Vomiting Bile: Possible Causes and Treatments

Vomiting Bile: Possible Causes and Treatments
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No one likes to throw up, but vomiting up bile is an extremely unpleasant experience. You know if you vomit bile because it is a greenish yellow color which leaves a very sour taste in the mouth. There are a number of reasons why you could vomit bile, but usually, it is because there is nothing left in your stomach to throw up. However, vomiting bile could be a sign of a serious health problem like a bowel obstruction.

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Bile is a fluid which is produced in the liver and stored in the gallbladder. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, bile contains cholesterol, bile acids, and bilirubin (a product of red blood cells).1 There are 2 main purposes of bile:

  • To assist with digestion and break down fats into fatty acids.
  • Help the body excrete waste products from the blood.

Usually, vomit doesn’t contain any bile because it is kept in the small intestine and prevented by getting into the stomach by the pyloric valve at the bottom of the stomach. However, some conditions can cause the valve let some bile into the stomach.

Let’s look at the various causes of vomiting bile and what natural home remedies you use to treat the symptoms.

Causes and Treatments of Vomiting Bile

An Empty Stomach

One of the most common reasons for vomiting bile is that you have an empty stomach and there is nothing left to throw up. This is usually nothing to worry about and it should go away on its own.

It is very common that pregnant women throw up bile because frequent bouts of vomiting empty their stomach.

Ginger is a great natural ingredient that can help calm your digestive system and reduce the bouts of vomiting. Ginger helps to calm your stomach because it contains many anti-inflammatory properties and has been proven to help reduce nausea and the frequency of vomiting.2

Make a ginger tea by grating 1 – 2 inches of ginger root and let it infuse in a cup of boiling water. Start by taking small sips to calm your stomach and stop vomiting. Alternatively use my other home remedies to stop throwing up.

Intestinal Blockage

An intestinal blockage or obstruction can stop food from entering the small intestine and cause you to vomit greenish yellow bile. Bowel obstructions can be caused by constipation, hernias, inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease, or a tumor. As well as vomiting bile, an intestinal blockage can cause bloating, stomach pain, constipation, or diarrhea.3

It is important to visit a medical professional if you have an intestinal blockage because, if left untreated, it can lead to the blood supply being cut off to the intestine which can cause more complications.4 Most intestinal blockages need to be treated in the hospital.

It is also common for babies and toddlers to vomit bile because of an intestinal obstruction. If you notice that the color of your child’s vomit is green or yellow, you should seek medical help immediately.

Bile Reflux

You might vomit greenish-yellow fluid (bile) if you have bile reflux. Doctors describe bile reflux as a disabling condition characterized by abdominal pain, bilious vomiting, and weight loss.5 Bile reflux occurs when the bile from your gallbladder leaks into your stomach and then finds its way into your esophagus. This results in a burning sensation and pain in your chest, nausea, and vomiting bile.6

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Gastroenterology specialist Dr. Daniel Sifrim says that the symptoms of bile reflux and acid reflux are similar and can be treated similarly. He says that “anything that can reduce acidic reflux can reduce bile reflux.”7

Drink 1/4 cup aloe vera juice 30 minutes before a meal to reduce bile reflux and avoid vomiting bile. Aloe vera contains many anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that can help to relieve reflux symptoms. In fact, a study from 2015 found that aloe vera syrup helped to reduce heartburn, flatulence, belching, vomiting, and stomach acid in people who had gastroesophageal reflux (GERD, which is a more serious form of acid reflux).8

Another effective remedy to reduce the symptoms of bile reflux is baking soda. Baking soda works because it helps to neutralize the acid in the stomach. Mix 1/2 tsp. baking soda in a glass of water and drink before a meal to reduce the symptoms of bile reflux and acid reflux. Please read my article about using baking soda for acid reflux for more information and find out who shouldn’t use baking soda to treat gastric problems.

If you have had a gastric bypass you may find that you vomit bile because gastric surgery can also cause bile reflux in many people.9

Another cause of bile reflux which causes bilious vomiting is having a peptic ulcer. The Mayo Clinic says that peptic ulcers interfere with the function of the pyloric valve, and bile can seep into the stomach.10

People who have had their gallbladder removed may also suffer from bouts of vomiting bile because they generally are more prone to bile reflux than other people.10

Gastroenteritis (stomach flu)

Gastroenteritis is when your stomach becomes irritated and inflamed due to a bacterial or viral infection. It is sometimes called stomach ‘flu’ and causes bouts of vomiting (even forceful vomiting) and diarrhea.

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You can get stomach ‘flu’ from someone who is infected with the rotavirus, norovirus or by ingesting contaminated food. Also, bacterial infections like E. coli and salmonella can cause vomiting and diarrhea. If you continue vomiting and empty all the contents of your stomach, you will start throwing up greenish yellow vomit which is your bile.11

To stop throwing up and prevent vomiting bile, you can take peppermint oil capsules which will calm the stomach and stop the vomiting reflex. Studies have shown that peppermint oil can reduce the frequency and intensity of vomiting.12

Food poisoning can also cause severe bouts of vomiting which can lead to throwing up bile. You can try the ginger tea method to stop nausea, vomiting, and other symptoms of food poisoning. Alternatively, you can chew on a piece of ginger and let the juices get down into your stomach to help stop the vomiting.

Too Much Alcohol

Many people throw up yellow bile in the morning after a session of drinking too much alcohol. Too much alcohol can poison your body and the body gets rid of this by vomiting. Your body can only process 1 oz. of pure alcohol per hour. Too much alcohol in your system irritates the stomach which leads to vomiting, as well as the other classic symptoms of over-drinking.13

There is no way to speed up the length of time that alcohol stays in your system, and trying to vomit will not rid your body of alcohol any quicker. In fact, drinking too much alcohol is one of the situations when you should not induce vomiting, but rather you should treat this as with any case of poisoning and call the emergency services for medical advice.

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If you want to calculate how long alcohol stays in your system after drinking, you can check out my article on how long alcohol stays in your system.

The only way to avoid the consequences of over-drinking is to drink less and responsibly. Heavy alcohol consumption is the most common cause of liver damage so it’s very important to be aware of the early signs of liver damage.

Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome

Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome (CVS) is a rare condition which causes a person to experience recurrent episodes of severe nausea and vomiting. Doctors aren’t exactly sure what causes CVS, but researchers at the National Organization for Rare Disorders think that it is connected with abnormal signals that the brain sends to the gut.14

CVS causes periods of constant vomiting and when the stomach contents are completely emptied, a person can experience throwing up green or yellow bile, having dry heaves, fever, and a lack of energy.

The Mayo Clinic recommends that when the vomiting periods start, a person stays in bed in a dark quiet room. It is also important to drink water to keep properly hydrated and to resume eating a normal diet after the vomiting has stopped.15

Vomiting Black Bile

Some of the reasons why a person can vomit black bile are because of bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract, a peptic ulcer, or helicobacter pylori infection. If you notice that you throw up black-colored liquid, you should seek medical advice promptly.16

Read these related articles:
1. How to Stop Vomiting: The Best Home Remedies (Backed by Science)
2. Pain in Belly Button: Causes and Natural Treatments
3. Burning Sensation in Stomach – Causes and Treatments
4. The Most Effective Home Remedies for Gas and Bloating

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4 Responses to Vomiting Bile: Possible Causes and Treatments

  1. Melody says:

    Hi ive been suffering frpm bile for the past few weeks but i managed to do a home remedy and i vomited a lot now e problem is i dont feel like eating any of the food my heart is like shaking no appetite but i will be hungry wat should i do

    • Jenny Hills says:

      Hi Melody, unfortunately I’m unable to provide a specific advice as I’m not a doctor and cannot give professional diagnosis. I suggest that if the problem continues, it’s best to see your doctor.

  2. Nancy says:

    My son has severe cerebral palsy and has been in hospital since December for pressure ulcers on hips. He has had a G tube for almost 10 years now with very little issues In December the doctors decided a J tube would be better for him to gain weight faster. Well that did not happen. He has been vomiting bile since they put the J tube in which has been 7 months I can’t watch him suffer anymore. We are fighting with them to take J tube out and go back to G tube. He didn’t gain weight with J tube until they put him back on twocal and the same amount that he was on when we came in. Butt it had only been two weeks since we had started with twocal. He had already gained a few pounds. But never gave it a chance and they put J tube.
    Apparently here at the Moncton Hospital this has never happened to another patient and they don’t know what to do!,
    Please guide me to what we should do

    • Jenny Hills says:

      Hi Nancy, I am sorry to hear about the health problems your son has. I must emphasize that I’m not a doctor or a certified health practitioner, hence I’m unable to provide specific advise due to lack of knowledge. I apologize I cannot be more helpful, but I don’t want to do more harm than good, especially when your son has a special condition. You may need to seek a second opinion from another specialized health center. I believe it’s the safest way to go in this case.

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