The "Master Cleanse" - 10 Day Lemon Juice 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. Regardless of your reasoning fasting has beneficial aspects for your body, and your mind.
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.
The fast that I will be describing here is 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.
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.
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. When we are leading clients through a pigu fast, or other types of fasting, we recommend they perform a particular qi gong routine called the Tai Chi Dao Yin. This routine is just a few simple movements and will help energize the people when they need it and stave off cravings. This is also a good time to perform some simple meditation techniques.
Breaking the Fast:
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 juice mixed with the same amount of water and drink that 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 warning and then start eating normally, possibly restricting meat, fish, eggs, bread, tea, milk, and/or coffee for another 1-3 days.
Now that you are done:
Congratulations! If this is your first time doing a fast, hopefully this will be a stepping stone to a healthier diet and lifestyle. The truth is that there are no secrets to health other than simple moderation, eating a wide range of quality foods, or what we refer to as eating like a human, and 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. A simple diet based largely on whole foods, not too much snacking, and setting up your life so that you walk or ride as often as possible (even if it's just a walk after dinner) will take you a long way.