Cleanse side effects

What are the Symptoms and Side Effects you may experience during a Body Cleanse?

People who undergo a body cleanse do so with the primary intention of ridding their body of toxins and free radicals. While this process is highly recommended to those who wish to lose weight and recapture their body’s status quo, there are a number of things that people need to know about detox and body cleansing, not least of which is its potential adverse effects.

It is necessary to know of the drawbacks and potential dangers of detoxing, especially for novices who are not quite familiar with the process and are not aware of what they should expect. Click here to read about Toxicity Symptoms.

Listed below are some of the most common side effects of cleansing, as well as the corresponding explanation for why they occur and what can be done to prevent or address such conditions as they arise.


While there is no clear cause for this particular side effect, there seems to be a direct correlation between detoxing and the occurrence of headaches. This usually happens within the first few days of the diet, especially for first timers. The headaches can manifest as a migraine attack, cluster headache, or tension headache, and can last anywhere from a few minutes to a couple of hours.

Suggested Remedy:

Dealing with headaches caused by detoxing can be addressed in a variety of ways, one of which is through massage therapy. The blood flow in the brain has to be improved in order to ease the pain and tension. It’s important that you keep yourself hydrated.

Ice: is also a good remedy as the ice cuts pain by reducing swollen vessels that are pressing on the nerves, by overriding pain messages to the brain, which reduces muscle contraction. Cover the ice or cold object with a paper towel or a thin layer of cloth to protect your skin. Then place the ice on the painful area for about 10-15 minutes. (tip: try ice-cubes in a sealable plastic bag)

Massage:  Use your finger tips and work them in a circular motion on your temples and forehead. Then rest your thumbs on each side of the bridge of your nose near your eyes, where it joins your forehead. Push your thumbs towards each other and squeeze the bridge of your nose. Apply firm pressure but not too hard to cause yourself pain. Then, hold the squeeze for approximately 10 seconds and then repeat 3 to 6 times.

It is highly discouraged to take anything for the headache since it can disrupt the cleansing process and may even cause further discomfort.


Video: Self-Massage for Tension Headaches

By: psoasbodywork –

Bowel Disturbances and Frequent Urination

This is perhaps the most common side effect of cleansing and detox, since the process directly affects the digestive tract. During the detoxification process, the body sets to get rid of toxins and everything else that is potentially a health hazard. This purging effect triggers frequent (and sometimes uncomfortable) bowel movements, especially during the first 2-3 days.

Most people who undergo cleansing programs experience loosening of the bowels due to the high concentration of acid in the detox formula (this is particularly true in the case of the Lemon Detox Diet).

Frequent urination can also be expected since toxins are also expelled via liquid waste.

Suggested Remedy:

Be sure to properly hydrate in order to replace all the electrolytes lost. While consuming solid foods is not permitted during a cleanse, drinking copious amounts of water is highly recommended in addition to the cleansing formula (Lemon Detox Diet Recipe).

Persistent Flatulence

Passing gas is a very common side effect of detoxing since the body attempts to get rid of all toxic substances in any and all forms. This can be particularly embarrassing so it is best to steer clear of crowded places when detoxing.

Suggested Remedy:

Applying chamomile oil on the stomach can minimize flatulence and prevent the foul odor that comes with it.

Fatigue, Weakness, and Lethargy

These three symptoms usually occur simultaneously, particularly during intensive cleansing (anything longer than 10 days). The body is naturally programmed to crave nourishment from solid food, thus the feeling of weakness and fatigue even in the absence of physical exertion. In addition, the muscles also suffer from lethargy due to the absence of protein in one’s diet.

Suggested Remedy:

The best way to deal with these symptoms is to avoid all types of physical labor and exercise. Any attempt to workout or engage in extraneous activities can result to serious complications, i.e. dizziness, sudden collapse, loss of consciousness, etc.

Bad Breath and Coated Tongue

A healthy tongue should be pink. The concentration of acid in the digestive tract can contribute to the onset of bad breath during cleansing. In addition, this can also leave a persistent bad taste on the tongue, which can be quite unpleasant and embarrassing. You may also end up with coated tongue which is either creamy-looking, brown, orange layer or white coating on your tongue. This also leads to a build up of bacteria and if left will also cause very bad breath.

Suggested Remedy:

Tongue Scraping:  The best way to remove a coated tongue is to perform tongue scraping or tongue brushing. You can pick up a tongue scraper from a chemist or drug store. It is usually u-shaped and typically a metal device that your hold at both ends and gently drag over the length of your tongue. Your goal is to remove the build up of gunk on your tongue. Go over the area of your tongue again if needed. Never scrap the underside of your tongue, only scrap the top of your tongue. You should get into the habit of scraping or brushing your tongue on a regular basis.

Tip-If you don’t want to purchase a tongue scraper, use a spoon, but ensure that the edges are not too sharp.

Also, remember to minimize bad breath by flossing, brushing frequently and to gargle with minty mouthwash.

Intense Hunger Pangs and Cravings

Hunger is by far the most difficult side effect to handle because it can cause other symptoms as well. Hunger pangs and intense cravings can be expected within the first few days of cleansing as the body struggles to adjust to the absence of solid food, or reduced food consumption.

Suggested Remedy:

Increasing intake of the Lemon Detox Recipe as well as other liquids (purified water and fruit juices) would effectively stave off hunger pangs. The feeling of hunger will eventually abate after a few days as the body successfully acclimates.

The process of cleansing and detoxification definitely has its benefits, but it also has a number of drawbacks. However, these side effects are largely manageable as long as people are aware of how to deal with each symptom. In all, the health benefits and increased energy that can be derived from detoxing are still very much worth the effort and slight discomfort.

Click here to read more about the Benefits of Detox


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Further reading

Brewer, S, The Total Detox Plan, Carlton Books, London, 2000, page 10

Harper, J, Natural Care Detox Handbook, Doring Kindersley Limited London, 2002

Krohn J, & Taylor F, Natural Detoxification, Hartley & Marks Publishers Inc. Vancouver, 2000

Quigley, D, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Detoxing Your Body, The Penguin Group, 2008