Made famous by many celebrities who use the lemon detox as a weight-loss tool, this fasting detox comes with some benefits and some warnings.

The lemon detox promises weight loss, increased energy and vitality, shinier hair and stronger nails, clearer skin and eyes, better digestion and a greater sense of wellbeing. The general idea is that your body is given the chance to rest from digesting solid foods and will cleanse itself of toxins. In truth, the first claim (weight loss) is certainly true – at least in the short term – but the other promises are debatable and depend very much on the person who is detoxing.

So, what is the lemon detox exactly?

First conceived 60 years ago by Hawaiian “master cleanser” Burroughs, the liquid-only detox recommends drinking lemon juice and water mixed with the key ingredient, Madal Bal Natural Tree syrup, which is a combination of maple and palm syrups mixed with lemon juice, water and a pinch of cayenne pepper. This is believed to dissolve excess fat, speed up the metabolism and eliminate toxins.

The detox typically lasts between 3-5 days, but given the lack of nutrients, a shorter period of 1-2 days is recommended. If in doubt, please consult your nutritionist or your doctor, or both.

There are two main approaches with the lemon detox. A full cleansing fast, or the newer 5:2 diet approach. The 5:2 method involves a longer detox with a pattern of five days eating normally and two days fasting. This is a safer, but longer detox.

If you do go ahead with a lemon detox, aftercare is important. As your digestive system will not have been active for a number of days, it needs to be managed carefully when the detox finishes. The key is to reintroduce foods gradually over two or three days. Freshly squeezed fruit juices and vegetable soup are good, as are fresh fruit salads, quinoa and lightly spiced lentils.

Cleansing the body of toxins often means perspiring more, peppermint tea is a good natural solution to neutralizing odours.

The debate around this detox is that it is simply too strict. By purging your body of many nutrients it needs, even just a day or too can be detrimental. Critics say that given how low in protein the detox is, it can result in a loss of muscle mass and a plummeting metabolic rate – making it harder to lose weight in the long-term.

Alternatively, other experts claim that given the detox is so short, just one or two days, it is not long enough to cause loss of muscle or protein deficiency. Some also suggest that it can be just the kick-start some detoxers need to make more long-term changes. Also, as the special concoction is drunk regularly – every two hours – this ensures the body does not go into starvation mode.