What Are the Dangers of a Liver Cleanse with Epsom Salt, Olive Oil and Grapefruit?


Liver cleanses have been gaining popularity recently as a potential way to quickly eliminate toxins that have been backed up in your liver and gallbladder. There are concerns about the safety of liver and gallbladder cleanses, particularly for those that use Epsom salts and grapefruit juice along with olive oil. You should consult your medical practitioner before engaging in any type of cleanse.


There are several variations of the liver and gallbladder cleanse, depending on what Internet site or health practitioner you have found. A more popular cleanse involves drinking two teaspoons of Epsom salts (reputably to relax bile and gall ducts so as to pass stones and also to cleanse the colon), then in the evening drinking eight ounces of olive oil mixed with fresh squeezed grapefruit juice and lying in the fetal position on your right side for a half hour. As the flush is designed to rid the body of stones and deposits, there is a slight risk of a blocked bile or gallbladder duct from a lodged stone.

Risks from Epsom Salts

Epsom salts serve as a colonic that can lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. Drink plenty of water while ingesting Epsom salts. You may want to add grapefruit juice as a way to get rid of the very unpleasant taste.

Epsom salts in very high dosages can lead to dangerous magnesium toxicity. Risks for an unborn fetus are unknown and pregnant women should not ingest Epsom salts. Talk with a medical practitioner if you use any medications or herbal products as Epsom salts may cause a dangerous interaction.

Risks from Grapefruit Juice

The greatest risks from grapefruit juice occur for individuals who are taking medications that interact with it. According to Mayo Clinic nutritionist Katherine Zeratsky, grapefruit juice can interfere with enzymes that break down certain types of prescription drugs, particularly calcium channel blockers and cholesterol-lowering drugs, leading to an overdose. Popular drugs affected by this include Zocor, Zoloft and Lipitor. As a general precaution, you should not take drugs during a liver cleanse, even if you replace the grapefruit juice with lemon juice instead. The release of bile from the liver during the cleanse could potentially lead to abnormal absorption of other drugs as well.

Risks from Olive Oil

There are surprisingly few risks from drinking eight ounces of olive oil at once besides nausea. According to information supplied by Dr. Juergen Buche in "The Liver Detox Diet," any rise in cholesterol from consuming so much fat in a short time would drop immediately once the bile and other by products are expelled from the liver, which would lead to a long-term drop in cholesterol levels.

Overall Risks

A liver cleanse is a surprisingly safe procedure and few complications are reported other than diarrhea and bloating. According to Dr. Peter Moran in "The Truth About Gallbladder and Liver 'Flushes,'" the greatest danger from doing a liver cleanse may occur for individuals who postpone surgery to remove gallbladder stones in favor of the cleanse. Due to the large size of many gallbladder stones, they may not be eliminated through one cleanse, but the procedure is unlikely to hurt the condition.

People who are in poor health should not do a liver cleanse, and those who are constipated should do a colon cleanse first. There is a slight risk of pancreatitis, but, according to Moran, the risk is no more than would occur if you were to consume regular fatty foods. Do not do this cleanse when you are feeling sick and consult with a health professional with any questions you may have about it.

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