Respectful Insolence

i-e7a12c3d2598161273c9ed31d61fe694-ClassicInsolence.jpgI’m currently in Las Vegas anxiously waiting for The Amazing Meeting to start. Believe it or not, I’ll even be on a panel later today! While I’m gone, I’ll probably manage to do a new post or two, but, in the meantime, while I’m away communing with fellow skeptics at TAM7, I’ll be reposting some Classic Insolence from the month of July in years past. (After all, if you haven’t been following this blog at least a year, it’ll be new to you. And if you have I hope you enjoy it again.) This particular post first appeared in July 2006.

I have to apologize for last week’s Dose of Woo. No, I’m not apologizing for the subject matter (the obsession that reigns supreme among some alties with “cleansing” one’s colon to “purge toxins” and achieve the super-regularity of several bowel movements a day). Rather, I’m sorry I didn’t point out just how disgusting one of the links I included was, because among all the glowing testimonials for how great colon cleansers felt after having supposedly rid themselves of all that nasty fecal matter caked on the walls of their colons and achieved the Nirvana of many bowel movements a day (or, as one happy customer put it, “awesome adventures in the bathroom” and another put it, “I have not noticed anything really weird come out of me yet, but I am sure that there will be”), there were also links to various pictures people took of their own poop, complete with graphic descriptions. You’re warned now if you click. One reader asked if the Dr. Natura site was the “grossest thing on the Internet.” Sadly, I had to assure the reader, that is not the case, not by a longshot. However, I won’t reveal links to anything even grosser. I’ll leave that as an exercise for interested readers.

After having posted last week’s woo deconstruction, I thought about what a suitable followup would be for this week. I thought of going back to deconstruct quantum homeopathy, but realized that (1) even though I had intentionally dived into some really–shall we say?–earthbound stuff in order to purge my brain of the quantum woo, I had not yet achieved a total purge of my mind of that particular woo comparable to the total purge of the colon of its feces that Dr. Natura and its customers seek, which suggests that at least one more purge is needed; (2) I’m having trouble thinking of new jokes about quantum homeopathy and am therefore forced to regurgitate the same old material about quantum entanglement between my neurons and those of Lionel Milgrom every week (oops, I did it again); and (3) there is indeed a very logical followup to colon cleanses to discuss (logical as a followup, not as an actual treatment) that is very interrelated.

Are you ready for liver flushes? Of course you are. Don’t you want a way to “remove gallstones without surgery“?

Of course you do.

First off, so that I don’t repeat the same mistake as last week, be advised that some of the links mentioned here will lead to more disgusting pictures, particularly things that people have fished out of their own poop. (Don’t ask me why they spend so much time examining and picking through their own waste; if I understood it, it wouldn’t be a topic for Your Friday Dose of Woo.) Click at your own peril. So, that having been said, what sorts of benefits can you expect from liver flushes? Well, let’s go to that altie of alties, that woman who blames all cancer on a liver fluke (hence her interest in “flushing them out of the liver), Hulda Clark, for some input, from her book, The Cure for All Diseases (humble, isn’t she?):

“Cleansing the liver of gallstones dramatically improves digestion, which is the basis of your whole health. You can expect your allergies to disappear, too, more with each cleanse you do! Incredibly, it also eliminates shoulder, upper arm, and upper back pain. You have more energy and increased sense of well being.

Pretty amazing, eh? I can’t figure out why such flushing would eliminate shoulder, arm, and back pain, but then I’m not Hulda Clark.

It is the job of the liver to make bile, 1 to 1.5 quarts in a day! The liver is full of tubes (biliary tubing) that deliver the bile to one large tube (the common bile duct). The gallbladder is attached to the common bile duct and acts as a storage reservoir. Eating fat or protein triggers the gallbladder to squeeze itself empty after about twenty minutes, and the stored bile finishes its trip down the common bile duct to the intestine.

For many persons, including children, the biliary tubing is choked with gallstones. Some develop allergies or hives but some have no symptoms. When the gallbladder is scanned or X-rayed nothing is seen. Typically, they are not in the gallbladder. Not only that, most are too small and not calcified, a prerequisite for visibility on an X-ray. There are over half a dozen varieties of gallstones, most of which have cholesterol crystals in them. They can be black, red, white, green or tan colored. The green ones get their color from being coated with bile. Notice in the picture (pg. 545) how many have imbedded unidentified objects. Are they fluke remains? Notice how man are shaped like corks with longitudinal grooves below the tops. We can visualize the blocked bile ducts from such shapes. Other stones are composites- made of many smaller ones- showing that they regrouped in the bile ducts some time after the last cleanse.

Hulda’s apparently never heard of ultrasound, which is very good at visualizing both gallbladder and liver stones. If there were gallstones or liver stones there, ultrasound would be able to pick them up in the vast majority of cases. Certainly, ultrasound is also very good at detecting bile duct obstruction as well. Best of all, it’s a noninvasive, relatively inexpensive, and radiation-free test–just the sort of test that alties would like, one would think. And, in the case where ultrasound fails, CT scans can often see biliary obstruction and stones. Also, I don’t know where Hulda got the idea that gallstones are common in children, but they aren’t. Just ask yourself: How many children do you know or have you seen who have needed gallbladder surgery? Not very many. I will give Hulda credit for one thing, though. Many cases of gallstones are completely asymptomatic or vaguely symptomatic (with bloating or other vague GI symptoms). And guess what? These days, we generally don’t recommend the removal of the gallbladder just for stones. If they’re asymptomatic, we usually leave them alone, except in cases where a case of cholecystitis would be very dangerous, as in diabetics or patients with other comorbidities. We usually wait for symptoms to occur, and in many cases they never do. In the case of vague symptoms that might or might not be attributable to gallstones, before taking out his gallblader, we will tell the patient that his symptoms are probably due to gallstones but we can’t be sure that something else isn’t going on.

At the very center of each stone is found a clump of bacteria, according to scientists, suggesting a dead bit of parasite might have started the stone forming.

Wrong. Most gallstones do not contain any such thing. Gallstones and liver stones form when cholesterol and/or bile salts in the bile form tiny crystals, which then enlarge. Most gallstones are cholesteral gallstones, and liver stones are pretty uncommon.

As the stones grow and become more numerous the back pressure on the liver causes it to make less bile. Imagine the situation if your garden hose had marbles in it. Much less water would flow, which in turn would decrease the ability of the hose to squirt out the marbles. With gallstones, much less cholesterol leaves the body, and cholesterol levels rise.

Not quite. In any case, if true obstruction were present, increasing the “back pressure” on the liver, you’d be able to see it easily by observing dilated biliary ducts in the liver on ultrasound. As is the case with most tubular structures in the body (small bowel, colon, bile ducts, ureters, etc.), when bile ducts are clogged, they dilate proximal to the source of obstruction, often quite impressively. Distal to the obstruction they are shrunken or normal sized. That’s how we figure out initially whether the obstruction is somewhere within the liver or if it’s in the bile duct outside of the liver. It’s simple fluid dynamics, and that’s how we often can tell where an obstruction is. It ain’t rocket science. So why don’t we see dilated bile ducts in all of these patients complaining about “liver stones” (which, by the way, are pretty uncommon).

Gallstones, being porous, can pick up all the bacteria, cysts, viruses and parasites that are passing through the liver. In this way “nests” of infection are formed, forever supplying the body with fresh bacteria. No stomach infection such as ulcers or intestinal bloating can be cured permanently without removing these gallstones from the liver.

The vast majority of stomach and duodenal ulcers are caused by H. pylori. Is Hulda claiming that gallstones form a “nest” in which H. pylori dwell? On what evidence? None, of course.

Hulda’s a bit different than most liver flushers in that she emphasizes her liver fluke as the cause of cancer and “all disease.” She thus recommends the use of her “zapper” to “kill parasites” before doing a “liver flush” to flush them out. Most practitioners selling liver “cleanses” emphasize their flushy goodness as a means of eliminating “liver toxins” and “stones”:

The liver is the gateway to the body and in this chemical age its detoxification systems are easily overloaded. Thousands of chemicals are added to food and over 700 have been identified in drinking water. Plants are sprayed with toxic chemicals, animals are injected with potent hormones and antibiotics and a significant amount of our food is genetically engineered, processed, refined, frozen and cooked. All this can lead to destruction of delicate vitamins and minerals, which are needed for the detoxification pathways in the liver. The liver must try to cope with every toxic chemical in our environment, as well as damaged fats that are present in processed and fried foods.

So what, exactly, does a liver flush entail? Well, most liver flushes involve drinking large quantities of fruit juices of some kind, usually along with epsom salts and oils such as olive oil. For example, here’s one protocol found (where else?) on CureZone:

Materials:

1 gallon apple juice (freshly pressed)

2 ounces orthophosphoric acid (Phosfood from Standard Process or Ortho phos from Nutra-Dyn)

Enema bag and colon tube

Coffee

Epsom Salts

Whipping cream and berries

Olive oil

Protocol:

Add one bottle (2 ounces) of orthophosphoric acid to the gallon of apple juice. Shake and refrigerate. Over the next three to five days, drink the gallon of juice (3 to 4 8-ounce glasses a day) between meals. Be sure to rinse your mouth out with baking soda and/or brush your teeth after drinking the juice to prevent the acid from damaging the teeth. Eat normally during the liver flush.

On the day following whatever day you finish the gallon of juice, eat your normal breakfast and lunch.

Two hours after lunch, drink 1-2 tablespoons of Epsom Salts dissolved in warm water.

Four hours after lunch, do a one pint coffee enema.

Five hours after lunch, drink 1 tablespoon of Epsom Salts dissolved in warm water.

Six or seven hours after lunch, eat a dinner of heavy whipping cream and frozen or fresh berries – as much as desired.

At bedtime, drink 1/2 cup of olive oil. A small amount of orange, grapefruit, or lemon juice may be added if desired. Immediately after drinking the oil, go to bed and lie on your right side with knees drawn up for 30 minutes. You may feel nauseated during the night. This is due to the release of stored toxins from the gallbladder and liver. This is normal and a sign that the protocol is working.

Upon arising in the morning, do a coffee enema.

I still haven’t figured out how the coffee enema “flushes” the liver. I also still haven’t figured out why anyone would want to partake of the glorious coffee bean in any way other than the usual way. Certainly, this is a rather difficult way to get your caffeine fix!

There are, of course, many variations. Here are but a few:

1. Hulda Clark’s Liver Cleanse-Gallbladder Cleanse
2. Dr. Kelley’s Liver-Gallbladder flush

3. Are You Stoned? Liver-Gallbladder flush
4. Liver flush protocol with apple juice and orthophosphoric acid
5. “Classic Coke” liver flush and gallbladder flush (Egads, this one requires a good slug of magnesium citrate!)
6. “Cleansing or Surgery” liver and gallbladder cleanse (with four gallons of apple juice!)
7. Olive oil liver/gallbladder cleanse
8. Seven day program liver/gallbladder cleanse
9. Dushan’s grandmother’s liver/gallbladder cleanse

And the list goes on and on and on and on. (And so will you if you try these cleanses.)

So what will happen if you do this (besides your inducing a lot of poop)? Well, certainly you will find things in your stool. If you read the many testimonials and look at the disgusting pictures on all the websites touting liver flushes, you will see photos proudly displayed of greenish balls or various other things that sort of look like–well, sort of “stone”-like. Naturally, the liver flushers claim that these are gallstones–without actually proving that’s what they are. Indeed, although it is possible to pass gallstones into your stool and occasionally even find one, it’s highly unlikely to pass such copious amounts of stones (as claimed by testimonials) without having had clinical symptoms of gallbladder disease. In some cases, the number of “stones” observed in the stool would have required a gallbladder the size of a basketball to hold them all! And, given that more always seem to “come out” when additional flushes are done, it would seem to imply that there is an endless supply there to be “dumped” out. In any case, check out this testimonial to see what I mean:

I just completed my 3rd liver cleanse. Whew! 1st cleanse 250 small stones pea size or less brown and green. 2nd cleanse 460 stones, small stones pea size or less brown and green. 3rd cleanse 260 stones light and dark green. Many marble size and 2 almost as big as golf balls (I saved these!) I highly recommend Andreas Moritz’s book, “The Amazing Liver Cleanse”. I followed to the letter and did colosan and colonics before and after. I read your testimonials and thought I would add my information.

This testimonial gets a bit closer to what may be the truth behind liver cleansing:

I did a ‘liver cleanse’ or gallbladder flush about 6 nights ago! I’m a 50 year old female in good health. I’m not overweight and have no health problems. I’m active and have been a schoolteacher for 25 years.

I did not have any symptoms of gallstones nor did I have an ultrasound. I just had always been curious to try a gallbladder flush and see if anything came out- as they say most everyone has these gallstones and it’s good to get them OUT.

I did the flush at about 9:30 p.m. And I vomited about 12:30!!! I thought oh hell what an un-pleasant waste of time. BUT the next morning I DID pass some (25?) gelatinous looking things that were greenish – none larger than a small pea. I felt lousey – bloated and not hungry the next day. But since then I’ve felt great!!

I think I vomited because I ate some plain white rice and drank some carrot juice about 5pm. I have been researching various liver/gallbladder cleanses and most say NOT to eat all day and to drink organic apple juice and only that for at least 2 days prior. I took only 4oz of fresh squeezed lemon juice followed by 4 oz of olive oil at about 10 pm. I nearly gagged **YUK** as I was taking it! I will do it again but will follow your directions. I wish I had come across this website BEFORE I did my flush!

Note that this is an asymptomatic woman with absolutely no evidence of gallbladder or liver disease and without even any GI symptoms. Because of a vague curiosity, she made herself miserable for a couple of days with this “liver flush” and then noticed something “coming out.” These “gelatinous things” were almost certainly not gallstones. There are several varieties of gallstones. Of these, cholesterol stones can be kind of soft and easily broken, but I don’t think they could be correctly described as “gelatinous.” In any case, if these “flushes” actually removed gallstones, it would be easy to show scientifically, as I’ve pointed out time and time again, going back to my Usenet days even, when I answered an altie who complained that “healers” don’t have access to CT scanners to “prove” that stones were being removed:

Healers” don’t need a CT machine. They just need an ultrasound machine, which is less expensive by a factor of at least 25-50. Ultrasound machines have become quite ubiquitous, as the price has fallen dramatically (and the quality has increased dramatically) in recent years. Virtually every OB/GYN practice that does prenatal care has at least one in their office. Many general surgeons have them now, too; as do most big emergency rooms. They now make portable ultrasound machines that fit into briefcases….Heck, you can find ultrasound machines in very poor parts of China and India, where, unfortunately, they are used to determine the sex of fetuses, so that parents can abort females they don’t want. So don’t tell me alt-med “healers” can’t get access to basic ultrasound machines. I don’t buy it for one minute, particularly since I’ve seen ads from such “healers” claiming to use ultrasound as part of their approach.

All you would need to do such a pilot study is a interested and/or sympathetic radiologist to team up with a “healer” who has an ultrasound machine–and, of course, the will to document symptoms, physical examination, diagnosis, pre-flush stone load in the gallbladder, and post-flush stone load in the gallbladder rigorously.

So, given how easy it would be to do such a pilot study, why haven’t alties pushing these flushes done it? It’s perhaps among the easiest of their claims to prove or disprove.

Not surprisingly, it’s still never been done, as far as I can tell.

What has been done, however, is a study that suggests just how much self-delusion is involved in liver flushes. It is based on a case report that a group in New Zealand contributed to the Lancet:

A 40-year-old woman was referred to the outpatient clinic with a 3-month history of recurrent severe right hypochondrial pain after fatty food. [Note: Here “hypochondrial” means “below the ribcage,’ not “hypochondriac.”] Abdominal ultrasound showed multiple 1-2 mm gallstones in the gallbladder.

She had recently followed a “liver cleansing” regime on the advice of a herbalist. This regime consisted of free intake of apple and vegetable juice until 1800 h, but no food, followed by the consumption of 600 mL of olive oil and 300 mL of lemon juice over several hours. This activity resulted in the painless passage of multiple semisolid green “stones” per rectum in the early hours of the next morning. She collected them, stored them in the freezer, and presented them in the clinic.

Microscopic examination of our patient’s stones revealed that they lacked any crystalline structure, melted to an oily green liquid after 10 min at 40°C, and contained no cholesterol, bilirubin, or calcium by established wet chemical methods. Traditional faecal fat extraction techniques indicated that the stones contained fatty acids that required acid hydrolysis to give free fatty acids before extraction into ether. These fatty acids accounted for 75% of the original material.

Experimentation revealed that mixing equal volumes of oleic acid (the major component of olive oil) and lemon juice produced several semi solid white balls after the addition of a small volume of a potassium hydroxide solution. On air drying at room temperature, these balls became quite solid and hard.

We conclude, therefore, that these green “stones” resulted from the action of gastric lipases on the simple and mixed triacylglycerols that make up olive oil, yielding long chain carboxylic acids (mainly oleic acid). This process was followed by saponification into large insoluble micelles of potassium carboxylates (lemon juice contains a high concentration of potassium) or “soap stones”.

In other words, the “stones” that liver cleansers are so proud of and go to such effort to strain their poo for after doing their flushes are not gallstones and were almost certainly the result of the actual flush itself! It makes perfect sense, if you think about it. These protocols usually involve fasting and then up to a half liter or more of olive oil at one time. That could easily provide the conditions for this sort of reaction to take place. Neat, isn’t it? The very sign of “success” of the liver flush is something that has nothing to do with gallstones and everything to do with the results of the flush itself. Indeed, it’s quite clear that, even if you don’t have gallstones, if you do a liver flush and then look, you’ll find things in your stool that very much look like gallstones due to saponified oil. (Now I know why pretty much every liver flush protocol includes large amounts of olive oil or similar oils plus epsom salts or orthophophoric acid and fruit juices).

It’s a beautiful scam. People do these flushes, they see things that look to them like gallstones being “flushed” out, and they believe it works. Consequently, they keep doing it. Because these flushes involve materials that don’t have to be purchased from a “healer” (although certainly many “healers” sell various “supplements” to “aid” liver flushes), they can be viewed more as a means of healers to demonstrate their skill and keep the patient coming (and going). It also serves as a way of “demonstrating” the efficacy of “detoxification.” After all, if this “flush” appears to cause “gallstones” to be “flushed out,” then perhaps the other detoxification altie woo will similarly “flush out toxins,” as claimed and might be worth a try. (Liver cleanses might indeed be a gateway altie therapy.) To me the ironic thing about liver flushes is that they are so strongly advocated by alties, and alties frequently castigate “conventional” medicine for “iatrogenic diseases or complications” (iatrogenic=caused by doctors). What, then, can we call these “stones” coming out of people using liver flushes, but a case of i-altie-ogenic disease?

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Comments

  1. #1 LegalDrugUser1
    July 10, 2009

    Nobody is free of cancer, hopefully soon find a cure and to fight this disease now, because it is tedious to go to therapy all the time and drugs to treat the disease are very strong opiates as vicodin, Oxycodone, Lortab, Norco medicines too high in codeine and acetaminophen considered hallucinogenic drugs, as indicated in findrxonline then imagine how much pain, really hope there will be a solution as quickly as possible for this …..

  2. #2 LegalDrugUser1
    July 10, 2009

    Nobody is free of cancer, hopefully soon find a cure and to fight this disease now, because it is tedious to go to therapy all the time and drugs to treat the disease are very strong opiates as vicodin, Oxycodone, Lortab, Norco medicines too high in codeine and acetaminophen considered hallucinogenic drugs, as indicated in findrxonline then imagine how much pain, really hope there will be a solution as quickly as possible for this …..

  3. #3 James Sweet
    July 10, 2009

    Many cases of gallstones are completely asymptomatic or vaguely symptomatic (with bloating or other vague GI symptoms). And guess what? These days, we generally don’t recommend the removal of the gallbladder just for stones.

    I am pretty sure I have gallstones. I don’t know this for certain, because I have never even had an ultrasound done to check for them.

    The reason is that the symptoms, while pretty consistent with gallstones, are so mild that my doctor agrees it’s not even worth confirming it, because we would clearly take no action even if it were confirmed.

    All that happens is that if I overeat, particularly with high fat foods, I experience pain in the area of my gallbladder. I thought it was just indigestion at first, but a) the pain is extremely localized and in a consistent place, and b) it didn’t start happening until my mid-20s. So I guess the reason is that dealing with all that fat causes the gallbladder to go into high gear, and then the stones cause some irritation.

    It’s actually a good thing, because it encourages me not to overeat. heh…

  4. #4 The Science Pundit
    July 10, 2009

    OT: Gwyneth Paltrow has just finished cleansing herself.

    As I write this, I am finishing the amazing three-week-long “Clean” detox program detailed below. Designed by New York cardiologist and detoxification specialist Dr. Alejandro Junger, this program allowed me to work and exercise regularly, something I cannot do if I am on a liquid-only detox. I followed it to the letter and I can report that it worked wonders. I feel pure and happy and much lighter (I dropped the extra pounds that I had gained during a majorly fun and delicious “relax and enjoy life phase” about a month ago). I also really enjoyed learning about the incredible health benefits of resting your digestive system, etc. This thing is amazing. And don’t forget to ask your doctor if a cleanse is right for you.

  5. #5 LibraryGuy
    July 10, 2009

    Wow. That is so cool. I work in the “Natural Resources” (Woo, or “Neighborhood of Make-Believe,” as I call it) section of a huge grocery store. Now I know why all those people are buying so many bags of Epsom Salts! Can’t wait to do this demonstration at work.
    Oh, and coffee enemas? According to our sources, they “stimulate the liver.” Oh, and that coffee that you hold inside for 15 minutes won’t jack you up on caffeine. Uh-huh. Plus, no decaf and no flavored coffees for enemas. I’ll take my coffee the old fashioned way, thank you-through an intravenous drip.

  6. #6 Kate
    July 10, 2009

    There really is something pathological/flat-out psychotic about this obsession with “purity” and “cleansing” oneself.

    Pooping little balls of soap now…that’s a good one. Don’t get much “cleaner” than that, do ya!

  7. #7 gary
    July 10, 2009

    Coffee enema? Really? Wow. Guess they’ll open up a starbucks anywhere.

  8. #8 dura mater
    July 10, 2009

    I can’t help but wonder why so many people feel themselves so unclean.

    Maybe prozac would be just as effective for feeling cleansed. . . .

  9. #9 6EQUJ5
    July 10, 2009

    I still have the x-ray of my gallstones. My gall bladder looked like a sack of gravel.

  10. #10 Scrabcake
    July 10, 2009

    Two pieces of neat ephemera.
    Ear candling is pretty much the same scam but simpler. If you burn an ear candle without an ear and then cut it open it will be full of ear-y looking yellow wax in copious quantities. The wax used to create an ear candle turns yellow when heated to part the incurious from their money.
    Also, all this talk of coffee enemas reminds me that this isn’t really a new thing. The classic Maya liked to throw big parties wherein they gave each other pulque & chicha enemas Pulque is fermented cactus-extract that you can still get in Mesoamerica but is apparently an acquired taste, and chicha is a form of hooch made from corn mash. The logic behind the enemas is that they could get you a lot drunker a lot faster due to absorption levels in the rectum. Plus that, it spares you tasting whatever you’re going to get drunk on. It also makes it pretty easy to die of alcohol poisoning…
    So yeah. Maybe the reason for the coffee enemas is that you do feel a result pretty immediately. The clear headedness might be a result of getting really tweaked on caffeine, really fast. A lot of alties seem to really like the whole immediate result thing.

  11. #11 Tyro
    July 11, 2009

    Orac:

    In no way related to colons but have you seen the new Torchwood series that just finished airing in the UK? Love to hear your thoughts. I was never a big Torchwood fan before but this really impressed me, and if they could do this with Torchwood, I can’t wait to see what they do with Dr Who!

  12. #12 Shannon
    October 1, 2009

    I swear by the “Amazing Liver and Gallbladder Flush”. I was suffering from severe hypoglycemia daily for several months. Chinese herbs were keeping me somewhat stable but did not cure me. It wasn’t until I did this flush that the hypoglycemia went away and I have not suffered from it since.

    So Hocus Pocus or not, it worked for me and I cannot be told anything different. I know what I experienced and am grateful to have tried this since Western medicine had no answers for me other than keep eating.

  13. #13 Rick
    October 5, 2009

    OK, so I understand the skepticism about the explanations for feeling better. At the same time, it does sound like a fair number of people (more than placebo effects?) report a variety of symptoms clearing up after these flushes. Also… these recipes seem to have hit upon a way to really clean a person out by forming soap in the intestine. Is it possible that the benefits reported simply come from the soap so formed doing a really good job of cleaning out the small and large intestines?

    While on the idea of chemistry projects inside the GI tract: current alternative fuel projects often mention making biodiesel by combining oil with alcohol, which combine to produce “diesel” (esters) plus glycerin. Is it possible that a high fat meal with alcoholic drinks could inadvertently produce a small amount of diesel fuel in the small intestine, before the bile has a chance to tackle all the fat? If so, what sorts of results would you expect?

  14. #14 Kemala
    November 2, 2009

    I’m with you, Shannon. I felt GREAT for the first time in years after my first liver/colon cleanse. And I could taste things I couldn’t the day before. If there was even the slightest beginnings of mold or bacterial growth in food, I knew it the instant it hit my tongue. It has occurred to me that olive oil mixed with acids might form those little balls, but the proof is in how I felt. My son has recently developed allergies, so I’m putting him on a cleanse today. I don’t care how the cleanse works, only that it does; no scientific proof req’d for that. What I do have trouble understanding is how so many of you can’t see the benefit of getting toxins out of your body. Don’t think that your liver can go on forever.

  15. #15 Kim
    August 7, 2010

    Critical thinking is always a good thing. But demeaning, close-minded, superiority-complexed blogging does not contribute to the betterment of the health of America. I don’t know about the efficacy of the liver flush, but I have the open mind to look. Results are always a good place to start when you’re trying to judge. Your blog purposely took the wackiest testimonies to support your argument of quackery. How about all those that have purposed years of one specific ailment that could not be healed by “traditional” medicine, but have seen relief with “alternative” methods. America’s health profile is terrible, and we spend the most on the most advanced health care program around, but to no avail. Just review the statistics. When I read your blog, what comes to mind is the emphatic judgements from the “experts” of the past claiming the world is flat! How about spending time on some constructive dialog and science.

  16. #16 Chris
    August 7, 2010

    And it took you how many months to come up with that response?

    Okay, answer this: provide any evidence that the “liver flush” does anything to the liver.

    If you read this article you will realize the concoction creates a pooping of acid congealed oil. Nothing more.

    So next time, try reading for comprehension and respond with valid criticisms, not nagging. And if you tell us to “review the statistics”, then actually present them! If you claim to have evidence, use it and don’t tell us to find it!

  17. #17 Antaeus Feldspar
    August 7, 2010

    Critical thinking is always a good thing. But demeaning, close-minded, superiority-complexed blogging does not contribute to the betterment of the health of America.

    Well, that depends, doesn’t it? That depends on whether the blogging that you perceive as “demeaning,” “close-minded,” “superiority-complexed” is in fact correct where others who are touchier and feelier are incorrect. Those people who have actually done the hard work necessary to distinguish truth from falsity are often impatient with those who want to claim the same authority without putting in the work. And the wannabes, the dilettantes, often perceive that justified impatience as “close-mindedness” and “superiority complex.”

    I don’t know about the efficacy of the liver flush, but I have the open mind to look. Results are always a good place to start when you’re trying to judge.

    Only if you actually understand how the results should be interpreted. Wannabes, for instance, almost always believe that results which are personal are the best evidence upon which to judge; they will be egotistically convinced that if they try a purported remedy that they bought from the Internet and experience some pleasant, subjective sensation in the next 24 hours, that this “proves” that the remedy induced the pleasant sensation and the pleasant sensation “proves” that the remedy is healthful. To point out just the most obvious counter-example, suppose that remedy purchased from that stranger on the Internet is a preparation made from opium poppies? It’ll surely induce a pretty pleasant sensation but hopefully no one would be foolish enough to argue that it’s healthy for you!

    Your blog purposely took the wackiest testimonies to support your argument of quackery. How about all those that have purposed years of one specific ailment that could not be healed by “traditional” medicine, but have seen relief with “alternative” methods.

    “all those that have purposed years” — what? What are you even trying to say? Assuming that you mean “the anecdotes that people tell about how they suffered for years from X-Y-Z and then after they took homeopathic pigeon spit the X-Y-Z went away prove that alternative remedies can do what mainstream medicine can’t” — no. No, they don’t. Any more than the anecdotes people tell prove that Reggie Jackson has a dog named “Lady”, or that John Kerry shared a platform with Jane Fonda at a protest, or that Mr. Rogers was a sniper in Vietnam. “Anecdotal data” has very little value to convince.

    America’s health profile is terrible, and we spend the most on the most advanced health care program around, but to no avail. Just review the statistics.

    Reviewing the statistics tells me that anyone claiming our health care program is “to no avail” has not reviewed the statistics. Heck, you don’t even have to go to statistics, you just have to look at all the diseases which are survivable or even curable now — because of the mainstream medicine you demean, not due to your precious alternative medicine.

    It’s been said before, and I’ll say it again: the term for alternative medicine which has been proven to work is medicine.

    When I read your blog, what comes to mind is the emphatic judgements from the “experts” of the past claiming the world is flat! How about spending time on some constructive dialog and science.

    Well, we can tell you’re after some constructive “dialog”; you posted on a blog entry that had been inactive for nine months. That’s exactly where people go when they’re interested in a two-way conversation, a long-dormant blog entry!!

  18. #18 Tess
    November 25, 2010

    Here is evidence that the liver cleanse is beneficial, from a person who has done the liver cleanse, passed stones, had them analysed in a laboratory, the results were that they were liver stones with the exact composition of liverstones. http://curezone.com/forums/fm.asp?i=331681
    There is more such evidence if you look for it.
    Apparently a person may pass many different kinds of stones after doing the cleanse, soft, hard, large, small, more than one cleanse is usually needed to remove all stones, eg, the soft ones from the liver often come out first and the hard ones from the gallblader often come out later (without pain).
    Yet you have discussed the results from one individual, one cleanse, and one laboratory report, this does not prove or disprove anything.

    There is overwhelming anecdontal evidence of the benefits of the liver flush in the form of many, many testimonials from people who tried the liver cleanse and saw remarkable improvements in health, often after many years of illness and trying everything else to no avail. There was no incentive for them to write these testimonials except that they were thrilled with the results and wish to help others find health.
    If the stones are just soap stones produced by the oil (a theory which you support) then why are there vastly different numbers of stones produced from each flush after consuming the same amount of oil? why are there different colours in the stones, why are some soft and some hard? Even if the soft stones are produced by the oil, then how do you explain the hard stones which lab reports show are gallstones or liver stones? And why do people who persist with the cleanse report that after 6-10 cleanses the liver and the gallbladder are clean and they produced no stones at all and then did another cleanse and produced no stones at all a second time? The report you have quoted suggests that the soap stone theory is theoretically plausible yet there is no mention of testing or proof of this theory.
    You comment that the gallbladder is too small to hold the large numbers of stones that people have passed, even though this is a liver AND gallbladder flush and the liver is much larger than the gallbladder. You claim that liverstones are rare, or did you mean liver stones are rarely diagnosed (and go untreated)?
    Does the liver cleanse work? Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t. I don’t know since I have’t tried it for myself, I can’t find any real evidence that it doesn’t work, there’s plenty of testimonials and some scientific proof that it does work, but this information is all online and you can’t believe everything you read on websites can you?

  19. #19 novalox
    November 25, 2010

    @Tess
    It took you how many months to come up with that bad of a response? You’re nothing more than a bad necromancer.

    Show us an actual peer-reviewed paper from a major medical journal, not some testimonial from a alt-med forum. Remember, anecdotes does not equal evidence.

    I’ll be waiting for an answer, but I don’t expect to get one anytime soon…

  20. #20 tess
    November 25, 2010

    Here is evidence that the liver cleanse is beneficial, from a person who has done the liver cleanse, passed stones, had them analysed in a laboratory, the results were that they were liver stones with the exact composition of liverstones.

    http://curezone.com/forums/fm.asp?i=331681
    You haven’t provided any evidence at all to support your opinion. You have merely presented your opinion as though it were proven fact. Some of points do not even make sense,for example- you comment that the gallbladder is too small to hold the large numbers of stones that people claim to have passed, even though this is a LIVER AND gallbladder flush and the liver is much larger than the gallbladder and liver stone have been proven to exist.

    If the stones are just soap stones produced by the oil (a theory which you support) then why are there vastly different numbers of stones produced from each flush after consuming the same amount of oil? why are there different colours in the stones, why are some soft and some hard? Even if the soft stones are produced by the oil, then how do you explain the hard stones which lab reports show are gallstones or liver stones? And why do people who persist with the cleanse report that after 6-10 cleanses the liver and the gallbladder are clean and they produced no stones at all and then did another cleanse and produced no stones at all a second time? The report you have quoted suggests that the soap stone theory is theoretically
    plausible yet there is no mention of testing or proof of this theory. Testing one woman who did one cleanse proves nothing.
    And finally why do you get angry at people who take the time to read and comment on your blog? Maybe you have liver stones?

  21. #21 Joseph
    November 25, 2010

    You haven’t provided any evidence at all to support your opinion.

    @Tess: And you think it’s necessary to shift the burden of proof because…

  22. #22 T. Bruce McNeely
    November 25, 2010

    tess:

    I have worked full-time as an anatomic pathologist for 22 years, as well as 5 years of residency before this. I have done well over one thousand autopsies (where I always do a thorough examination of the liver), as well as examined many more liver biopsies. I have never seen a liver stone. I have, of course, seen thousands of gall stones, however, these are not liver stones. Liver stones can occur as a result of chronic bile duct infections, but these are extremely rare.

    I don’t know the explanation for these stones that you refer to, but I’m pretty sure they’re not from the liver.

  23. #23 tess
    November 25, 2010

    You website was playing up so my comment got posted twice, you are welcome to delete the 2nd one. So I will repeat this part from my second comment..
    Why do you get angry and be rude to people who take the time to read and comment on your blog? Maybe you have liver stones that are making you angry? Do you know what a necromancer is? Or are you trying to funny by calling me names?

    YOu told another commenter to respond with valid criticisms, yet when I responded with valid criticisms, you didn’t respond to my criticisms, you told me to offer a peer-reviewed paper?

    Please respond to my critisms if you can and kindly refrain from being rude to me and calling me names since I have not called you any names or been rude to you.

    In response to your comment, it took me 10 mins to come up with my response, why do you assume that I read your article months ago? I read your article for the first time yesterday. Do you understand how the internet works?

    I have stated that there is compelling anecdoctal evidence in support of the liver cleanse and have provided one instance of this, the lab report appears genuine enough though clearly there is no way to verify that the stones came from the liver flush. I have not claimed that the liver flush has benefits, so I do not need to prove anything.
    You have stated that the liver cleanse has no benefit as thought it were a proven fact so it is up to you to provide the proof.
    Why don’t you show me an actual peer-reviewed paper from a major medical journal that proves that the liver cleanse has no benefits?

  24. #24 novalox
    November 25, 2010

    And I still wait for an answer from Tess…

    Remember, I stated I wanted to see an actual peer-reviewed paper from a major medical journal, not some testimonial from a alt-med forum. Remember, anecdotes does not equal evidence.

  25. #25 Seb30
    November 25, 2010

    @ Tess

    The report you have quoted suggests that the soap stone theory is theoretically plausible yet there is no mention of testing or proof of this theory.

    You mean that no-one ever mixed oil, acid, and then an alkali to make soap?

    the liver is much larger than the gallbladder

    Um, yes, but, contrary to the gallbladder, the liver is not exactly a hollow organ. If you have that much stuff in it, it’s not a cleanse that you need. You have a serious health issue with your liver.

    If the stones are just soap stones produced by the oil (a theory which you support) then why are there vastly different numbers of stones produced from each flush after consuming the same amount of oil?

    [and various more questions]
    Er, should we go all scatological?
    My guess would be: Because the intestines of the customer had a different content each time (from the meals the previous day, or the fruit juices taken before the oil), to which the oil mix with on its way out. So different number of stones, different colors, different textures.
    Because the cleansing exerts quite a toll on all the organs around the guts (stomach, liver, pancreas…), and by the third time you do it they are exhausted and don’t add the same amount of secretions, and of a different quality. And by the 10th time, there are not enough secretions to do a proper saponification.

    And as for the lab reports: how do you distinguish between a real gallstone, and some fatty stuff laced with biliary secretions while racing though the intestines?
    (genuine question, I have no clue about this)

  26. #26 Antaeus Feldspar
    November 25, 2010

    In response to your comment, it took me 10 mins to come up with my response, why do you assume that I read your article months ago? I read your article for the first time yesterday. Do you understand how the internet works?

    The fact that you seem to think novalox was the author of the article strongly indicates that you don’t understand how the Internet works.

    You also don’t seem to understand how the burden of proof works. You seem to think that all points of view, without regard to prior probability, are automatically on equal footing, so that the weakest conceivable offering of ‘evidence’ is sufficient to send the metaphorical ball spinning into the other side’s court. In reality, the principle of “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” holds; if you want people to believe that there is any medical merit to the liver cleanse, enough to merit further investigation, the burden of proof is upon you to provide that extraordinary proof. “Compelling anecdotal evidence” is not it, and a “lab report” from CureZone certainly is not it.

  27. #27 Tess
    November 26, 2010

    Yes Antaeus, you are right and I am sorry, I misunderstoond who the comment came from re the novalox comment.

    Let me state again- I do NOT have any proof that there is any medical benefit to the liver cleanse and I have no idea about it personally since I have never tried it.

    I simply feel that the testimonials all over the internet and lab report I provided seem genuine. I find it hard to beleive that the placebo effect alone explains why there are so many people doing this cleanse and writing about it. It is not a pleasant experience so why do they keep doing it, writing about it and posting pictures of their weird poop if they are getting no health benefits from the process? People are generally lazy and don’t stick with anything difficult unless it really works for them, a generalization I know but fairly accurate for most of us!

    It is most likely that they are mistaken about what the softer stones actually are, but what does it matter if they are healthier?

    I am not sure what the extraordinary claim is here. Do you mean that it is an extraordinary claim that the liver cleanse may have some health benefits? Isn’t it generally accepted that liver/gallbladder stones may be passed out without doing a liver cleanse and often after eating a fatty meal? Then is it extraordinary to suggest that consuming a large amount of oil and the other ingredients in the cleanse may possibly cause liver/gallbladder stones to be passed and this may have some health benefits?

    Anyhow it is an enjoyable argument and thanks to all those who responded to me without calling me names.

  28. #28 Chris
    November 26, 2010

    Tess:

    I simply feel that the testimonials all over the internet and lab report I provided seem genuine.

    Testimonials are anecdotes. The plural of anecdote is anecdotes, not data. There is a level of evidence expected here. You need to hang around and read more of the articles and comments to figure out what that is.

    Do you mean that it is an extraordinary claim that the liver cleanse may have some health benefits?

    Yes. Especially in the method you are defending. Have you ever taken a basic biology course? Do you know what the liver is supposed to do? Does the liver actually produce “stones”?

  29. #29 tess
    November 26, 2010

    Again, I not recommending the liver cleanse. I have never tried it so I don’t know if it has any benefits. I suggest it MAY be possible for the liver cleanse to have benefits since no one has proven otherwise.

    I am merely defending the liver cleanse’s right to a fair trial. It is innocent until proven helpful, harmfull or neutral.

    And Yes Liver stones are a proven medical fact they are called Intrahepatic Stones. Gallstones are also real. The medical approach is to wait untill you are in severe pain and then cut out the gallbladder. It is little wonder that people try weird and kooky things to prevent this.

  30. #30 Chris
    November 26, 2010

    Some basic rules before commenting on a blog or forum:

    1) If you find an article through Google, before commenting go to the first page and see what is under discussion.

    2) Get to know the place, lurk for a while.

    3) Become familiar with the writing style, especially in how issues are discussed. Remember that argument by assertion will not go far on this blog.

    4) Actually read the article and comments before commenting.

    5) Try to proof read your comments (okay, we don’t all do that).

    6) If you think you want to bring a subject up to the participants’ attention, please use the search box on the upper left side of this page to see if it has been discussed before.

    7) If you get an error when posting a comment, before posting again… open another window to see if it was actually posted.

  31. #31 T. Bruce McNeely
    November 26, 2010

    And Yes Liver stones are a proven medical fact they are called Intrahepatic Stones.

    Did you read my comment (#22)? They are pretty freakin’ rare, and are associated with clinically obvious severe illness. If you have been told that you are expelling “liver stones” after one of these procedures, my guess is that you have been lied to.

    I suggest it MAY be possible for the liver cleanse to have benefits since no one has proven otherwise.

    I am merely defending the liver cleanse’s right to a fair trial. It is innocent until proven helpful, harmfull or neutral.

    So let the promoters of “liver cleansing” invest in a proper trial – controlled, double blind, you know the drill, then subject their findings to peer review.
    Geeze, even EEEVILL BIG PHAT PHARMA has to do that.

  32. #32 Chris
    November 26, 2010

    T. Bruce McNeely:

    Did you read my comment (#22)? They are pretty freakin’ rare, and are associated with clinically obvious severe illness. If you have been told that you are expelling “liver stones” after one of these procedures, my guess is that you have been lied to.

    I noticed when I googled it that I mostly got alt-med sites like CureZone (which should be covered under Scopies’s Law). And what real medical information I got, it looked like gallstones getting lost.

    Hence the rules for posting on the a blog being give, thought I should have emphasized argument by assertion does not work.

    Perhaps I should add to it that if you make a claim, it is up to you to prove the claim.

  33. #33 Seb30
    November 26, 2010

    I am merely defending the liver cleanse’s right to a fair trial. It is innocent until proven helpful, harmfull or neutral.

    I disagree. A medical procedure is not like a citizen going in the tribunal because of suspected misdeeds, but more like a prospective employee applying for a job. You expect it to do something positive.
    And like at a job interview, it is expected the new procedure will come with its resume to support its claims.

    By default, a new procedure should be considered useless until proven otherwise.

    Now, I would agree that humans being that they are, not all current medical procedures have a strong track of science-based evidence. But this is not a reason to encourage more useless or harmful procedures to hop in.

  34. #34 Ra
    December 13, 2011

    Some of you guys sound like bullies…

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