Gluttony is not only a mortal sin, it is also an important cause of medical problems. After sinning a penance must be paid and for this mortal sin the most obvious penance is laxation. Alternative medicine provides help: numerous types of laxative that claim to have positive effects on mental health, detoxification and aid in weight loss are to be found on the internet. The most surprising claim is that laxatives expel gall stones. These ‘liver-cleansing’ treatments result in the excretion of soft, stone-like structures in the faeces which may be seen by patients as being gall stones. Such ‘liver stones’ have been described in the literature and it is understood that they develop from the olive oil that is taken with the course of laxatives. That passing such stones is not associated with a reduction in gall stones is hardly surprising. Although laxation has been regarded as beneficial since ancient times, it is not effective in removing gall stones.
Conflict of interest: none declared. Financial support: none declared.