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Detox Alternative and Home Remedies

Try detox alternative and home remedies to get rid of toxins and turn a new leaf on your health.

Cayenne pepper or chili powder are superb home remedy ingredients for a cleansing detox. [©Shutterstock, 2010]
©Shutterstock, 2010
Cayenne pepper or chili powder are superb home remedy ingredients for a cleansing detox.

In recent years, the popularity of detox alternative and home remedies has increased. Most of these therapies involve fasting for a period of three to 40 days, during which time the person fasting will drink only water, fresh juice or, in the case of the Master Cleanse, a special lemonade thought by some to have detoxifying properties. Though naturopathic doctors have long used fasting and enemas as detoxifying treatments, it was Peter Glickman who popularized the Master Cleanse and raw foods diet in the 1970s as a treatment people could follow without medical supervision.

Though detox diets are not widely accepted by the mainstream medical community, there are a few pieces of scientific evidence that suggest they may be beneficial. Published in 2001, a paper in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics suggested that medically supervised fasting, during which patients drank only water, helped restore normal blood pressure levels in patients with hypertension. Furthermore, the work of Dr. Steven R. Spindler at the University of California, Riverside has shown that calorie reduction helps restore liver function and reduce inflammation in mice.

The Master Cleanse

Though Peter Glickman popularized the Master Cleanse, Stanley Burroughs first developed the program in the 1940s. According to Burroughs, fasting triggers the body's natural healing capabilities and helps eliminate the toxins that cause disease. But instead of adhering to a strict water fast, his system calls for a special lemonade made from the following ingredients:

  • eight tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • two tablespoons grade B maple syrup
  • 1/10 teaspoon cayenne pepper or chili powder
  • eight ounces of room temperature water

By combining these ingredients in a 10-ounce glass, the faster has enough lemonade for one serving; it is recommended that fasters take six to 12 servings each day. For this recipe, grade B maple is especially recommended because it is more nutritious than grade A syrup, and more palatable than grade C. Maple syrup contains a number of essential vitamins and minerals that can sustain the body during the 10 to 40 day fast.

On the other hand, the citric acid and cayenne pepper are used to agitate, loosening toxic buildup from the intestines and mucus lining of the respiratory system. To help the body expel these toxins, the Master Cleanse calls for an herbal laxative tea to be taken every morning and evening. Burroughs also prescribes a salt water enema prepared by combining two teaspoons of sea salt in a quart of lukewarm water. This treatment will cause several eliminations, and may be taken as often as necessary. It is recommended that those fasting start each day with this enema.

Ending the Fast

After a long period of fasting, it is important for the body to be eased into digesting solid foods again. For those who do the Master Cleanse, a diet of orange and grapefruit juice is recommended for two to three days following the fast. After that, a homemade vegetable soup might be tried, followed by a salad. Ideally, a cleanse is meant to rid the body of toxins, but also to "reset" the body's taste for fatty and processed foods. Those who have finished the Master Cleanse are encouraged to follow up with a raw foods diet consisting of fruits, vegetables and nuts in order to maintain the benefits provided by the fast.

Juice Fasting

There are many variations on the juice fast, some of which claim to use specific juices to trigger healing in different organs. Like the Master Cleanse, the idea behind juice fasting is that it gives the digestive system a break, which in turn allows the body to heal itself. But also like the Master Cleanse, there is very little scientific evidence to support the benefits of juice fasting.

There are some common fruits and vegetables that make good, nutritious juices. Citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruits, as well as apples, strawberries and grapes, provide plenty of vitamin C, which gives the immune system a boost and is a good source of antioxidants. Vegetables like broccoli, kale, spinach, dandelion leaf and asparagus also contain vitamin C and plenty of iron. Carrots and sweet potatoes provide beta carotene, or vitamin A.

During a juice fast, fruits and vegetables are often combined with herbs to enhance the flavor of the juice, as well as for their various health benefits. These herbs include:

  • Ginger, which in addition to adding a nice zing to juices, is used to aid digestion and may help combat inflammatory diseases.
  • Yucca root, which also may reduce inflammation associated with arthritis and other conditions.
  • Tumeric root, an herb that may help ease digestive disorder, such as stomach inflammation and ulcers, as well as osteoarthritis, cancer and artery blockage.
  • Peppermint, which combats irritable bowel syndrome, fights viruses, can help ease headaches, and acts as an expectorant.


There are many reasons that alternative practitioners recommend detox treatments. They are definitely worth exploring for the individual who is feeling sluggish, tired and unable to focus. It is important, however, that a professional monitor detox alternative and home remedies and that a doctor is consulted prior to beginning any new diet regimen.

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