Doctors' NotesLifestyleUrban Housecall

The Skinny on Detox Cleanses

Welcome to Doctors’ Notes, our newest contribution from Urban Health correspondents and husband and wife physicians Dr. Rob and Dr. Karla Robinson.  The dynamic duo will be fielding questions about health, as it relates to African Americans.  Please feel free to send them questions via digitalpitches@ebony.comWe promise to keep it anonymous. 

Urban Housecall Docs

We’ve all said it, “New Year, New Me”! As we are fresh off our New Year’s celebrations, many of us are now ready to hit the pavement running with our resolutions to be slim and trim, fit and fine, or buff and tough in 2017. But much like in every other area of our lives, we often find ourselves looking for the quick fix. Enter the detox craze. Lemons, cayenne pepper, ballerina tea, colonic—most of us can admit to trying one or more of these, or at the very least considering it.

Up until the last five to ten years, when most of us hear detox, we’d often think of it in terms of cleansing the body of some unwanted substance such as drugs or alcohol. But now when we hear about someone detoxing, we’re usually talking about a five to seven day extreme process of rapid weight loss in an attempt to rid the body of unwanted pounds. Unwanted pounds gone in under a week may sound like God’s gift to the typical holiday overindulgence, but you might want to do your research first.

As with most “health fads” there are some drawbacks to the detox craze. Truth be told, there is no substitute for consistency in healthy eating and exercise. This is the only way to not only achieve that health and fitness goal you have, but also to maintain it. However, if you are considering detox as a part of your plan for the New Year, don’t forget to tell your doctor and be sure to review this quick list of pros and cons first.


Detox for weight loss

Pro: You can definitely achieve a quick weight loss of five to seven pounds in a week with most detox cleanses. They often include either a laxative effect, extreme calorie reduction, or both leading to a rapid slim down.

Con: This is often water weight loss and you can risk becoming dehydrated. You also aren’t really eliminating meaningful weight or reducing body fat. If you don’t do a long-term modification to your eating habits, the stool will reaccumulate, water retention will return, and your body fat will remain.


Detox for health improvement

Pro: Studies show that even as little as a 5-10% reduction in total body weight can have a huge impact on blood pressure, diabetes, and heart health. Quick detox plans are also a great way to see rapid improvement in bloating and belly size. Cleansing the bowels tends to improve energy and skin health. This is often a great motivator to continue to put in the work required to achieve and maintain your goals—but it’s just the beginning.

Con: The gains made through detox are often short-lived and not sustained. When used for too long, your body can become dependent on the laxative effect. With rapid weight loss that doesn’t include a lifestyle change, most people end up regaining the weight they lost and then some. If you don’t capitalize on the jumpstart that the detox provides, you’ll lose all of the benefit.


Detox to control cravings

Pro: Addiction to sugar is real. Each day you are able to completely cut off your sugar supply helps to control the cravings for it.

Con: In reality, it often takes 30-45 days to completely eliminate cravings. Most detox plans aren’t sustainable for more than a week without suffering adverse effects. The most effective way to reduce cravings is to eliminate your processed food intake, increase fruits, vegetables and fiber, and follow an eating plan similar to the Daniel Fast for 30 days.

It’s a health thing…we’ve got to understand!

About the Doctors:

Dr. Karla and Dr. Rob are the founders of Urban Housecall, a multimedia health and wellness resource, and also hosts of the Urban Housecall Radio Show.  For more from the doctors, visit their website at, like them on Facebook, and follow them on Twitter @urbanhousecall!