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The Lemonade Diet -- Master Cleanse Miracle or Dangerous Snakeoil?

Posted by Eric Brightwell, February 19, 2008 08:13pm | Post a Comment
The Master Cleanse diet was developed in 1941 by Stanley Burroughs. It calls for the practitioner to starve his or herself except for a concoction of lemon juice, cayenne pepper and maple syrup. At night you're to take a laxative tea and saltwater which, through a top-down enema, is said to remove toxins from the body, help one lose weight and even cure chronic diseases. Salt, salt, lemonade, turn the corner and you know the rest... Such famous celebrities as Robin Quivers, Jared Leto and Beyoncé Knowles have all used it to lose weight and it seems to be exploding in popularity.


Who needs the advice of doctors when you've got Howard's sidekick, Jared looking like a magician and Mrs. Jay-Z?

So why is the dangerous diet so popular? Well, I live in California, for one, where all New Age hokum is defended with a "Don't knock it til you try it" acceptance irreconcilable with my Show-Me skepticism. Also, I suppose, because of the very real effects coupled with observational and speculative science. Practitioners get, after not eating, light headed and euphoric, which Burroughs assured dieters was a byproduct of toxins leaving the system. But Burroughs was a dictatorial nudist who insisted his children not wear clothing, not a scientist or doctor. Blindly assuming some charlatan's logic infallible is akin to accepting a lunatic's observation that rain comes from a celestial being shedding tears because we eat cashews. It reminds me of Scientology more than science... only creepier.

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