What Is Beef Bile? A complete Guide

If bio classes were fun for you, you might have heard the term ‘bile’ thrown around many times. But, in case you can’t remember what it is, we’ll help you.

Human bile is a greenish-yellow digestive fluid produced in the liver and is stowed away in the gallbladder. Primarily, bile performs two functions; to break down fats and carry waste during digestion.

Like human bile, beef bile is a digestive fluid found in cattle. Beef bile helps the cow with digestion and waste disposal.

There are many interesting things about beef bile. Stick around to learn more.

What is Beef Bile?

Beef bile is a digestive secretion found in the digestive tract of cattle or cows.

Beef bile is produced in the cow’s liver and stored in the gallbladder. Beef bile helps the cow digest food easier. During this process, the bile from the gallbladder is released into the duodenum, the first section of the small intestine, to help the cow with digestion and improve waste removal.

Like human bile, beef bile doubles as an aid in breaking down cow fat.

Perhaps one of the fascinating things about this acid-rich digestive fluid is its dull greenish-yellow color.

Raw beef bile is bitter but not a subtle bitterness that is somewhat noticeable. Instead, beef bile carries a strong and bitter taste that many may find unappealing.

Chances are that you might barf if you come across raw beef bile. Not because this fluid is particularly disgusting, it just doesn’t have that captivating appeal. For this reason, raw beef bile is not served alone for people to consume. Instead, raw beef bile is often sprinkled over certain dishes. This is a common practice in Thailand.

Beef bile was used as a part of indigenous Chinese medicine, especially during the Zhou dynasty from 1046 to 256 BC and now serves as a pharmacological breakthrough used to treat bile.

Beef bile is used to make beef bile supplements, a.k.a ox bile supplements. Beef bile usually contains bile acids or the bile salts of these acids.

The bile acids in beef bile supplements include deoxycholic acid, taurocholic acid, cholic acid, and glycocholic acid.

Additionally, beef bile isn’t just composed of the above acids and salts; beef bile also contains:

  • Immunoglobin A (IgA)
  • Glutathione and melatonin
  • Amino acids
  • Pigments
  • Vitamins
  • Electrolytes
  • Steroid hormones
  • Heavy metals
  • Cholesterol and phospholipids
  • Water (makeup approximately 95% of beef bile)

Beef bile has many benefits; that’s why, even though it may look unappealing and bitter, it is still consumed. 

To further drive our point, here are the benefits of beef or ox bile for humans:

  • Beef bile salts help digest starch and proteins
  • Beef bile gets rid of surplus cholesterol
  • Beef bile serves as a detox
  • Immunoglobin A in beef bile protects the digestive tract from microbial infections
  • Beef bile rids off bilirubin from the body
  • Beef bile salts improve the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (vitamins K, E, A, and D)

How is Beef Bile made?

Beef bile is made naturally in the liver of the cow.

Beef bile is first produced in the cow’s liver and stored in the cow’s gallbladder.

For human use, beef bile is extracted from the cow’s gallbladder. If not, the beef bile gets secreted to the first section of the cow’s small intestine, the duodenum, to aid the improvement of the cow’s gut health.

Is Beef Bile safe to eat?

Beef bile is safe to consume. In fact, beef bile has several health benefits (see above). That’s why beef bile or ox bile is used to make beef bile or ox bile supplements. Beef bile or ox bile supplements have similar health benefits to beef bile, apart from a few.

Here are the health benefits of beef bile supplements in humans:

  • They protect the digestive tract from microbial infections and damage
  • They aid the absorption of lipids and fat-soluble vitamins (vitamins K, A, E, and D)
  • Beef bile supplements protect the liver
  • Beef bile supplements promote the production of natural bile acids and improve bile flow
  • Beef bile or ox bile supplements deplete and reduce cholesterol levels
  • Melatonin in beef bile supplements decreases anxiety levels and improves sleep

What does Beef Bile taste like?

To simply put it, raw beef bile is bitter.

However, raw beef bile doesn’t have the sort of bitterness that goes easy on the taste buds. Instead, raw beef bile embodies a strong and sharp kind of bitterness.

Additionally, you may get a hint of grass or leaves when you taste raw bile. The grassy flavor is grass, literally. The grassy taste of raw beef bile results from partial digestion of the grass the cow ate.

Nonetheless, beef bile compensates for its brutal flavor with its benefits. What beef bile lacks in taste, it has in health benefits.

In a traditional Thai dish, laab dib, raw beef bile is drizzled in and acts as a garnish.

The flavor of the raw bile in this popular Thai dish pairs with the other ingredient, so the bitter taste does not hit as hard as it does if served alone.

On the other hand, beef bile supplements do not taste bitter, so you do not have to worry about that.

Read also: What Does Turkey Liver Look Like?

What is Bile used for in Cooking?

Cooking with beef bile is not so much of a popular practice. However, it is prevalent in some cultures.

Beef bile is used for cooking laab dib in Thailand

In Thailand, beef bile is used for cooking an indigenous meal called laab dib. Laab dib is a raw beef salad dish that uses raw beef bile as a garnish. Raw beef bile is drizzled on the fish just before serving.

Since the bile is raw, it adds a sharp bitterness to this coveted Thai dish.

See how it is added in the video below

Beef bile is used in Laos

Laos is no stranger to beef bile. In fact, beef bile is in a number of their indigenous dishes.

In Laos, the indigenous people refer to bile as “Ki aun,” meaning “soft poo.”

What is Cow Bile used for?

The uses of beef bile transcend cooking and medication, as mentioned earlier.

Beef bile is also an active ingredient in many shampoos and detergents as it has cleansing properties.

As mentioned, cow bile is used to make cow bile or ox bile supplements, which embody various benefits. Cow bile is generally used to treat the following problems:

  • Psoriasis
  • Fatty stool or diarrhea
  • Harmful gut bacteria
  • Liver diseases
  • Gallstone

Cow bile is also administered for plastic surgery recovery, improving eye health, skin burns, weight loss, and infections.  

What Nutrients does Bile have?

Bile contains four vitamins; vitamins A, K, E, and D.

Let’s talk about what these guys do for you.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A:

  • boosts your immune system’s response to illnesses and infections,
  • helps with sperm and egg development and aids tissue development in fetuses,
  • significantly improve eye health with regular intake,
  • antioxidant properties help ward off free radicals that can cause cognitive decline, cancer, diabetes, and heart problems.

Vitamin K

Vitamin K:

  • regulates the calcium in the blood,
  • reduces infant hemorrhaging,
  • prevents internal bleeding,
  • regulates blood sugar,
  • lessens nausea during pregnancy,
  • improves blood clotting,
  • enhances bone metabolism.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E helps to:

  • prevent eye problems,
  • prevent heart issues,
  • enhance cognitive functioning,
  • improve the immune system,
  • reduce menstrual cramps,
  • better skin health.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D:

  • aids the absorption of calcium as well as phosphorus,
  • facilitates teeth and bone growth,
  • helps maintain normal functioning of the immune system,
  • assists with weight loss,
  • helps with depression and mood balance,
  • may help fight heart diseases, multiple sclerosis, and flu.

Do people eat bile?

People eat bile. People in Thailand incorporate bile into Laab dib, a famous Thai dish, while indigenous Laos people use bile in many cuisines.

Is bile poisonous to humans?

Bile is potentially toxic to humans if eaten in large proportions because of the bile acids and bile salts contained.

Can you drink bile?

Yes, you can drink bile. The only issue will be the taste because bile is BITTER.

You can mix bile with a sweet drink to dilute its bitter taste.