October 9, 1903|
Detroit, Michigan, United States
|Died||June 16, 1991
Newcastle, California, United States
Stanley Burroughs (October 9, 1903 -June 16, 1991) was the inventor of the Master Cleanser or "lemonade" diet, which he published in his book The Master Cleanser, first distributed in the 1950s. Amazon.com reports (as of 2007-04-10) a sales rank of #170 for The Master Cleanser.
His later book Healing for The Age of Enlightenment (1976) promoted pressure points and color therapy, in addition to his dietary theories.
Early life 
Stanley Burroughs, also known as Aaron Hayes, was born in New York and raised in Detroit, Michigan. In the 1930s he migrated from the mid-west and settled in Portland, Oregon. He married and had three daughters and later he divorced, remarried, moved to California and saw little of his earlier family. Although his original interest was in the lumber industry, he was inspired to explore alternative health theories. During his career, he lived in Oregon, California, and Hawaii.
Although Burroughs is most famous as the creator of the "Master Cleanser" diet, this diet was only one of numerous alternative health practices he promoted. He was also an advocate of colored light therapy and of deep massage, as well as a practitioner of deep reflexology. He was a strict vegetarian. He was also an occasional but strict[clarification needed] nudist. He began his alternative health practices in the Portland area in the 1940s by conducting lectures and practicing reflexology on regular clients.
Later years 
Stanley Burroughs died in Newcastle, California, on June 16, 1991, at the age of 87, after a two-week battle against acute pneumonia. His death certificate also mentions leg fractures, apparently from a fall, and a urinary infection, as contributing conditions to his death. No autopsy was performed.
Controversy And Legal Problems 
During his life, he had legal troubles related to his alternative health practices. The California Supreme Court case People v. Burroughs, 35 Cal.3d 824, (1984) gives some indication of Burroughs' legal problems. At his criminal trial in California, Burroughs was convicted of second-degree felony murder, felony practicing medicine without a license, and unlawful sale of cancer treatments. The felony murder charge stems from the jury's finding that the patient's death was a homicide committed by Burroughs while he was engaged in the felonious unlicensed practice of medicine. The California Supreme Court described the facts surrounding the treatment as follows:
During the first meeting between Lee [Swatsenbarg] and defendant [Burroughs], the latter described his method of curing cancer. This method included consumption of a unique “lemonade,” exposure to colored lights, and a brand of vigorous massage administered by defendant. Defendant remarked that he had successfully treated “thousands” of people, including a number of physicians. He suggested the Swatsenbargs purchase a copy of his book, Healing for the Age of Enlightenment. If after reading the book Lee wished to begin defendant's unorthodox treatment, defendant would commence caring for Lee immediately. During the 30 days designated for the treatment, Lee would have to avoid contact with his physician.
Lee read the book, submitted to the conditions delineated by defendant, and placed himself under defendant's care. Defendant instructed Lee to drink the lemonade, salt water, and herb tea, but consume nothing more for the ensuing 30 days. At defendant's behest, the Swatsenbargs bought a lamp equipped with some colored plastic sheets, to bathe Lee in various tints of light. Defendant also agreed to massage Lee from time to time, for an additional fee per session.
Rather than improve, within two weeks Lee's condition began rapidly to deteriorate. He developed a fever, and was growing progressively weaker. Defendant counseled Lee that all was proceeding according to plan, and convinced the young man to postpone a bone marrow test urged by his doctor.
During the next week Lee became increasingly ill. He was experiencing severe pain in several areas, including his abdomen, and vomiting frequently. Defendant administered “deep” abdominal massages on two successive days, each time telling Lee he would soon recuperate.
Lee did not recover as defendant expected, however, and the patient began to suffer from convulsions and excruciating pain. He vomited with increasing frequency. Despite defendant's constant attempts at reassurance, the Swatsenbargs began to panic when Lee convulsed for a third time after the latest abdominal massage. Three and a half weeks into the treatment, the couple spent the night at defendant's house, where Lee died of a massive hemorrhage of the mesentery in the abdomen. The evidence presented at trial strongly suggested the hemorrhage was the direct result of the massages performed by defendant.
While the second-degree murder conviction was reversed by the California Supreme Court (holding that the felony murder jury instruction provided by the trial court was erroneous because felony practicing medicine without a license was not inherently dangerous to human life and could not serve as the predicate offense on which to base liability for felony murder), the court affirmed the other convictions and believed that Burroughs was susceptible to a possible conviction of involuntary manslaughter. 678 P.2d 894 (Cal. 1984). The cleansing regimen employed by Burroughs in this case is more commonly known as the "Master Cleanser."
While the California Supreme Court decision in State v. Burroughs represents the culmination of his most significant legal trouble, it was not his only conviction: in 1960 Burroughs was convicted of practicing medicine without a license. 678 P.2d 894, 900 (Cal. 1984).
The "Master Cleanser" has been utilized widely since Burroughs' death as a means to cleanse one's system of accumulated toxins and thus regain energy and well-being. Although it is alleged by the professional medical establishment to be more deleterious than beneficial, reviews on Amazon.com suggest that more people than not have benefitted from Burroughs' cleansing program. As the author writes, "Before you attempt to argue or deny these facts, test them as given to you and use them until you have proven them either right or wrong."
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- People v. Burroughs, 678 P.2d 894 (Cal. 1984)