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Drinking lemon juice in a homemade cleanse promotes bowel movements.

Undertaking a cleanse for weight loss is meant to jump-start weight loss by cleaning out the colon, though claims that cleansing or detoxing promotes weight loss remain unfounded, as of 2011. Daily laxative use as part of a cleanse can result in dehydration, electrolyte depletion and impairment of bowel function. Consult a doctor before attempting a cleanse for weight loss.


One idea underlying weight loss cleanses is that increasing bowel movements will reduce the calories the body uses, but your body absorbs nearly all the calories you consume before the food reaches your colon. Another theory in favor of weight loss cleanses holds that clearing out toxins -- chemicals from food, water and pollution -- assists the body in losing weight.


A popular homemade cleanse combines lemon juice, cayenne pepper and maple sugar. The maple sugar provides carbohydrates and helps make the concoction palatable. Cayenne pepper could help reduce hunger and help burn fat, although the evidence for this is preliminary, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Cleanse proponents recommend consuming the ingredients in purified water. Consuming psyllium husk, a natural plant fiber, provides bulk as part of a homemade cleanse. Ingesting psyllium and dietary fiber helps you feel full and may assist weight loss, says the University of Maryland Medical Center.

Other homemade cleanses involve taking salt water as a laxative or combining laxative herbs and clay to increase bowel movements. These concoctions may have significant health risks, according to New York University's Langone Medical Center.


Fasting as a spiritual practice has a long history in many religions. The idea of purification and cleansing as a way to create change may help increase motivation for weight loss, and brief use of a homemade cleanse may help break habits of overeating and reduce the appetite. For a homemade cleanse to be useful as a means to jump-start weight-loss, it's important to follow the cleanse with lifestyle improvements. A healthy, balanced diet and exercise program provide the most effective means to safely achieve your weight-loss goals. Consult your doctor before attempting a cleanse or fast.


Despite claims that a cleanse will cause weight loss, no scientific evidence exists to support this theory. The Harvard Medical School says that much of the weight loss from cleanse diets such as the Master Cleanse results from fluid loss and frequent bowel movements. The weight returns quickly after the cleanse.

Some promoters of cleanse products for weight loss include graphic photos of expelled fecal material and state that this material adheres to the colon walls. Fecal material doesn't adhere to the colon walls, and the photographed material is probably stool formed from the fiber in the product, according to the Harvard Medical School.


Consult your doctor about weight loss and medical concerns. Some cleanse diets and products include unfounded claims that cleaning out the colon will not only promote weight loss but also treat diseases. Attempting to self-treat any medical condition with a cleanse could be extremely dangerous.

Laxative use, including "natural" or herbal preparations, may have a negative affect on the beneficial microorganisms that aid digestive processes. Repeated cleanses using laxatives and fasting could result in excessive blood acidity. "Severe metabolic acidosis can lead to coma and death," the Harvard Medical School warns.

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