My First Cleanse: Dr. Lipman’s Be Well Cleanse

Cleansing.  That sounds daunting. Are you unsure of what it really means? Fear not. Cleansing is really just a broad (and frequently used...) term for any regimen or diet which eliminates specific foods or food groups to aid in resting the digestive system, allowing the liver to work on detoxification and also allow the GI tract to "reset".  Often times, people associate the term cleansing with those who "crash diet" or cleanse as a way to severely limit calories and lose weight quickly.  Cleansing can certainly result in weight loss (as can any regimen where you cut the crap, so to speak...), but that should certainly NOT be the number one goal when cleansing. Here we are talking about cleansing to get healthy!

My Journey to the Cleanse

For months in the spring, I had been waking up achy all over with headaches almost every day, feeling sluggish and just worn out.  No matter what I did, I just could not get into a good pattern of feeling well. This was quite frustrating. With gluten intolerance, Reynaud's, and Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, I could not point my finger at any one thing in particular that was dragging me down. I had been considering trying a cleanse but was not sure what to do. My first thought was: should I juice? The most widely

Be Well Cleansepublicized cleanses are juice fasts. Juice cleanses involve three to five days worth of juices (green juice, veggie juice, fruit juice and nut milk) which are to be consumed at regular intervals during the day as your meals. This liquid diet should be all organic, with as many greens and nutrients as possible. Usually people do five to seven juices during the course of the day on a juice fast. Although it sounded interesting, I felt like I needed a little more substance and a few more calories due to my daily demands.  I had recently finished reading Revive by Dr. Frank Lipman which I loved. I had been following his blog and looking into his methods for over a year. I started to look more and more into his Be Well Cleanse program, and I realized I had found exactly what I was looking for.  The Be Well Cleanse is a cleanse system that consists of three shakes per day made from packets of protein and nutrient powder, in addition to your own lunch and dinner, from a list of "cleanse" approved foods.  The shake powder comes in individual packets, along with daily packets of vitamins and enzymes to take with each meal. Dr. Lipman provides a list of approved foods and gives recipe ideas to follow to get your started. Many more recipes and shake ideas are also available on the Be Well blog created for the program by Dr Lipman, his wife Janice, and the team of Be Well health coaches.

On the cleanse, the prescribed eating plan is to drink two shakes in the morning (early morning and again mid morning if you are hungry again) and another shake in the afternoon between lunch and dinner if you are hungry.  I liked the idea of incorporating a light lunch and dinner into my plan for cleansing. This method of rejuvenating myself and  I decided I would also make an appointment with Dr. Lipman and see him in NYC at his office, the Eleven Eleven Wellness Center. If I was going to do this, I wanted to do it right and get back to feeling good! I have had a few recent discouraging appointments with other physicians so I was hopeful this was the best next step.

What I did...

What does the cleanse  look like? Three berry flavored shakes for you to make with water, nut milk or coconut water.  Things to avoid:My Shakes! gluten,  dairy, anything processed( this means nothing from a package), peanuts, coffee, corn, or soy. The game plan: Early morning shake, late morning shake, lunch (usually a nice salad with baked chicken), afternoon shake, and dinner (lean, organic protein and plenty of veggies). I stuck with organic veggies when possible, organic lean grass-fed meats, and made  up my hydration.  I also kept up my usual exercise routine and tried to squeeze in a little more yoga when possible.

Survey Says?

Well, Day 1 and 2 I had a serious headache and was a little cranky. Not to mention I picked a bad day to start. Like, really bad. I worked a night shift the night before and we had pre-cana the next day, all day.  I was awake for around 23+ hours before finally crashing around 4pm.  I had to get to bed because I was headed back to work for a day shift the next day.  I was pretty tired and had a headache but I was not too much worse for the wear those first few days.  I have to say that the headache is VERY common the first few days on any cleanse. I had already come off of coffee and was sticking to green tea, so I was ok there. Also as part of my "gut healing" I am staying away from NSAIDs (motrin, advil, aleve, etc) but I did take a little tylenol while at work those days because my headache was killing me.

I had a hard time getting down all three shakes each day. I just could not consume that much liquid and protein. I contacted one of Dr. Lipman's health coaches who assured me it was ok to just do the two each day. (I did both in the morning...) The afternoon shake was for those who felt they really needed an afternoon 'snack' or were very hungry between lunch and dinner. I didn't fall into this category so I dropped the third shake. No worries.

My Hands.... Before and AfterBy the end of the first week I was in a groove. I was adding frozen berries to my shake with coconut water each morning and sticking with the cleanse foods for the rest of the day. By Day 7 my usually red, painful, irritated hands (from Reynaud's) were staring to look good! REALLY GOOD! The redness and cracking was actually starting to recede.  This was shocking. My hands have been red for YEARS with little change in color or texture, except when turn from red to redder in the dead of winter. Having 'normal' looking hands was a real breakthrough.

I had my appointment with the Doctor on Day 10 and took out a few pictures. I showed him what my hands usually look like and how they were after just 10 days of cleansing.  We reviewed all of my lab work from the past few years that I had compiled. He and I chatted with two other health professionals from his office, in a group setting.  However, we were sure something was still triggering me, because my ANA turned positive in recent blood work.  Despite my best efforts, something was still causing inflammation. No wonder I still felt poorly.  After an extensive and informative appointment, we decided on a plan of action.  He told me to keep up the cleanse for the rest of the allotted time and then he laid out an autoimmune plan for after the cleanse.

I had a few rashes break out on the cleanse as I detoxed in the first week or so.  I have read that this is normal as you eliminate toxins from your body.  I had a bad abdominal rash after eating artichokes for the first time during the cleanse. and got hives when I tried a new granola in the second week.  Also, I had a major reaction to salmon, breaking out into hives all over my back twice after eating it. I have had salmon once since and have been ok, so maybe it was just a blip and I am being cautious for now.

At Day 10 (time of the appointment) I was still having a lot of bloating and tightness in my abdomen, so there was definitely more GI work to do according to Dr. Lipman. For the rest of the cleanse and another week after, I was on a hefty dose of probiotics to reset my flora and get my GI tract in order.  After Day 10 I stuck with the cleanse foods BUT also cut out all grains (yes even the gluten free grains like rice, quinoa, oats….) and cut out legumes. This was more of a paleo focus for my diet.  This may sound very restrictive but quite literally within TWO days my stomach felt the best it has in a very long time.  No more bloating, no discomfort. No more rashes. This was the start of my Paleo lifestyle. (This is the biggest dietary transition ever for me, with great results!)

Hives after trying granola during cleanse

By day 14 I had so much energy, no GI discomfort, my digestion was doing great, no bloating, no rashes, no aches, no headaches, and my hands looked normal. You can tell people that you "feel amazing" but when you can see progress by having hands that go from red and cracked to smooth and normal, people who know you well really start to take notice.

In all, I loved this cleanse. It was the start of a major change in lifestyle for me but was not a jarring progression. Dr. Lipman talks about the need for adequate protein on the cleanse to support this liver's hard work at detoxing. While there is protein in the shakes, he also recommends eating healthy, organic, lean protein each day. For someone who was basically vegan, this was a transition for me that took getting used to. I started with chicken breast and just white meat for most of the cleanse. I did make bison a few times which was awesome.  By the end of the two weeks I was used to consuming some meat each day which was getting easier! I certainly did not feel deprived or hungry on the cleanse. I felt like I was doing my body a favor and giving it a nourishing reset.

Where am I today?

There is a post coming on this and my Paleo lifestyle but here is a good preview.....

I still follow the  cleanse approved foods for the most part as my daily lifestyle.   I added back in strawberries and lean grass-fed red meat but stay away from soy, corn, gluten (obviously!), sugar, and most dairy. I have occasionally had a grass-fed yogurt or two but that is it on the dairy front. I also have found that eggs are a trigger food for me and cause my stomach to get very upset. I will have the occasional nightshade (basically just tomatoes or red peppers) if they are in a salad.

At the risk of sounding dramatic...this cleasne was life changing. The first of May 2013 started a health revolution for me. For the first time, I feel like I have seen changes for the better with my autoimmune conditions. I have a doctor that is behind me, supporting me and guiding me to better health. We have mapped out a plan to make me feel better and there are visible changes! It all started with the Be Well Cleanse!


You can try the clease here!

Dr Frank Lipman: Eleven Eleven Wellness Center

21 Responses

  1. Way to go, Megan! :-) I’m glad you had such a positive experience with the cleanse.

    After reading this, I’m thinking that I need to try eliminating grains and legumes for the rest of the cleanse to see my GI issues improve.

    • Congrats on your cleanse!! Did you end up cutting out grains!? How did you end up feeling with it??

      • I did cut out grains at the end of the cleanse but it was only 2 days so it’s hard to tell! I’m following the Daily Living eating plan post-cleanse and will consider eliminating grains/legumes for an extended period, if I’m still not feeling well!

  2. a mcgrane

    I’m so grateful to Dr. Lipman for being the first Doctor to understand your condition and setting you on a course to a healthier life. The change in your hands and overall health are amazing.

  3. cstall

    Hey Meg, I saw a picture of the “Immune System Recovery Plan” in your earlier post. I was gonna tell you to check it out, but you beat me to it! I was thinking of reading it. Let me know if you liked it. I’m glad to hear you are finally feeling better! It’s great that you’ve found a doctor who can really help you. Is his cleanse for anyone or specifically for people with autoimmune conditions? I hope you have many more days, months and years of feeling good!

    • Thanks!! Its a great book to read for anyone with autoimmune issues…really gives good insight into the possible causes and triggers. The plan I follow is similar to what she talks about. Although I definitely have some major differneces from what she does, at the core it is similar. :)

  4. Sara

    I feel like the universe is sending me signs! This is one of numerous posts that have come my way talking about the vegan to paleo change and how it has improved autoimmune issues. I’m interested in the details of your meals and how you switched over gradually in the future.

    • Sara-isn’t it great when he get those gentle winks from the universe!? Changing from vegan to paleo has been HUGE for me. More on that to come this week…but it all started with this gradual transition through the Be Well Cleanse. It can be an overwhelming change to make if you try to do that 180 degree shift overnight…so slowly chaning things over a month to two months has been awesome.

  5. I loved reading your story and also experienced profound effects from being on the Frank Lipman Be Well CLEANSE. I watched the black circles that I had around my eyes for over 30 years recede and disappear. They never came back and it has been over 4 years since they disappeared ! Also since connecting with Dr. Lipman I feel refreshed and inspired not only from doing the CLEANSE and taking his products but from the blogs he writes and the good caring spirit that comes through his Facebook page. I am so grateful – Frank Lipman MD restored my faith in the health and healing industry.

    • Elanine–Congratulations, how exciting!! What do you do to ‘maintain’ after the cleanse is over?? Do you continue to follow Cleanse foods as well? Thank you so much for sharing your story with us!! Dr. Lipman’s caring spirit certainly comes through to his patients each day.

      • Hi Megan, After the CLEANSE was over, I maintained a healthier lifestyle. Being on the CLEANSE reset my system so that I was drawn to food that was better for me. I dramatically reduced my caffeine, sugar and bread/ pastry intake. I began to read the Frank Lipman MD and Be Well by Dr. Frank Lipman Facebook pages daily and still do to keep inspired and well -informed. It is amazing how having a clean, properly working system guides you well in making choices and sustaining health. For example, because I reduced my sugar intake on the CLEANSE, I found my system was more sensitive to it. One day I took a bit of a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup that my friend was eating and it literally tasted like a hand full of sugar to me. That was my intuition talking to me ! To answer your question, for me the CLEANSE recipe suggestions are just like “regular” food to me. I include them in my diet. I have done several CLEANSES since my first one 4 years ago – when I am on the CLEANSE I follow the guidelines strictly, otherwise I just eat local, organic and fresh foods.
        Stay well ! All my best, Elaine

      • Elaine–Great info. Thanks SO much for sharing with the hgc crowd. It is SO true how once you have not had sugary treats, you lose the desire for them & can really taste the sugar and “fake” taste of some treats. I also had a similar experience after the cleanse and realized how I did not want to even get used to tasting that stuff again!!
        Thanks again for sharing–Be Well!

  6. […] you might have read in my previous post about my experience on the Be Well Cleanse I started the Cleanse eating what was mostly a Vegan diet and two weeks later ended it a grain-free […]

  7. Ramani

    Hi there, Just came across your blog and love it. Just a friendly suggestion: the small font in combination with the grey light colored font makes your posts hard to read. If you could make the font bigger or bolder or darker, that would help immensely.

    Also, I am very tempted to try what you did because I too feel bloated often but I dont have any auto immune diseases that I am aware of. I could never cut out grains. I wok out every day and am very active, I would pass out if I didnt have healthy grains.

    Glad to have found your blog. :) I am a huge fan of Dr. Lipman, just need to tweak some of what he says to suit my needs.

    • Ramani-
      Thank you so much for your comments and suggestions!
      Please let me know if you try going grain free. It is certainly not for everybody but is not as daunting as it sounds!
      I am also very active, I exercise daily and also work 12 hour shifts on my feet in a busy ER. If you get good carbs from fruits & veggies you won’t notice the grains are gone! At the start I also made sure I had healthy carbs like sweet potatoes and squash on hand to ensure I felt like I was not missing out on carbohydrates.
      Stay well!

  8. […] loyal reader of Megan’s blog and highly recommend it.  Megan’s recent posts about her experience with Dr. Frank Lipman’s Be Well Cleanse and her Paleo journey have been inspirational. […]

  9. Anna

    Megan – thanks so much for sharing your experience. I’ve been suffering from GI discomfort and hives – saw several different doctors and no help. My friend recommended Dr. Lipman and I’ve been following his book and blog. I’m starting Dr. Lipman’s cleanse tomorrow. I was wondering what type of probiotics you were on and the dosage? Additionally, what supplements did you incorporate on a daily basis after the cleanse? I purchased his GI Support formula and Fiber formula to use after I’m done with the cleanse. Thanks!

  10. Anna-Thanks so much-sorry to hear you aren’t feeling well.Congrats on taking steps to feeling better!
    I have taken an array of probiotics over the past few months. I took the Be Well Brand, Ortho Molecular Brand and also MegaFood brand. Dr Lipman wrote about probiotics on his blog here: and you can also reach out to the health coaches during your cleanse using the BE WELL blog’s forum here: It is a good idea to sign up and log in during your 2 weeks of cleansing. The coaches are excellent & respond quickly to help guide you through the cleanse. They can better answer your questions about additional supplementation recommendations.
    Keep me posted on how it goes!!

  11. Anna

    Thanks for the recommendations! The BE WELL forum has been really helpful!

  12. […] avocado or shred a little chicken over the bowl for a protein boost. Soo good. You can also make it Be Well Cleanse approved without the bell pepper!  I first made this soup when I was cleansing and just kept making […]

  13. […] was still hesitant about Paleo, so I tried a cleanse.  I felt better but I still wasn’t feeling great.  So, I asked my doctor if he thought cutting […]

  14. ChristiLynn

    After reading your posts I am thinking about doing the cleanse as well but am a bit confused as the ingredients in the shakes are pea protein and I’m supposed to be legume free? Any insights? I’m wanting to start healing leaky gut and many, many AI issues…..

    • Hi christi- I understand the protein has some pea/rice protein in it but I found it not to be irritating, even with cutting out other legumes. You could also try a pea/rice protein before the cleanse and see how you feel first. Also you can try a really good organic grass fed whey protein if you want to go that route as well. I felt well on the cleanse even with this protein and it was supported by Dr Lipman so I felt comfortable with it!! Let me know if you have other questions!!

  15. ChristiLynn

    Thank you so much for getting back to me so quickly! I’ll research it a bit more and decide what to do! Have a great weekend!

  16. […] used to be a peanut butter addict, but after cleansing and going Paleo, I gave up peanut butter. I didn’t think it was so tough because I could fall […]

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