A liver cleanse is a method for ridding your liver of the toxins that build up in it naturally. It has many possible side effects, some of which are desired and others that are dangerous.

What Is a Liver Cleanse?

A liver cleanse, also known as a liver flush, is a home remedy for cleansing the liver of toxins and stones. The remedy involves consuming fruit juice, olive oil and Epsom salt in some combination over a period of a couple days.

Use of Epsom Salt

Epsom salt, also known as magnesium sulfate, is one of the most common ingredients of a liver cleanse. You should be very careful with this substance and make sure you never take more than directed on the packaging. Epsom salt is a laxative, so you should be careful to make sure you don’t dehydrate yourself or create an electrolyte imbalance in your body. Electrolytes are substances that are important for the proper function of muscles and nerves. You should also test your tolerance of Epsom salt before you take a full dose. Some people are allergic to it and they can experience breathing problems, hives, and a swollen throat, lips and tongue. An overdose of Epsom salt is also dangerous. It can cause vomiting, low blood pressure, a slow heartbeat, coma and even death.

Passing Stones

One desired side effect of a liver cleanse is the passing of so-called gallstones in a bowel movement. These stones will appear green, brown, yellow or black and will float in water. According to Peter Moran at Quackwatch.org, these are most likely not gallstones. They are actually substances formed in the intestines when the oil and fruit juice consumed during a cleanse react with each other and form a kind of “soap” that is then stained by bile. The bile makes them look like gallstones.

Jammed Gallstones

Consuming large amounts of oil can make the gallbladder clench up, which could get a gallstone stuck in the gallbladder ducts. This can cause severe pain and could require surgery. If you know that you have gallstones, you should talk to your doctor before trying a liver cleanse.

Putting Off Medical Treatment

Adherents of liver cleansing put themselves at risk of serious complications if they are experiencing liver and gallbladder problems. They may try repeated liver cleanses before going to a doctor for essential treatment, such as surgery. This can lead to serious and deadly problems such as an inflamed pancreas.