There are minor dangers and majors dangers associated with the Master Cleanse Diet. There also is no reason for anyone to try the Master Cleanse Diet, since it is based on theories about detox and cleanse diets--both refer to diets that aim to "cleanse" your system of toxins -- that have no basis in fact. Such restricted calorie diets have been in the news in 2010 and 2011 because of their use by Hollywood stars Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie and Beyonce Knowles, who lost 20 pounds for her part in the movie Dreamgirls. However, Knowles warned people not to emulate her. "I would never recommend it to anyone unless you are doing a movie and it's necessary and you have proper help. There are ways to lose weight healthily if you want to lose weight."
The Master Cleanse Diet is based on the 1976 book The Master Cleanser, written by Stanley Burroughs. Also known as the Lemonade Diet, you mix fresh lemon juice with water, add maple syrup and cayenne, and drink at least six to 12 glasses per day. No food is allowed. You can also drink decaffeinated herbal tea. In addition, you take laxatives to "flush out" your system. The Diet lasts from three to 10 days. Although the Master Cleanse Diet originally was intended to be a detox rather than a weight loss diet, it is now being used for both purposes. However, it doesn't work for either purpose, since weight-loss mostly consists of water weight, which you will gain back when you return to your normal diet.
In theory, detox or cleanse diets such as the Master Cleanse Diets are designed to remove toxins from your body. Many cleanse diets rely in part on fasting or on eating on particular food, such as grapefruit. All of them are counter-productive in terms of detoxing the body. "There's little evidence that detox diets actually remove toxins from the body," says Mayo Clinic nutritionist Katherine Zeratsky. "Most ingested toxins are efficiently and effectively removed by the kidneys and liver and excreted in urine and stool."
Some of the common side effects of detox or cleanse diets are -- dehydration, fatigue, dizziness and nausea. Such side effects are typical of a semi-starvation diet such as the Master Cleanse. If you stay on such a diet for too long, your body will react by going into ketosis, a starvation mode that leads to muscle breakdown. You will suffer from a deficiency of necessary nutrients as well. Plus, taking daily laxatives ensures that you will spend much of your time in the bathroom.
A crash diet or cleanse diet right before your 20th high school reunion won't damage you in the long run. But if you frequently use the Master Cleanse Diet, you could be setting yourself up for severe health consequences. Cardiologist Isadore Rosenfeld specifically singles out the Master Clease Diet as an example of a detox diet that can damage your heart. "A crash diet once won't hurt your heart," Rosenfeld told CNN Health. "But crash dieting repeatedly increases the risk of heart attack." Nutrition professor Linda Bacon states that such calorie restrictive diets can lead to heart muscle loss and damaged blood vessels. "All that shrinking and growing causes micro tears that create a setup for atherosclerosis and other types of heart disease."
Jim Thomas has been a freelance writer since 1978. He wrote a book about professional golfers and has written magazine articles about sports, politics, legal issues, travel and business for national and Northwest publications. He received a Juris Doctor from Duke Law School and a Bachelor of Science in political science from Whitman College.