Lemon Water & Cayenne Pepper Detox

Some people will try almost anything to lose weight, including drinking lemon juice and cayenne pepper. Lemon juice and cayenne peppers are major components of the Master Cleanse, also known as the lemonade diet. Laxatives are recommended morning and evening to encourage bowel movements. Touted as a detoxification, this is really a short-term fast that can yield short-term benefits.

Sliced cayenne pepper (Image: View Stock/View Stock/Getty Images)


The lemon water and cayenne pepper detox diet was developed in 1940 by alternative-health practitioner Stanley Burroughs. In 1976, Burroughs' book, "The Master Cleanser," promoted the diet for weight loss and as a cure for a range of health disorders. In 2004, author Peter Glickman reintroduced the diet in his book, "Lose Weight, Have More Energy & Be Happier in 10 Days." Numerous celebrities, including Beyonce and Jared Leto, have embraced the diet.

How It Works

The lemon water and cayenne pepper detox diet works mainly by drastically lowering calorie intake. For 10 days, you drink six to 12 glasses of a water, lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper tonic. No solid food is allowed. Depending on how many glasses of the tonic you consume, you'll be getting 650 to 1,300 calories a day. At that rate, weight loss takes place very quickly. Losing 3 lbs. or more a week is possible. Much of that weight, however, is water weight.


Most people are looking for a quick way to lose weight. The detox appears to be a secondary goal among those who undertake this fast. Registered dietitian Katherine Zeratsky of the Mayo Clinic says there is little evidence to support the efficacy of cleanses or the need for internal cleansing via detoxes. It is the job of the liver and kidneys to rid the body of toxins, and they do the job just fine. Although some detox diet followers report feeling more energetic and focused during a cleanse, Zeratsky says dieters may simply be feeling positive about doing something they perceive to be good for their weight and overall health.

Effectiveness and Dangers

For those looking to lose a few pounds before a beach vacation or high school reunion, the lemon water and cayenne pepper diet may be effective. However, this is not a long-term solution, as weight loss will be quickly regained once you resume your normal eating habits. Extended fasting, moreover, can lead to muscle wasting, nutrient deficiencies and serious health problems. The only long-term weight-loss solution is a healthy diet and regular exercise. If you have a pre-existing condition, consult your doctor before trying the lemon water and cayenne pepper diet, as it could put your health at risk.

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