Malic Acid and Malic Acid Sources for the Treatment of Cholelithiasis (Gallstones)
DISCLAIMER: CONSULT WITH A DOCTOR BEFORE DECIDING ON A TREATMENT PLAN FOR ANY DISEASE OR INJURY.
Malic acid is notable for its ability to gently dissolve gallstones, eventually allowing them to either disappear completely or be passed easily into the intestines and then excreted. It’s possible to obtain malic acid in pure supplement form, or you can consume it in dietary sources like these (the sources listed below have the highest amounts overall of malic acid; note that the human body also naturally produces some malic acid on its own when it converts carbohydrates into usable energy):
- Apple juice (specifically the natural, sugar-free kind; the juice should be relatively opaque, and ideally organic)
- Apple cider vinegar
- Grapes (the kind with seeds are best)
- Apple cider vinegar
In some places, you may also be able to buy pure malic acid powder directly either in a scoopable powder form or in a capsulized form.
Apple cider vinegar and apple juice both are particularly common and effective remedies for gallstones. Apple cider vinegar specifically contains high quantities of both malic acid and acetic acid, making it a good choice to use to dissolve gallstones. There are many anecdotal reports from people with gallstones or other kinds of gallbladder problems of using apple cider vinegar mixed with either apple juice or water to relieve pain and, over time, get rid of their problems entirely.
Why does malic acid work to treat gallstones (cholelithiasis) and gallbladder problems?
Malic acid is a kind of alpha-hydroxy acid (an AHA), a class of acid that includes other well-known acids like lactic acid, citric acid, and glycolic acid. The name of this acid actually comes from the word “malum”, meaning “apple” in Latin, given that the acid was first discovered in 1785 in unripe apples.
Some people believe that malic acid helps treat gallstones and other gallbladder problems primarily by improving bile production and bile flow. Healthy, normal bile flow is essential for the treatment of gallstones since without it, sludge and more gallstones are more likely to develop. Also, since bile dissolves unhealthy fats and lowers “bad” cholesterol levels, adequate bile flow decreases the possibility of the recurrence of gallbladder issues. Some other schools of thought think that malic acid is valuable since, like other acids, it can actually dissolve gallstones (and indeed, many people have anecdotally found this to be true).
Beyond these views, however, the actual scientific research into exactly why malic acid works is limited at the time of this writing.
Other Medicinal Uses of Malic Acid and Malic Acid Sources
Gallstones have been known to produce a plethora of other health problems once they form (such as IBS, SIBO, chronic back pain, and various other issues). Since malic acid can work to dissolve gallstones, it can also help treat these other gallstone-caused problems at the same time. Below is a list of the other health problems that malic acid may be able to help treat (some of these are correlated with gallstones, while others may or may not necessarily be related to gallstones or the gallbladder:
- Melasma (when applied topically)
- Muscle fatigue
- Improves athletic performance
- Increases creatine absorption
- Kidney stones
- Dry mouth (when administered as an oral spray that contained 1% malic acid, 10% xylitol, and 0.05% fluoride) **
- Acne (when applied as a cream also containing arginine glycolate)
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Heavy metal detoxification
- Fatty liver disease
- Dandruff (diluted apple cider vinegar rinses done 2 times per week before shampooing are recommended for hair growth and dandruff treatment)
- Decalcifies the pineal gland
- High blood pressure
** Malic acid, like any other strong acid, can erode dental enamel if not used carefully. If you plan on drinking apple juice, apple cider vinegar, or malic acid in water daily, be sure to rinse your mouth out with clean, plain water after you finish these drinks to remove the acid from your teeth. Do not brush your teeth immediately afterwards, rather, brush your teeth BEFORE drinking these drinks. If you’re worried about dental health, also consider switching to an all-natural DIY toothpaste made from coconut oil and baking soda and also take a vitamin K2+D3 supplement to support dental health.
How to Use Apple Cider Vinegar, Apple Juice, Malic Acid, and/or Other Malic Acid Sources to Treat Gallbladder Problems
One source recommends combining 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with a glass of apple juice or water, and then drinking this mixture over the course of 30 minutes. For people experiencing a gallbladder “attack”, this remedy often works almost immediately to relieve symptoms. For longer term treatment or prevention of gallbladder problems, take 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar in apple juice or water once or twice daily, ideally in the morning or evening and separate from food. Some people mix in a teaspoon of raw honey to enhance the flavor. For best results, start your morning with this combination. Slightly warm the apple juice or water and drink it first thing after waking up (this is a traditional Ayurvedic technique that stimulates digestion and encourages hydration).
Some studies have had patients take 1200mg of malic acid daily over the course of 6 months (such as in one study on the use of malic acid for fibromyalgia, in which patients demonstrated a significant improvement in their symptoms). For the treatment of fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, a special preparation of magnesium and malic acid, known as magnesium malate, was the primary medicine used in these studies.
Keep in mind that, if you choose to take malic acid supplements, choosing a product made from natural malic acid is important. There are both synthetic and natural options available. The synthetic form of malic acid is written as DL-malic acid. The natural form, which is the kind you should get, is written as L-malic acid.
Drinking freshly made apple juice is a final way to increase your malic acid intake. Some people have success drinking large amounts of apple juice (such as 1 liter a day) in combination with other gallbladder healing treatments to form a gallstone treatment protocol. To make fresh apple juice at home without a juicer, follow the instructions below:
- Slice and core 4 apples (make sure that you’ve disinfected them; organic apples are ideal, but if you can’t get organic apples, non-organic ones will work fine).
- Put the apples in a blender with ¾ liter of water (or until you fill your blender to the top, you can add more water later).
- Blend the apples and water for 1-3 minutes. If you have a high speed blender, you may be able to blend for less time. When in doubt, blend for a little longer time than you think you should.
- Put a nut milk straining bag over a large pitcher and then pour the liquid from the blender into the nut milk bag.
- NOTE: Cheesecloth or an old, clean, cotton t-shirt would also work in a pinch.
- Squeeze as much of the apple juice from the bag as possible, and then clean the bag immediately and dispose of the pulp.
- Add some stevia drops or monk fruit drops to taste, or drink as-is. This recipe will make approximately 1 liter of juice (give or take).
If you happen to have a fruit juicing machine like the one we recommend below, then you can simply run the apples through this machine to make the juice. People who have the budget and room in their kitchen for this machine should know that this method is much easier than the one above, but both methods work just fine to produce good-tasting, healthy apple juice.
If you can only get store bought apple juice (whether due to time constraints, space constraints, or some other impediment), make sure to get organic, cold-pressed apple juice that contains no additives of any kind. The juice should be relatively opaque (clear apple juices are significantly more refined and should be avoided for this purpose).
Apple juice and apple cider vinegar specifically are both good treatments to choose if you’re following an oxidant treatment protocol at the same time, such as MMS/CDS treatment, since they won’t interfere with oxidant medicines. Malic acid supplements are also unlikely to interfere with oxidant therapy treatments.
Contraindications and Safety Indications for Malic Acid Use
Though most people can safely take malic acid in a supplement form or eat it in foods where it is present in higher quantities (such as in apples), there are some situations when limiting or even eliminating malic acid intake is advisable. Here are the main contraindications/situations where a person should take extra care when taking higher quantities of malic acid:
- Interstitial cystitis
- Acid reflux
- Allergic reactions (these are rare, but always start with a small amount at first just in case if you’re taking malic acid in supplement form)
- Sensitivity to sunlight (only in some situations)
- Skin irritation (if applied to and left on the skin)
- Eye irritation (if the powder comes in contact with the eyes)
- Mouth irritation (if you consume particularly high/regular oral quantities of malic acid)
When taking malic acid powder, always mix it with a liquid to take it (it is water soluble and should dissolve easily; mix it with water or freshly made juice for best results). Do not take it directly or apply it to the skin without diluting it first. Be careful not to get the powder in your eyes, and also try to avoid breathing it in.
Women who are pregnant or nursing can safely consume foods high in malic acid, such as apples, as a gallstone treatment. Keep in mind that apples can be constipating, though, so pregnant women specifically who may have problems with elimination should aim to consume a few different sources of malic acid and not rely exclusively on apples or apple juice. Otherwise, these foods are safe to eat. Children can also eat these foods in higher quantities. But, pregnant or nursing women and young children specifically should avoid taking malic acid supplementally since the studies are limited in regard to its safety and effects on the body.
 Wikipedia (2022). Malic acid. Retrieved April 16, 2022 from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malic_acid#In_food
 Earth Clinic (2022). Natural Remedies for Gallstones. Retrieved April 16, 2022 from: https://www.earthclinic.com/cures/gallstones.html
 Wong, Cathy (2020). The Health Benefits of Malic Acid. Retrieved June 8, 2022 from: https://www.verywellhealth.com/the-benefits-of-malic-acid-89478
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 Price, Annie CHHC (2019). Malic Acid Benefits Energy Levels, Skin Health & More. Retrieved June 11, 2022 from: https://draxe.com/nutrition/malic-acid-benefits