(credit: Champagne Suki)
In a medical first, a 38-year-old man with gallstones developed severe liver damage and jaundice after following the delusional advice of a practitioner of naturopathy, a pseudoscientific system that eschews evidence-based medicine.
Writing in BMJ Case Reports, doctors report that the naturopath told the man to take an excessive amount of Epsom salt for “stone dissolution.” Such overdoses of the salt, aka magnesium sulfate, can cause diarrhea, breathing problems, kidney injury, and cardiac arrhythmias.

But this is the first time doctors have ever reported that it caused liver damage.
Epsom salt is known to help with some conditions at lower doses.

But, despite naturopathic claims of liver and gallbladder “flushes” and “cleanses,” there is no evidence that Epsom salt can dissolve and help remove gallstones.
In fact, even the actual medications that break up gallstones—such as ursodeoxycholic acid tablets—don’t work well and aren’t often prescribed.

They can take years to dissolve the smallest of gallstones, which are typically little balls of cholesterol that clog up the bile-storing gallbladder.

And once a patient stops taking the tablets, stones can form again.

The recommended treatment for symptomatic gallstones is surgery to remove the gallbladder, which is a non-essential organ.
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