple each day has always helped me with symptoms of liver stagnation, which is tied to poor bile flow. The malic acid in apples helps to dissolve gallstones and thick bile. Other fruit acids (i.e. citric acid in lemon) are helpful as well.
  • My post about sipping hot water every 30 minutes can apply here to improve digestive fire.
  • As you also may know, I improved my digestion after eliminating the pathogenic organisms that were overgrowing & creating chaos in my gut (check out Parapro in our shop designed for gut dysbiosis). Repopulating with good bacteria (via probiotics) is a must!

Leave a Comment


  • Noor potrus says:

    Every post somehow relates exactly to the symptoms I’m experiencing . I have stagnation in my spleen and get gas build up and pain in my upper abdomen . I still don’t know exactly what to do to fix it . I need help with this issue as I’ve stopped burning fat and losing weight . I’ve got gas build up, bloating and tight tight muscles . Olivia can you give me some advice

  • Jennie says:

    Hi olivia,
    I have had over a dozen of gallstones for over 10yrs. Since then I’ve had non stop ulcers in my mouth which dr can’t find the reasons why. I’ve cut out pork, mostly dairy foods. I’ve done 3 gallbladder flush but I’d love if you could help me find a cure or advice for my ulcers and gallstones as i don’t want to remove it.
    I’ve been following you and really admire you with all your helpful and informative information.
    Yours sincerely

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