Detox: Flusing Out Old Habits

In my fridge, there’s an extra large piece of perfect birthday cake torturing me. It’s the kind that has a thick layer of vanilla butter icing, and if that isn’t bad enough, it’s even a corner piece. But I can’t have it, or anything else for that matter. I’m on day eight of a ten-day detoxification called the ‘Master Cleanse,’ also known as ‘the lemonade diet’ by its enthusiastic followers.

Detoxification, although new to me, is an idea that’s been around as long as homeopathy and home remedies. Stanley Burroughs, a ‘natural healer,’ first published the Master Cleanse diet in 1976, and with the recent arrival of the organic lifestyle to local supermarkets, there has been a renewed interest in cleansing and resurgence in Burroughs’s popularity.

Day eight has got to be the hardest day yet, though I admit I’ve said that about every day so far.

The Master Cleanse rules are fairly precise and straightforward. Every night before I turn in, I have to drink a cup of senna tea. For those in the know, senna is a powerful over-night laxative – and, trust me, I’m more in the know than I should have to be about this fun fact.

Every morning, once the laxative has sufficiently woken me up, I have to chug a liter of water with two teaspoons of all-natural sea salt. Burroughs reasons that your internal pipes need a thorough rinse just like any car engine, hence the salt-water flush, which is the same gravity and density as your blood and so drops straight through your kidneys and into your intestine like a rocket. You’re hitting the can within an hour tops; be prepared to stay there and curse your existence.

Once the overnight/morning horrors have subsided, a more agreeable day is in store. This is where the lemonade comes into play. Six-to-twelve servings of a fresh-squeezed organic lemon juice, organic maple syrup, filtered or bottled water and cayenne pepper concoction is all I get. It’s all liquids all the time for ten days straight.

Initially turned on to the idea by a friend, who touted that he and his sister had accomplished the cleanse over the holidays and had “felt great,” I decided to give it a try.
The Master Cleanse has been heralded as a great way to give your major digestive organs healing rest, while simultaneously sucking out and eliminating all the toxins left over from your decidedly un-healthy Saturday night Chinese food and beer binges. Not to mention, while it’s not meant specifically as a Lose Weight Exercise-loss diet, the average person tends to loseWeight Exercise upwards of fifteen pounds during the ten day fast.

And judging from the old jeans I’ve been able to squeeze back into, I’m guesstimating I’ve shed that much or thereabouts.

Still, putting myself through something this extreme has made me question repeatedly whether the benefits will be worthwhile. Right now, on day eight, I’m still only seeing side effects, which Burroughs affectionately dubs “detox symptoms,” and suggests relishing considering they’re signs that the cleanse is, in fact, working.

It’s a little hard to relish tiredness, nausea, headaches, irritability, crazed cravings for fatty foods like the cake in my fridge, horrible breath and a thick white coating on my tongue. All of this is apparently indicative of the toxins vacating my system in droves. Gross.

To top it off my sense of smell has been weirdly acute since day two, which I’m guessing might have something to do with the cayenne interacting with my sinuses. Not only can I smell my own toxic self, but also the offensively poor hygiene on the bus, which routinely hits me like a brick wall.

The only good news is, my recent transformation into a bloodhound has made me very popular with my roommates (I’m constantly bombarded with “smell this and tell me if it’s gone bad,” or “which scent is better on me?”), and I’ve discovered I’m finding more pleasure in the warm cooking smells wafting from the kitchen or from the scent of an empty red wine bottle than ever before.

Hopefully, the pros will inevitably outweigh the cons of my struggle. Most medical professionals recognize detoxifying diets as safe and beneficial, and there are many options; month-long alkaline diets, two to three day water fasts, etc. There’s a wealth of information at the library and on the Internet, and I researched my detox carefully. The Master Cleanse is safe to continue for up to forty days with a minimum of ten, so, eight days, just two days to go.

I have to remind myself to hold out, and that renewed energy, vitality and the desire to eat better may very well await me at the finish. Indeed the whites of my eyes are whiter, I do feel lighter and focused, and I see the light at the end of the tunnel even with the birthday cake mocking me.

I’m determined to succeed. I’ll let you know how it turns out. And for those about to detox, I salute you.