Master Cleanse: Healthy Detox or Anorexia Training?

Samantha Henig, an editor at Slate's Double X, sent me the link to her latest video about her experience on the Master Cleanse. After a massive misunderstanding on my part (I thought she was trying to sell me something, and though I apologized on Twitter, I am doing it again here: So sorry, Samantha! My fingers got trigger happy and I jumped the gun!), I finally watched the video and had to share it here:

To me, Henig absolutely hit the nail on the head when she talked about how the Master Cleanse was really just a socially acceptible way to lose a lot of weight very quickly, and that it was the mental effects of the cleanse that were far more dangerous than any physical risks.

What did you think?

Previous "In the Name of Health" blog series:
Part One
Part Two
Part Three

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6 comments: said...

VERY interesting. Thanks for sharing. One time I went to a therapist (first experience ever with a therapist) who knew about my ED and stil suggested that I can feel better by doing the Master Cleanse. I was horrified - as was my dietitian.

Laurel said...

Regarding the last comment, what an idiot. (the therapist).

I watched this video and, while I enjoyed it, I almost fear a little of a "triggering" in it. I have considered the "cleanses" off an on, but usually the sane side of me helps me just keep walking by the long aisles whose halloween like hands try to grip my attention and drag me in.

I really appreciate the conclusion that she comes to in the experiment. If we could only advertise the truth versus the "photoshop" version of fads like this master cleanse...

Anonymous said...

My best friend tried the Master Cleanse a year or so ago because she thought it would get the toxins from meds out of her system (she hadn't been able to keep taking them because she lost her insurance). She became staggeringly ill after a few days and had to stop. She was physically and mentally drained and it kicked all of her mental illnesses into overdrive. She couldn't stay awake, couldn't think, could barely complete sentences.

On the season 5 premier of The Office, Kelly is on the Master Cleanse and her reactions are similar to what my friend's were.

Angela Elain Gambrel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Angela Elain Gambrel said...

Master Cleanse, MediFast, etc. - They are all socially acceptable ways of starving yourself.

@Laurel - I agree,'s therapist is a complete idiot.

TheresaB said...

This video was interesting and brought up some things I had never considered, such as the possibility that the Master Cleanse is a socially acceptable gateway to anorexia.

I certainly think there's some merit to that.

I completed the cleanse 2 months ago and I have to admit that I'm guilty of what Samantha talks about: I told everyone (including myself) that I was doing it to rid my body of toxins, but I was secretly excited about losing the weight. I've never had an eating disorder but I would definitely NOT recommend the cleanse for anyone who does. However, I don't think it's a bad experiment for people who are exploring different ways to improve their health. Some people swear by the cleanse and I can certainly see some benefits to it.

I also documented my cleansing process. I'd love to hear people's thoughts on what I experienced.

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I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.

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nour·ish: (v); to sustain with food or nutriment; supply with what is necessary for life, health, and growth; to cherish, foster, keep alive; to strengthen, build up, or promote


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