Last modified on May 24th, 2023
Ox bile supplements are growing in popularity. Bile is a fluid our body makes to digest fat and also to help digest essential fat-soluble vitamins. People take bile supplements to help their body detox, bad gallstones, and improve liver and gut disease symptoms. Among bile supplements, ox bile is the most popular. Ox bile benefits include:
- Removing excess cholesterol
- Elimination of bilirubin
- Helping digest starches and proteins
- Toxin removal
- Absorption of fat-soluble vitamins
- Promoting weight loss
- Improving Fatty Liver
- Helps with hormone balance
- Protection from gut infections
Below, we’ll talk more about bile and detail each of these listed ox bile benefits.
What is Bile?
Bile is something our liver makes, and it’s stored in the gallbladder. Bile is a critical component of digestion and breaking down fat into fatty acids. When the fat is broken down, the digestive tract can absorb the fatty acids. Bile contains bile salts, bile acids, bilirubin, a breakdown product of red blood cells, and cholesterol. Bile contains body salts like sodium and potassium, copper and other metals, and water.
When you eat, if you have fat in your digestive tract, your hormones signal your gallbladder to release bile. The bile is released into the first part of the small intestine, the duodenum. This is where most digestion occurs, and the bile breaks down and digests the fats in the food.
Then bile salts in the bile also help remove toxins. Toxins are secreted into the bile and then eliminated in feces. If you lack bile salts, it can cause toxins to build up in your body. Being deficient in bile salts can cause hormonal problems because all hormones are made from broken-down fats.
Bile salts are made by cells in the liver—hepatocytes. Bile salts are like bile acids, and they form when the acids bind to potassium or sodium molecules.
If your body can’t absorb fatty acids and vitamins, they pass into the colon and can create issues. If you don’t produce and store adequate amounts of bile salts, often because of gallbladder removal, it can lead to diarrhea, trapped gas, and foul-smelling gas. It can also lead to stomach cramping, issues with bowel movements, weight loss, and pale stools. If someone has bile salt deficiency, they might take a supplement to help the issue. Eating beets can also help because they contain betaine, which is a detoxifier of the liver.
If a person has bile salt deficiency untreated, it raises the risk of developing gallstones and kidney stones. People with Crohn’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome are especially at risk of malabsorption of bile salts.
Symptoms of bile salt deficiency, more specifically, can include:
- Vitamin deficiencies
- Abdominal tightening and bloating
- Digestive issues like cramps and gas
- Hormonal imbalance
- Low cholesterol
- Liver damage
What Are Bile Salt Supplements?
It could be due to bile or bile salt deficiency if you’re dealing with symptoms like gas, bloating, yellowing of the skin, or abdominal pain. Ox bile is one way to help support your digestive system, and ox bile can improve fat absorption by breaking it down in the digestive tract.
Bile supplements include ox bile and other animal biles, tudca, and UDCA.
Different specific types of ox bile supplements can include:
- Ox bile on its own
- Ox bile combined with digestive enzymes
- Ox bile with probiotics
- Ox bile with tudca
- Ox bile with dandelion or artichoke
Ox bile and animal bile supplements are often used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years.
8 Benefits of Ox Bile
As a supplement, the benefits of ox bile include:
1. Gallstone Elimination
One of the most significant benefits of ox bile supplements is the fact that they can help with the elimination of gallstones. Bile supplements may reduce cholesterol gallstones in the gallbladder, specifically known as cholelithiasis. This can help reduce the need to have your gallbladder removed surgically. In one clinical trial, 24 people taking bile acids saw reduced cholesterol in their gallstones after one month.
This is just one of several studies with similar findings.
2. Removal of Toxins
When you take a bile supplement, it can help aid your body in its removal of toxic substances. When toxins enter our bodies, usually through medications, food, or pollution, the ones that build up in our bodies, the liver breaks down. Then, they’re combined with bile salts, secreted as bile into the gut, and removed through the stool. When you don’t have proper bile salt production, toxins can accumulate in your liver and trigger the development of chronic diseases.
Both bile acids and toxins activate the same bodily receptors, increasing liver detox pathways.
3. Clearing of SIBO and Gut Infections
Taking an ox bile supplement or another type of bile supplement can help with the overgrowth of intestinal bacteria. Bacterial toxins are endotoxins, and they can damage your gut. A leaky gut can occur if your gut immunity is low and you have severe gut damage. That, in turn, lets bacteria enter your bloodstream, causing systemic infection
A lack of bile salts can also trigger small intestinal bacterial overgrowth or SIBO.
Bile salts, including ox bile, have antimicrobial properties, protecting them from harmful bacteria. For people with liver cirrhosis, who are susceptible to bacterial infections and SIBO, ox bile supplements may be useful.
In animal studies, it appears that bile supplements can turn on particular genes that activate your body’s defense system against harmful bacteria.
4. Helps with Psoriasis
Research is increasingly pointing to the role of bacteria endotoxins in developing psoriasis. People with psoriasis tend to have levels of endotoxins in their blood that are detectable, causing or worsening inflammation. A bile deficiency could be the root cause because endotoxins can enter your blood, reaching your skin.
It’s relatively common for people with psoriasis also to have gut and gallbladder issues.
The building up of inflammatory substances and toxins in your skin causes the scaly, itchy, red patches psoriasis is known for. Using ox bile or bile acid supplement may help protect your gut microbiome, reduce inflammation and protect you from gut endotoxins.
In one study with 800 participants who had psoriasis, supplementing with oral bile acids helped resolve symptoms of psoriasis in nearly 80% of cases after anywhere from one to eight weeks. In people with acute psoriasis, the results were better, clearing symptoms in 95% of cases.
Looking at participants two years later, 58% were still symptom-free, contrasted with those on conventional treatment. Only 6% of those study participants were symptom-free two years later.
This could also point to ox bile benefits for helping with herpes, viral infections, and heart disease with clogged arteries. All of these conditions are associated with toxin buildup in the body.
5. Hormonal Balance
The liver and thyroid work together because T4 is converted in the liver by bile to T3. T3 is the stronger thyroid hormone, which is metabolized from iodine. Thyroid problems may result from a problem with the function of your bile or liver rather than the actual thyroid. The liver also metabolizes other hormones and plays a role in the inactivating of excess hormones.
When you have issues with your liver or your body’s detox system, which can stem from bile salt deficiency, it can lead to mood and mental health imbalances.
Many people find that ox bile’s benefits are its ability to help them feel more hormonally and mentally balanced.
6. Improve Fatty Stool and Diarrhea
Disrupting the flow of bile can lead to fat building up in your gut and your stool. That then contributes to diarrhea and abdominal pain, known as steatorrhea. Several diseases are linked to steatorrhea, including Crohn’s, Celiac, cystic fibrosis, and liver, kidney, and pancreas disorders. Excessive alcohol and a diet high in hard-to-digest grains, fibers, and fats can also trigger the condition.
Taking an ox bile supplement can compensate for the lack of bile salts and reduce the symptoms of steatorrhea.
7. Weight Loss
Bile acids and ox bile supplements can help prevent or reverse obesity. Taking an ox bile supplement can help improve weight loss and insulin sensitivity and provide protective health benefits.
Ox bile can help break down fat and increase energy use. There’s also evidence in animal studies that ox bile benefits include reducing food intake.
8. Improved Liver Health
Ox bile supplements can improve liver disease, including non-alcohol fatty liver disease and cystic fibrosis.
In clinical studies, ox bile supplements have been shown to help reduce liver enzymes, reverse liver damage and improve liver function.
Bile supplements may help with primary biliary cirrhosis, a chronic liver disease, and in some studies, bile supplements are even more effective when combined with the SAM-e supplement.
My Experience with Ox Bile Benefits
Based on my personal use, I recommend the brand of ox bile, SeekingHealth Ox Bile 125. My husband and I both use this brand of ox bile. In general, I like SeekingHealth’s products.
If you’re familiar with Dr. Ben Lynch, you might know a bit about these supplements. They tend to be extraordinarily high-quality, and Dr. Lynch creates potent formulations so you will get the maximum impact out of everything you’re taking. Dr. Lynch also provides a lot of general education on different health topics.
I take Ox Bile 125 for detox. Sometimes my liver gets sluggish, and I tend to have estrogen dominance. Ox bile, in my opinion, helps me to clear out toxins and excess estrogen more effectively, and it makes eating more comfortable, especially meals with fat.
My husband takes Ox Bile 125 because he has several conditions that affect his digestion and absorption of fat-soluble vitamins.
If you’re interested in buying it, here’s the link to Ox Bile 125.
For both of us, it also tends to be a great way to support the balance of bacteria in our small intestines and have optimal digestion overall.
SeekingHealth also has an Ox Bile 500 product, with the difference being that it provides 500 mg of bile.
Both products are the same, except for the dosage. If you need more bacterial balance support or you tend to have higher-fat meals regularly, you might opt for Ox Bile 500. If you don’t have a gallbladder or a history of gallbladder issues, you might also consider taking the 500 mg dose instead of 125.
Both products have pure bile from free-range oxen. The products also contain 40% cholic acid, and the cholic acid helps support healthy gut bacteria balance and fat digestion.
The oxen used to source this bile supplement are free of any synthetic hormones or antibiotics, which I also like.
My husband and I take this supplement with meals, but according to the directions, it can depend on your goals. You can take it with a meal that has fat if your primary goal is digestive support and comfort. On the other hand, if you’re primarily trying to support your balance of gut bacteria, you might take it without food.
There are tremendous ox bile benefits, and these supplements can improve the health of your skin, liver, and digestive system and balance your hormones. You should, however, seek medical advice if you’re thinking about trying new supplements or if you have any questions.
NIH National Library of Medicine. “Bile.” MedlinePlus, August 13, 2020. Accessed October 1, 2022.
Wang, David Q-H and Carey, Martin C. “Therapeutic Uses of Animal Biles in Traditional Chinese Medicine: An Ethnopharmacological, Biophysical Chemical, and Medicinal Review.” World Journal of Gastroenterology, August 7, 2014. Accessed October 1, 2022.
Harvard Health Publishing. “By the way, doctor: Do I need to take bile salts after gallbladder surgery?” Harvard Medical School, April 11, 2019. Accessed October 1, 2022.
Cleveland Clinic. “Malabsorption.” April 6, 2022. Accessed October 1, 2022.
Johns Hopkins Medicine. “Gallstones.” Accessed October 1, 2022.
Zhou, Huiping and Hylemon, Phillip B. “Bile Acids Are Nutrient Signaling Hormones.” Steroids, August 2014. Accessed October 1, 2022.
Azer, Samy A. “Steatorrhea.” NIH National Library of Medicine, May 23, 2022. Accessed October 1, 2022.
Kuhre, Rune E., et al. “Bile acids are important direct and indirect regulators of the secretion of appetite- and metabolism-regulating hormones from the gut and pancreas.” Molecular Metabolism, May 2018. Accessed October 1, 2022.