The Master Cleanse, as a method of cleansing detox is practiced by thousands of devoted followers, who consider it a relatively easy fast to undergo. Ingredients are usually readily available and the drink itself has enough calories to keep your energy level up.
The Master Cleanse drink is mostly water to which lemon juice, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper have been added. The maple syrup provides some calories in the form of simple sugars, so one doesn't enter the full state of ketosis the way you do on a water fast. But ketosis isn't necessary for the purpose of detox and cleansing or even weight loss.
The Master Cleanse recipe was created by Stanley Burroughs in his 1941 book called The Master Cleanser, but its popularity really soared in the 70s. Since that time, many authors and health publications have made reference to it over the years and have promoted it as a wonderful healing and natural cleansing and detoxing fast. In 2004, Peter Glickman's book, Lose Weight, Have More Energy and Be Happier in 10 Days, gave it another resurgence of attention and popularity. Along the way, the nickname "Lemonade Diet" took hold.
As is true for any fasting method, it is not recommended you do it with the sole intention of losing weight. Obviously, weight loss usually does occur, but it is weight that is often put right back on after the fast if eating habits are not addressed and improved. For safe and long-term weight loss, lifestyle changes need to occur, as well as mental and emotional adjustments. It can, however, be a great aid to weight loss and help you make the necessary life adjustments, but is not, by itself, a "cure" for excess weight.
Ten days is considered the standard Master Cleanse cleansing fast, but people use it for all different lengths
of time. You are prompted to only fast as long as is appropriate for you; in other words, don't push yourself
too hard, especially in the beginning when you are new to fasting. Intense detox symptoms need to be taken
seriously. See How Long Should You Fast
for more information on fasting time frames, as they relate to ANY kind of fast. It's up to you how long you choose, i.e. don't be intimidated into attempting 10 days. Short fasts are helpful too.
The stated recipe varies widely on the internet, where many modifications have been made and confusion arises from the fact that the recipe begins with 8 ounces of water, but produces a 10-ounce drink in the end. Below is the actual recipe.
To 8 ounces of
purified water, add:
2 Tbls fresh squeezed lemon or lime juice
1-2 Tbls 100% pure maple syrup
1/10 tsp cayenne pepper
Drink liberally (from 6-12 glasses per day) throughout the day. Once mixed, this is a 10-ounce drink per serving.
Many suggest the lemon or lime should be organically grown when possible. And often the maple syrup is suggested to be Grades B or C, darker syrups which purport to have higher mineral content than Grade A. However, a recurring problem for some people using the darker grades, is an unappealing flavor, so some use Grade A, but definitely 100% pure, maple syrup. Honey is NOT recommended as a substitute for the syrup, as it is too congesting in these quantities.
You can mix up larger quantities. It's okay to mix the day's supply in the morning, although it is preferred the lemon and cayenne pepper be added fresh to each glass, as their nutrients break down quickly. Also, don't store premixed drink in a plastic container, glass only, as plastic can leach unwanted compounds.
As with many fasting methodologies, Master Cleanse purports colon cleansing to be imperative to thorough body detox. To accomplish this a laxative tea is to be drunk every evening before bed, followed by the Master Cleanse salt water flush first thing in the morning.
A lot of controversy surrounds the use of the salt water flush, marring the reputation of Master Cleanse in general. (See here for the dangers of the salt water flush.) This is unfortunate because the "lemonade" is actually great for cleansing and detox. It is a long-held remedy for cleansing and liver health found in many older books, to drink water to which fresh lemon juice has been added.
If you are thinking about doing a Master Cleanse, consider the salt water flush an optional part of it. There are alternatives for a fasting colon cleanse.
Because of the popularity of the Master Cleanse, some even calling it an alternative lifestyle, there is wide support available to those interested. A simple google search will prove this, but buyer beware: there is a lot of hype and commercialism around this "diet".
My recommendation is to give the The Master Cleanse a try if it appeals to you. If you're considering using the salt water flush, read at least one of the 2 books mentioned to be thoroughly informed and to make a clear personal decision about it. But stay clear of the online hype. Remember that fasting is about being kind to your body, mind, heart and soul.