The Spicy Lemonade Diet (Master Cleanse)

Also known as the Master Cleanse, the popular "spicy lemonade" cleanse was developed by physician and natural health author, Elson Haas, MD. Dr. Haas considers the fasting and cleansing process to be the missing link in Western nutrition and the key to good health. His program involves fasting from solid food for a certain period of time while regularly consuming his cleansing formula outlined below.


This lemon cleanse features three key ingredients; 2 tbsp. of fresh lemon juice, a pinch of cayenne pepper and 1 tbsp. of maple syrup, mixed together in 8 ounces of spring water. It is designed to be used as a total liquid fast or cleanse. No solid food should be eaten during the cleanse, only the lemon drink, herbal tea and plenty of water. In addition to drinking the master cleanse formula, Dr. Haas recommends daily exercise, massage and bowel cleansing with salt water flush to further enhance the effects of the cleanse.

Time Frame

Dr. Haas recommends following this cleanse for up to ten days, at least once per year (generally during the spring-time). He recommends beginners start with a shorter cleanse of just a few days, and eventually work their way up to a full ten-day cleanse with the change of seasons. He also notes that those who should not lose excess weight follow a shorter cleansing period.


The Master Cleanse is a powerful internal cleanser. It eliminates excess mucous from the body, cleanses the liver and purges excess waste from the digestive tract. Dr. Haas recommends cleansing as a healing tool and as a way to remove congestion and toxins from the body. It increases energy and vitality and helps strengthen the body to fight off infection.


As with any total fast or internal cleansing program, there are some unpleasant side effects to expect. Many experience increased bowel movements or loose stools. The first two or three days of a fast will typically bring on headaches, back aches, or joint stiffness as well. As toxins are released from the internal organs and expelled through the skin and digestive tract, many develop acne or other eruptions during the final stages of the cleanse. In general, these side effects are temporary and should subside after the cleanse is complete.


Although most individuals can benefit from regular fasting and cleansing, it is not right for everyone. There is debate in the medical community as to the safety and effectiveness of long term fasting and cleansing. However, a study from March 2000 published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics reported significant health benefits from 10-11 day fasts in the treatment of high blood pressure 1. Nonetheless, always check with your medical doctor or healthcare practitioner before beginning a cleanse. Never discontinue prescription medication during the cleansing period unless it is recommended by the prescribing physician.