Master Cleanse (Lemonade Diet)

The Lemonade Diet or Master Cleanse is a liquid mono-diet, created by Stanley Burroughs in the 1940s and more recently made popular by Peter Glickman through his book “Lose Weight, Have More Energy and Be Happier in 10 Days”.

The Master Cleanse is said by Stanley Burroughs and later authors to eliminate toxins and congestion that have accumulated in the body. It should be noted that the Master Cleanse is a fast, not a diet, as it is not a complete source of macro-nutrients. Thus it should be considered as another form of fasting.

Supporters of the Master Cleanse/ Lemonade Diet credit it with helping them increase their energy levels, alleviate some chronic diseases and with weight loss.

What is the Master Cleanse Diet?

The Master Cleanse diet claims it should be followed for a minimum of 10 days or more – up to 40 days. Essentially the Master Cleanse is a liquid only diet that consists of consumption of:

  • Fresh lime or lemon juice with maple syrup and cayenne pepper mixed with water and drunk up to 12 times a day.
  • Herbal laxative tea is taken twice a day, morning and night.
  • Internal salt-water baths.
  • No other food is consumed.
  • This regimen can be followed for 10 days, or possibly longer and depends upon a person’s physical condition.

Do not stop any medication you have been prescribed without consulting your doctor first! Any fasting should only be done so with the consent of a healthcare professional.

What Does the Master Cleanse Promise?

The Master Cleanse also known as the Maple Syrup Diet, Lemonade Diet, Lemon Detox hit the headlines after it was reported that R&B star Beyoncé Knowles had lost 20 lbs. (9 kg) in 10 days by following the Lemonade Diet under a nutritionist’s supervision.

The Lemonade Diet’s main promoter, the late Stanley Burroughs, published a slim volume in 1975 called “The Master Cleanser with Special Needs or Problems”. The book is still available today and the techniques are often adapted.

Below you will find an overview and instructions about the Lemonade Diet. Excerpts from the Stanley Burroughs book “The Master Cleanser with Special Needs or Problems”, are highlighted in italics.

According to Stanley Burroughs the purpose of the Master Cleanse is to:

  • To dissolve and eliminate toxins and congestion that have formed in any part of the body.
  • To cleanse the kidneys and the digestive system.
  • To purify the glands and cells throughout the entire body.
  • To eliminate all unusable waste and hardened material in the joints and muscles.
  • To relieve pressure and irritation in the nerves, arteries, and blood vessels.
  • To build a healthy blood stream.
  • To keep youth and elasticity regardless of our years.

Types of Master Cleanse

Four versions of the Lemonade Detox are commonly practiced.

1. The Full Master Cleanse

This is the original version, as described in Stanley Burroughs book. However, for those who have not fasted before it is probably wise to start with a shorter period of fasting.

2. The Relaxed Master Cleanse

A relaxed version of the Lemonade Diet, involves substituting either breakfast or dinner (or both) with 2-3 glasses of the lemonade drink. Lunch consists of a healthy meal and abstinence from sweets, processed foods, red meat, fried foods, white bread, refined flour, dairy products, coffee and alcohol is recommended.

The relaxed programme works by lengthening the fast that naturally occurs every night during sleep, allowing the body greater time to cleanse. The relaxed version of the Lemonade Diet however, does take longer and tends to be followed for at least one to two weeks and up to a month. The relaxed programme is also used as an introduction to the total detox, or as a way of extending it.

3. The “Once a Week” Master Cleanse

This involves abstaining from food once a week and drinking the lemonade instead, giving your body a chance to “rest and cleanse for a day”.

How Does the Master Cleanse Work?

This is an extreme diet, and you should peak to your health care practitioner before starting. Also it  should be eased into slowly. 

Overview of the Master Cleanse

  • The night before: you start the lemonade detox take herbal laxative tea.
  • First morning of the detox: take the salt water bath or if not possible the herbal laxative tea, do not take both.
  • Lemonade formula.
  • Breaking the Lemonade Diet: do not overeat, eat too soon or to frequently.

Following the Master Cleanse

Lemonade. The book suggests that between six and twelve glasses of the lemonade should be drunk daily and that as you get hungry to simply drink another glass of lemonade. You can put in more or less maple syrup depending on whether you want to lose or gain weight.

  • 2 Tbsp of lemon or lime juice (approx. ½ lemon)
  • 2 Tbsp genuine maple syrup (not maple flavored sugar syrup)
  • 1/10 Tsp cayenne pepper (red pepper) or to taste
  • Water, medium hot (spring or purified water)

Laxative Herbal Tea. The Master Cleanser states that you should expect two, tree or more bowel movements per day. Otherwise, the waste tends to stay in the body leading to tiredness and other problems. If this is not the case, a laxative herbal tea last thing at night and first thing in the morning should be taken.

Internal salt water bathing. Part of the Master Cleanse or Lemonade Diet is the “salt water bath”. The book advises against enemas and colonic irrigation and instead internal salt water baths are recommended.

Easing Out of the Master Cleanse

Breaking the Lemonade Diet according to “The Master Cleanser with Special Needs and Problems”. This is possibly one of the most important phases of the Lemonade Diet.

1st day:
Drink several 8 oz. glasses of orange juice as desired throughout the day. Drink slowly.

2nd day:
Drink several 8 oz. glasses of orange juice throughout the day, dilute with water if necessary.
Afternoon: prepare vegetable soup (recipe below).
Evening: drink vegetable broth. Some of the vegetables may be eaten.

3rd day:
Morning: orange juice.
Noon: Vegetable soup as desribed earlier.
Evening: Vegetables, fruit, salad. No animal food or processed/ refined foods should be eaten (e.g. meat, milk, fish, eggs, bread, coffee, tea)

4th day:
Normal eating may be taken up again.

Easing Out of the Master Cleanse for Vegans

1st – 2nd Day after Lemonade Diet:
Drink several 8 oz. glasses of orange juice as desired throughout the day.
Drink slowly.
If you find it difficult to digest, dilute the orange juice with water.

3rd day after Lemonade Diet:
Morning – orange juice
Lunch – raw fruit
Evening – fruit or raw vegetable salad.


The Master Cleanse is not a balanced diet, is difficult to stick to, can cause unpleasant side-effects, and may be inappropriate for people with some pre-exisitng health conditions.

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  1. Today will be my first time starting the diet and I am very excited about it. Although I have a question does this diet only require fresh lemons or can I use the artificial lemon juice?

    • If you have stomach ulcers, you should really clear any diet, especially a very low calorie diet/ detox such as this one with your doctor. There may be evidence that fasting can make stomach ulcers worse. Therefore, it’s best you speak to your doctor or a nutritionist.

  2. I just started this diet yesterday, and I’ve decided to fast for a shorter time, that is 5-7 days. How will this shorter time frame impact my weight loss goals?


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