The Cayenne Pepper is frankly just as important to the master cleanse as the fresh lemon juice is, which makes the choice to substitute cayenne pepper, or how it's taken a dubious decision, and one that must consider fully why cayenne pepper is indeed so important. Yes it's hot. Yes, it makes what would be a quite nice lemonade into a deranged bloody mary or caesar cocktail (for my fellow Canadians out there).

Reasons People Seek to Substitute Cayenne Pepper

  1. It's too hot, can't stand the taste: First, if you want an alternative simply because you don't like the taste, consider using a pill capsule for taking medicines. You simply fill the capsule with the cayenne and then take a pill – no tasting.
  2. Allergic to Cayenne Pepper: This is the same answer as those cite allergies to lemons. Allergies are just toxicity (often built up over decades), and The Master Cleanse is great at addressing allergies. If you are already somewhat toxic and you are eating either lemon or cayenne, or both, and experiencing discomfort or what you think is an allergic reaction, this may be due to your body’s attempting to cleanse itself and digest food at the same time. Many people have reported their supposed citrus allergy did not only NOT cause an issue during a well-followed master cleanse, but that allergy and others resolved after a cleanse or two.

Why Cayenne Pepper?

The Master Cleanse uses and cayenne, precisely because they possess properties good for stirring up toxicity in the body and cayenne pepper, as a functional food goes, is clearly a super food, a super herb, and some even call it the “master” herb (which I believe is why Stanley called the lemonade diet “the master cleanser”).

  1. Anti-Appetite – Super helpful for a reduction diet like the master cleanse is often used as.
  2. Pro-Circulation – Aids in elimination, and repair, providing more oxygen all over the body
  3. Pro-Weight-Loss – Stimulates fat burning.
  4. Anti-Microbal – Literally makes toxic organisms want to leave your body.
  5. Anti-Pain – Analgesic, used to treat Fibromyalgia
  6. Anti-Histamine – Decongestant – Stimulates release of mucus and inflammation in allergic responses from toxicity.
  7. Pro-Perspiration – Makes you sweat. Which helps you detox through the largest detox/elimination organ –the skin.

Common Suggestions for Cayenne Pepper Substitutions

[highlight]NOTE: These suggestions ARE NOT recommended by us.[/highlight] They are common in the community, and part of the frequent questions we receive. Although they certainly can be considered as some-what-acceptable approaches that would be in fact a departure from the cleanse into customized cleansing land.

  1. Take the Cayenne in Capsule: Stanley said “Use fresh (organic) lemons or limes only, never canned lemon or limejuice nor frozen lemonade or frozen juice.” But… I don't think he meant frozen, pure, recently fresh lemon juice, like a day old or day of). He meant, Minute Maid or Sunkist. Anything processed. Don't use it.
  2. Simply Omit the Cayenne: A purely lemon juice cleanse is very common, though not necessarily combined with maple syrup, and usually just for a day or two for a short term fast. This is certainly an option, but as always, just know you're no longer doing “The Master Cleanse”. You're now doing a customized cleanse of your own design –which is ok, just different and requires you to do your homework or rely on your wellness team.

Tips to Make Taking Cayenne Pepper Easier

  • Add the moment before drinking: Your lemonade should ideally be made fresh and by the glass. So, squeeze your lemon, add your maple syrup, fill with water, and then only before you ready to consume, add your cayenne, mix quickly and drink immediately.
  • Don't let it steep: Taking the point previous a step further to ensure you are not making a batch of lemonade improperly, making it even worse is to add your cayenne pepper to the big batch so that it steeps for hours making it extra spicy and a long lasting, stomach turning spicy at that.
  • Mind your scovilles: The ‘hotness’ of the Cayenne Pepper is measured in a unit called Scoville ranging from 40,000 to 100,000 IU’s. You don't need the hottest under (or of) the sun. You do need hotter than the weakest. As is usually suggested with many things in life, start slow and build up. Try the 40,000-unit version in your lemonade before moving up to the 100,000. If the package isn’t marked with a unit measure, then it is likely 40,000.
  • Rinse your mouth quickly: Have a second standard 8oz glass of water ready to drink right after your lemonade. Drink the first 80% quickly letting the water into your entire mouth. The last little bit, lightly rinse your mouth and spit out. You'll refresh your palate and leave the poor taste largely in the rearview mirror.
  • Chug it: This is my advice for everything. Pound that drink. Don't sip it. The longer you take to drink it the more you're going to taste it.

Potential Alternatives for Cayenne Pepper


Just as I would think that you could certainly substitute other citrus fruits for lemon juice, likewise I feel that a customized cleanse might consider similar super herbs known for their functional properties, (particularly cleansing and detox) including:

  • Paprika
  • Turmeric
  • Ginger – zerumbone
  • Curcumin
  • Oregano – ursolic acid
  • Dandelion: Increases bile production to break down fats and remove cholesterol from the body
  • Cilantro: helps the body rid itself of dangerous toxic metals that accumulate in organ tissues.
  • Peppermint: Peppermint inhibits blockages in the kidney and gallbladder and calms the stomach for optimal digestion.
  • Elderberry: Also known as a de-mucus-ifying agent (yep that's not a word)
  • Onions – quercetin
  • Kokum – garcinol

Now, am I suggesting you do a Turmeric Diet instead of the “Cayenne Pepper Diet” (that is the master cleanse). No, not really. But I want to provide context for those interested in expanding their understanding of how the lemon, cayenne, and even the maple syrup works synergistically as food-as-medicine, and what else could be done to expand functional fasting like the master cleanse.

That said, I think the first customizations should be small, and laser-focused in why they are being done. Using turmeric 1 glass of lemonade per day might be an approach worth experimenting with. Potentially, yes I can see similar substitutions being part of a more complex protocol to treat various conditions of diseased states depending on what the root cause is thought to be and keeping with precepts of what's known as functional medicine.


References and Resources