Side Effects of a 7-Day Detox

The 7-day detox diet is a popular detoxification program that varies according to diet plan and restrictions, but lasts for 7 days. Many people engage in a detox diet to rid their bodies of toxins, kick start a weight loss plan, improve their skin and digestive system and strengthen their overall energy and health. Although there is no scientific proof that a 7-day detox diet purges the body of toxins or increases vitality, proponents of detoxification programs swear by the effectiveness. While it may improve skin tone and cleanse the body, the 7-day detox diet comes with its fair share of side effects. These symptoms are the body's response to the removal of waste from the colon, liver, arteries and brain.

A woman is struggling with a headache. Credit: Jupiterimages, Brand X Pictures/Stockbyte/Getty Images


Headaches are a common side effect of a 7-day detox program. Joel Fuhrman, M.D., a board-certified family physician and author of "Eat To Live: The Revolutionary Plan for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss," explains that as the body attempts to eliminate wastes and toxins, headaches frequently occur. If you abruptly cut out caffeine from your diet, your body goes through a withdrawal period as it works to remove the buildup of toxins, which can result in the common caffeine headache. To avoid headaches, gradually decrease your consumption of caffeine products prior to starting your 7-day detox diet. According to the website, headaches can also occur due to stiffness in the neck and shoulder muscles, a common area for toxin buildup. Massage and heating pads can significantly reduce tension in the shoulders and the frequency and degree of detox-related headaches.

Digestive Issues

Common digestive side effects of a 7-day detox diet include bloating, cramping, flatulence, nausea and diarrhea. Experts at the website Ask A Healer indicate that the degree of gas, bloating and cramping you undergo during a detox cleanse depends on the overall condition of your colon and daily dietary choices prior to engaging in the detox diet. Activated charcoal taken alone, ginger root in the form of tea or capsules, or digestive enzyme supplements are recommended treatments for the bloating and cramping that may accompany a 7-day detox diet.

Nausea occurs during a 7-day detox diet when the lymph glands release toxins at such a fast rate that the liver has to manage the excess, which gets emitted with bile into the stomach. To manage nausea, suggests drinking water or carrot juice. It is important to drink fluids, as toxins in the body are eliminated through urine and feces.

Fruit juices, especially when combined with water consumption, can act as laxatives, causing diarrhea. Eliminate the use of any laxative herbs during your 7-day detox program to help control diarrhea. Teens Health warns against the use of laxative supplements, which can lead to dehydration and ultimately affect the balance and healthy functioning of the digestive system.

Emotional Side Effects

You may undergo a gamut of emotions, depending upon the particular 7-day detox program you are following. Anxiety, irritability and depression are common emotional disturbances of a detox diet. A true fast brings up more negative emotions than does a more balanced 7-day detox diet.

Skin Imbalances

The skin is a major eliminatory organ. During a 7-day detox, skin may appear oily and acne or boils may develop. Rash-like symptoms are also not uncommon. Skin should gradually return to normal 3 to 5 days after the 7-day detox program is complete.


Fatigue is a natural result of any restricted diet. As the body is working hard to eliminate waste, energy reserves are depleted. Supplement your body by increasing your intake of fruit juices.

Weight Loss and Gain

The majority of doctors and weight loss experts maintain that any weight lost in a 7-day detox diet is simply water weight, and will be gained back shortly after the detox diet is completed. A study published in the April 2010 edition of "Psychosomatic Medicine," found that diets that restrict calories lead to increased levels of cortisol, a stress hormone connected to belly fat. "We think this may be one reason dieters tend to have a hard time keeping weight off in the long-term," says lead researcher A. Janet Tomiyama, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health & Society Scholar at the University of California, San Francisco.

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