Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Master Cleanser

WARNING: I am not advocating this practice, simply telling the story of my experience!

Some of you may have heard of The Master Cleanser, or "Lemonade Diet" as it is also known. Plenty of celebrities have done it, Beyonce and Denzel Washington to name a few. It is an old-school, hard-core, un-scientific extreme cleanse where you eat no food at all and drink a strange concoction of lemon juice, maple syrup & cayenne pepper multiple times a day from 3-40 days depending on how long you can take it or how much you want to cleanse. Believe me, it tastes as good as it sounds! I have done The Master Cleanser two times. Once for 7 days and another for 12. The first time was brutal. Every second of every hour of every day I was craving some gooey delicious food or another. Pizza, cheeseburgers, steak, buttermilk bars...you name it and I was dying for it! My husband did it with me and there was no food in the house, no cooking, just squeezing a lot of lemons and making sure he had enough "juice" to get through his 12 hour work days. There are other components to the cleanse as well. The author advocates a "salt water flush" daily and laxative tea nightly. The point is to get all the crap (pun intended) that is stuck inside you out of your system and allow your organs to cleanse, rest, rejuvenate and repair. I have taken so many prescriptions during my battle with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia and I wanted to eliminate the residuals from my system. I did not take any of my regular supplements during the cleanse but of course continued my prescription medications. I had a strange pain journey while on this cleanse. An area of particular pain would magnify and then go away completely. This happened with many different spots on my body at different times. My upper back, shoulder, lower back, right arm, hips. It was interesting and strange but I sure did enjoy less pain! My husband caved first, lasting 5 days. Then I had to sit and watch him stuff a burrito down his throat while I drank "juice" and salt water. It sucked. Two days later I was boiling cauliflower and mashing it up, re-introducing food to my digestive system. I have "abstained" from food plenty of times due to multiple Pancreatitis attacks and am quite familiar with the practice of breaking a "fast" in a slow and gentle way so I skipped the orange juice day the author recommends (too much blood sugar crashing for me).

The second time I did it solo, which meant I had to cook breakfast, lunch and dinner for my husband while completely abstaining from food. I figured it would be torture yet discovered I had NO problem with it! I actually bought the book and read the entire thing, not just gleaning my information from the internet this time, and made a few modifications. The salt water flush was awful and I did not feel it benefited me so I eliminated it. I also doubled the amount of "juice" I drank and found my hunger and cravings were much more satiated. I believe I was consuming a calorie level that took me out of "starvation" mode and that is why I felt much better. I cooked wonderful gorgeous delicious meals for my husband with no problem! I sat down at the dinner table with him to chat while he ate and I drank. I also drank mint tea almost constantly to "purify" my system. And some pretty wonderful stuff happened this time! Within a few days of starting the cleanse Fibromyalgia pain went away almost completely. The stiffness and soreness that I live with daily disappeared. I also lost all puffiness, especially under my eyes. I am particularly sensitive about my under-eye puffiness, feeling it ages me terribly. My skin took on a healthy glow and my clothes became looser and I could do yoga with increased flexibility and ease. I felt pretty wonderful! But around the 11th day (I was shooting for 14) I developed a reaction that caused me concern. I was not sure if it was my body detoxing all the candida I have dealt with for years and years or if it was from all the maple syrup I had been consuming. Not having a doctor or holistic health practitioner to confer with I stopped the cleanse two days short of my goal. But 12 days is my longest fast to date and I was pretty darn proud of myself!

Now I did lose weight while on this "cleanse" but that is the absolutely wrong reason to do it! It is not a diet. I quickly gained it back once I begin eating again. It did give me a chance to jump-start or re-set my system and if I stuck to consuming healthy, unprocessed, unrefined foods upon completion I maintained many of the benefits of the cleanse. My social life was eliminated while on this cleanse. Working was hard enough but I needed constant access to a bathroom and it was just too hard to be in a restaurant or at a friends house with all sorts of "food" focused activities going on. I anticipate another round with The Master Cleanser after I am done with Prednisone. I will clear it with my Neurologist, per my husband's insistence, but am looking forward to flushing my system of all the residual affects of this stroke-preventing drug as well as all the narcotics and radiation from my hospital stay. All in all I am a fan, but would never recommend it to anyone who is extremely ill. I wanted to do it for years before I actually broke down and did it but was too sick, still suffering from all the viral issues and infections and such. The author claims it will cure what ales ya', but it just did not feel right to me. However, once I was able to get so many of the infections under control and my immune system built up I believe The Master Cleanser is one of many important components in navigating my way to "managed".

Thanks for joining,
Leah