The Master Cleanse

The first times you do it, the first few days can be a challenging.

Today I am on day 7 of The Master Cleanse. I have done the Master Cleanse once a year for the past 10+ years. It gets easier every year. Honestly, the first times you do it, the first few days can be a challenging. If you have any addictions to caffeine or sugar or anything else you may experience headaches and other withdrawal symptoms. Once you get past the first days you start to fly. By the end I always feel amazing and each time I do it I have life altering insights into my relationship with food. I will get to that, but first, what is the Master Cleanse? The Master Cleanse revolves around what I like to call “Cajun Lemonade”. You drink this drink for a minimum of 10 days (some people go as long as 40).

For 10 days you ingest only 3 things:

Cajun Lemonade

Laxative Tea

Salt Water Flush

How to make Cajun Lemonade

Organic Lemon Juice — 1/2 lemon (2 Table Spoons)

Organic Maple Syrup — 2 Table Spoons (Must be Grade B — the darker the better)

Organic Cayenne Pepper — 1/10 teaspoon or more

Water — 8–10oz (warm to hot)

Put the above ingredients in a glass and drink. That’s it. That’s your entire source of calories for the next 10 days!

Laxative Tea — Drink this before bed. Smooth Move by Traditional Medicinals is one option. When you wake up you will have to use the toilet.

Salt Water Flush — I skip this step as long as I am pooping every day. It’s takes a little experimenting to find the right balance of water and salt so that it just goes straight through you and when you get it wrong it tastes terrible and wreaks havoc stomach.

How Much Cajun Lemonade Do I Drink?

Drink the Cajun Lemonade every time you get hungry. For most people this means 6–12 glasses a day. Some times I have less. I have never had more. If you are feeling weak or light headed you are not drinking enough. You should ingest NOTHING other than the above three things and water.

How Do I End the Cleanse?

Your stomach will need to re-adjust to digesting normal food. It is best to end the cleanse slowly. On day 11 you should drink fresh squeezed organic orange juice. I used to do this for the entire 11th day into the morning of the 12th day and then on the evening of the 12th day I would make some vegetable soup. My stomach is very strong. I now know I can go quicker. I drink orange juice in the morning on the 11th and have a little vegetable soup by that night. BE CAREFUL. It hurts when you go back to food too quickly. I make a very simple vegetable soup with a garlic broth and a few, well cooked, chopped vegetables. No meat or pasta! After that I recommend staying on a plant based diet for as long as you can. Pay close attention to how your palette adjusts. At first your sense of taste will be very amplified, simple things will taste great. As soon as you eat rich or sugary food you begin to drown out your ability to appreciate the subtler tastes. I usually recommend that clients add things back into their diet slowly.

The Master Cleanse is the ultimate elimination diet. Because you have cut everything out you now have a great opportunity to learn about how certain foods impact your digestion, your energy levels, your mental acuity etc. as you add them back in. I usually do this as slowly as I can, often being vegan for a week or two, then adding eggs for week, then fish, then chicken, then red meat. The biggest revelation for me has probably been about gluten. I now know that what I thought was “full” and “tired” was actually bloating and reduced energy due to my body struggling to digest gluten. I am not allergic, but I am sensitive to it. This is also a great way to explore just how caffeine and alcohol make you feel.

Can I Exercise During the Master Cleanse?

I recommend thinking of a cleanse as a time of rest and rejuvenation. Take it easy. The best exercises are ones that stretch you, massage your internal organs, encourage deep cleansing breaths, promote mindfulness and don’t break down your muscles too much. I love light yoga for this. If you know tai chi or ballet I’m all for that too.

Why Do The Master Cleanse?

You will lose a good amount of weight on the Master Cleanse. Some of it will come back as soon as you start eating. This depends on whether or not you go back to your old diet or use this as an opportunity to eat a cleaner, smaller and simpler diet made up of whole foods. Ultimately, weight loss is not my main motivation for the cleanse.

I do the cleanse as an exploration of my relationship to food. When on the cleanse I know that all of my dietary needs are being met. I do not NEED to eat anything else. But I want to! Cravings come up and must be looked at. Are you aware of why you eat most of the time? For most Americans there are a varied list of reasons. Sometimes we eat when we are bored. We eat when we are stressed. We eat when we are lonely or sad or happy and want to celebrate. We eat because the people around us are eating or because a meal is just how we spend time with certain people. We eat to avoid certain thoughts or feelings and to create other thoughts and feelings. Often times we eat simply out of habit because it is breakfast time or lunch time without even considering what or if we need food at all.

For me, above all else, doing a cleanse such as this is an opportunity to observe myself; my cravings, my thoughts, my actions, my habits and my fears. I can choose to go out to dinner with friends and hang out without eating solid food. I learn a lot doing so. More often, I say no to plans, stay home and rest. A cleanse is an opportunity for rest and rejuvenation. Consider the bodies three biggest users of resources: 1- our brain, 2- our digestion, and 3- our immune system, likely in that order. When we drink a light, liquid diet we free our body from having to digest solid food. This makes resources available for our body to mount an immune response and address problems that it has not been able to clear up. Have you noticed that sickness often follows a period of over eating? Ever need a nap after a big meal? Living life with a full digestive system, as many of us do most of the time, is exhausting. Your energy is diverted to digesting any time you have food in you. Removing the burden of digestion all together can feel like a huge boost to your health, energy and vitality. I always come off of a cleanse feeling refreshed and renewed. I help this process along by getting as much rest as I can during the cleanse. The Master Cleanse is a great time to get back in touch with your meditation or light yoga practice.

Be on the lookout for an amplified sense of smell, extra-ordinarily clean sinuses, ease of meditation, increased mental acuity and a good excuse to skip social engagements. You can read the book below and search online to discover the many benefits of lemons, cayenne pepper and maple syrup. What few mention is the profound experience of not eating for 10 days. To me this is really a consciousness raising practice. That alone is worth the effort. Aren’t you curious?


  1. Free up resources for your immune system
  2. Clear thinking
  3. Detoxify your body
  4. Amazingly clear sinuses (I am usually 100% mucus free for the 1st time in along time)
  5. Amplified sense of smell
  6. Lose weight
  7. Shrink your stomach (and your appetite when you go off it — until you over eat and stretch if back out)
  8. Reset your palate — You will enjoy the subtler tastes again / for the first time 🙂
  9. It is a meditation on your subconscious eating habits
  10. Break all your eating patterns / Choose better ones

For more information get The Book: The Master Cleanser by Stanley Burroughs. You can buy it for $5 on Amazon. It is very short and very informative.

Good luck. Let me know how it goes for you and reach out if you would like some support!

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