Jilly Juice – Here’s How A Cabbage Juice “Cult” With 58,000 Followers Set Off A Facebook War – As Seen On Doctor Phil

“I’m proud of being a leader of a poop cult,” Jillian Mai Thi Epperly once joked to fans of her signature recipe: a fermented slurry of salted cabbage that produces “waterfalls” of diarrhea. Here’s the wild story of how she convinced thousands to believe her dangerous science, and how a grassroots movement shut her down when Facebook wouldn’t.

Source: Here’s How A Cabbage Juice “Cult” With 58,000 Followers Set Off A Facebook War

On Facebook, Cabbage Juice Is The New Snake Oil

“I’m proud of being a leader of a poop cult,” Jillian Mai Thi Epperly once joked to fans of her signature recipe: a fermented slurry of salted cabbage that produces “waterfalls” of diarrhea. Here’s the wild story of how she convinced thousands to believe her dangerous science, and how a grassroots movement shut her down when Facebook wouldn’t.

Jillian Mai Thi EpperlyWhen Bruce Wilmot decided to go on “Jilly Juice” last summer, he’d just learned that his pancreatic cancer was back, and it was bad. He’d been through the hell of chemo before, and the last thing he wanted was more treatment.

“My dad was really desperate,” Taylor Wilmot, his daughter, told BuzzFeed News. “He was very sad, and he didn’t want to die.”

Then 55 and living alone in Columbus, Georgia, he stumbled across the Facebook group of Jillian Mai Thi Epperly, a woman from Canton, Ohio, whose tens of thousands of followers swore by her bizarre, dangerous, and entirely made-up science theory: that all diseases — including cancer — are caused by a fungus called candida that lives in the gut.

As Epperly claimed on the group — called Exposing the Lies Candida: Weaponized Fungus Mainstreaming Mutancy — candida attracts parasites, and the only way to health is a severely restricted diet accompanied by large quantities of her signature fermented cabbage juice. Her potion was a purgative, and she said that “healing symptoms” included nausea, headaches, dizziness, and explosive blasts of diarrhea. These “waterfalls” supposedly brought out the parasites, which were visible in the toilet bowl.

For Wilmot, things moved swiftly downhill after his diagnosis. The doctor had given him a few weeks, maybe a few months, according to his rabbi, Brian Hawkins, who told BuzzFeed News he was with Wilmot when he was diagnosed. But within just days, Wilmot found it hard to get around, and a hospice facility sent a bed to his duplex.

“I’ve been juicing like crazy, Cancer bad juice good,” he wrote in a Facebook post on June 13. “Ime [sic] brewing up some of Jillian Mai Thi’s protocol and plan on switching completely over to her diet, ferment etc. as soon as that is ready.” Friends wrote comments of encouragement and said they were praying for him.

Epperly, whom Wilmot had tagged, also replied: “You are amazing If you need a short chat later let me know You will pull through.”

“I might take you up on that,” Wilmot said.

A few days later, friends visited his condo to help make a huge batch of the juice. They followed the recipe described in documents posted on Epperly’s Facebook group: Add a tablespoon of pink Himalayan salt to two cups of water and two cups of cabbage or kale. Puree in a blender, pour into a glass jar, cover, and leave at room temperature to ferment for three days. Drink a few cups nightly — up to a gallon a day.

Wilmot messaged his daughter a photo showing more than a dozen tall jars of the stuff. “Look at my cancer cure,” he wrote to her. “That stuff should work, hope your [sic] doing good today.”

He even bought a second fridge to store it, she said.

In a later video, Wilmot held up a jar of the purple brew, downed some, then addressed Epperly: “Jillian I promised you I’d be drinking a cup, so, first one down.”

Rabbi Hawkins, who had become Wilmot’s religious guide and friend in those final months, remembered hearing about the cabbage juice. “If someone had bottled up rat poison and told him, ‘It will heal you,’ he would have drunk it,” Hawkins told BuzzFeed News. “That’s how desperate the man was.”

When Taylor came back to visit her father a few weeks later, she was shocked. “He was totally emaciated,” she said. “He was drinking so much of it, he was basically starving himself. It was all coming out as diarrhea.”

In mid-July, Wilmot’s friends found him unconscious on the floor of his apartment, and he was moved to a hospice facility. On July 20, about a month after he was diagnosed and began the juice purge, he died.

Facebook is under scrutiny for its outsized role in spreading political misinformation. But it’s also a platform where pseudoscience, snake oil remedies, and medical falsehoods multiply unchecked. Those have received far less attention, despite carrying the potential for immediate physical harm.

There are countless fake science gurus with large Facebook followings. But Epperly’s is particularly striking, according to Tim Caulfield, a professor of health law and policy at the University of Alberta, because she’s not a celebrity. “She isn’t associated with some well-packaged brand, so it’s interesting that she’s able to accumulate this much interest.”

Epperly is also notable for the stark absurdity of her theory. She says her cabbage concoction will reverse all forms of illness, arrest aging, and even turn gay people straight. These claims are “absolutely dangerous nonsense,” David Seres, director of medical nutrition at Columbia University’s Irving Medical Center, told BuzzFeed News. “I am almost speechless.”

Epperly has no background in medicine or science. She delivers elements of her theory in rambling videos beamed live from her home. They have an unvarnished reality-TV quality to them: Epperly is often in a T-shirt, hair up, walking through the house as she talks. She is also a prolific Facebook commenter, each missive a stream-of-consciousness word salad. And for $70 an hour, she told BuzzFeed News, she will provide personal phone consultations, talking people through her theory and how to make the recipe.

When asked why she presents wild theories with no evidence to back them up, Epperly likened her efforts to a religious conversion. She doesn’t worry, she said, about people who don’t believe.

“We’re using a different context in my world, and the manifestations from the salt and the accessing of the nutrients is gonna give you a different context of what the symptoms are,” Epperly said. “So essentially what it is, is we’re trying to turn an atheist into a Christian.”

More than a dozen people told BuzzFeed News that they complained to Facebook about Epperly and her group, to no avail. The company has fairly lax rules for dealing with pseudoscientific groups. “We remove content, disable accounts, and work with law enforcement when we believe there is a genuine risk of physical harm or direct threats to public safety,” according to its community standards.

For example, in January the platform removed videos promoting the Tide Pod Challenge after people began posting videos eating (or pretending to eat) laundry detergent.

But Epperly’s group did not violate Facebook’s rules, a company spokesperson told BuzzFeed News, and so was not taken down. The company wants to encourage discussion among its users, the spokesperson added, and does not want to censor provocative ideas. Facebook refused to discuss Wilmot’s death with BuzzFeed News on the record.

Sometimes, perhaps most of the time, Facebook’s relaxed policy means that people making wild health claims — like Joseph Mercola, “Food Babe” Vani Hari, or the makers of the “FasciaBlaster” who injured women with a device that promised to zap cellulite — can thrive. But in Epperly’s case, something unusual happened: Some Facebook users decided to take matters into their own hands.

Motivated in part by Wilmot’s death, about a dozen private satellite Facebook groups — the biggest has over 10,000 members — have emerged with the explicit purpose of taking her down. This countermovement has organized to contact journalists, law enforcement, and the Ohio Medical Board about Epperly’s dangerous ideas — and prompted a response from the Ohio Attorney General.

But whether their efforts will make any dent in Epperly’s business — or change Facebook’s stance on enabling fake science — is still very much an open question.

Screenshots from Epperly's Facebook group, as collected by her critics.

Epperly lays out her personal history in a 106-page book she self-published on Google Drive. She was born in Vietnam, arrived in the US before she turned 2, and was adopted by American parents.

Growing up in the Bay Area, her father worked in biotech, and she points to this as the source of her insider knowledge that the pharmaceutical industry is a scam. She is against vaccines, and presents an argument that’s common among anti-vaxxers: that Big Pharma is in cahoots with doctors to keep Americans sick and addicted to medication. “I realized that vaccines are just one way to inject pollution into a human body,” she wrote.

After bouncing around for college — Epperly told BuzzFeed News she did not graduate — she helped sell insurance. She developed premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), a severe form of premenstrual syndrome. Because it kept her away from work once a month, she said, she had a hard time holding down a job.

She met her husband online, then moved to Ohio to live with him. In their first years together he worked as a trucker and she would travel cross-country with him, listening to radio pundits and conspiracy theorists, like InfoWars founder Alex Jones.

“I was exposed to the anti-vaxx community, the chemtrail community,” Epperly said. Looking for alternate ways to treat her PMDD, she said, “I tried every single detox, pill, powder, supplement, that I had access to, and joined millions of groups that were all promoting their wares.”

She also dabbled in fermentation, trying recipes for kombucha and for pickles. At some point, she decided to swap cucumbers for cabbage, and upped the spoons of salt in the brew. That was the genesis for her theory.

In parallel, Epperly said, she was researching various diseases online, and noticed that candida or other fungi were “always a factor.” Some alternative medicine websites claim (falsely) that yeast in the human gut can bloom and overwhelm the body if it is exposed to the wrong food or chemical. Epperly just amped up that idea, implicating the fungus as the ultimate cause of any and all illness.

Epperly made kale and cabbage versions of her Jilly Juice for the first time in October 2016. By January 2017, she was posting video demos on her personal Facebook page, attracting dozens of comments. She said that her fans convinced her to create a private Facebook group, which quickly grew over the next few months to include thousands of people.

Epperly said that the group was something of a laboratory: She’d watch how “the protocol” affected her followers, and based on their responses, she’d update her ideas. For example, a key aspect of her theory — that the fermented cabbage juice expels parasites that live in the digestive system — only came about after she saw people’s photos of their bowel movements.

“I wasn’t aware of parasites in the beginning,” she told BuzzFeed News. “The group actually was a research tool, a database tool, to share what they were passing. And I’m like, Oh my god. That’s coming out of you in waterfalls?”

Many foods — sugars, legumes, grains, anything processed, and all meat except chicken — fed the parasites, she said. Constipation did too. Poop and its passing became a pillar of Epperly’s dictum.

“We are in a poop cult,” she joked in one video, and a post on her Facebook page. “You know why? Because we’re realizing that poop is one of the main things that is feeding the candida and the worms and the parasites.”

As her following grew, her theory stretched from the digestive system to sexual preferences. “Is our society ready to accept that gay lesbian and transgender is a mutation of the human body,” she wrote in one post.

When asked to elaborate on this, Epperly told BuzzFeed News by email: “I’ve had gay people say that their intention is to reverse her health issues but not change their sexual leanings and that is completely fine and they may find that in the process of reversing their health issues it may change their sexual desires so it’s all a possibility.”

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Author: Weather Internal

Independent journalist with a keen sense for showing the news that your TV won't show! Fighter of truth and justice and believe that ALL people are subject to the same consequences that the law gives no matter your status.

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