Master Cleanse is a modified juice fast that permits no food, substituting tea and lemonade made with maple syrup and cayenne pepper. Proponents claim that the diet tones, reduces and cleanses the body, allowing the body to heal itself. There is no specific study that proves the diet removes any toxins, or that it achieves anything beyond temporary weight loss, however a pubmed.gov article has been published showing that a very similar diet reduced body fat, insulin resistance, and serum hs-CRP level without hematological changes in overweight Korean women. And, fasting--no calorie intake--induces a wide range of changes associated with cellular protection, which would be difficult to achieve even with a cocktail of potent drugs.
Though unlikely to be harmful over the short term, Master Cleanse and similar programs can be harmful over the long term. In addition to temporary weight loss, short-term side effects may include fatigue, nausea, dizziness, and dehydration, while long term harm includes loss of muscle mass and increased risk of heart attack.
Nutritionist Jane Clark points to a lack of essential nutrients in this program, citing a deficiency of protein, vitamins, and minerals. As a result of these deficiencies, including far fewer calories than the recommended amount for health and optimum functioning, individuals on the diet may experience headaches and a variety of other symptoms in the short term and the diet is potentially harmful over the long term. According to the Harvard Medical School, the laxative component of the diet can lead to dehydration and electrolyte loss as well as impaired bowel function. It is good to note however, that maple syrup contains potassium, which is an electrolyte.
Though many people do the Master Cleanse for the purpose of cleansing, weight loss typically happens. Unless lasting changes are incorporated into one’s diet after the regimen, weight lost during the fast will be regained once the diet is stopped. Dietician Keri Glassman has said those following the diet are "guaranteed" to gain weight after stopping.
The diet calls specifically for grade B maple syrup, based on the belief that the darker colored syrup is less refined than lighter colored grade A or that grade B syrup contains more nutrients. Very dark syrup, which tends to be produced from sap later in the season, has been shown to contain higher levels of calcium and phosphorus than those found in amber syrup. There is, on average, 2.26 times the calcium and 2.76 times the phosphorus in very dark syrup compared to amber syrup. All maple syrup contains a host of minerals, such as magnesium, potassium, zinc, and iron, though very dark syrup may boast around 27% more total mineral content than its lighter alternative. There appears to be considerable variation between syrups (using the IMSI classifications of amber, dark, and very dark) in three main areas of nutritional concern: mineral composition, total phenol content, and antioxidant potential. Phenols are the main phytochemical compounds found in maple syrup. Very dark syrup, on average, may contain up to 2.1 times the phenol content than that of amber syrup. These plant compounds are associated with the darker color of fruits and vegetables, and may give the darker syrups their rich colors. Beyond aesthetics, maple phenols may possess important biological activities, acting as antioxidant, anti-tumor, and anti-cancer agents.
For practicing the methods described in his work, and because one of his patients with cancer died under his care, developer Stanley Burroughs was initially convicted of second-degree murder, however his conviction was reversed on appeal. Although many people use his famous Master Cleanse recipe with varying success, some believe that the diet has the potential to be harmful. Dieters should make note that Stanley Burroughs was not a medical doctor.
- Kim, Mi Joung; Hwang, Jung Hyun; Ko, Hyun Ji; Na, Hye Bock; Kim, Jung Hee (May 2015). "Lemon detox diet reduced body fat, insulin resistance, and serum hs-CRP level without hematological changes in overweight Korean women". Nutrition Research (New York, N.Y.). 35 (5): 409–420. doi:10.1016/j.nutres.2015.04.001. ISSN 1879-0739. PMID 25912765.
- Lee, C.; Longo, V. D. (2011-07-28). "Fasting vs dietary restriction in cellular protection and cancer treatment: from model organisms to patients". Oncogene. 30 (30): 3305–3316. doi:10.1038/onc.2011.91. ISSN 1476-5594. PMID 21516129.
- Stanley Burroughs (1976). The Master Cleanser. Burroughs Books. pp. 16–22, 25. ISBN 978-0-9639262-0-3.
- Glickman, Peter (2011). Lose Weight, Have More Energy & Be Happier in 10 Days. Peter Glickman, Inc. ISBN 978-0-9755722-5-2.
- "The dubious practice of detox," Harvard Health Publications
- Clarke, Jane. "The nutritionist's view". The Times (London UK): pp. 4. Retrieved 2008-01-30.
- "Do "Detox" Diets Work? Are They Safe?". CBS News. April 23, 2008.
- Patil, Bhimanagouda S.; Jayaprakasha, Guddadarangavvanahally K.; Murthy, Kotamballi N. Chidambara; Seeram, Navindra P., eds. (January 2012). Emerging Trends in Dietary Components for Preventing and Combating Disease. ACS Symposium Series. 1093. doi:10.1021/bk-2012-1093. ISBN 978-0-8412-2664-7. ISSN 0097-6156.
- "People v. Burroughs". Google Scholar. Supreme Court of California. 1984. p. 894.