Those diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, suffer from mild to severe digestive and bowel elimination complications. The Master Cleanse, labeled as a detoxification diet, purports to gently cleanse the digestive system while eliminating toxins. Following a diet like the Master Cleanse may provide some relief from IBS symptoms; however, the diet is not a long-term solution for a disorder as complex as IBS. Always talk to your doctor before starting any new diet, especially one that claims to be a detox diet.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
IBS is a chronic disorder of the large intestine that affects one in five women and one in 10 men, according to PubMed Health. Common symptoms include abdominal cramping, diarrhea, constipation, bloating, gas and mucus in the stool. IBS often presents in episodes that ebb and flow over the course of days or weeks. The exact cause of IBS remains unknown, but certain foods, hormones and stress have been identified as triggering IBS symptoms. IBS can be uncomfortable, but it does not permanently damage the large intestine.
Stanley Burroughs, an advocate of alternative health therapy, originally introduced the Master Cleanse in 1976. Although it has been modified over the years, the basic Master Cleanse involves drinking only a concoction of water, lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper for up to 10 days at a time. The Master Cleanse primarily attracts those wanting quick weight loss, as some people claim to have lost up to 20 pounds due to the severe calorie restrictions. Others point to the diet’s purification and detoxification of the kidneys, liver, and colon, which ultimately leads to a healthier digestive system and diminished cravings for high-sugar, processed and high-fat foods.
Traditional IBS Treatment
IBS has no cure, and with an unclear etiology and variable triggers, IBS treatment is often frustrating. Lifestyle management options include consuming more fiber, eliminating gas-causing and other trigger foods, exercising regularly and staying well hydrated. Antidepressants, anticholinergics and antibiotics have helped alleviate some IBS symptoms. As for IBS-specific medications, these have shown to provide some relief, but they are prescribed only when other treatments have failed.
Master Cleanse and IBS
Claims of cleansing and “resetting” the digestive system for better digestive health may draw those with unmanageable IBS symptoms to try the Master Cleanse diet. However, no scientific data exists to support the detoxification and purification nature of the diet. In fact, health experts warn that liquid diets like the Master Cleanse can exacerbate diarrhea. Furthermore, the Master Cleanse can irritate and inflame the stomach lining and adversely affect digestive function, according to Diets in Review.com.
Health experts warn that the Master Cleanse and similar diets deprive the body of essential vitamins and nutrients. Muscle breakdown and blood sugar problems are just two of many complications caused by long-term liquid diets. Always consult your doctor before starting any diet.
Ann Jamerson began writing ads and informational brochures for research trials in 2003 during an internship at an alcohol and drug research center. She assisted in writing and editing manuscripts concerning the breast cancer genes and psychosocial effects on affected patients. She received her Bachelor of Science in biology from the University of California, San Diego and is currently attending nursing school.