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Your New Year’s detox diet could be deadly, doctors warn in a new case study

Should you do a post-holiday detox?
In recent years, detoxes have become the go-to answer for people who want to cleanse their systems of toxins and, ultimately, excess weight. But doctors and nutrition experts are quick to caution that “detox” is something of a misnomer.

Considering a detox diet after overindulging over the holidays? Pay attention to what British doctors found in a bizarre new case study first.

A 47-year-old “previously fit and well” British woman ended up in hospital with potentially life-threatening injuries after she took on a New Year’s “detox,” subsisting on liquids and various herbal remedies, doctors out of Milton Keynes Hospital said.

She was confused, grinding her teeth, collapsed and then suffered a seizure before she was taken to hospital, they explained in the online journal BMJ Case Reports.

Turns out, she had hyponatraemia, which is when there is an abnormally low level of sodium in the blood.

READ MORE: Man’s hepatitis linked to excessive energy drink consumption

Doctors couldn’t figure out what triggered this condition until they talked to her family. The woman was drinking more water and herbal medicines than normal over New Year’s – this included valerian root, milk thistle, molkosan, l-theanine, glutamine, vitamin B compound, sage tea and green tea.

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She was grappling with “increased stress,” a low mood and was relying on these herbal remedies “increasingly taking them all together.”

“Patients should be advised of the potential detriment done to their health of undertaking a New Year ‘detox’ especially if it involves consuming excessive amounts of fluid or alternative remedies,” the case report warned.

Don’t be misled by marketing, they said: “All natural products are not without side effects.”

READ MORE: What is the post-holiday detox and is it good for you?

This isn’t the first time doctors came across hyponatraemia triggered by herbal remedies. In another case, a man ended up with the condition after he drank a tea that had valerian root, lemon balm, passion flower, hops and chamomile.

In both cases, the amount of fluid intake wasn’t the problem. Doctors think it might’ve been the valerian root.

“Valerian root has now been suspected in two cases associated with severe, life-threatening hyponatraemia and health-care professionals should be vigilant to this,” the doctors said.

Read the full case study.

carmen.chai@globalnews.ca