Child's tongue
BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images

The Master Cleanse is a fad diet plan, championed by celebrities, as a fast way to drop 10 or more pounds. Singer and actress Beyonce Knowles reportedly used the Master Cleanse to lose 20 lbs. for the film "Dreamgirls." Although the Master Cleanse promotes weight loss, it also causes unpleasant side effects. During the cleanse, dieters often develop a white coating on their tongues that might persist for several days. Having a coated tongue on day nine of the Master Cleanse could be a sign of serious health problem, so see your doctor to make sure you remain in good health.

Master Cleanse Diet

Stanley Burroughs, an alternative medicine advocate and author of "The Master Cleanser," contended the diet cures disease and promotes wellness. The cleanse plan claims to eliminate toxins and waste materials from your body. A typical Master Cleanse plan lasts 10 days, although experienced practitioners might extend the cleanse for up to 40 days. Master Cleanse dieters drink a special beverage several times per day without eating any solid foods. The beverage contains fresh lemon juice, maple syrup, a pinch of cayenne pepper and water. Some dieters also use herbal laxatives or drink warm salt water to stimulate frequent bowel movements.

Tongue Coating

Many Master Cleanse practitioners develop a thick coating on their tongues during the diet. In "The Master Cleanser," Burroughs reports that a fuzzy coating might form on your tongue around day four of the diet. The coating might be white or brown colored and often is accompanied by an unpleasant odor. Dieters contend the coating develops as toxins leave your cells and demonstrates that the cleanse is working. When your tongue returns to its normal pink color, your body is supposedly free of toxins, indicating that you can end the cleanse. According to Master Cleanse advocates, having a coated tongue on day nine means you still have toxins in your body and should continue the cleanse until your tongue turns pink.

Expert Insight

Mainstream health experts do not believe the Master Cleanse is a safe way to lose weight. According to the Mayo Clinic, the white coating on your tongue occurs when bacteria, dead cells and other debris collect on the inflamed surface of your tongue. One of the most common causes of a tongue coating is dehydration. Although Master Cleanse dieters drink a lot of fluids, they also experience frequent urination and bowel movements. This can cause dehydration and the development of a coating on your tongue.


Although toxic substances exist in your cells, your body is equipped to neutralize and expel these toxins. According to Nasir Moloo, a gastroenterologist from Sacramento, California, the Master Cleanse diet is unnecessary because your body effectively deals with toxins on its own. Developing a coating on your tongue is not a sign of toxic substances leaving your body but might occur because of poor nutrition and dehydration during the diet. The Master Cleanse does not provide the essential nutrients you need to stay healthy and could cause significant health problems. Consult your doctor if you develop a coating on your tongue, because it might be a sign of a serious medical condition.