June 13, 2008

You Ask, I Answer: Health Consequences of Master Cleanse

Amidst all my warnful cries, my coworker and two friends, like martyrs, trudged their way through Stanley Burrough's ten day "cleanse".

One friend reported to me on day 9 that she almost fainted on the subway, and had to get off only to ensue in dry heaving on the platform.

I naturally suggested she eat something, to which she declined. [She instead] went home to rest.

She said she has 50+ bruises all over her body. I asked if she thought it had anything to do with the cleanse, and possibly being malnourished.

What are your thoughts regarding this bruising issue, iron deficiencies, etc?

-- Brooke Green
Brooklyn, NY


I can't say I'm too surprised that your co-worker felt nauseous and weak after subsisting on nothing but water, maple syrup, lemon juice, and cayenne peppers for 9 consecutive days. Who wouldn't?

Of course, the people who profit from the Master cleanse (none of which have any nutrition credentials, of course) claim that fainting is normal, simply a consequence of your body going through the "detox" process.

No. Fainting is a consequence of your body not getting enough nourishment, plain and simple. If anyone tells you otherwise, run away. Fast.

What's truly disturbing about the Master Cleanse and similar "regimens" is that many people with a variety of health problems (i.e.: hypoglycemia, diabetes) go on it without ever consulting a physician or dietitian, thereby exacerbating their conditions.

Even people in perfectly good health, for whatever reason, think that those four foods will perform some sort of magic on their internal organs.

In any case, as I have explained before, the Master Cleanse is deficient in almost every nutrient, and the weight loss incurred from it is due to loss of water and muscle mass.

Losing muscle mass and consuming such few calories results in metabolism slowing down, thereby making true weight loss even harder.

There is absolutely nothing about the Master Cleanse that I find even remotely healthy, valid, or sane, and I can't believe millions of people are being deluded by such quackery.

However, as I have been learning with this blog, people will hold on to unsubstantiated nutrition ideas no matter how much evidence or reasoning you attempt to provide.

As for her bruising, I don't attribute it to the cleanse because iron-deficiency symptoms do not show up after 9 days of low iron consumption.

If her iron intake has been low for several months, it very well may be coincidental timing.

In any case, she should definitely get some bloodwork. The sooner, the better.


jamie said...

I am seriously getting sick of all these "cleanses". You know it seemed like people were FINALLY realizing that diets didn't work and it has to be a healthy lifestyle etc, but really what happened is that diets are just old news and now it's 'cleanses' in the spotlight. We're still looking for that magical way to lose weight (or now, "detox" which is much cooler to say).. Will it ever stop??

La Diva Laura said...

I have a friend that did this cleanse last year, lost 20 lbs. and has gained the weight back already. Meanwhile, he dreamed constantly of eating hamburgers.