The “Master Cleanse” – 10 Day Lemon Juice Fast
By Deb Bobier (YogaBoundDeb)
There are basic natural lifestyle habits which, once incorporated into your daily life, can make a tremendously positive difference to your health. Drinking lemon water is certainly one of them.
It’s the New Year and I have just started my annual fast. There are many ways to fast and reasons for undergoing the ritual. Many religions have traditional fasting periods and rules – Lent, Ramadan, Yom Kippur, etc. And there are a host of largely positive medical reasons to do occasional light fasting. I do it simply to give my body a break from eating, to detoxify, and to experience other beneficial aspects for my body, and mind.
There are also many different ways to fast. Fasting can be dry fasting (no food, no water), liquid fasting (water, juices, etc.) and everything around that from skipping a meal to omitting certain foods from your diet for a period of time. Certain fasts are obviously more difficult than others and some care must be used in choosing the appropriate fast for your overall consitution and lifestyle.
From a Chinese Medicine perspective, fasting is best done with relatively healthy individuals who regularly consume excess amounts of foods in their diets (i.e. many western people). People who eat well on a regular basis, are not overweight, not overly toxic from poor quality foods, alcohol, etc. will not require as much fasting (if any) and it could be potentially weakening to them. Fasts should also be avoided by anyone who is underweight, cold and/or weak, recovering from significant illness, pregnant, and people with heart conditions, colitis, epilepsy, and diabetes. These are general rules, however, and certain types of fasting will be safer than others.
Though I have a pretty healthy diet, over the Holidays I know I over indulge and eat things I that aren’t part of my regular healthy diet. I end up feeling sluggish and I can see and feel the added weight. So what better time than the New Year to get myself back on track for the coming year. The one I like doing at home is called the 10 day Master Cleanse by Stanley Burroughs. This cleanse has been used by many people around the world as a safe and relatively easy way to strongly cleanse our digestive and elimination systems. But don’t feel you have to go the entire 10 days. I am starting with five days. And may or may not continue.
There are three main parts to the fast:
1. The Lemon Drink
2. Salt Water Drink
3. Herbal/Laxative Teas (There are a variety in your local grocery store, ones with senna work well.)
The main recipes for the fast are as follows:
1. 2 tablespoons fresh squeezed organic lemon or lime juice (approx. 1/2 lemon).
2. 2 tablespoons organic maple syrup (Grade B).
3. 1/10 teaspoon (a small pinch, by preference) cayenne pepper.
4. 12-16oz pure spring water (room temperature).
For more portability, you can use the following measurements to fill a gallon jug (5 Lemons/Limes, 1.25 cups of maple syrup, 1 teaspoon cayenne, fill to the top with spring water).
Drink 6-12 glasses of the mixture a day for 10 days. You should also drink plain water throughout the day if you find yourself thirsty.
Salt Water Drink:
1. 2 teaspoons of natural sea salt
2. 1 quart of lukewarm water
Drink the entire quart quickly in one sitting first thing in the morning. You should need to eliminate in 1-3 hours, possibly a few times. (Now this didn’t happen to me. And I am not sure why. But I don’t think it is anything to be concerned about.)
Why the Lemon Juice Fast:
Drinking water-diluted lemon juice on a daily basis has amazing health benefits! In his classic 1939 book “Back to Eden”, Jethro Kloss, the father of herbalists points out: “Lemon is a wonderful stimulant to the liver and is a dissolvent of uric acid and other poisons, liquefies the bile, and is very good in cases of malaria. Sufferers of chronic rheumatism and gout will benefit by taking lemon juice, also those who have a tendency to bleed, uterine hemorrhages, etc.” He goes on to add: “… Lemon is an antiseptic, or is an agent that prevents sepsis [the presence of pathogenic bacteria] or putrefaction [decomposition of tissue]. It is also anti-scorbutic, a term meaning a remedy which will prevent disease and assist in cleansing the system of impurities.”
Lemon is not only a vitamin C rich citrus fruit and an immune system booster, it also acts as blood purifier and improves the body’s ability to get rid of toxins. When taken regularly it acts as a tonic to the liver and stimulates it to fulfil its daily digestive and cleansing functions. Lemon is also believed to help dissolve gallstones and is a superior body alkalizer.
What To Do While You Are Fasting:
Your period of fasting is an excellent time to really relax yourself. You will likely have more energy than you might have thought you would, but strenuous activities are best avoided during this time. This is a good time to relax, read books you’ve been wanting to read, watch movies, and have simple engagements with friends and family. Activity-wise walking is good, exercises such as Yoga and Tai Chi are also good. I walk. Work on my website like posting this. And being a yoga teacher I start with my regular sequence staying aware of when I need to modify postures or my practice based on my energy level at that moment. Movement will help energize you when you need it and stave off cravings. This is also a good time to perform some simple meditation techniques.
I use different meditations. My meditation when walking is simply staying aware of your breath entering and leaving your body, staying present in your body, observing what is happening within you. And staying aware of your surroundings. If anything stressful enters your mind, just let it go and refocus on your breath and the present moment. And cultivating feelings of peace and being at one with the Universe.
I love meditating in my garden, or while gardening. Doing the same things I mentioned above. When I am doing my yoga, I do the same thing. In a sitting meditation again, many of the same things adding in intentions, positive thoughts, etc.
Breaking the Fast:
Breaking a fast properly is really important. What and how much you begin putting back into your body must be strategic and thoughtfully considered. At the end of the fast you need to ease your body back into digesting food, so initially some juices, then soups, then steamed vegetables, and finally whole foods.
Start with having approximately 4 ounces of orange or grapefruit juice mixed with the same amount of water and drink a few times during the day. In the evening you should have a vegetable soup (vegetable broth) made from seasonal leafy and root vegetables such as kale, beets, carrots, celery, potatoes, some cayenne, some salt, etc. Focus on drinking the broth, not eating the vegetables – although you may have some.
On the second day increase the amount of orange juice to 8 ounces, still mixed with water and have more of the soup.
On the third day have the juice in the morning. Then start eating normally, possibly restricting meat, fish, eggs, bread, tea, milk, and/or coffee for another 1-3 days. I try to stick with fresh fruits and veggies then add in steamed, broiled or baked fish or chicken.
And every day, try to drink at least 8-10 glasses of good water with a splash of lemon juice for continued benefits. Don’t buy bottled water. It is expensive and isn’t always pure. Get a reverse osmosis system set up at your house and be sure it is the one that puts the good stuff back into the water.
Now that you are done:
So if you decide to do the fast, let me know how it worked for you. Fasting can be a great stepping stone to a healthier diet and lifestyle. The truth is that there are no secrets to good health and fitness other than simple moderation, eating a wide range of quality foods, and activity or movement of any kind. Many people wait for the ideal set of circumstances to do their workout program, their diet, etc. In reality these things are unnecessary. I believe in a simple diet based largely on whole foods, give Quinoa (keen wah) a try with lots of fresh veggies. Avoid snacking unless it is something fresh and healthy. Drink lots of lemon infused water, and set up your life so that you walk (every step counts). Or ride your bike as often as possible. Good luck! And stay moving!