Master Cleanse Frequently Asked Questions

I’ve heard of the Master Cleanse, Lemonade Diet, Master Cleanse Diet, Maple Syrup Diet, Lemonade Cleanse, Lemon Diet, Lemon Cleanse, and Lemonade Master Cleanse. Are they all the same?

[field name="youtube"]Yes. Stanley Burroughs developed the Master Cleanse in the 1940′s. He published The Master Cleanser in 1976. In that book, he referred to it as The Master Cleanser and as The Lemonade Diet. There is also a letter in that book from a man praising the Master Cleanse.

In 2003, I put up a website calling it the Master Cleanse. In 2004, I wrote the first new book about it in nearly 30 years and referred to it as the Master Cleanse. As interest grew, people began to refer to it primarily as the Master Cleanse, although the other names are still in use less frequently. They are all the same detoxification diet.

Have you changed the Master Cleanse in any way?

No. The only change I’ve made is to recommend people take 1 box or bottle of probiotics after they return to a normal diet. This was after a great deal of research and three experiments on myself. I noticed that any cravings I had for “bad” food after the cleanse disappeared when I took the probiotics. I believe this was due to flushing the “good” bacteria out along with the old waste during the cleanse.

I have been wanting to go on this for a while, but I’m concerned about being older (61) and whether it will cause me any problems with my health. It’s good now, except I have no energy, know I need to cleanse my body and need to lose some weight. Have there been any problems for older people?

As of October 2007, I was 61 years old and had done it 18 times from 10 to 28 days. It’s wonderful and rather than aggravate problems, seemed to handle most of them. Most people are not hungry nor do they feel tired, except when they’re having a detox day and then it seems to pass after a day or two.

What’s the connection between the raw food diet and the Master Cleanse?

Craving your favorite cooked food is one of the symptoms of detoxification. It’s also the number one barrier to going on a predominantly raw food diet. That’s why I recommend people who can, do the Master Cleanse first. It will result in far less cravings.

One person I spoke to had done the Master Cleanse once a year for three years. After the first one, he stopped eating chicken. After the second one, he started buying organic food and eating more raw. After the third, he began eating 100% raw fruits, nuts, seeds and vegetables.

I drank the laxative tea in the evening and the quart of salt water in the morning, but didn’t have any bowel movements. What can I do?

This occasionally happens, usually to people who have been eating predominantly meat & cheese and very few vegetables. It generally occurs on the first or second mornings. If possible, drink a cup of laxative tea that morning one half hour later. Don’t worry. You just need to adjust the amount of salt in the salt water. Try increasing the amount of salt in the water. After getting the correct amount of salt for your body, I don’t know of anyone who did not have SEVERAL urgent bowel movements the next morning.

Last week, the lemon-maple syrup fast was recommended to me during an Ayurvedic (East Indian medicine, perhaps the oldest known system of medicine) consultation. I have one issue, in addition to fear of the unknown: too much citric acid makes me break out in terrible canker sores. Do you have any suggestions for working around such tendencies, or should I simply stop the fast when I break out and then deal with the pain?

Stanley Burroughs, in his book the Master Cleanser, does not mention any difference for those with canker sores. Perhaps, it’s because the citric acid is so diluted ( 6 to 1). Perhaps, it’s because allergies are the result of toxins in the body and that after detoxifying the allergies go, too. Either way, I believe that if you closely follow the instructions as given in the book, you will do fine.

The Master Cleanse has two major thrusts: detoxification and elimination. The lemonade drink and the lack of solid food encourages the body to detoxify — to physically loosen the toxins. The laxative tea and internal salt water bathing mechanically push and wash the loosened toxins out of the body. Since you know you are especially sensitive to canker sores from citrus acid, I would start off by doing only the minimum number of glasses of lemonade per day (6) in the beginning. In addition, it will be essential for you to maintain the daily elimination steps of laxative tea at night and salt water flush in the morning. Then if some canker sores formed, I would attempt to persevere in spite of them because I think they will be only temporary.

I recently had a baby and gained quite a bit of weight. Prior to my pregnancy I had put on some excess weight on a previously well fit and toned body. Needless to say I feel sluggish. I am done breastfeeding and would like to lose weight and rejuvenate myself. My cousin did the cleanse and looks and feels great. He was in much better shape that I was when starting. Is it okay to do this cleanse regardless of your physical fitness at the start? My cousin first did 50 or so days of veggie and fruit juice and then did 10 days of the “lemonade” drink. Is this a better way for me to go? Also, should I add in exercise? Any suggestions would be wonderful as I am anxious to feel like myself again.

I know of no reason being in poor physical shape should be any problem. If you’re speaking about someone who has some debilitating illness, that’s another matter. In fact, being in poor shape is a great reason to do the cleanse.

Raw food and juicing is a a very healthy diet. It will improve your energy and help you to lose weight. My experience and that of a friend has been that it is much easier to switch to a raw food and juice diet after the cleanse than to try to stay on such a diet before the cleanse.

I have observed that cravings for junk food are one of the symptoms of detoxifying from the residue of that junk food. Consequently, after you have done the cleanse and have gotten rid of the residue it will be much, much easier to choose to eat healthy foods rather than denatured, adulterated, cooked, preserved, and hormone fed food, which is sadly what most people crave and is promoted to them daily on TV commercials.

I personally experienced such a new wealth of energy that I wanted to exercise. You’ll have no shortage of energy doing this cleanse. A good friend in Georgia did the cleanse and was running almost five miles a day and riding his bicycle two miles. You’ll only be tired on detox days. That is the second symptom of detoxification. The tiredness only lasted one day each time for me. It was over the next morning after the salt water flush.

Can I use something else besides maple syrup?

If you are in a part of the world where fresh squeezed sugar cane juice is available, you can substitute it for the water and maple syrup in the recipe. Also, Burroughs recommends the substitution of molasses for maple syrup for diabetics as covered in his book, Healing for the Age of Enlightenment.

I know of one person who was trying to maintain a 100% raw diet and used the water from soaking dates as a sweetener. It was not as effective in sweetening nor did it provide as many minerals.

I know another person who tried honey. She reported that she actually gained weight and quit after only three or four days.

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28 comments on this post.
  1. Derrick green:

    Can you workout hard while on this cleanse?

  2. Peter Glickman:

    You’ll be able to do more aerobic exercise (except on detox days) than before. Don’t do any body building, though, as there’s no protein for rebuilding muscles. Not taking in protein is not a problem for a few weeks for healthy people.

  3. Renee:

    I’m not overweight at all, probably on the smaller end of the spectrum, but I’m looking for a good cleanse to feel healthier, I am afraid of loosing too much weight on this, would it be a good fit?

  4. Larry:

    Is the Maple Syrup requiered/ is it really needed? If So is there something else that can substitute the Maple Syrup? Such as Cane Sugar, or any other.

  5. Peter Glickman:

    You can use fresh squeezed cane sugar juice in place of the maple syrup.

    10 oz. fresh squeezed cane sugar juice
    1 oz. fresh lemon or lime juice
    1/10 teaspoon cayenne pepper or to taste

  6. Peter Glickman:

    People who don’t want to lose weight can still do the Master Cleanse with benefit. Extremely skinny people will lose only a coule pounds in the first few days. But do be sure not to go past a clear, pink tongue as the sign the cleanse is complete.

  7. Bethel:

    After reading the book and taking notice my tongue has a thick white coat with yellow. Burroughs stated that should disappear after the cleanse is Complete. Today is my day 10 and my tongue is thick and yellow at the top. Is this normal? And does it ever go away on the cleanse? Do I need more time?

  8. Missy:

    Can you drink plain water throughout the day?

  9. Peter Glickman:


  10. Peter Glickman:

    Yes, this is normal. Chinese medicine uses the tongue for diagnosis. The coating shows detoxification is occurring. It usually takes more than 10 days or more than 1 or 2 cleanses to get it pink and clear.

  11. Eliza:

    So the cleanse is perfectly healthy for you body to do for say 3 weeks. It has everything your body needs?

  12. Peter Glickman:

    If you are otherwise healthy, for example, anyone recovering from surgery or a would needs lots of extra protein to heal the tissue. So, they should wait until their surgeon says they are healed. There are lots of “amazing” stories of people surviving being lost without food for weeks.

  13. Cassandra:

    Hello if I don’t want to do the salt water flush do I just drink a laxative in the morning after waking up and drink another before bed?

  14. Cassandra:

    Also today is my first day of the cleanse and started drinking the lemonade is that okay without having a tea, I was planning to drink my first tea in the night. Is that ok?

  15. Peter Glickman:

    Not ideal, Cassandra, but it probably won’t matter in the long run. The first night’s tea helps to loosen old waste to speed cleansing of the colon.

  16. Peter Glickman:

    That’s correct. About 25% of people have problems with the salt water flush. It gets easier the further you go in the cleanse. Frequently people who couldn’t do it in the beginning can do it toward the end of the cleanse.

  17. brittney alwin:

    I was hoping to start a ketogenic diet right after the cleanse. Will that keep the weight off? i just dont want it to come back.

  18. Peter Glickman:

    A ketogenic diet will help keep weight off. So will any good natural food diet including vegan, macrobiotic or simply avoiding prepared foods, artificial ingredients and refined sugar.

  19. dee:

    im in day 5without food cleansing but I dont see any difference in weight loss and belly still big im running out of syrup can I continue without it?

  20. Peter Glickman:

    If you don’t use the syrup, you are doing a water fast which should be done under a doctor’s supervision and requires bed rest. Stick to the Master Cleanse as written by Stanley Burroughs.

  21. Cindy:

    I am on day 3 of cleanse. I’ve done the cleanse a number of times over the past 6 years. But this time I’ve had painin my low back radiating down both legs. Is this toxins coming out?

  22. Peter Glickman:

    I can’t say what it is for certain in your situation, but usually aches or pains on day 3 are detox symptoms.

  23. Jeremy Ragan:

    I only sleep 6 hrs a night how many hours does the laxative tea need?

    This is my 3rd day on cleanse and have only drank the 6-12 cups of MC mixture and maybe a 24 oz of just water. Do i need to be drinking much more water in between?

    If so is there a time frame i should wait after drinking the MC mixture.

    How long should one wait to drink a MC mixture after the salt water flush?

  24. Jeremy Ragan:

    Is it better to drink lemonade versus water alone?If so can you consume to much lemon?

  25. Jeremy Ragan:

    I have a ninja blender could i utilize whats left over from sqeezing the juice of the lemon to make my lemonade?

  26. Peter Glickman:

    The lax tea only needs about 6 hours. It’s different for different people, though. You only need to drink a minimum of 6 10-ounce lemonades and 1 cup of lax tea a day. You can drink as much water and/or mint tea as you wish, if you’d like more liquid. I wait 1/2 hour after drinking the salt water flush to start my lemonade.

  27. Peter Glickman:

    Drinking water alone and no lemonade all day is a water fast and that tends to be more difficult. People who have larger amounts of toxins to eliminate find water fasts harder to do. And no, you can’t consume too much lemon, but shouldn’t add more than 1 oz of fresh-squeezed juice per drink. You can do up to 12 drinks a day.

  28. Peter Glickman:

    Stanley Burroughs, the original developer of the Master Cleanse, says you can blend some of the lemon skin and pulp and add it to your drink. Keep in mind that you should be using organic lemons if you’re going to do this and that you don’t want to add so much that your body has to digest solids. Adding anything to the fast tends to reduce the power of the Master Cleanse.

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