HOME HYGIENICLIBRARY CATALOG
Go To Chapter Four
How and When to Be Your Own Doctor
by Dr. Isabelle A. Moser with Steve Solomon
From The Hygienic Dictionary
Cure.  There is no "cure" for disease;fasting is not a cure. Fasting facilitates natural healing processes. Foods do notcure. Until we have discarded our faith in cures, there can be no intelligent approachto the problems presented by suffering and no proper use of foods by those who areill. Herbert Shelton, The Hygienic System, v. 3, Fasting and Sunbathing. All cure starts from within out and from the head down and in reverse order as thesymptoms have appeared. Hering"s Law of Cure.  Life is made up ofcrises. The individual establishes a standard of health peculiarly his own, whichmust vary from all other standards as greatly as his personality varies from others.The individual standard may be such as to favor the development of indigestion, catarrh,gout, rheumatic and glandular inflammations, tubercular developments, congestions,sluggish secretions and excretions, or inhibitions of various functions, both mentaland physical, wherever the environmental or habit strain is greater than usual. Thestandard of resistance may be opposed so strenuously by habits and unusual physicalagencies–that the body breaks down under the strain. This is a crisis. Appetite fails,discomfort or pain forces rest, and, as a result of physiological rest (fasting)and physical rest (rest from daily work and habits), a readjustment takes place,and the patient is "cured." This is what the profession and the peoplecall a cure, and it is for the time being–until an unusual enervation is broughton from accident or dissipation; then another crisis. These crises are the ordinarysickness of all communities–all catalogued diseases. When the cold is gone or thehay-fever fully relieved, it does not mean the patient is cured. Indeed, he is asmuch diseased as before he suffered the attack–the crisis–and he never will be cureduntil the habits of life that keep up toxin poisoning are corrected. To recover froma crisis is not a cure; the tendency is back to the individual standard; hence allcrises are self-limited, unless nature by maltreatment is prevented from reacting.All so-called healing systems ride to glory on the backs of self-limited crises,and the self-deluded doctors and their credulous clients, believe, when the crisesare past, that a cure has been wrought, whereas the real truth is that the treatmentmay have delayed reaction. This is largely true of anything that has been done exceptrest. A cure consists in changing the manner of living to such a rational standardthat full resistance and a balanced metabolism is established. I suppose it is notquite human to expect those of a standardized school of healing to give utteranceto discovered truth which, if accepted by the people, would rob them of the gloryof being curers of disease. Indeed, nature, and nature only, cures; and as for crises,they come and go, whether or not there is a doctor or healer within a thousand miles.Dr. John.H. Tllden, Impaired Health: Its Cause and Cure, 1921.
The accelerated healing process that occurs during fastingcan scarcely be believed by a person who has not fasted. No matter how gifted thewriter, the experiential reality of fasting cannot be communicated. The great novelistUpton Sinclair wrote a book about fasting and it failed to convince the multitudes.But once a person has fasted long enough to be certain of what their own body cando to fix itself, they acquire a degree of independence little known today. Manyof those experienced with fasting no longer dread being without health insuranceand feel far less need for a doctor or of having a regular checkup. They know withcertainty that if something degenerates in their body, their own body can fix itby itself.
Like Upton Sinclair and many others who largely failed beforeme, I am going to try to convince you of the virtues of fasting by urging you totry fasting yourself. If you will but try you will be changed for the better forthe rest of your life. If you do not try, you will never Know.
To prompt your first step on this health-freedom road, Iask you to please carefully consider the importance of this fact: the body"sroutine energy budget includes a very large allocation for the daily digestion andassimilation of the food you eat. You may find my estimate surprising, but aboutone-third of a fairly sedentary person"s entire energy consumption goes intofood processing. Other uses for the body"s energy include the creation or rebuildingof tissues, detoxification, moving (walking, running, etc.), talking, producing hormones,etc. Digestion is one aspect of the body"s efforts that we can readily control,it is the key to having or losing health.
The Effort Of Digestion
Digestion is a huge, unappreciated task, unappreciated becausefew of us are aware of its happening in the same way we are aware of making effortsto use our voluntary muscles when working or exercising. Digestion begins in themouth with thorough chewing. If you don"t think chewing is effort, try makingcoleslaw in your own mouth. Chew up at least half a big head of cabbage and threebig carrots that have not been shredded. Grind each bit until it liquefies and hasbeen thoroughly mixed with saliva. I guarantee that if you even finish the choreyour jaw will be tired and you will have lost all desire to eat anything else, especiallyif it requires chewing.
Making the saliva you just used while chewing the cabbageis by itself, a huge and unappreciated chemical effort.
Once in the stomach, chewed food has to be churned in orderto mix it with hydrochloric acid, pepsin, and other digestive enzymes. Manufacturingthese enzymes is also considerable work! Churning is even harder work than chewingbut normally, people are unaware of its happening. While the stomach is churning(like a washing machine) a large portion of the blood supply is redirected from themuscles in the extremities to the stomach and intestines to aid in this process.Anyone who has tried to go for a run, or take part in any other strenuous physicalactivity immediately after a large meal feels like a slug and wonders why they justcan"t make their legs move the way they usually do. So, to assist the body whileit is digesting, it is wise to take a siesta as los Latinos do instead of expectingthe blood to be two places at once like los norteamericanos.
After the stomach is through churning, the partially digestedfood is moved into the small intestine where it is mixed with more pancreatin secretedby the pancreas, and with bile from the gall bladder. Pancreatin further solubilizesproteins. Bile aids in the digestion of fatty foods. Manufacturing bile and pancreaticenzymes is also a lot of effort. Only after the carbohydrates (starches and sugars),proteins and fats have been broken down into simpler water soluble food units suchas simple sugars, amino acids and fatty acids, can the body pass these nutrientsinto the blood thorough the little projections in the small intestines called villi.
The leftovers, elements of the food that can"t be solubilizedplus some remaining liquids, are passed into the large intestine. There, water andthe vital mineral salts dissolved in that water, are extracted and absorbed intothe blood stream through thin permeable membranes. Mucous is also secreted in thelarge intestine to facilitate passage of the dryish remains. This is an effort. (Intestinalmucous can become a route of secondary elimination, especially during fasting. Whilefasting, it is essential to take steps to expel toxic mucous in the colon beforethe poisons are re adsorbed.) The final residue, now called fecal matter, is squeezedalong the length of the large intestines and passes out the rectum.
If all the digestive processes have been efficient therenow are an abundance of soluble nutrients for the blood stream to distribute to hungrycells throughout the body. It is important to understand the process at least onthe level of oversimplification just presented in order to begin to understand betterhow health is lost or regained through eating, digestion, and elimination. And mostimportantly, through not eating.
How Fasting Heals
Its an old hygienic maxim that the doctor does not heal,the medicines do not heal, only the body heals itself. If the body can"t healthen nothing can heal it. The body always knows best what it needs and what to do.
But healing means repairing damaged organs and tissues andthis takes energy, while a sick body is already enervated, weakened and not copingwith its current stressors. If the sick person could but somehow increase the body"senergy resources sufficiently, then a slowly healing body could heal faster whilea worsening one, or one that was failing or one that was not getting better mightheal.
Fasting does just that. To whatever degree food intake isreduced the body"s digestive workload is proportionately reduced and it willnaturally, and far more intelligently than any physician could order, redirect energyto wherever it decides that energy is most needed. A fasting body begins accessingnutritional reserves (vitamins and minerals) previously stored in the tissues andstarts converting body fat into sugar for energy fuel. During a time of water fasting,sustaining the body"s entire energy and nutritional needs from reserves andfat does require a small effort, but far less effort than eating. I would guess afasting body used about five percent of its normal daily energy budget on nutritionalconcerns rather than the 33 percent it needs to process new food. Thus, water fastingputs something like 28 percent more energy at the body"s disposal. This is trueeven though the water faster may feel weak, energyless.
I would worry if sick or toxic fasters did not complain abouttheir weakness. They should expect to feel energyless. In fact, the more internalhealing and detoxification the body requires, the tireder the faster feels becausethe body is very hard at work internally. A great deal of the body"s energywill go toward boosting the immune system if the problem is an infection. Liberatedenergy can also be used for healing damaged parts, rebuilding failing organs, forbreaking down and eliminating deposits of toxic materials. Only after most of thehealing has occurred does a faster begin to feel energetic again. Don"t expectto feel anything but tired and weak.
The only exception to this would be a person who has alreadysignificantly detoxified and healed their body by previous fasting, or the rare soulthat has gone from birth through adulthood enjoying extraordinarily good nutritionand without experiencing the stressors of improper digestion. When one experiencedfaster I know finds himself getting "run down" or catching a cold, he quitseating until he feels really well. Instead of feeling weak as most fasters do, aseach of the first four or five days of water fasting pass, he experiences a resurgenceof more and more energy. On the first fasting day he would usually feel rotten, whichwas why he started fasting in the first place. On the second fasting day he"dfeel more alert and catch up on his paper work. By his third day on only water hewould be out doing hard physical chores like cutting the grass, splitting wood orweeding his vegetable garden. Day four would also be an energetic one, but if thefast extended beyond that, lowering blood sugar would begin to make him tired andhe"d feel forced to begin laying down.
After a day of water fasting the average person"s bloodsugar level naturally drops; making a faster feel somewhat tired and "spacey,"so a typical faster usually begins to spend much more time resting, further reducingthe amount of energy being expended on moving the body around, serendipitously redirectingeven more of the body"s energy budget toward healing. By the end of five orsix days on water, I estimate that from 40 to 50 percent of the body"s availableenergy is being used for healing, repair and detoxification.
The amount of work that a fasting body"s own healingenergy can do and what it feels like to be there when it is happening is incredible.But you can"t know it if you haven"t felt it. So hardly anyone in our presentculture knows.
As I mentioned in the first chapter, at Great Oaks SchoolI apprenticed myself to the traveling masters of virtually every system of naturalhealing that existed during the ‘70s. I observed every one of them at work and triedmost of them on my clients. After all that I can say with experience that I am notaware of any other healing tool that can be so effective as the fast.
Essentials of a Successful, Safe Fast
- 1. Fast in a bright airy room, with exceptionally good ventilation, because fasters not only need a lot of fresh air; their bodies give off powerfully offensive odors.
- 2. Sun bathe if possible in warm climates for 10 to 20 minutes in the morning before the sun gets too strong.
- 3. Scrub/massage the skin with a dry brush, stroking toward the heart, followed by a warm water shower two to four times a day to assist the skin in eliminating toxins. If you are too weak to do this, have an assisted bed bath.
- 4. Have two enemas daily for the first week of a fast and then once daily until the fast is terminated.
- 5. Insure a harmonious environment with supportive people or else fast alone if you are experienced. Avoid well-meaning interference or anxious criticism at all cost. The faster becomes hypersensitive to others" emotions.
- 6. Rest profoundly except for a short walk of about 200 yards morning and night.
- 7. Drink water! At least three quarts every day. Do not allow yourself to become dehydrated!
- 8. Control yourself! Break a long fast on diluted non-sweet fruit juice such as grapefruit juice, sipped a teaspoon at a time, no more than eight ounces at a time no oftener than every 2 or 3 hours. The second day you eat, add small quantities of fresh juicy fruit to the same amount of juice you took the day before no oftener than every 3 hours. By small quantities I mean half an apple or the equivalent. On the third day of eating, add small quantities of vegetable juice and juicy vegetables such as tomatoes and cucumbers.
- Control yourself! The second week after eating resumed add complex vegetable salads plus more complex fruit salads. Do not mix fruit and vegetables at meals. The third week add raw nuts and seeds no more than 1/2 ounce three times daily. Add 1/4 avocado daily. Fourth week increase to 3 ounces of raw soaked nuts and seeds daily and 1/2 avocado daily. Cooked grains may also be added, along with steamed vegetables and vegetable soups.
The Prime Rules Of Fasting
Another truism of natural hygiene is that we dig our owngraves with our teeth. It is sad but true that almost all eat too much quantity oftoo little quality. Dietary excesses are the main cause of death in North America.Fasting balances these excesses. If people were to eat a perfect diet and not overeat,fasting would rarely be necessary.
There are two essential rules of fasting. If these rulesare ignored or broken, fasting itself can be life threatening. But if the rules arefollowed, fasting presents far less risk than any other important medical procedurewith a far greater likelihood of a positive outcome. And let me stress here, thereis no medical procedure without risk. Life itself is fraught with risk, it is a one-wayticket from birth to death, with no certainty as to when the end of the line willbe reached. But in my opinion, when handling degenerative illness and infections,natural hygiene and fasting usually offer the best hope of healing with the leastpossible risk.
The first vital concern is the duration of the fast. Twoeliminatory processes go on simultaneously while fasting. One is the dissolving andelimination of the excess, toxic or dysfunctional deposits in the body, and secondprocess, the gradual exhaustion of the body"s stored nutritional reserves. Thefasting body first consumes those parts of the body that are unhealthy; eventuallythese are all gone. Simultaneously the body uses up stored fat and other reservenutritional elements. A well-fed reasonably healthy body usually has enough storednutrition to fast for quite a bit longer than it takes to "clean house."
While house cleaning is going on the body uses its reservesto rebuild organs and rejuvenate itself. Rebuilding starts out very slowly but therepairs increase at an ever-accelerating rate. The "overhaul" can lastonly until the body has no more reserves. Because several weeks of fasting must passby before the "overhaul" gets going full speed, it is wise to continuefasting as long as possible so as to benefit from as much rejuvenation as possible.
It is best not to end the fast before all toxic or dysfunctionaldeposits are eliminated, or before the infection is overcome, or before the causefor complaint has been healed. The fast must be ended when most of the body"sessential-to-life stored nutritional reserves are exhausted. If the fast goes beyondthis point, starvation begins. Then, fasting-induced organic damage can occur, anddeath can follow, usually several weeks later. Almost anyone not immediately closeto death has enough stored nutrition to water fast for ten days to two weeks. Mostreasonably healthy people have sufficient reserves to water fast for a month. LaterI will explain how a faster can somewhat resupply their nutritional reserves whilecontinuing to fast, and thus safely extend the fasting period.
The second essential concern has to do with adjusting theintensity of the fast. Some individuals are so toxic that the waste products releasedduring a fast are too strong, too concentrated or too poisonous for the organs ofelimination to handle safely, or to be handled within the willingness of the fasterto tolerate the discomforts that toxic releases generate. The highly-toxic fastermay even experience life-threatening symptoms such as violent asthma attacks. Thiskind of faster has almost certainly been dangerously ill before the fast began. Others,though not dangerously sick prior to fasting, may be nearly as toxic and though notin danger of death, they may not be willing to tolerate the degree of discomfortfasting can trigger. For this reason I recommend that if at all possible, beforeundertaking a fast the person eat mostly raw foods for two months and clean up alladdictions. This will give the body a chance to detoxify significantly before thewater fast is started, and will make water fasting much more comfortable. Seriously,dangerously ill people should only fast with experienced guidance, so the rapidityof their detoxification process may be adjusted to a lower level if necessary.
A fast of only one week can accomplish a significant amountof healing. Slight healing does occur on shorter fasts, but it is much more difficultto see or feel the results. Many people experience rapid relief from acute headachepain or digestive distress such as gas attacks, mild gallbladder pain, stomach aches,etc., after only one day"s abstention from food. In one week of fasting a personcan relieve more dangerous conditions such as arthritic pain, rheumatism, kidneypain, and many symptoms associated with allergic reactions,. But even more fastingtime is generally needed for the body to completely heal serious diseases. That"sbecause eliminating life-threatening problems usually involve rebuilding organs thataren"t functioning too well. Major rebuilding begins only after major detoxificationhas been accomplished, and this takes time.
Yes, even lost organ function can be partially or completelyrestored by fasting. Aging and age-related degeneration is progressive, diminishingorgan functioning. Organs that make digestive enzymes secrete less enzymes. The degeneratedimmune system loses the ability to mobilize as effectively when the body is attacked.Liver and kidney efficiency declines. The adrenals tire, becoming incapable of dumpingmassive amounts of stress-handling hormones or of repeating that effort time aftertime without considerable rest in between. The consequences of these inter-dependentdeterioration"s is a cascade of deterioration that contributes to even morerapid deterioration"s. The name for this cascading process is aging. Its inevitableresult–death.
Fasting can, to a degree, reverse aging. Because fastingimproves organ functioning, it can slow down aging.
Fasters are often surprised that intensified healing canbe uncomfortable. They have been programmed by our culture and by allopathic doctorsto think that if they are doing the right thing for their bodies they should feelbetter immediately. I wish it weren"t so, but most people have to pay the piperfor their dietary indiscretions and other errors in living. There will be aches andminor pains and uncomfortable sensations. More about that later. A rare faster doesfeel immediately better, and continues to feel ever better by the day, and even hasincredible energy while eating nothing, but the majority of us folks just have totough it out, keeping in mind that the way out is the way through. It is importantto remind yourself at times that even with some discomfort and considering the inconvenienceof fasting that you are getting off easy–one month of self-denial pays for thoseyears of indulgence and buys a regenerated body.
Length Of The Fast
How long should a person fast? In cases where there are seriouscomplaints to remedy but where there are no life threatening disease conditions,a good rule of thumb is to fast on water for one complete day (24 hours) for eachyear that the person has lived. If you are 30 years old, it will take 30 consecutivedays of fasting to restore complete health. However, thirty fasting days, done afew days here and a few there won"t equal a month of steady fasting; the bodyaccomplishes enormously more in 7 or l4 days of consecutive fasting, than 7 or 14days of fasting accumulated sporadically, such as one day a week. This is not tosay that regular short fasts are not useful medicine. Periodic day-long fasts havebeen incorporated into many religious traditions, and for good reason; it gives thebody one day a week to rest, to be free of digestive obligations, and to catch upon garbage disposal. I heartily recommend it. But it takes many years of unfailinglyregular brief fasting to equal the benefits of one, intensive experience.
Fasting on water much longer than fifteen consecutive daysmay be dangerous for the very sick, (unless under experienced supervision) or toointense for those who are not motivated by severe illness to withstand the discomfortand boredom. However, it is possible to finish a healing process initiated by onelong water fast by repeating the fast later. My husband"s healing is a goodexample of this. His health began to noticeably decline about age 38 and he startedfasting. He fasted on water 14 to 18 days at a time, once a year, for five consecutiveyears before most of his complaints and problems entirely vanished.
The longest fast I ever supervised was a 90 day water faston an extraordinarily obese woman, who at 5" 2" weighed close to 400 pounds.She was a Mormon; generally members of the LDS Church eat a healthier diet than mostAmericans, but her"s included far too much of what I call "healthfood junkfood,"in the form of whole grain cakes and cookies, lots of granola made with lots of honey,oil, and dried fruit, lots of honey heaped atop heavily buttered whole grain bread.(I will explain more about the trap of healthfood junkfood later on.) A whole foodsrelatively meatless diet is far superior to its refined white flour, white sugarand white grease (lard) counterpart, but it still produced a serious heath problemin just 30 years of life. Like many women, she expressed love-for-family in the kitchenby serving too-much too-tasty food. The Mormons have a very strong family orientationand this lady was no exception, but she was insecure and unhappy in her marriageand sought consolation in food, eaten far in excess of what her body needed.
On her 90 day water fast she lost about 150 pounds, but wasstill grossly overweight when the fast ended. Toward the end it became clear thatit was unrealistic to try to shrink this woman any closer to normal body weight becauseto her, fat represented an invaluable insulation or buffer that she was not preparedto give up. As the weight melted away on the fast and she was able to actually feelthe outline of a hip bone her neurosis became more and more apparent, and the abilityto feel a part of her skeleton was so upsetting to her that her choice was betweenlife threatening obesity and pervasive anxiety.
Her weight was still excessive but the solace of eating waseven more important. This woman needed intensive counseling not more fasting. Unfortunately,at the end she choose to remain obese. Fat was much less frightening to her thanconfronting her emotions and fears. The positive side was that after the fast shewas able to maintain her weight at 225 instead of 375 which was an enormous reliefto her exhausted heart.
Another client I fasted for 90 days was a 6" 1"tall, chronic schizophrenic man who weighed in at 400 pounds. He was so big he couldbarely get through my front door, and mine was an extraordinarily wide door in whathad been an upper-class mansion. This man, now in his mid twenties, had spent hislast seven years in a mental institution before his parents decided to give him onelast chance by sending to Great Oaks School. The state mental hospitals at that timeprovided the mentally ill with cigarettes, coffee, and lots of sugary treats, butnone of these substances were part of my treatment program so he had a lot of immediatewithdrawal to go through. The quickest and easiest way to get him through it wasto put him on a water fast after a few days of preparation on raw food.
This was not an easily managed case! He was wildly psychotic,on heavy doses of chloropromazine, with many bizarre behaviors. Besides talking tohimself continuously in gibberish, he collected bugs, moss, sticks, piles or dirt,and switched to smoking oak leaves instead of cigarettes. He was such a fire hazardthat I had to move him to a downstairs room with concrete floor. Even in the basementhe was a fire hazard with his smoking and piles of sticks and other inflammablesnext to his bed, but all of this debris was his "precious." I knew thatI was in for trouble if I disturbed his precious, but the insects and dirt pilesseemed to be expanding exponentially.
One day the dirt exceeded my tolerance level. To make a longstory short he caught me in the act of cleaning up his precious. Was he furious!All 350 pounds of him! (By this time he had lost 50 pounds.) He barreled into me,fists flying, and knocked me into the pipes next to the furnace and seemed readyto really teach me what was what. I prefer to avoid fights, but if they are inevitable,I can really get into the spirit of the thing. I"d had lots of childhood practicedefending myself because I was an incurable tomboy who loved to wrestle; I couldusually pin big boys who considered themselves tough. So I began using my fists andwhat little martial arts training I had to good use. After I hurt him a bit he realizedthat I was not going to be easily intimidated, and that in fact he was in dangerof getting seriously damaged. So he called a truce before either of us were badlybeaten up. He had only a few bruises and welts, nothing serious.
After that he refrained from collecting things inside thebuilding (he continued to collect outside). This compromise was fine with me, andthe incident allowed me to maintain the authority I needed to bully him into co-operatingwith the program: taking his vitamins, and sticking to his fast until he finallyreached 200 pounds. After 90 days on water he actually looked quite handsome, heno longer smoked, he was off psychotropic medication, and his behaviors were withinan acceptable range as long as your expectations were not too high.
He was well enough to live outside a hospital and also clear-headedenough to know that if he let too many people know how well he really was, he mighthave to give up his mental disability pension and actually become responsible forhimself. No way, Jose! This fellow knew a good thing when he saw it. So he continuedto pull bizarre stunts just often enough in front of the right audience to keep hisdisability checks coming in, while managing to act sane enough to be allowed to livecomfortably at home instead of in the hospital. By keeping to my program he couldstay off mind-numbing psychotropic medication if he kept up his megavitamins andminerals. This compromise was tolerable from his point of view, because there wereno side effects like he experienced from his tranquilizers.
It is very rare for a mentally ill person who has spent morethan a few months in a mental hospital to ever usefully return to society becausethey find "mental illness" too rewarding.
My Own 56 Day Long Fast
Fasters go through a lot of different emotional states, thesecan get intense and do change quite rapidly. The physical body, too, will manifesttransitory conditions. Some can be quite uncomfortable. But, I don"t want toleave the reader with the impression that fasting is inevitably painful. So I willnow recount my own longest fast in detail.
When I did my own 42 day water fast followed by two weekson carrot juice diluted 50/50 with water, which really amounted to 56 consecutivedays, my predominant sensation for the first three days was a desire to eat thatwas mostly a mental condition, and a lot of rumbling and growling from my stomach.This is not real hunger, just the sounds the stomach likes to make when it is shrinking.After all, this organ is accustomed to being filled at regular intervals, and then,all of a sudden, it gets nothing, so naturally the stomach wants to know what isgoing on. Once it realizes it is on temporary vacation, the stomach wisely decidesto reduce itself to a size suitable for a retired organ. And it shuts up. This processusually takes three to five days and for most people, no further "hunger pangs"are felt until the fast is over.
Real hunger comes only when the body is actually starving.The intense discomforts many people experience upon missing a meal are frequentlyinterpreted as hunger but they aren"t. What is actually happening is that theirhighly toxic bodies are taking the opportunity presented by having missed a mealor two to begin to cleanse. The toxins being released and processed make assortedunpleasant symptoms such as headaches and inability to think clearly. These symptomscan be instantly eliminated by the intake of a bit of food, bringing the detox toa screeching halt.
Two weeks into the fast I experienced sharp abdominal painsthat felt like I imagine appendicitis feels, which compelled me toward the nearesttoilet in a state of great urgency where I productively busied myself for about halfan hour. As I mentioned earlier, I was experimentally adhering to a rigid type offast of the sort recommended by Dr. Herbert Shelton, a famous advocate of the NaturalHygiene school. Shelton was such a powerful writer and personality that there stillexists a Natural Hygiene Society that keeps his books in print and maintains hislibrary. The words "Natural Hygiene" are almost owned by the society likea trademark and they object when anyone describes themselves as a hygienist and thenadvocates any practice that Dr. Shelton did not approve of.
Per Dr. Shelton, I was going to fast from the time hungerleft until the time it returned and I was not going to use any form of colon cleansing.Shelton strongly opposed bowel cleansing so I did no enemas nor colonics, nor herbs,nor clays, nor psyllium seed designed to clean the bowel, etc. Obviously at day 14the bowel said, enough is enough of this crap, and initiated a goods house cleaningsession. When I saw what was eliminated I was horrified to think that I had leftthat stuff in there for two weeks. I then started to wonder if the Sheltonites weremistaken about this aspect of fasting. Nonetheless, I persevered on the same regimenbecause my hunger had not returned, my tongue was still thickly coated with foul-smelling,foul-tasting mucus and I still had some fat on my feet that had not been metabolized.
Shelton said that cleansing is not complete until a skeletalcondition is reached–that is, absolutely no fat reserves are left. Up until thattime I did not even know that I had fat on my feet, but much to my surprise, as theweeks went on, not only did my breasts disappear except for a couple of land markswell-known to my babies, but my ribs and hip bones became positively dangerous topassersby, and my shoes would not stay on my feet. This was not all that surprisingbecause I went from 135 pounds down to 85 on a 5" 7" frame with substantialbone structure.
Toward the end of the fast my eyes became brighter and clearerblue, my skin took on a good texture, my breath finally became sweet, my tongue clearedup and became pink, my mind was clear, and my spiritual awareness and sensitivitywas heightened. In other words, I was no longer a walking hulk of stored-up toxemia.I also felt quite weak and had to rest for ten minutes out every hour in horizontalposition. (I should have rested much more.) I also required very little sleep, althoughit felt good to just lie quietly and rest, being aware of what was going on in variousparts of my body.
During the last few weeks on water I became very attentiveto my right shoulder. Two separate times in the past, while flying head first overthe handlebars of my bicycle I had broken my shoulder with considerable tearing ofligaments and tendons. At night when I was totally still I felt a whole crew of pixiesand brownies with picks and shovels at work in the joint doing major repair work.This activity was not entirely comfortable, but I knew it was constructive work,not destructive, so I joined the work crew with my mind"s eye and helped thework along.
It seemed my visualizations actually did help. Ever since,I"ve had the fasters I supervised use creative imagery or write affirmationsto help their bodies heal. There are lots of books on this subject. I"ve foundthat the techniques work far better on a faster than when a person is eating normally.
After breaking the fast it took me six weeks to regain enoughstrength that I could run my usual distance in my regular time; it took me six monthsto regain my full 135 pound weight because I was very careful to break the fast slowlyand correctly. Coming off water with two weeks on dilute carrot juice I then addedsmall portions of raw food such as apples, raw vegetables, sprouts, vegetable juices,and finally in the fourth week after I began drinking dilute carrot juice, I addedseven daily well-chewed almonds to my rebuilding diet. Much later I increased to14 almonds, but that was the maximum amount of such highly concentrated fare my bodywanted digest at one time for over one year. I found I got a lot more miles to thegallon out of the food that I did eat, and did not crave recreational foods. OverallI was very pleased with my educational fast, it had taught me a great deal.
If I had undertaken such a lengthy fast at a time when Iwas actually ill, and therefore had felt forced into it, my experience could havebeen different. A positive mental attitude is an essential part of the healing processso fasting should not be undertaken in a negative, protesting mental state. The mindis so powerful that fear or the resistance fear generates can override the healingcapacity of the body. For that reason I always recommend that people who considerthemselves to be healthy, who have no serious complaints, but who are interestedin water fasting, should limit themselves to ten consecutive days or so, certainlynever more than 14. Few healthy people, even those with a deep interest in the process,can find enough personal motivation to overcome the extreme boredom of water fastingfor longer than that. Healthy people usually begin protesting severely after abouttwo weeks. If there is any one vital rule of fasting, one never should fast overstrong, personal protest. Anytime you"re fasting and you really desire to quit,you probably should. Unless, of course, you are critically ill. Then you may haveno choice–its fast or die.
Common Fasting Complaints And Discomforts
The most frequently heard complaints of fasters are headaches,dry, cracked lips, dizziness, blurred vision with black spots that float, skin rashes,and weakness in the first few days plus what they think is intense hunger. The dizzinessand weakness are really real, and are due to increased levels of toxins circulatingin the blood and from unavoidably low blood sugar which is a natural consequenceof the cessation of eating. The blood sugar does reestablish a new equilibrium inthe second and third week of the fast and then, the dizziness may cease, but still,it is important to expect dizziness at the beginning.
It always takes more time for the blood to reach the headon a fast because everything has slowed down, including the rate of the heart beat,so blood pressure probably has dropped as well. If you stand up very quickly youmay faint. I repetitively instruct all of my clients to stand up very slowly, movingfrom a lying to a sitting position, pausing there for ten or twenty seconds, andthen rising slowly from a sitting to a standing position. They are told that at thefirst sign of dizziness they must immediately put their head between their kneesso that the head is lower than the heart, or squat/sit down on the floor, I oncehad a faster who forgot to obey my frequent warnings. About two weeks into a longfast, she got up rapidly from the toilet and felt dizzy. The obvious thing to dowas to sit back down on the toilet or lie down on the bath rug on the floor, butno, she decided that because she was dizzy she should rush back to her bed in theadjoining room. She made it as far as the bathroom door and fainted, out cold, puttinga deep grove into the drywall with her pretty nose on the way down. We then had tomake an unscheduled visit to a nose specialist, who calmly put a tape-wrapped spooninside her bent-over nose and pried it back to dead center. This was not much funfor either of us; it is well worthwhile preventing such complications.
Other common complaints during the fast include coldness,due to low blood sugar as well as a consequence of weight loss and slowed circulationdue to lessened physical activity. People also dislike inactivity which seems excruciatinglyboring, and some are upset by weight loss itself. Coldness is best handled with lotsof clothes, bedding, hot water bottles or hot pads, and warm baths. Great Oaks Schoolof Health was in Oregon, where the endlessly rainy winters are chilly and the concretebuilding never seemed to get really warm. I used to dream of moving my fasters toa tropical climate where I could also get the best, ripest fruits to wean them backon to food.
If the fast goes on for more than a week or ten days, manypeople complain of back discomfort, usually caused by over-worked kidneys. This passes.Hot baths or hot water bottles provide some relief. Drinking more fluids may alsohelp a bit. Nausea is fairly common too, due to toxic discharges from the gall bladder.Drinking lots of water or herbal tea dilutes toxic bile in the stomach and makesit more tolerable.
Very few fasters sleep well and for some reason they expectto, certainly fasters hope to, because they think that if they sleep all night theywill better survive one more deadly dull day in a state of relative unconsciousness.They find out much to their displeasure that very little sleep is required on a fastbecause the body is at rest already. Many fasters sleep only two to four hours butdoze frequently and require a great deal of rest. Being mentally prepared for thischange of habit is the best handling. Generalized low-grade aches and pains in thearea of the diseased organs or body parts are common and can often be alleviatedwith hot water bottles, warm but not hot bath water and massage. If this type ofdiscomfort exists, it usually lessens with each passing day until it disappears altogether.
Many fasters complain that their vision is blurred, and thatthey are unable to concentrate. These are really major inconveniences because thenfasters can"t read or even pay close attention to video-taped movies, and ifthey can"t divert themselves some fasters think they will go stir crazy. Theyare so addicted to a hectic schedule of doingness, and/or being entertained thatthey just can"t stand just being with themselves, forced to confront and dealwith the sensations of their own body, forced to face their own thoughts, to confronttheir own emotions, many of which are negative. People who are fasting release alot of mental/emotional garbage at the same time as they let go of old physical garbage.Usually the psychological stuff contributed greatly to their illness and just likethe physical garbage and degenerated organs, it all needs to be processed.
One of the most distressing experiences that happen occasionallyis hair loss. Deprived of adequate nutrition, the follicles can not keep growinghair, and the existing hair dies. However, the follicles themselves do not die andonce the fast has ended and sufficient nutrition is forthcoming, hair will regrowas well or better than before.
There are also complaints that occur after the fast has beenbroken. Post-fast cravings, even after only two weeks of deprivation, are to be expected.These may take the form of desires for sweet, sour, salt, or a specific food dreamedof while fasting, like chocolate fudge sundays or just plain toast. Food cravingsmust be controlled at all costs because if acted upon, each indulgence chips awaythe health gains of the previous weeks. A single indulgence can be remedied by aday of restricting the diet to juice or raw food. After the repair, the person feelsas good as they did when the fast ended. Repeated indulgences will require anotherextended bout of fasting to repair. It is far better to learn self-control.
The Healing Crisis And Retracing
Certain unpleasant somatics that occur while fasting (orwhile on a healing diet) may not be dangerous or "bad." Two types, thehealing crisis, and retracing, are almost inevitable. A well-educated faster shouldwelcome these discomforts when they happen. The healing crisis (but not retracing)also occurs on a healing diet.
The healing crisis can seem a big surprise to a faster whohas been progressing wonderfully. Suddenly, usually after a few days of noticeablyincreased well-being, they suddenly experience a set of severe symptoms and feeljust awful. This is not a setback, not something to be upset or disappointed about,but a healing crisis, actually a positive sign
Healing crises always occur after a period of marked improvement.As the vital force builds up during the healing process, the body decides it nowhas obtained enough energy to throw off some accumulated toxins, and forcefully pushesthem out through a typical and usually previously used route of secondary elimination,such as the nose, lungs, stomach, intestines, skin, or perhaps produces a flu-likeexperience with fever chills, sweat, aches and pains, etc. Though unpleasant, thisexperience is to be encouraged; the body has merely accelerated its elimination process.Do not attempt to suppress any of these symptoms, don"t even try to moderatefever, which is the body"s effective way to burn out a virus or bacteria infection,unless it is a dangerously high fever (over 102° Fahrenheit). Fever can be loweredwithout drugs by putting the person into a cool/cold bath, or using cold towel wrapsand cold water sponge baths. The good news is that healing crises usually do notlast long, and when they are past you feel better than you did before the crisis.
Asthmatics seem to have the worst crises. I have had asthmaticsbring up a quart of obnoxious mucous from their lungs every night for weeks. Theyhave stayed awake all night for three nights continuously coughing and choking onthe material that was being eliminated. After that clearing-out process they wereable to breath much more freely. Likewise I have had people who have had sinusitishave nothing but non-stop pussy discharge from their sinuses for three weeks. Someof this would run down the throat and cause nausea. All I could say to encouragethe sufferer was that it needed to come out and to please stand aside and let thebody work its magic. These fasters were not grateful until the sinus problem thathad plagued them since childhood disappeared.
The interesting thing about healing crises are that the symptomsproduced retrace earlier complaints; they are almost never something entirely unknownto the patient. Usually they are old, familiar somatics, often complaints that haven"tbothered the faster for many years. The reason the symptom is familiar but is notcurrently a problem is because as the body degenerates it loses vital force; withless vital force it loses the ability to create such acute detoxification episodesin non-life-threatening secondary elimination routes. The degenerated body makesless violent efforts to cleanse, efforts that aren"t as uncomfortable. The negativeside of this is that instead of creating acute discomfort in peripheral systems,the toxemia goes to more vital organs where it hastens the formation of life-threateningconditions.
There is a very normal and typical progress for each person"sfatal illness. Their ultimate disease starts out in childhood or adolescence as acuteinflammations of skin-like organs, viral or bacterial infections of the same. Then,as vital force weakens, secondary eliminations are shifted to more vital organs.Allergies or colds stop happening so frequently; the person becomes rheumatic, arthriticor experience weakness in joints, tendons, ligaments, or to have back pains, or tohave digestive upsets. These new symptoms are more constant but usually less acute.Ultimately, vital organs begin to malfunction, and serious disease develop. But ahygienist sees the beginning of fatal diseases such as cancer in adolescent infectionsand allergies.
Retracing is generally seen only on water fasts, not on extendedcleansing diets. The body begins to repair itself by healing conditions in the reverseorder to that which they occurred originally. This means that the body would firstdirect healing toward the lungs if the most recently serious illness was an attackof pneumonia six months previously. In this case you would expect to quickly andintensely experience a mini-case of pneumonia while the body eliminates residuesin the lungs that were not completely discharged at the time. Next the body mighttake you through a period of depression that you had experienced five years in thepast. The faster may be profoundly depressed for a few days and come out of it feelingmuch better. You could then reexperience sensation-states like those caused by recreationaldrugs you had playfully experimented with ten years previously along with the "trippiness"if it were a hallucinogen, speediness if it was ‘speed" or the dopiness if itwas heroin. Retracing further, the faster might then experience something similarto a raging attack of tonsillitis which you vaguely remember having when you werefive years old, but fortunately this time it passes in three days (or maybe six hours),instead of three weeks. This is retracing.
Please do not be surprised or alarmed if it happens to youon a fast, and immediately throw out the baby with the bath water thinking that youare doing the wrong thing because all those old illnesses are coming back to hauntyou. It is the body"s magnificent healing effort working on your behalf, andfor doing it your body deserves lots of "well done", "good body"thoughts rather than gnashing of teeth and thinking what did I do to deserve this.The body won"t tell you what you did to deserve this, but it knows and is tryingits darndest to undo it.
The Unrelenting Boredom Of Fasting
Then there"s the unrelenting boredom of fasting. Mostpeople have been media junkies since they were kids; the only way they believe theycan survive another day of fasting is by diverting their minds with TV. This is farfrom ideal because often the emotions of a faster are like an open wound and whenthey resonate with the emotions portrayed on most TV shows, the faster gets intosome very unpleasant states that interfere with healing. And the emotions many moviesprompt people to sympathetically generate are powerful ones, often highly negative,and contrary to healing. Especially unhelpful are the adrenaline rushes in actionmovies. But if TV is the best a faster can do, it is far better that someone fastwith television programming filling their minds than to not fast at all. I keep alibrary of positive VHS tapes for these addicts–comedies, stories of heroic over-comings,depiction"s of humans at their best.
Boredom is probably the most limiting factor to fasting along time. That is because boredom is progressive, it gets worse with each slowly-passingday. But concurrently, the rate of healing is accelerating with each slowly-passingday. Every day the faster gets through does them considerably more good than theprevious day. However, fasters rarely are motivated enough to overcome boredom formore than two weeks or so, unless they started the fast to solve a very serious orlife-threatening condition. For this reason, basically well people should not expectto be able to fast for more than a couple of weeks every six months or year, no matterhow much good a longer fast might do.
Exercise While Fasting
The issue of how much activity is called for on a fast iscontroversial. Natural Hygienists in the Herbert Shelton tradition insist that allfasters absolutely must have complete bed rest, with no books, no TV, no visitors,no enemas, no exercise, no music, and of course no food, not even a cup of herb tea.In my many years of conducting people through fasts, I have yet to meet an individualthat could mentally tolerate this degree of nothingness. It is too drastic a withdrawalfrom all the stimulation people are used to in the twentieth century. I still don"tknow how Shelton managed to make his patients do it, but my guess is that he musthave been a very intimidating guy. Shelton was a body builder of some renown in hisday. I bet Shelton"s patients kept a few books and magazines under their mattressand only took them out when he wasn"t looking. If I had tried to enforced thistype of sensory deprivation, I know my patients would have grabbed their clothesand run, vowing never to fast again. I think it is most important that people fast,and that they feel so good about the experience that they want to do it again, andtalk all their sick friends into doing the same thing.
In contrast to enforced inactivity, Russian researchers whosupervised schizophrenics on 30 day water fasts insisted that they walk for threehours every day, without stopping. I would like to have been there to see how theymanaged to enforce that. I suspect some patients cheated. I lived with schizophrenicsenough years to know that it is very difficult to get them to do anything that theydon"t want to do, and very few of them are into exercise, especially when fasting.
In my experience both of these approaches to activity duringthe fast are extremes. The correct activity level should be arrived at on an individualbasis. I have had clients who walked six miles a day during an extended water fast,but they were not feeling very sick when they started the fast, and they were alsophysically fit. In contrast I have had people on extended fasts who were unable towalk for exercise, or so weak they were unable to even walk to the bathroom, butthese people were critically ill when they started fasting, and desperately neededto conserve what little vital force they had for healing.
Most people who are not critically ill need to walk at least200 yards twice a day, with assistance if necessary, if only to move the lymph throughthe system. The lymphatic system is a network of ducts and nodes which are distributedthroughout the body, with high concentrations of nodes in the neck, chest, arm pits,and groin. Its job is to carry waste products from the extremities to the centerof the body where they can be eliminated. The blood is circulated through the arteriesand veins in the body by the contractions of the heart, but the lymphatic systemdoes not have a pump. Lymphatic fluid is moved by the contractions of the muscles,primarily those of the arms and legs. If the faster is too weak to move, massageand assisted movements are essential.
Lymph nodes are also a part of our immune system and producewhite blood cells to help control invading organisms. When the lymph is overloadedwith waste products the ducts and nodes swell, and until the source of the localirritation is removed, are incapable of handling further debris. If left in thiscondition for years they become so hard they feel like rocks under the skin. Lumpsin the armpits or the groin are prime sites for the future development of a cancer.Fasting, massage, and poultices will often soften overloaded lymph nodes and coaxthem back into operation.
The Stages Of Fasting
The best way to understand what happens when we fast is tobreak up the process into six stages: preparation for the fast, loss of hunger, acidosis,normalization, healing, and breaking the fast.
A person that has consumed the typical American diet mostof their life and whose life is not in immediate danger would be very wise to gentlyprepare their body for the fast. Two weeks would be a minimum amount of time, andif the prospective faster wants an easier time of it, they should allow a month oreven two for preliminary housecleaning During this time, eliminate all meat, fish,dairy products, eggs, coffee, black tea, salt, sugar, alcohol, drugs, cigarettes,and greasy foods. This de-addiction will make the process of fasting much more pleasant,and is strongly recommended. However, eliminating all these harmful substances iswithdrawal from addictive substances and will not be easy for most. I have more tosay about this later when I talk about allergies and addictions.
The second stage, psychological hunger, usually is felt asan intense desire for food. This passes within three or four days of not eating anything.Psychological hunger usually begins with the first missed meal. If the faster seemsto be losing their resolve, I have them drink unlimited quantities of good-tastingherb teas, (sweetened –only if absolutely necessary–with nutrisweet). Salt-free brothsmade from meatless instant powder (obtainable at the health food store) can alsofend off the desire to eat until the stage of hunger has passed.
Acidosis, the third stage, usually begins a couple of daysafter the last meal and lasts about one week. During acidosis the body vigorouslythrows off acid waste products. Most people starting a fast begin with an overlyacid blood pH from the typical American diet that contains a predominance of acid-formingfoods. Switching over to burning fat for fuel triggers the release of even more acidicsubstances. Acidosis is usually accompanied by fatigue, blurred vision, and possiblydizziness. The breath smells very bad, the tongue is coated with bad-tasting dryishmucus, and the urine may be concentrated and foul unless a good deal of water istaken daily. Two to three quarts a day is a reasonable amount.
Mild states of acidosis are a common occurrence. While sleepingafter the last meal of the day is digested bodies normally work very hard tryingto detoxify from yesterday"s abuses. So people routinely awaken in a state ofacidosis. Their tongue is coated, their breath foul and they feel poorly. They endtheir brief overnight fast with breakfast, bringing the detoxification process toa screeching halt and feel much better. Many people think they awaken hungry anddon"t feel well until they eat. They confuse acidosis with hunger when mosthave never experienced real hunger in their entire lives. If you typically awakenin acidosis, you are being given a strong sign by your body that it would like tocontinue fasting far beyond breakfast. In fact, it probably would enjoy fasting longbeyond the end of acidosis.
Most fasters feel much more comfortable by the end of thefirst seven to ten days, when they enter the normalization phase; here the acidicblood chemistry is gradually corrected. This sets the stage for serious healing ofbody tissues and organs. Normalization may take one or two more weeks depending onhow badly the body was out of balance. As the blood chemistry steadily approachesperfection, the faster usually feels an increasing sense of well-being, broken byshort spells of discomfort that are usually healing crises or retracings.
The next stage, accelerated healing, can take one or manyweeks more, again depending on how badly the body has been damaged. Healing proceedsrapidly after the blood chemistry has been stabilized, the person is usually in astate of profound rest and the maximum amount of vital force can be directed towardrepair and regeneration of tissues. This is a miraculous time when tumors are metabolizedas food for the body, when arthritic deposits dissolve, when scar tissues tend todisappear, when damaged organs regain lost function (if they can). Seriously illpeople who never fast long enough to get into this stage (usually it takes aboutten days to two weeks of water fasting to seriously begin healing) never find outwhat fasting can really do for them.
Breaking the fast is equally or more important a stage thanthe fast itself. It is the most dangerous time in the entire fast. If you stop fastingprematurely, that is, before the body has completed detoxification and healing, expectthe body to reject food when you try to make it eat, even if you introduce foodsvery gradually. The faster, the spiritual being running the body, may have becomebored and want some action, but the faster"s body hasn"t finished. Thebody wants to continue healing.
By rejection, I mean that food may not digest, may feel likea stone in your stomach, make you feel terrible. If that happens and if, despitethat clear signal you refuse to return to fasting, you should go on a juice diet,take as little as possible, sip it slowly (almost chew it) and stay on juice untilyou find yourself digesting it easily. Then and only then, reintroduce a little solidraw food like a green salad.
Weaning yourself back on to food should last just as longas the fast. Your first tentative meals should be dilute, raw juices. After severaldays of slowly building up to solid raw fruit, small amounts of raw vegetable foodsshould be added. If it has been a long fast, say over three weeks, this reintroductionshould be done gingerly over a few weeks. If this stage is poorly managed or ignoredyou may become acutely ill, and for someone who started fasting while dangerouslyill, loss of self control and impulsive eating could prove fatal. Even for thosefasting to cure non-life-threatening illnesses it is pointless to go through theeffort and discipline of a long fast without carefully establishing a correct dietafter the fast ends, or the effort will have largely been wasted.
Foods For Monodiet, Juice or Broth Fasting
|zucchini, garlic, onion, green beans, kale, celery, beet greens and root, cabbage, carrot, wheat grass juice, alfalfa juice, barley green juice, parsley juice, lemon/lime juice, grapefruit juice, apples (not juice, too sweet), diluted orange juice, diluted grape juice |
There are gradations of fasting measures ranging from rigorousto relatively casual. Water fasting is the most rapid and effective one. Other methodshave been created by grasping the underlying truth of fasting, namely whenever thedigestive effort can be reduced, by whatever degree, whenever the formation of thetoxins of misdigestion can be reduced or prevented, to that extent the body can divertenergy to the healing process. Thus comes about assorted famous and sometimes notoriousmonodiet semi-fasts like the grape cure where the faster eats only grapes for a monthor so, or the lemon cure, where the juice of one or more lemons is added to waterand nothing else is consumed for weeks on end. Here I should also mention the "lemonjuice/cayenne pepper/maple syrup cure," the various green drink cures usingspirulina, chlorella, barley green or wheat grass, and the famous Bieler broths–vegetablesoups made of overcooked green beans or zucchini.
I do not believe that monodiets work because of some magicalproperty of a particular food used. They work because they are semi-fasts and maybe extremely useful, especially for those individuals who can not or will not toleratea water fast.
The best foods for monodiet fasting are the easiest onesdigest: juices of raw fruits and nonstarchy vegetables with all solids strained out.Strained mineral broths made of long-simmered non-starchy vegetables (the best ofthem made of leafy green vegetables) fall in the same category. So if you are highlypartial to the flavor of grapes or lemons or cayenne and (highly diluted) maple syrup,a long fast on one of these would do you a world of good, just not quite as muchgood as the same amount of time spent on water alone. If you select something more"solid" for a long monodiet fast, like pureed zucchini, it is essentialthat you not overeat. Dr. Bieler gave his fasting patients only one pint of zucchinisoup three or four times a day. The way to evaluate how much to eat is by how muchweight you are losing. When fasting, you must lose weight! And the faster the better.
Pure absolute water fasting while not taking any vitaminsor other nutritional supplementation has a very limited maximum duration, perhaps45 days. The key concept here is nutritional reserves. Body fat is stored, surplusenergy fuel. But energy alone cannot keep a body going. It needs much more than fuelto rebuild and repair and maintain its systems. So the body in its wisdom also storesup vitamins and minerals and other essential substances in and in-between all itscells. Bodies that have been very well nourished for a long time have very largereserves; poorly nourished ones may have very little set aside for a rainy day. Andit is almost a truism that a sick person has, for quite some time, been a poorlynourished one. With low nutritional reserves. This fact alone can make it difficultfor a sick person to water fast for enough time to completely heal their damagedorgans and other systems.
Obese people have fat reserves sufficient to provide energyfor long periods, but rarely can any body, no matter how complete its nutrition wasfor years previously, contain sufficient nutritional reserves to support a waterfast of over six weeks. To water fast the very obese down to normal weight can takemonths but to make this possible, rather diverse and concentrated nutrition containingfew calories must be given. It is possible to fast even a very slim a person forquite a bit longer than a month when their body is receiving easily assimilable vitaminsand minerals and small amounts of sugars or other simple carbohydrates.
I estimate that fasting on raw juices and mineral brothswill result in healing at 25 to 75 percent of the efficiency of water fasting, dependingon the amount of nutrition taken and the amount the juices or broths are diluted.But juice fasting can permit healing to go on several times longer than water might.
Fasting on dilute juice and broth can also save the lifeof someone whose organs of elimination are insufficiently strong to withstand thework load created by water fasting. In this sense, juices can be regarded as similarto the moderators in a nuclear reactor, slowing the process down so it won"tdestroy the container. On a fast of undiluted juice, the healing power drops considerably,but a person on this regimen, if not sick, is usually capable of working.
Duration of juice fasts can vary greatly. Most of the timethere is no need to continue fasting after the symptoms causing concern have beeneliminated, and this could happen as quickly as one week or take as long as 60 daysif the person is very obese. Fasters also lose their motivation once the complainthas vanished. But feeling better is no certain indication that the need to fast hasended. This points up one of the liabilities of juice fasting; the person is alreadyeating, their digestive system never shut down and consequently, it is much easierfor them to resume eating. The thing to keep in mind is that if the symptoms return,the fast was not long enough or the diet was not properly reformed after the fast.
During a long fast on water or dilute juice, if the bodyhas used up all of it"s reserves and/or the body has reached skeletal condition,and the condition or symptoms being addressed persists the fast should be ended,the person should go on a raw food healing diet. If three to six months on raw fooddon"t solve the complaint then another spell of water or dilute juice fastingshould be attempted. Most fasters are incapable of persisting until the body reserveshave been used up because social conditioning is telling them their emaciated-lookingbody must be dying when it is actually far from death, but return of true hungeris the critical indicator that must not be ignored. True hunger is not what mostpeople think of when they think they are hungry. Few Americans have ever experiencedtrue hunger. It is not a rumbling in the stomach or a set of uncomfortable sensations(caused by the beginning of detoxification) you know will go away after eating. Truehunger is an animal, instinctual feeling in the back of one"s throat (not inthe stomach) that demands you eat something, anything, even grass or shoe leather.
Seriously ill people inevitably start the cleansing processwith a pre-existing and serious mineral deficiencies. I say inevitably because theylikely would not have become ill had they been properly nourished. Sick fasters maybe wise to take in minerals from thin vegetable broths or vitamin-like supplementsin order to prevent uncomfortable deficiency states. For example calcium or magnesiumdeficiencies can make water fasters experience unpleasant symptoms such as hand tremors,stiff muscles, cramps in the hands, feet, and legs, and difficulty relaxing. I wantto stress here that fasting itself does not create deficiencies. But a person alreadydeficient in minerals should watch for these symptoms and take steps to remedy thedeficiencies if necessary.
Raw Food Healing Diets
Next in declining order of healing effectiveness is whatI call a raw food healing diet or cleansing diet. It consists of those very samewatery fruits and nonstarchy vegetables one juices or makes into vegetable broths,but eaten whole and raw. Heating food does two harmful things: it destroys many vitamins,enzymes and other nutritional elements and it makes many foods much harder to digest.So no cooked vegetables or fruits are allowed because to maintain health on thislimited regimen it is essential that every possible vitamin and enzyme present inthe food be available for digestion. Even though still raw, no starchy or fatty vegetablesor fruits are allowed that contain concentrated calories like potatoes, winter squash,avocados, sweet potatoes, fresh raw corn, dates, figs, raisins, or bananas. And naturally,no salad dressings containing vegetable oils or (raw) ground seeds are allowed. Norare raw grains or other raw concentrated energy sources.
When a person starts this diet they will at first experienceconsiderable weight loss because it is difficult to extract a large number of caloriesfrom these foods (though I have seen people actually gain weight on a pure melondiet, so much sugar do these fruits have, and well-chewed watermelon seeds are verynourishing). Eating even large quantities of only raw fruit and raw non-starchy vegetablesresults in a slow but steady healing process about 10 to 20 percent as rapid as waterfasting.
A raw food cleansing diet has several huge advantages. Itis possible to maintain this regimen and regularly do non-strenuous work for manymonths, even a year or more without experiencing massive weight loss and, more importantto some people, without suffering the extremes of low blood sugar, weakness and lossof ability to concentrate that happen when water fasting. Someone on a raw food cleansewill have periods of lowered energy and strong cravings for more concentrated foods,but if they have the self-discipline to not break their cleansing process they canaccomplish a great deal of healing while still maintaining more or less normal (thoughslower paced) life activities. However, almost no one on this diet is able to sustainan extremely active life-style involving hard physical labor or competitive sports.And from the very beginning someone on a raw food cleanse must be willing and ableto lie down and rest any time they feel tired or unable to face their responsibilities.Otherwise they will inevitably succumb to the mental certainty that their feelingsof exhaustion or overwhelm can be immediately solved by eating some concentratedfood to "give them energy." Such low-energy states will, however, passquickly after a brief nap or rest.
Something else gradually happens to a body when on such adiet. Do you recall that I mentioned that after my own long fast I began to get more"mileage" out of my food. A cleansed, healed body becomes far more efficientat digestion and assimilation; a body that is kept on a raw food cleansing diet willinitially lose weight rapidly, but eventually weight loss slows to virtually nothingand then stabilizes. However, long-term raw fooders are usually thin as toothpicks.
Once starchy vegetables like potatoes or winter squash, rawor cooked, or any cereals, raw or cooked, are added to a cleansing diet, the detoxificationand healing virtually ceases and it becomes very easy to maintain or even gain weight,particularly if larger quantities of more concentrated foods like seeds and nutsare eaten. Though this diet has ceased to be cleansing, few if any toxins from misdigestionwill be produced and health is easy to maintain.
"Raw fooders" are usually people who have healedthemselves of a serious diseases and ever after continue to maintain themselves onunfired food, almost as a matter of religious belief. They have become convincedthat eating only raw, unfired food is the key to extraordinarily long life and supremegood health. When raw fooders wish to perform hard physical work or strenuous exercise,they"ll consume raw nuts and some raw grains such as finely-ground oats soakedovernight in warm water or deliciously sweet "Essene bread," made fromslightly sprouted wheat that is then ground wet, made into cakes, and sun baked attemperatures below about 115 degrees Fahrenheit. Essene bread can be purchased insome health food stores. However, little or no healing or detoxification can happenonce concentrated energy sources are added to the diet, even raw ones.
During my days at Great Oaks School I was a raw fooder forsome years, though I found it very difficult to maintain body heat on raw food duringchilly, rainy Oregon winters and eventually struck a personal compromise where Iate about half my diet raw and the rest fired. I have listed some books by raw foodersin the Bibliography. Joe Alexander"s is the most fun.
Complete Recovery Of The Seriously Ill
Its a virtual certainty that to fully recover, a seriouslyill person will have to significantly rebuild numerous organs. They have a hard choice:to accept a life of misery, one that the medical doctors with drugs and surgery maybe able to prolong into an interminable hell on earth, or, spend several years workingon really healing their body, rotating between water fasting, juice or broth fasting,extended periods on a cleansing raw food diet, and periods of no-cleansing on a morecomplete diet that includes moderate amounts of cooked vegetables and small quantitiesof cooked cereals. And even after recovery someone who was quite ill may have tolive the rest of their life on a rather restricted regimen.
It is unrealistic to expect one fast to fix everything. Thebody will heal as much as it can in the allotted time, but if a dangerous illnesshas not been fully remedied by the first intense fast, a raw food diet must be followedfor three to six months until weight has been regained, nutritional reserves havebeen rebuilt and it is safe to undertake another extended fast. More than two wateror juice fasts a year of thirty continuous days are not recommended nor should theybe necessary unless the life is in imminent danger and there is no other option.
The story of Jake"s catastrophic illness and almost-cureis a good example of this type of program. Jake was from back East. He phoned mebecause he had read a health magazine article I had written, his weak voice faintlydescribing a desperate condition. He was in a wheelchair unable to walk, unable tocontrol his legs or arms very well, was unable to control his bladder and requireda catheter. He had poor bowel control, had not the strength to talk much or loudlyand most frightening to him, he was steadily losing weight although he was eatinglarge amounts of cooked vegetables and grains. Jake had wasted away to 90 poundsat 5"10" and looked pathetic when I first saw him wheeled off an airplaneat my local airport.
Jake had seen a lot of medical doctors and had variouslybeen diagnosed as having chronic fatigue syndrome, chronic (whatever that is) meningitis,and multiple sclerosis. He had been treated by virtually every medical expert andmany famous alternative practitioners, utilizing a host of old and new techniques,all to no avail. He had even tried intravenous chelation therapy and colonics. Ithad also been suggested that he enter a hospital for the treatment of eating disordersand/or see a psychiatrist. He had tried to gain admittance to a number of holisticfasting institutions back east, but they all refused him because they consideredthe risk was too high to fast a person at such a low body weight. But I had previouslyfasted emaciated people like Jake, and there was something I liked about his telephonepresence. Perhaps this is why I foolishly decided I knew better than the other experts.
People commonly waste away and die while eating large amountsof food. Obviously they are unable to digest or assimilate nutrients or they wouldn"tbe wasting. Eating further increases their toxic burden from undigested meals, furtherworsening their already failing organs. The real solution is to stop feeding themaltogether so that their digestive functions can heal. In Jake"s case, his body"snutritional reserves had already become sadly depleted due to poor absorption oversuch an extended period, so I could not fast him on water. I immediately put Jakeon a rich mineral broth prepared from everything left alive in our garden at theend of winter–leaves of kale, endive plants, whole huge splitting Savoy cabbages,garlic, huge leeks including their green tops, the whole stew fortified with seaweed. It did not matter too much what vegetables I used as long as there were lotsof leafy greens containing lots of chlorophyll (where the most concentrated mineralnutrition is located).
Jake was given colonics every day, but had to be carriedto the colonic table because he could not support his own weight. Whoever had givenhim colonics previously had not accomplished much for I must say that Jake had themost foul smelling discharges that I had ever encountered in administering over 6,000colonics over many years. It was as if his body was literally rotting from the insideout.
After 30 days on mineral broth Jake, who really did weigh90 pounds when he arrived, was only down to 85! When a person already close to skeletalweight starts fasting, to conserve vital tissue the body goes rapidly into a stateof profound rest so it uses very little energy, thus it loses very little weighteach day. This degree of resting also helps heal abnormal body parts earlier. Afterone month on mineral broth Jake began to show signs of mineral deficiencies in theform of a fine tremor of the hands, and cramps in the feet, so I put him on mineralsupplements too.
Jake was in my house for a long time. At the end of the secondmonth on broth he started two weeks on raw carrot juice with a lot of chlorophylladded from sources such as algae (spirulina), wheat grass juice, alfalfa, etc.. Thiswas followed by two more weeks on small quantities of raw fruits and vegetables,and then followed by two weeks with added steamed vegetables, and finally, he achieveda diet which included small amounts of grain, cooked legumes and raw nuts, plus thefruits and vegetables previously mentioned. Jake health steadily improved. He gainedcontrol of his bladder, bowels, speech, hands, and legs. He began to exercise inthe living room on a stationary bike, and walked slowly up and down our long driveway,picking daffodils in the beautiful spring weather.
Sadly, though I could help his body to heal it was next toimpossible to stem the tides of Jake"s appetites or to pleasantly withstandhis tantrums when he was denied; he always wanted more in terms of quantity, morein terms of variety, and at more frequent intervals. Though his organs had healedsignificantly, his digestive capacity was not nearly as large as he remembered himselfenjoying before he got sick. And never would be. Jake was not happy about the dietaryrestrictions necessary for him to retain his newly attained health, and unwillingto stay within the limits of his digestive system"s ability to process foods.He had gained weight and was back up to 120 pounds. It was time for him to go homebefore I lost my good humor.
Jake left with a lot of "good lucks" and sternadmonitions to stick to his stringent diet and supplement program. It was a big momentfor Jake. He had arrived in a wheelchair three months before. Now he walked unaidedto the airplane, something he had not been able to do for two years.
Back at home Jake had no one courageous enough to set limitsfor him. His immediate family and every one of his brow beaten associates were compelledto give him everything that he wanted. So his appetite and lack of personal disciplinegot the better of him. He started eating lots of dates and figs. These had been eliminatedfrom his diet because he was unable to process foods which such a high sugar content.He also ate larger and larger quantities of grains, nuts and avocados, although Ihad warned him of specific quantity limits on rich foods. Most sadly, he returnedto enjoying spaghetti with lots of cheese grated on top. Within months of leavingmy care his paralysis and weakness returned, except that unfortunately for him, hestill retained the ability to assimilate food and maintain his body weight. Ironically,the only ultimate benefit of his fasting with me was to permit him to suffer a farlonger existence in a wheelchair without wasting away and escaping into death.
I would be failing my readers if I did not explain why Jakebecame ill in the first place. Jake had started what grew to become a very successfulchain of spaghetti restaurants with a unique noodles and sauces made to his own formula.He ate a lot of his own spaghetti over the years, and had been reared in a good Italianfamily with lots of other kinds of rich food. Jake had a reputation for being ableto outeat everybody in terms of quantity and in the amount of time spent eating.In childhood, this ability had made his Italian mother very happy because it showedappreciation for her great culinary skill.
Secondly, Jake the adult was still at his core, Jake thespoiled brat child, with a bad, unregulated temper. He was in the habit of dumpinghis temper on other people whether they needed a helping of his angry emotions ornot. A lot of people in his employ and in his extended family tiptoed around Jake,always careful of triggering his wrath. At my place as Jake began to get well hebegan to use his increased energy and much stronger voice to demonstrate his poorcharacter. At meal times Jake would bang the table with a fork hard enough to leavedents in the wood table top while yelling for more, complaining loudly about thelack of rich sauces and other culinary delights he craved. This was a character problemthat Jake could not seem to overcome, even with a lot of intervention from the localminister on his behalf and my counseling. Jake was a Catholic who went to churchregularly, but acted like a Christian only while he was in church. On some levelJake knew that he was not treating others fairly, but he would not change his habitualresponses. His negative thoughts and actions interfered with his digestive capacityto the extent that his gluttonous eating habits produced illness, a vegetative paralyzingillness, but not death. To me this seems almost a form of karmic justice.
It is common for people who have been very ill for extendedperiods of time to realize what a wonderful gift life is and arrive at a willingnessto do almost anything to have a second chance at doing ‘life" right. Some succeedwith their second chance and some don"t. If they don"t succeed in changingtheir life and relationships, they frequently relapse.
Luigi Cornaro"s left the world his story of sicknessand rejuvenation. His little book may be the world"s first alternative healingtext. It is a classic example of the value of abstentousness. Had Jake taken thisstory to heart he would have totally recovered. Cornaro was a sixteenth century Venetiannobleman. He, like Jake the spaghetti baron, was near death at the young age of forty.(Jake was also in his early 40s when he broke down.) Cornaro"s many doctorswere unable to cure him. Finally he saw a doctor who understood the principles ofnatural healing. This wise physician determined that this illness was caused by amismatch between Cornaro"s limited digestive capacity and the excessive amountof food he was eating. So Cornaro was put on a diet of only 12 ounces of solid foodand fourteen ounces of liquid a day. Any twelve ounces of any solids he wanted andany fourteen ounces of liquid. It could be meat and wine, salad or orange juice,no matter.
Cornaro soon regained his health and he continued to followthe diet until the age of 78. His health was so outstanding during this period thatpeople who were much younger in terms of years were unable to keep up with him. At78 his friends, worried about how thin he was (doesn"t it always seem that itis your so-called friends who always ruin a natural cure) persuaded him to increasehis daily ration by two ounces a day. His delicate and weak digestive system, whichhad operated perfectly for many years, was unable to deal with the additional twoounces, and he became very ill after a very short period of over eating.
Worse, his recent indulgence had even further damaged theorgans of digestion and to survive Cornaro had to cut his daily ration to eight ouncesof solid food and eleven of liquids. On this reduced dietary he again regained hishealth and lived to be 100. Cornaro wrote four books on the value of abstinence or"sober living" as he called it, writing the last and perhaps the most interestingat 96 years of age. Had my patient Jake been able to confine his food intake to thelevel of his body"s ability to digest, he might still be walking and enjoyinglife. But try as I might I could not make him understand. Perhaps he enjoys doingpenance in his wheel chair more than he would enjoy health and life.
Tissue Losses at Death By Starvation*
|Fat ||97% |
|Muscles ||31 |
|Blood ||27 |
|Liver ||54 |
|Spleen ||67 |
|Pancreas ||17 |
|Skin ||21 |
|Intestines ||18 |
|Kidneys ||26 |
|Lungs ||18 |
|Testes ||40 |
|Heart ||3 |
|Brain and Spinal Cord ||3 |
|Nerves ||3 |
|Bone ||14 |
* From Keys, Ancel, Joseph Brozek , Austin Henchel, Olaf Mickelsonand Henry L. Taylor, (1950) The Biology of Human Starvation. Two Vols. Minneapolis:University of Minnesota Press.
It is true that ethical medical doctors use the least-riskyprocedure they are allowed to use. But this does not mean there are no risks to allopathictreatment. The medical doctor justifies taking the risks by saying that the risk/rewardratio is the best possible. Any sick person is already at risk. Life comes with onlyone guarantee: that none of us gets out of it alive.
Compared to the risks of allopathic medicine, fasting isa far safer method of treating disease. The oft-repeated scare stories medical doctorsand their allies circulate about fasting are not true, and it is important to rememberthat none of these people portraying fasting as evil and dangerous have ever fastedthemselves–I"ll put money on that one. Or, on the slim possibility that someonetelling fasting horror stories did actually not eat for 24 hours (probably becausesome accident or acute illness prevented them), they had a terrible experience becausethey didn"t understand the process, were highly toxic, and were scared to deaththe whole time.
Or worse yet they fasted for a short period with an "openmind"–a very dangerous state in which to approach anything new. I have foundthrough considerable experience with people professing to have open minds that theexpression "I"m open minded" usually means that someone has alreadymade up their mind and new data just passes straight through their open mind–in oneear and out the other. Or sometimes, the phrase "open mind" means a personthat does not believe any information has reality and is entirely unable to makeup their mind.
The most commonly leveled criticism of fasting is that inits efforts to survive self-imposed starvation the body metabolizes vital tissue,not just fat, and therefore, fasting is damaging, potentially fatally damaging. Peoplewho tell you this will also tell you that fasters have destroyed their heart muscleor ruined their nervous system permanently. But this kind of damage happen only whena person starves to death or starves to a point very close to death, not when someonefasts.
There is a huge difference between fasting and starvation.Someone starving is usually eating, but eating poorly and inadequately, eating scrapsof whatever is available such as sugar, white flour, rancid grease, shoe leather,or even dirt. Frequently a starving person is forced to exercise a great deal asthey struggle to survive and additionally is highly apprehensive. Or someone starvingto death is confined to a small space, may become severely dehydrated too and isin terror. Fear is very damaging to the digestive process, and to the body in general;fear speeds up the destruction of vital tissue. People starve when trekking vastdistances through wastelands without food to eat, they starved in concentration camps,buried in mind disasters, they starve during famines and starve while being torturedin prisons.
Until water fasting goes on past the point where all fattytissues and all abnormal deposits have been burned for fuel and recycled for thenutritional elements they contain, vital muscle tissues and organs are not consumed.And as long as the body contains sufficient nutritional reserves, vital organs andessential tissues are rebuilt and maintained. In fact the body has a great deal ofintelligence that we don"t give it credit for. It knows exactly which cellsare essential to survival, which ones are not. The body knows which cells are abnormaldeposits, and it goes to work to metabolize them first. For example, the body recognizesarthritic deposits, cysts, fibroids, and tumors as offensive parts of the landscape,and obligingly uses them for foods in preference to anything else. A starving (notfasting) body also knows precisely in what order of priority body cells should bemetabolized to minimize risk of death or permanent disability.
After a starving body has reached skeletal condition, orwhere some small amount of fat remains but nutritional reserves (vitamins and minerals)are exhausted and there is insufficient nourishment forthcoming, the body beginsto consume nutrient-rich muscle and organ tissue in a last-ditch effort to stay alive.Under these dire circumstances, the least essential muscles and organs from the standpointof survival are metabolized first. For example, muscles in the arms and legs wouldbe consumed early in the process, the heart muscle used only toward the very end.The very last part of the body to be metabolized when one is starving and as hascome very close to death would be the brain and the nervous system.
Starvation begins where fasting ends, which is when realhunger begins. If the return of hunger is ignored whenever it takes place, whetherit is in 30, 60, or 90 days depending upon body weight and type of fast, at thatpoint exactly, not a day before, starvation begins very slowly. Usually it takesa considerable period of time after that before death occurs. It is important tonote that this discussion applies only to the abstention from food, not water. Deathtakes place very quickly in the absence of water.
The chart on the previous page shows numerically the phenomenalability of the body to protect the most essential tissues of the body right up tothe time of death. If a person fasted for 30 days, the average time it takes forthe return of hunger in a person that is not overweight, and then ignored the returnof hunger, and continued to abstain from food–if the person could avoid forced exercise,keep warm, and had enough hydration, it could take as much as an additional 20 to60 days to die of starvation! At death the body would have experienced losses of40 to 60 percent of its starting body weight. (Ancel Keys et al, 1950) A emaciatedperson can not afford to lose nearly as much weight as an obese person, and deathunder conditions of starvation will occur earlier. In all cases of starvation thebrain, nerves, heart, lungs, kidneys and liver remain largely intact and functionalto the very end. During a fast, it is almost impossible to damage essential organs,unless of course the person creates the damage by fears about the process, or byinternalizing the fears of others. If those fears are present, the fast should notbe attempted.
Weight Loss By Fasting
Loss of weight indicates, almost guarantees, that detoxificationand healing is occurring. I can"t stress this too much. Of all the things Ifind my patients seem to misunderstand or forget after being told, it is that theycan"t heal in a rapid manner without getting smaller. This reality is especiallyhard for the family and friends of someone who is fasting, who will say, "you"relooking terrible dear, so thin. Your skin is hanging on your bones. You"re noteating enough protein or nutrient food to be healthy and you must eat more or you"regoing to develop serious deficiencies. You don"t have any energy, you must begetting sicker. You"re doing the wrong thing, obviously. You have less energyand look worse every day. Go and see a doctor before it is too late." To succeedwith friends like this, a faster has to be a mighty self-determined person with apowerful ability to disagree with others.
Medical personnel claim that rapid weight loss often causesdangerous deficiencies; these deficiencies force the person to overeat and regaineven more weight afterward. This is largely untrue, though there is one true aspectto it: a fasted, detoxified body becomes a much more efficient digester and assimilator,extracting a lot more nutrition from the same amount food is used to eat. If, afterextended fasting a person returns to eating the same number of calories as they didbefore; they will gain weight even more rapidly than before they stated fasting.When fasting for weight loss, the only way to keep the weight off is to greatly reformthe diet; to go on, and stay on, a diet made up largely of non-starchy, watery fruitsand vegetables, limited quantities of cooked food, and very limited amounts of highlyconcentrated food sources like cereals and cooked legumes. Unless, of course, afterfasting, one"s lifestyle involves much very hard physical labor or exercise.I"ve had a few obese fasters become quite angry with me for this reason; theyhoped to get thin through fasting and after the fast, to resume overeating with completeirresponsibility as before, without weight gain.
People also fear weight loss during fasting because theyfear becoming anorexic or bulimic. They won"t! A person who abstains from eatingfor the purpose of improving their health, in order to prevent or treat illness,or even one who fasts for weight loss will not develop an eating disorder. Eatingdisorders mean eating compulsively because of a distorted body image. Anorexics andbulimics have obsessions with the thinner-is-better school of thought. The anorexiclooks at their emaciated frame in the mirror and thinks they are fat! This is thedistorted perception of a very insecure person badly in need of therapy. A bulimic,on the other hand stuffs themselves, usually with bad food, and then purges it byvomiting, or with laxatives. Anorexics and bulimics are not accelerating the healingpotential of their bodies; these are life threatening conditions. Fasters are genuinelytrying to enhance their survival potential.
Occasionally a neurotic individual with a pre-existing eatingdisorder will become obsessed with fasting and colon cleansing as a justificationto legitimize their compulsion. During my career while monitoring hundreds of fasters,I"ve known two of these. I discourage them from fasting or colon cleansing,and refuse to assist them, because they carry the practices to absurd extremes, andcontribute to bad press about natural medicine by ending up in the emergency wardof a hospital with an intravenous feeding tube in their arm.
Cases Beyond The Remedy Of Fasting
Occasionally, very ill people have a liver that has becomeso degenerated it cannot sustain the burden of detoxification. This organ is as vitalto survival as the brain, heart and lungs. We can get along with only one kidney,we can live with no spleen, with no gallbladder, with only small parts of the stomachand intestines, but we can not survive without a liver for more than a day or so.The liver is the most active organ in the body during detoxification. To reach anunderstanding of detoxification, it helps to know just what the liver does for uson an ongoing basis.
The liver is a powerful chemical filter where blood is refinedand purified. The liver passes this cleansed blood out through the superior venacava, directly to the heart. The blood is then pumped into general and systemic circulation,where it reaches all parts of the body, delivering nutrition and oxygen at a cellularlevel. On its return flow, a large proportion of the depleted blood is collectedby the gastric, splenic and superior and inferior mesenteric veins that convergeto form the large portal vein which enters the liver. Thus a massive flow of wastefrom all the cells of the body is constantly flowing into the liver. The huge hepaticartery also enters the liver to supply oxygen and nutrients with which to sustainthe liver cells themselves.
The liver is constantly at work refining the blood. It issynthesizing, purifying, renovating, washing, filtering, separating, and detoxifying.It works day and night without stopping. Many toxins are broken down by enzymes andtheir component parts are efficiently reused in various parts of the body. Some impuritiesare filtered out and held back from the general circulation. These debris are collectedand stored in the gall bladder, which is a little sack appended to the liver. Aftera meal, the contents of the gall bladder (bile) are discharged into the duodenum,the upper part of the small intestine just beyond the stomach. This bile also containsdigestive enzymes produced by the liver that permit the breakdown of fatty foodsin the small intestine.
Sometimes a large flow of bile finds its way into the stomachby pressure or is sucked into the stomach by vomiting. Excessive biliary secretionand excretion can also result from overeating, which overcrowds the area. Sometimescolonics or massage can also stimulate a massive flow of bile. Extremely bitter andirritating, when bile gets into the stomach the person either vomits or wishes theycould. And after vomiting and experiencing the taste of bile, wishes they hadn"t.
When no food at all enters the system, the blood keeps righton passing through the liver/filter just as it does when we are eating. When theliver does not have to take care of toxins generated by the current food intake,each passage through the liver results in a cleaner blood stream, with the debrisdecreasing in quantity, viscosity, and toxicity, until the blood becomes normalized.During fasting, debris from the gall bladder still pass through the small intestineand into the large intestine. However, if the bowels do not move the toxins in thebile are readsorbed into the blood stream and get recirculated in an endless loop.This toxic recycling makes a faster feel just terrible, like they had a flu or worse!
The bowels rarely move while fasting. During fasting onlyenemas or colonics permit elimination from the large intestine. If done effectivelyand frequently, enemas will greatly add to the well being and comfort of the faster.Many times when a faster seems to be retracing or experiencing a sudden onset ofacute discomfort or symptoms, these can be almost immediately relieved by an enemaor colonic.
A person with major liver degeneration inevitably dies, withor without fasting, with or without traditional medicine. Significantly impairedkidney function can also bring about this same result. Mercifully, death while fastingis usually accomplished relatively free of pain, clear of mind and with dignity.That often can not be said of death in a hospital. There are much worse experiencesthan death.
Fasting is not a cure-all. There are some conditions thatare beyond the ability of the body to heal. Ultimately, old age gets us all.
Dr. Linda Hazzard, one of the greats of natural hygiene,who practiced Osteopathic medicine in the 1920s, had a useful way of categorizingconditions that respond well to fasting. These she labeled "acute conditions,"and "chronic degenerative conditions." A third classification, "chronicconditions with organic damage," does not respond to fasting. Acute conditions,are usually inflammations or infections with irritated tissue, with swelling, redness,and often copious secretions of mucous and pus, such as colds, flu, a first timecase of pneumonia, inflamed joints as in the early stages of arthritis, etc. Theseacute conditions usually remedy in one to three weeks of fasting. Acute conditionsare excellent candidates for self-doctoring. Chronic degenerative conditions aremore serious and the patient usually requires supervision. These include conditionssuch as cancer, aids, chronic arthritis, chronic pneumonia, emphysema and asthma.Chronic degenerative conditions usually respond within a month to three months offasting. The fasting should be broken up into two or three sessions if the conditionhas not been relieved in one stint of supervised fasting. Each successive fast willproduce some improvement and if a light, largely raw-food diet is adhered to betweenfasts the patient should not worsen and should be fairly comfortable between fastings.
If there has been major functional damage to an organ asa result of any of these degenerative conditions, healing will not be complete, ormay be impossible. By organic damage, I mean that a vital part of the body has ceasedto function due to some degenerative process, injury, or surgery–so badly damagedthat the cells that make up the organ can not be replaced.
I once had a twenty five year old man come to my spa to diein peace because he had been through enough diagnostic procedures in three hospitalsto know that his liver was beyond repair. He had been working on an apple farm inbetween terms at university when he was poisoned several times with insecticide froman aerial spray on the whole orchard. He absorbed so much insecticide that his liverincurred massive organic damage.
When he came to me his body had reached the point where itwas incapable of digesting, and because of lack of liver function, it was incapableof healing while fasting, a condition in which death is a certainty. He was a Buddhist,did not fear death and did not want to be kept alive in agony or in prolonged unconsciousnessby any extraordinary means, nor did he want to die with tubes in every orifice. Iwas honored to be a supportive participant in his passing. He died fasting, in peace,and without pain, with a clear mind that allowed him to consciously prepare for theexperience. He was not in a state of denial or fear, and made no frantic attemptsto escape the inevitable. He went quietly into that still dark night with a tranquildemeanor and a slight smile.
Fortunately, in my many years of practice I had the pleasureof seeing the majority of the people totally regain their health or at least greatlyimprove it by means of the fasting and healing diets. Many cancer patients watchedwith amazement as their tumors disappeared before their eyes, many arthritics regainedtheir function, serious skin conditions such as psoriasis disappeared, mental conditionsimproved, addictions vanished, fatigue was replaced by energy, and fat dissolvedrevealing the hidden sculpture beneath. I will talk more about procedures and theparticular reasons bodies develop specific conditions in later chapters.
Social/Cultural/Psychological Obstacles To Fasting
Numerous attitudes make it difficult to fast or to providemoral support to friends or loved ones that are fasting. Many people harbor fearsof losing weight because they think that if times were really tough, if there wasa famine or they became ill and lost a lot of weight they would have no reservesand would certainly perish. These people have no idea how much fat can be concealedon an even skinny body, nor of how slowly a skinny body loses weight while fasting.Substantial fat reserves are helpful as heat-retaining insulation in those rare accidentswhen someone is dropped into a cold ocean and must survive until the rescue boatarrives. Being fat might keep a person alive longer who is lost in the wildernessawaiting rescue with no supplies, no means of procuring food, and no means of keepingwarm. On the other hand, fat people would have a far harder time walking out of thewilderness. And extensive fat deposits are merely fuel and do not contain extensivenutritional reserves. An obese person fasting without significant nutritional supplementationwould begin starving long before they became really skinny. On the balance, carryingexcess weight is a far greater liability than any potential prosurvival aspects itmight have.
There are other attitudes associated with weight loss thatmake it difficult for people to fast. People hold rather stereotypical notions aboutwhat constitutes an attractive person; usually it involves having some meat on onesbones. Hollywood and Hugh Hefner have both influenced the masses to think that womenshould have hourglass figures with large, upthrust, firm breasts. Since breasts arealmost all useless fatty tissue supporting some milk-producing glands that do notgive a breast much volume except when engorged, most women fasters loose a good percentageof their breast mass. If the fast is extensive, there should also develop an impressiveshowing of ribs and hip bones; these are not soft and cuddly. Husbands, lovers, parents,and friends frequently point out that you don"t look good this way and exhortyou to put on weight. Most people think pleasantly plump is healthy.
Skinny men, especially those who had lost a lot of weightduring an illness, are pressured by associates to put on weight to prove that theyare healthy. I had a client who was formerly a college varsity football player. Beforehis illness he had lifted weights and looked like a hunk. His family and friendsliked to see him that way and justifiably so. Then he got seriously ill. On a longextended healing diet he lost a significant amount of weight and seemed down rightskinny, causing all who knew him well and cared about him to tempt him with all kindsof scrumptious delicacies from the best of kitchens. But this case was like LuigiCornaro, a man who never again could look like a hunk. His "friends" madean absolutely necessary change in life style and appearance far more difficult thanit was already. My client was torn between a desire to please others, and a desireto regain and retain his health. This problem a sick person doesn"t need.
If you have the independence to consider following an alternativemedical program in a culture that highly values conformity and agreement, you arealso going to have to defend your own course of self-determined action based on thebest available data that you have. But fasters are usually in fragile emotional condition,so I advise my clients who are subjected to this kind of pressure to beg their friendsand associates to refrain from saying anything if they can"t support the courseof action you have chosen. After this, if friends or relatives are still incapableof saying nothing (even non-verbally), it is important to exclude them from yourlife until you have accomplished your health goals, have regained some weight andhave returned to eating a maintenance diet, rather than getting skinnier on a healingone.
The very worst aspect of our culture"s eating programmingis that people have been wrongfully taught that when ill they must eat to keep uptheir strength. Inherent in this recommendation is an unstated belief that when thebody is weakened by a disease state, the weakness can somehow be overcome with food,and that the body needs this food to kill the virus, bacteria, or invading yeast,and uses the protein to heal or rebuild tissue. Sadly, the exact opposite is thecase. Disease organisms feed and multiply on the toxic waste products of misdigestion,and the body is unable to digest well when it is weak or ill.
There"s an old saying about this: ‘feed a cold, starvea fever." Most people think this saying means you should eat when you have acold. What the saying really means is if you feed a cold then you will soon haveto starve a fever. Protein foods especially are not digested by a diseased body,and as mentioned before, the waste products of protein indigestion are especiallypoisonous. That is all the body needs when it is already down, another load of poisonwhich it can"t eliminate due to weakness and enervation.
Weight loss is usually associated with illness, as it shouldbe! In times of acute illness an otherwise healthy body loses its appetite for foodbecause it is prosurvival to stop eating. It is very hard to coax a sick animal toeat. Their bodies, not controlled by a mind full of complex learned responses andfalse ideas, automatically know that fasting is nature"s method of healing.Contrary to popular understanding, digestion, assimilation, and elimination requirethe expenditure of considerable energy. This fact may contradict the reader"sexperience because everyone has become tired when they have worked a long time withouteating, and then experienced the lift after eating. But an ill body cannot digestefficiently so instead of providing energy extracted from foods, the body is furtherburdened by yet another load of toxic material produced by fermented and putrefiedfood. This adds insult to injury in a sick body that is already drowning in its owngarbage.
Worse, during illness most available vital force is alreadyredirected into healing; it is not available for digestion. It is important to allowa sick body to proceed with healing and not to obstruct the process with unnecessarydigestion or suppress the symptoms (which actually are the healing efforts) withdrugs. If you have an acute illness, and you stop all food intake except for purewater and herb teas, and perhaps some vegetable broth, or dilute non-sweet juice,you have relieved your body of an immense effort. Instead of digesting, the bodygoes to work on catching up on healing. The body can and will almost inevitably healitself if the sick person will have faith in it, cooperate with the body"s effortsby allowing the symptoms of healing to exist, reduce or eliminate the intake of foodto allow the body to marshal its energies, maintain a positive mental attitude andotherwise stay out of the way.
Many people intensely dread missing even one meal. Thesefolks usually are and have been so toxic that their bodies had been stashing uneliminatedtoxins in their fat for years. They are usually so addicted to caffeine, cigarettes,alcohol, and so forth, that when they had fasted, even briefly, their bodies wereforced to dip into highly-polluted fat reserves while simultaneously the body beginswithdrawal. People like this who try to fast experience highly unpleasant symptomsincluding headache, irritability, inability to think or concentrate, blurred vision,profound fatigue, aches, etc. Most of these symptoms come from low blood sugar, butcombined with the toxins being released from fat and combined with going throughmultiple addictive withdrawals, the discomforts are more than most people are willingto tolerate. Fasting on juice is much more realistic for cases like this. It is littlewonder that when a hygienist suggests a fast to improve health, this type of caseasserts positively that fasting is quite impossible, they have tried it, it is absolutelyterrible and know that they can"t do it.
This rejection is partly due to a cultural expectation (onereinforced by western medicine) that all unpleasant symptoms should be avoided orsuppressed. To voluntarily experience unpleasant sensations such as those mentionedabove is more than the ordinary timid person will subject themselves to, even inorder to regain health. They will allow surgery, drugs with violent and dangerousside effects, painful and invasive testing procedures and radiation–all unpleasantand sometimes extremely uncomfortable. These therapies are accepted because someoneelse with authority is doing it to them. And, they have been told that it they don"tsubmit they will not ever feel better and probably will die in the near future. Alsopeople think that they have no alternative, that the expert in front of them knowswhat is best, so they feel relieved to have been relieved of the responsibility fortheir own condition and its treatment.
During the years it takes for a body to degenerate enoughto prompt a fast, the body has been storing up large quantities of unprocessed toxinsin the cells, tissues, fat deposits, and organs. The body in its wisdom will alwayschoose to temporarily deposit overwhelming amounts of toxins somewhere harmless ratherthan permit the blood supply to become polluted or to use secondary elimination routes.A body will use times when the liver is less burdened to eliminate these stored toxicdebris. The hygienists" paradigm asserts that the manifestation of symptomsor illness are all by themselves, absolute, unassailable proof that further storageof toxic wastes in the cells, tissues, fat deposits, and organs is not possible andthat an effort toward elimination is absolutely necessary. Thus the first time aperson fasts a great quantity of toxins will normally be released. Being the residentof a body when this is happening can be quite uncomfortable. For this reason alone,preventative fasting is a very wise idea.
Before the body becomes critically ill, clean up your reservefuel supply (fat deposits) by burning off some accumulated fat that is rich in toxicdeposits and then replace it with clean, non-toxic fat that you will make while eatingsensibly. If you had but fasted prophylactically as a preventative or health-creatingmeasure before you became seriously ill, the initial detoxification of your bodycould have been accomplished far more comfortably, while you were healthy, whileyour vital force was high and while your body otherwise more able to deal with detoxification.
Each time you fast, even if it is only one day, you allowyour body to go through a partial detox, and each time it becomes easier and morecomfortable than the last time. The body learns how to fast. Each time you fast it,your body slips into a cleansing mode more quickly, and each time you fast you lightenthe load of stored toxins. Perhaps you have already eliminated the caffeine yourbody had stored, which frequently causes severe headaches on withdrawal, not to mentionfatigue. It certainly helps to have this behind you before you go on to the eliminationof other irritating substances. Many people have gone through alcohol or tobaccowithdrawal, and understand that it is very unpleasant, and also that it must be donein the pursuit of health. Why not withdraw from the rest of the irritating and debilitatingsubstances we take into our system on an ongoing basis, and why not grit your waythrough the eliminative process, withdraw, from food addictions such as sugar orsalt, and from foods that you may be allergic to like wheat, dairy products or eggs.
It is very wise to invest in your own insurance plan by systematicallydetoxifying while you are still healthy. Plan it into your life, when it is convenient,such as once a week on Sunday, or even once a month on a quiet day. Take a few daysof vacation, go to a warm, beautiful place and devote part or all of it to cleansing.Treat yourself by taking an annual trip to Hawaii, fasting at a hotel on the beach–dowhatever it takes to motivate yourself. And consider this: vacations are enormouslycheaper when you stay out of restaurants.
If you have accustomed your body to 24 hour fasts, then youcan work on 48 hour fasts, and over time work up to 72 hour fasts, all on a continuum.You may find it becoming increasingly comfortable, perhaps even pleasant, somethingyou look forward to. Fasting a relatively detoxified body feels good, and peopleeventually really get into the clean, light, clear headed, perhaps spiritually awarestate that goes along with it.
By contrast, fasting when you are sick is much more difficultbecause your vitality or vital force is very low, you already have no energy, andprobably have unpleasant symptoms that must be dealt with at the same time. Theremay be the added stress of being forced into a cleanse because you are too nauseousto eat. Most people let their health go until they are forced into dealing with it;they are too busy living, so why bother.
The truth is that our body does age, and over time becomesless able to deal with insults; the accumulated effect of insults and aging eventuallyleads most of us to some serious degenerative illness. Normally this begins happeningaround age 50 if not sooner. Some of us that were gifted with good genes or whatI call "a good start" may have reached the age of 60 or 75 or even 90 withoutserious illness, but those people are few and far between. Why not tip the scalesin your favor by preventing or staving off health problems with systematic detoxificationat your own convenience.
Climb into the drivers seat and start to take control andgain confidence in your own ability to deal with your body, your own health, andyour own life. When it gets right down to the bottom line, there is really only onething in the world that is really yours, and that is your life. Take control andstart managing it. The reward will be a more qualitative life.
Go To Chapter Four
HOME HYGIENICLIBRARY CATALOG