Risks of an Epsom Salt Liver Cleanse

The recipe for an Epsom salts cleanse usually involves only natural ingredients like lemon juice, olive oil and water. That doesn’t make it safe. According to Harvard Medical School, the belief that you need to cleanse your liver or other organs is based on faulty science. Your body is perfectly capable of cleansing and detoxing itself. And although taking Epsom salts internally has a long history in folk medicine, the dangers of repeated use far outweigh any possible benefits. Consult your health care provider before attempting an Epsom salts cleanse.

A wooden spoon scooping espom salt. (Image: vikif/iStock/Getty Images)

Calcium Deficiency

Magnesium interferes with your body's absorption of calcium, report researchers at the University of Maryland Medical Center. If your calcium levels are already low due to taking antibiotics, diuretics, hormones, medication to treat arrhythmia or steroids, or if you are undergoing chemotherapy, ingesting Epsom salts as part of a liver cleanse could affect your calcium levels. It's important to maintain the proper level of calcium in your system to prevent osteoporosis, certain colon cancers and hypertension, advises the Calcium Info website.

Dehydration

Dehydration occurs when your body excretes more fluids than it takes in. Epsom salts are a laxative, and are usually taken in combination with olive oil during a liver cleanse. Use of laxatives can lead to dehydration, a potentially serious medical issue. Symptoms of mild dehydration include headaches and dizziness, which can be remedied by drinking fluids. Severe dehydration symptoms include a very dry mouth; little or no sweating or urination; dry, un-elastic skin; a racing heart; low blood pressure; and fever. When these occur, medical intervention is necessary.

Electrolyte Imbalance

People who follow an Epsom salts liver cleanse for more than seven days, or who attempt them more often than once a month may experience chronic diarrhea resulting in an electrolyte imbalance, according to Brown University Health Services. Sufficient levels of electrolytes including chloride, potassium and sodium are needed to support the function of your heart, your muscles and your nervous system. If your electrolyte levels are compromised, it can lead to irregular heartbeat and even heart failure.

Harmful Interactions with Medications

The magnesium in Epsom salts taken as part of a liver cleanse can interact or interfere with certain medications. These include blood pressure medications; digitalis and arrhythmia medications; calcium channel blockers; diabetes medications; and diuretics. Epsom salts may also interfere with certain hormone replacement therapies, underactive thyroid medications, osteoporosis remedies and the medication used to treat Wilson’s Disease.

Magnesium Overdose

Epsom salts are also known as magnesium sulfate. Magnesium is crucial to the formation and function of every part of your body, from teeth and bones to heart, kidneys and muscles. It also activates enzymes and regulates the nutrient levels in your body and contributes to how well you produce energy. But you can get too much of a good thing: Magnesium overdoses from food are not common, according to the researchers at the University of Maryland Medical Center, but they do occur among people who ingest Epsom salts. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, dangerously low blood pressure and a slow heartbeat. If untreated, it can lead to coma and death.

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