Master Cleanse : The Lemonade Diet - Does this really work ?


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I have tried various diets including the most famous (or infamous ?) GM Diet, Atkins Diet and also Paleo diets in the last 10 years. Each had its own goodness and problems with it when you actually practice it. Many call these diets as fads but according to me, if someone tries different diets it is a good direction he/she is choosing. The person is trying consciously to change what he eats to get healthy. There are many people who have given up on checking the scale and got used to whatever they are eating and never want to break from the compulsive eating habits. So as long as you have taken a deeper look at what you are eating and observing how your body reacts to various foods, you have won half the battle. 
We never observe how does our body reacts to each food unless there is some negative reaction like pain or stomach upset. Does the food makes it sluggish, or active, lazy or super energetic. Once we start observing our body, and stop counting carbohydrates, protein and corresponding calories alone, there is an immediate response to control your urge better. Then we realize we eat for the body and not for the sense of our tongue. 
So in the last one year I came across this Master cleanse . Before trying that, I did my basic research of is this something really done before. Coming from India, we have a rich source of information in Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani treatments and came across similar naturopathy treatments. This master cleanse components is more than a diet, is part of natural way of healing and treatment in ayurveda or siddha. My mother went for a siddha based natural treatments / rejuvenation at Isha yoga center in Coimbatore. The program was called Yoga Marga, which was a 21 day residential program. Where they fundamentally change your food habits and what goes in your body. The first 10 days of what she was offered was similar to what you do in Master cleanse, where they just gave her horse gram soup mostly and no other solid food was offered. Only after about 10-12 days she was really offered some solid food. It helped her a lot in bring her thyroid levels down and I saw her active for more than a year after the 21 days program. The same is with many ayurveda treatments as well, were you are offered only lemon mixed sugarcane juice or similar juices for initial few days as you cleanse your system.
I did do the master cleanse twice so far in the last one year for a 10 day period each time.  So let me explain what it constitutes and later would explain what I observed,

You will need
  • Two jars of uniodized sea salt
  • Several fresh lemons to squeeze for juice (it cannot be bought pre-made)
  • Organic GRADE B maple syrup (must be Grade B - others are no good!)
  • Organic laxative tea - I recommend a brand called Smooth Move by Traditional Medicinals 
  • Cayenne pepper
All the above are available in Whole Foods, and you can get in one visit.

Daily Routine
  • Each morning first thing in empty stomach after your morning ablutions, drink one litre of water with a tablespoon of the sea salt.  The first couple days it will make you nauseous but you will adjust.  If you actually vomit from drinking it, use less salt the following day.  The water cannot be cold, it will upset your stomach. This is called as Salt Water Flush (SWF) 
  • Throughout the day, drink a glass of 8-16 ounces of water mixed with 2 tablespoons of the fresh lemon juice mixed with 2 tablespoons of the maple syrup.  Add a pinch of cayenne pepper to each glass you drink.
  • You need to drink a minimum of 5-6 glasses of the lemonade, and can drink up to 10.  If you drink fewer of them (the 5-6 minimum) you will lose more weight.
  • Drink an unlimited amount of water throughout the day as needed.
  • At night, steep and brew the laxative tea.  Drink it once the tea is dark.  You can drink it hot or cold.  Drink it right before you go to bed.
  • In the morning when you wake up, the laxative tea will make you go to the bathroom right away.  The sea salt flush will do the same.  If the sea salt flush doesn't work within 30-40 minutes, drink some COLD water, it will help.
  • Do this for 10-14 days.  I recommend you start with 10 days, it is easier.  Anything less than 10 is ineffective.
  • Do not eat or consume ANYTHING else.  No juice, no flavored water, no caffeine, no snacks, no soup.  Nothing!  Anything you eat will reset the cleanse and cause you to get immense hunger cravings.
Tips and Helpful Info
  • Plan ahead!  Before you start, count out the 10 day period and make sure you don't have anything important that will require you to eat.  Be ready to not eat at social functions, with friends, family, etc.  Mentally prepare yourself. 
  • The first 2 days are the hardest.  You will get tired and you will probably get a headache.  You will crave sugar and fatty foods.  You just have to get through those first two days, one day at a time.
  • Prepare the lemonade the night before for each day.  It will help you develop a routine and it is grounding.  You will need to make a few trips to the grocery store to get the lemons during the cleanse.
  • What I did to make sure I was using the right measurements each day, and to be consistent, was buy several large bottles of water.  I just emptied them a little bit (to make room to add the lemon and syrup) and then refilled them each day.  After a few days I replaced them.
  • The first day you do not need to do the salt water flush in the morning.  You will have a normal BM the first 2 days.  After that it will change.  The night before the first day, you don't need to do the laxative tea.
  • If you get hungry, drink the lemonade.  Drink a lot of it.  Pace yourself so you are drinking it every 1.5-2 hours.
  • DON'T drink the lemonade in the morning until after you have had bowel movements from the salt water.  The salt water will flush you out and go through your system quickly, but if you drink the lemonade before the salt flush goes through you, they will mix and you will get cramps or worse, vomit.
  • Give yourself at least 60-90 minutes after the salt flush before you leave the house in the morning.  It will make you have a bowel movement (or several).
  • All elements of the cleanse are essential.  If you skip the salt water flush you will not have good bowel movements to clean you out.  Same with the laxative tea.  Also the cayenne pepper will help warm you up you if you get cold after the first couple days as you start to lose weight.
  • Don't cheat and chew gum.  The sugar and sweeteners will make you crave food and make it harder to maintain the cleanse.
  • Any time you feel you have to pass gas, be wary. It is not gas!  If you take the tea and drink the salt water, in the morning you should clear yourself out within 60-90 minutes.
  • Take it one day at a time.  Each day remind yourself how many more days you have to go, and that you just have to get through that one day.  At first it might seem like an eternity, but in no time you will be at the halfway point!  Then, you will only have a couple of days left!
Observations and Benefits
  • Pretty easy to follow compared to other diets or cleanse, because the number of ingredients needed were very limited. There is only one thing I need to shop may be another time during those 10 days - Lemons, and nothing else was needed to replenish. So my grocery shopping was came down to just couple of visit.
  • After the first couple of days you realize how much of additional free time you have got, which would have gone for planning what / where to eat or what to cook etc.  
  • The urges to eat and controlling completely vanished after the second day, and I realize how active I was even after the 5-6 days of not having any solid food
  • After the flush in the morning, I could sense such a relief in my body , felt extremely light. I started observing how my body was reacting to anything that went inside even after the 10 days.
  • Weight Loss : I know many would be following this just for the weight loss. This is just a side effect or benefit I would call, but definitely you would have some weight loss, but that is not the only benefit, so start looking at other benefits I called out.I had about 10 pounds of weight loss during this period when I did this.
  • Gratitude : After the 10 days when you eat any food, you would have a sense of gratitude while you consume the food. Being an ardent follower of Isha Yoga, this particular point was taught to me the first time when I met Sadguru. Here is a podcast link 
So as you would see eating it self is one of the very important process and doing that consciously fundamentally changes the way we are. Annamaya Kosham - as they in Pancha Kosa in Indian Scriptures. We are a food body, even a banana we eat transforms into this body we have now, so as we eat consciously we have tremendous possibility to experience within us. Do share your experiences in the comments if you have followed this master cleanse or any such similar diets.


  1. Thank you so much for sharing your experience. You cannot know how useful it is for me. Pranam


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