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Does the Master Cleanse Work?

Detox cleanse drink

Hey Dr. Wiggy, Does the Master Cleanse Work?

Honestly, this isn’t a question I get a lot.

But, just because people don’t ask doesn’t mean people don’t want to know the answer. And it’s certainly one I see being asked with some amount of frequency on the internet.

If you’re not familiar with the Master Cleanse, it’s a cleanse/fast popularized back in the 1940s by Stanley Burroughs. It consists of going on an 8-10 day fast in which you drink a blend of water, lemon juice, grade-B maple syrup, and cayenne pepper.

The theory is the Master Cleanse can help with a wide-range of conditions.

Which is why it’s made its way into popular culture and has been touted as a cure-all for things as far ranging as cancer and depression.

Here’s the thing about cure-alls. There is no such thing.

So I’ll answer your question right away and say the Master Cleanse doesn’t work if you expect it to cure you of cancer, while helping you lose weight, while simultaneously getting rid of gout, while making you look like (insert movie star).

On the other hand, if you’re going to use the Master Cleanse for a few, specific purposes (losing weight, helping to break a bad habit, and helping to reset certain biological functions), then you’ll be pleasantly surprised there’s plenty of evidence to support its effectiveness.

Check it out.

Evidence Answers the Question, “Does the Master Cleanse Work?”

Now, when I speak of evidence in this case, I’m not referring to empirical evidence backed up by peer-reviewed studies. No study that I know of investigates the Master Cleanse specifically.

However, what we do have is a long list of testimonials supporting its effectiveness.

A quick search on the Internet reveals thousands and thousands of people who enthusiastically recommend the Master Cleanse because it helped them achieve a specific goal.

Does that mean it’s medically sound?

Well, yes and no.

I’ll admit this much, there is sound evidence to show it’s especially helpful at weight loss…that should go without saying, really.

The Master Cleanse restricts your calorie intake to roughly 660-1,220 calories per day which will light a fire in your body to help burn excess body fat. I know, I know, some people might claim you’re starving yourself, and that’s not healthy.

Well, Jesus fasted for 40 days and he came out alright…that, and as long as you have ample body fat (otherwise known as a gut), you don’t need to worry about starving to death.

And finally, the master cleanse does provide you with calories for energy. So you’re not even starving yourself in the conventional sense.

On to the next benefit.

This benefit can be affirmed from what we know about human psychology. Completing a Master Cleanse can help determine future success, both for physical health and mental health.

Pretty neat.

Let me show how I made this conclusion.

For a vast majority of people who do the master cleanse they find it does something very unique to their perception and their ways of thinking.

After gutting it out and going 8-10 days drinking little more than spicy lemonade, they begin to understand that they’re one tough cookie. And once they realize that, it makes it much easier to take on other more challenging initiatives because they now have an experience they can rely on for positive thinking.

As the Mayo Clinic notes, positive thinking is helpful with:

  • Increased lifespan
  • Lower rates of depression
  • Lower levels of stress
  • Greater resistance to the common cold
  • Better psychological and physical well-being
  • Reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease
  • Better coping skills during hardships and times of stress

That’s why so many people do the Master Cleanse to help them break bad habits like smoking and drinking alcohol (you can’t do either on the cleanse).

And thousands and thousands of people report the following benefits:

  • They have more energy!
  • They wake rested even on fewer hours of sleep!
  • They watch their skin transform and become bright and clear!
  • They experience mental clarity!
  • They lose weight!
  • They eliminate toxins!

And so much more.

Pretty darn exciting, isn’t it?

Important Warnings about The Master Cleanse

Now, while I believe the Master Cleanse is a beneficial cleansing and detoxification plan, there are some things you need to be aware of as I mentioned before.

The Master Cleanse can be dangerous.

What I mean is this: the same way a Marathon could be dangerous for someone who’s out of shape to attempt, the Master Cleanse could be dangerous for someone whose health might be compromised.

This is why I wouldn’t even dare recommend the Master Cleanse unless you’ve talked to a doctor about it.

In fact, if you’ve been diagnosed with conditions like diabetes, hypothyroidism, high-blood pressure, etc., I absolutely recommend consulting a physician FIRST!

I can’t stress that enough!

Some doctors are going to be dismissive of the Master Cleanse…and some doctors also just love to write prescriptions…so make sure you’re going to a doctor who has a firm understanding of integrative and functional health.

For instance, I firmly believe detoxification diets and cleanses are beneficial to total health (read this and this to see other articles on detox).

And, even though I practice functional medicine, I still recommend caution when doing the Master Cleanse since subjecting your body to something like the Master Cleanse can shock your system.

And, if your body’s already in a sensitive state, that jolt might not be the best thing.

On the flip side, the obvious benefits of the Master Cleanse and other cleanses like it are certainly worth investigating and even implementing.

At the end of the day, the Master Cleanse works.

But it's no silver bullet.