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Ohio Woman's 'Poop Cult' Draws Unwelcome Attention From Attorney General

Quinn Dombrowski
A juice made out of fermented cabbage is the center of Jillian Epperly's health cult.

Jillian Epperly has no medical training or education, but that hasn’t stopped the Canton woman from forming a following of thousands looking for medical advice. And she's offering it in the form of a "poop cult."

On her website Jilly Juice, Epperly promotes a fermented cabbage concoction that she says can reverse the aging process, among other health benefits. Now, she’s drawn the unwelcome attention of Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine's office.

The part of that office that handles consumer protection sent Epperly a letter requesting “written data, reports, and evidence regarding claims made on jillyjuice.com and in testimonials."

Nidhi Subbaraman, science reporter at Buzzfeed News, published the original story in March detailing how Epperly amassed more than 50,000 followers on Facebook with an "entirely made-up science theory: that all diseases—including cancer—are caused by a fungus called candida that lives in the gut."

Epperly's path to health centered around copious amounts of her cabbage "jilly juice," purging bad elements in the form of "explosive blasts of diarrhea." Experts cited by Subbaraman say this theory is absurd.

"But this group was destroyed in February of this year, after a rag tag crew of detractors decided that they wanted to shut Jillian down," Subbaraman says.

That's when it came to the attention of the Attorney General's office.

"People who thought that Jillian was leading people astray and giving bad advice to vulnerable people decided that they wanted her off Facebook," Subbaraman says, "and they began writing letters and petitions."

Part of that backlash came after a man with pancreatic cancer rejected chemotherapy, followed Epperly's advice, and subsequently died.

"The next step is for Jillian Epperly to turn over evidence that many of the things that she's saying or has said in Facebook videos actually have a basis in science," she says.

Clare Roth was former All Things Considered Host for 89.7 NPR News. She joined WOSU in February of 2017. After attending the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, she returned to her native Iowa as a producer for Iowa Public Radio.