Many people ask me about cleansing programs and whether they could be helpful for them. In the same way it makes sense to clear out old junk before starting a renovation, a cleanse can be a means of helping the body to release toxic weight as you embark upon a new healthier lifestyle and approach to food. A cleanse can be a means of “jump-starting” the whole process. It is recommended that you work with a holistic health expert before starting any kind of cleanse.
Would you benefit from a cleanse?
One way to evaluate whether you are a good candidate for cleansing would be to look at your current nutritional profile and state of health. Dr. Elson Haas describes disease as resulting from either a deficiency of nutrients, in the case of someone who has not been getting enough water, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fatty acids, and natural foods, or toxicity caused by overindulging in substances we don’t need so much of including sugar, refined foods, animal proteins/fats, hydrogenated oils, caffeine, alcohol and nicotine. According to Haas, people suffering from deficiency might experience symptoms including fatigue, coldness, hair loss, dry skin, anemia, hypothyroidism, and low blood pressure. Congestion caused by overindulging may result in skin eruptions, allergies, constipation, colds/flu, back pains, headaches, and cardiovascular problems. Individuals who have tended towards overindulging might be most in need of some kind of cleansing and find it provides the most benefit.
The Master Cleanse
There are numerous forms of cleansing, ranging from eating lightly, usually focused on fruits and vegetables, to complete fasting for some period of time. One well-known approach is Stanley Burrough’s Master Cleanse, also known as the lemonade diet. One of the advantages of this approach, which involves drinking a concoction made from lemon juice, maple syrup, cayenne pepper, and water, is that hunger is greatly reduced (considering you are eating no solid foods) and most people find that their energy level remains fairly strong. The ingredients required are easily available, and it is not expensive compared with some other ready-made formulas available for this purpose.
How to do The Master Cleanse
The original recommendations for this cleanse were that it be followed for a minimum of 10 days, lasting up to 40 days and beyond for extremely serious cases (in which case you would have to be working closely with a medical professional). Personally, I feel that any period in which you give your body a rest from eating, allowing for the process of eliminating excess, can be health-promoting.
One Serving of Master Cleanse Lemonade:
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon or lime juice (fresh and organic, ideally)
- 1 tbsp of pure, grade B maple syrup
- a pinch of cayenne pepper
- 8 oz (1 cup) of pure water (warm or hot)
Combine ingredients and drink.
The recipe for a whole day’s supply:
- 1 cup fresh squeezed lemon/lime juice (5-6 lemons, or 10-12 limes)
- 8 cups of pure water (about 64 oz)
- 1/2 cup pure grade B maple syrup (4 oz)
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Put all ingredients in a large jug or pitcher, and mix well. Stir or shake it up each time you pour yourself a serving. You can warm it a bit on the stove, or take it at room temperature.
You should drink between 6 -12 servings/glasses a day. Drinking more frequently throughout the day can help keep your energy level up and prevent hunger sensations.
More on ingredients & why they are used
The maple syrup has a large variety of minerals and vitamins, which will vary depending on where the syrup has been produced, but an average sample of syrup from Vermont has been shown to contain: sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, manganese, iron, copper, phosphorus, sulphhur, chlorine and silicon. Vitamin A, B1, B2, B6, and C, nicotinic acid and pantothenic acid will also be present.
The lemon is a loosening and cleansing agent with many important building factors. It has been said that the lemon and maple syrup work together to help to strengthen and energize the heart, and stimulate and build the kidneys and adrenal glands.
The cayenne pepper breaks up mucus and increases warmth by building the blood for an additional lift. It also adds many of the B and C vitamins.
Will the Cleanse Make Me Feel Bad or Weak?
In the cleansing process, some people may feel worse for a few days as a result of the toxins that are being brought up and released. Headaches and skin rashes are not uncommon. Your tongue will most likely have a white coating on it each morning (that can be removed with your toothbrush, or ideally a tongue scraper that can be found in any health food store and many pharmacies). If weakness develops, it is the result of poisons circulating through the bloodstream rather than a lack of food or vitamins. It is said that the diet gives a person all the vitamins, food, and energy necessary for the full ten days or longer in a liquid form. If you have an opportunity to rest and take it a little easier during the cleanse, that’s ideal, but most people find they can go about their regular business without difficulty.
Additional Support for Promoting Cleansing
In order to ensure that your colon is fully cleansing while you are on this liquid diet, it is recommended that you take a salt drink each morning of the cleanse. In order to prepare it:
- Add two level teaspoons of non-iodized sea salt to a full quart of luke-warm water. Do NOT use ordinary iodized salt as it will not work properly.
- Drink the entire quart of salt and water first thing in the morning. This must be taken on an empty stomach. The salt and water will not separate but will stay intact and quickly and thoroughly wash the entire tract in about one hour. Several eliminations will likely occur.
- If the salt wash does not work the first time, try adding more or less salt until the proper balance is found; or possibly take extra water without the salt. This often increases the activity.
Coming Off the Cleanse
Coming off the lemonade diet properly is very important, and becomes more critical the longer you have been on the plan.
First day off:
Drink several 8 oz. glasses of fresh citrus fruit juice (orange or other) as desired during the day. Orange juice will prepare the digestive system to properly digest and assimilate regular food. Drink it slowly. If there has been any digestive difficulty prior to or during the changeover, extra water may be taken with the orange juice.
Second day off:
Orange juice in the morning. Raw fruit for lunch. Some time during the afternoon prepare a homemade vegetable soup (no canned soup). Have this soup for the evening meal using the broth mostly, although some of the vegetables may be eaten. Rye wafers may be eaten sparingly with the soup, but no bread or crackers.
Third day off:
See how you feel. Go slowly if you have any digestive upset, and continue to drink orange juice and eat the soup. If you are ready for a normal meal in the evening, this could be fine, but remember that this is an ideal time to start eating healthier and lighter.