Years ago, when I first began juicing, I looked down one day and saw that the palms of my hands had turned a rusty orange color. When I looked in the mirror, I noticed that my face looked orange as well! Assuming it must be from the beta carotene in the carrots, I continued on with my program.
As time went on, something interesting happened. I was still drinking large amounts of juice - usually two quarts or more per day - yet I was no longer orange. In fact, my skin was clearer and more rosy and healthy than it had ever been before.
Curiosity got the best of me…and I began to study the possibilities of what I had experienced. I discovered something quite interesting. Perhaps another explanation existed that I had never considered...
With only weeks to live, Norman Walker was a man on a mission. He referred to himself as 'his own guinea pig'. At first, he took a friends advice and just drank water every half hour for three days…then ate fresh, raw vegetables in the days that followed. His condition began to improve very quickly, and his curiosity led him straight to the kitchen. He recalls that for about a week, he basically "played" with carrots. Grating them, he then found ways to squeeze out the liquid. Soon, he was drinking a gallon or more per day of the juice he had squeezed from the carrots.
Norman Walker became known as the creator, the father of juicing...He said his skin "was as yellow as the skin of an Egyptian," but he felt healthy! None of his friends would even try the juice he had made. In a very short time, however, his skin returned to normal color once his liver and gall bladder were, as he put it, "in better shape".
"It was merely that the large amount of waste matter accumulated in my liver was dissolving with the help of the carrot juices."
He goes on to explain in another book that the accumulated waste material "is released so abundantly that the intestinal and urinary channels are inadequate to care for this overflow, and in a perfectly natural manner it is passed into the lymph for elimination from the body by means of the pores of the skin. This material has a distinctly orange or yellow pigment, and while it is being so eliminated from the body will sometimes discolor the skin after drinking carrot and other juices…and is an indication that the liver is getting a well-needed cleansing."
He further explains that this discoloration would take place even if the carrot had been cleared of all color pigment. "It is just as practical an impossibility for the carrot pigment itself to come through the skin as it would be for the red pigment of the beet to turn the body red or the chlorophyll of the green vegetables to paint the skin green from within."
Dr. John Christopher, master herbalist and N.D, also has a very clear explanation for this condition. "When the bile starts to clear itself, it will make the skin go yellow." He insists emphatically that "This is not carotene coming through the skin, it is BILE. The bile starts to free itself so rapidly, the bowels, the kidneys, the lungs and the skin can't handle it fast enough so it takes the skin as the fastest way out. The bile comes through the skin, causing a yellow condition."
Modern medicine refers to this condition as carotenemia: an excessive blood level of carotene, which causes a temporary yellowing of the skin. The dermatology clinic at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences notes that "too many carrots or other foods high in beta carotene can cause a yellowish discoloration of the skin."
While there is a connection with carrots turning the skin yellow, I believe the explanations that herbalists and natural doctors have offered seem to make sense. Their reasoning shows why this condition would subside even while large quantities of carrot juice are being consumed. So does carrot juice make you turn orange? The answer really seems to lie in the way that you look at it!