Acute Severe Hyponatremia as a Serious Health Implication of Herbal Detox Regimens

Cureus. 2018 Dec 6;10(12):e3697. doi: 10.7759/cureus.3697.


Hyponatremia is a serious health problem and can cause substantial morbidity and mortality as a result of osmotically induced cerebral edema if left untreated. Also, inappropriate rapid correction of chronic cases of hyponatremia can lead to osmotic demyelination with neurological impairment and death as consequences. It is defined as a serum sodium concentration less than 135 mmol/L. Herbal detox regimens are gaining popularity with their easy access over the counter and not well studied adverse effects. We hereby present a case of a 67-year-old man who developed severe hyponatremia after starting a five-day kidney detox regime. This regime consisted of drinking over a gallon (128 oz) of fluid daily, herbal tea with Uva Ursi leaves, juniper berries and several other ingredients. On the last day of this detox regime, he presented to the emergency department with a critical serum sodium level of 111 mmol/L associated with neurological symptoms. The purpose of this case report is to highlight the potential serious adverse effects associated with what is considered benign herbal medicine.

Keywords: beer-potomania; detox; herbal medicine; herbs; hyponatremia; neurological.

Publication types

  • Case Reports