I’ve been doing a series lately on detox diets—what they are, when and whether they’re safe, and whether they work. Today, we’ll take a look at one of the oldest and most famous of the modern “alternative medicine” detox regimes: The Master Cleanse.
What Is The Master Cleanse?
The Master Cleanse is a lemonade fast developed by Stanley Burroughs in the 1940s, then re-published in 1976 as the basis of two books: Healing for the Age of Enlightenment and The Master Cleanser. The detox regime uses morning and evening laxatives combines with a strict liquid diet of lemonade made with maple syrup and cayenne pepper. The only variety allowed on the plan is non-caffeinated herbal tea. Burroughs recommends staying on the diet for at least ten days to cleanse the system and recover vitality and health.
Does It Work?
From celebrities like Beyonce and Jared Leto to food writers like Jeffrey Steingarten, the Master Cleanse has been a popular way to lose weight fast—though the weigh lost on the Cleanse can’t be expected to stay off long-term. Most of the weight you’ll lose on a lemonade fast is attributable to water weight and should be regained for the body to remain healthy.
So the main question is, does the fast detoxify the system as claimed?
Proponents of the Master Cleanse claim that the regime can eliminate health problems and digestive disorders. Cleansers told the AP Press that the diet to fix ailments as diverse as bad skin, constipation, knee pain, and chronic fatigue syndrome. The same article found that health food store Perelandra in upscale Brooklyn Heights sells more copies of The Master Cleanser than any other book. Stories from users advocate the Cleanse as a worthwhile detox regime, but the medical community has some concerns.
Is It Safe?
The jury is still out in the medical community over whether detoxification of the body is really necessary. What is known is that the diet is lacking in essential nutrients—proteins, vitamins, minerals and calcium are all absent. The diet shouldn’t be undertaken for long periods (even the recommended ten days is questionable) or too often.
For lasting weight loss, a healthy and balanced diet of whole foods combined with regular, moderate exercise is far more effective than the Master Cleanse. If you’re dealing with dangerous health problems, consult a physician before beginning any strict diet. But if you’re struggling with pain or digestive problems that doctors can’t diagnose, The Master Cleanse may be worth a try.
If you decide to go for it, get the book and do it right to minimize the chances of hurting your body rather than helping it.