Fasting For Health
( Originally Published 1954 )
Fasting, or the withholding of food from the body, is a method of treating acute and chronic ill health. This procedure is not as well known in the world of the healing arts and sciences as it should be.
Now and then the orthodox medical world has had a pioneer who used fasting as a means of aiding the sick body to rid itself of disease.
An American doctor, Edward Hooker Dewey, an army surgeon, did some interesting research on this powerful therapeutic method—fasting. Dr. Dewey is the author of a little volume called The No-Breakfast Plan and Fasting Cure, in which he describes no-less-than-miraculous cures of a number of his patients who underwent prolonged fasting periods. Dr. Dewey claimed that fasting can cure the most stubborn diseases, including insanity. An osteopathic physician, Dr. Linda Hazzard, has also written a book on fasting which is an impressive account of the doctor's experience with patients who fasted for better health.
The medical profession, ruling over the health of mankind, appears willing to subject the sick to the trial of all sorts of drugs, surgery, electric shock, and other forms of treatment that are experimental, even heroic—and sometimes useless. They are unwilling to open their minds and eyes to the more kindly procedures such as rest of the body, mind and emotions.
Fasting means physiological rest for the organism. When the human economy is so fortunate as to be given the best chance to throw off the retained impurities plaguing the cells of the body, and plaguing therefore the mind and the emotions, then the vital organs (heart, liver, kidneys) that are concerned in the normal functioning of the entire organism are also restored to a degree of strength, to vital functioning and organic efficiency.
Nature is a wonderful healer and physician. Soon after an individual is put on a fast, the body begins to oxidize (burn up) materials from the tissues of the body, utilizing them for its living basic processes (basal metabolism). The body organism is, among other things, a waste-forming entity. Every cell of every tissue performs, among the rest of its living functions, the function of excretion. In normal good health, the excretions of the cells are carried into the waste channels of the body, the venous and lymphatic streams, and from there they are brought to the excretory channels—the lungs, skin, kidneys and bowels—for excretion from the body.
As life progresses, up to about middle age, the body cells accumulate much uneliminated wastes that fail to be excreted. Modern men and women accept (for example) constipation, headache and fatigue as natural and unavoidable consequences of living. Adults, rich or poor, are overwhelmed by fear of the incurable or surgical diseases.
For example, the so-called allergic diseases are supposed to be caused by reactions or hypersensitiveness to certain foods, dusts, pollens, etc. The principal fact about allergic diseases is that the mucous-membrane structures and the skin are super-saturated with uneliminated cellular excretions. Instead of pumping the sick body full of various drug products which are questionable—and useless in most instances, even as palliative agents—it would be better to give the body a chance to cleanse itself of impurities that irritate the skin and mucous-membrane structures. This can be done by means of fasting.
Fasting is a very potent process for cleaning out cellular wastes of the skin and mucous membranes. Anyone who has been a sufferer from the irritation and inflammation of hay fever or asthma can get complete relief by a properly managed fast of one week to ten days, followed by a correct diet! More deep-seated disease, arthritis or inflammation of the joints, may take a longer period of fasting for relief and cure. Indeed, arthritis deformans and also osteo-arthritis have been cured in my practice by fasting a week to a few weeks, the fast being alternated with proper feeding!
Every one of my fasting patients has been very grateful for the daily aid and comfort which the osteopathic treatment has given.
Osteopathic treatment is a physiological stimulant. It improves the circulation of the blood and invigorates the person who is on a fast. It is my belief that it contributes in a very large measure to the progress and comfort of my patients. The immediate feeling of improvement after an osteopathic treatment cannot be equalled by any other method that may be used. Indeed, I would not let any of my patients remain on a fast without receiving daily osteopathic treatment.
I do not give a long treatment. I give a general osteopathic treatment to loosen up restricted motion of joints wherever I possibly can.
It is gratifying that even patients with arthritis who have been immobilized for many months or years respond to the osteopathic treatments with pronounced daily progress. Every type of case, including the neurological syndromes, improves by fasting and osteopathic treatment! There are no substitutes for fasting, carried on together with osteopathic treatment, in the medical field of the older schools.
I also include in my regimen a system of exercises which the patient does while lying in bed, regenerating the body on a fast. The patient is shown how to exercise every muscle of the body. I apply the fundamental principles concerning the action or functions of the muscles. I teach them how to extend, flex, and rotate the various muscles, alternating these tensing or exercising movements with periods of relaxation. I consider the osteopathic procedures and the exercises, together with the fast, as the most potent aids in regenerating the sick body!
Once the physician visualizes the process of fasting as consisting of an eliminative or ejective process of accumulated wastes from the system, he will be able to work out his clinical problems successfully in most cases that are not too late for a cure. Every person who is sick, even very sick because the body has turned into a sewer of retained catabolic wastes, has a chance to unload it and be rewarded with good health.
In very late stages, it is a painful battle for the patient and physician to fight to control cancer. The cancer patient has much to gain by body-cleansing treatments which include fasting. Early stages of the dreadful and dreaded disease are marked by fatigue, weakness, and skin eruptions such as eczema and warts.
This biochemical, biophysiological process must be applied thoughtfully and skillfully. Fasting is not a stereotyped method of treatment. One individual may be able to fast with complete comfort, while another may become very distressed. The same individual may feel quite sick during one fast, while on the next fast he may enjoy comparative comfort. The comfort or discomfort of a fast depends on the condition of the digestive tract, the liver, the kidneys, the nervous system and the degree of constitutional impairment.
The more organically ill a person is, the more wastes are retained in the cells of the tissues. For this reason, the reaction to fasting will be more uncomfortable to the degree that one person is comparatively sicker than another. One who is mildly ill will actually feel eased by fasting! One who is very sick organically may seem to be worsened, and his symptoms may seem to be aggravated, during a first attempt at fasting.
Living on the morbid cellular wastes of the body (for such is the physiological objective of fasting) results in a feeling of weakness. The body begins to smell from bad odors produced as the protein and fatty wastes break down during the fast. This phenomenon is most pronounced as a bodily reaction when one subsists on lemon juice and water only.
Individuals who ordinarily have poor kidney elimination may be troubled by mild or severe symptoms of uremic poisoning during a stringent fast, because urinary wastes thrown off by the tissues are more poisonous than bowel wastes. These wastes at times produce irritation of the kidneys and the bladder. Consequently a general malaise may be pronounced. Supplementary treatment added to the fast, such as colonic irrigation, in conjunction with the intake of water and lemon juice by mouth, helps to combat the apparently toxic manifestation of fasting.
In twenty-two years of Health Rest treatment using fasting as one of my important therapeutic procedures, I have been able to work out a method of comfortably managing a fast. I use fasting alternated with light eating periods. My light feeding consists of fresh raw fruits, mostly oranges, grapefruit, pineapple and their juices, while the fasting period consists of water and lemon juice only. The fast on lemon juice and water gives the body economy the most effective opportunity to cleanse itself of its accumulated and retained wastes.
But this process cannot go on for many days without doing damage that may be organic or functional, or both, to the organism. Although fasting, or living on lemon juice and water, is not "starvation"—in the sense of starvation due to bad social and economic conditions—fasting nevertheless is a form of starvation.
During this process the body consumes some of its chemicals in order to maintain itself. Among those vital nutriments are calcium, iron, phosphorus and various other components of the tissues that are oxidized and eliminated with the excretions. The fasting patient is, in many instances, very weak, even while lying quiet in a comfortable and warm bed. He may get severe palpitations of the heart when he sits up, or when he tries to walk to the bathroom. While on a fast a patient requires the services of a good nurse as well as a good physician.
DA fasting patient must be bathed by the sponging method once or twice a day. Tub baths are often too taxing and may cause fainting or weakening of the patient. It is for this reason that I do not use the continuous long fast, as it was used by Dr. Edward Hooker Dewey, r. J. H. Tilden and others.
I put the patient on a fast and observe him very carefully. I carry the fast to the point where the patient can stand it with psychological comfort.
When a method is such a potent therapeutic remover of the causes of a disease, it should be investigated by those who are honest and earnest in the health profession. I would be quite willing to provide my services to any institution which desires them, for the benefit of sick persons who are today considered incurable. Let the philanthropic foundations and the honest medical leaders put a sample group of 100 patients under my supervision; let them observe the regenerative changes manifested by the arthritic, the asthmatic, the arteriosclerotic, the cancer patients, just as I observed them at my Health Rest in challenging cases that came to me in desperation and were rewarded with better health because of fasting.
Fasting as a method of disease prevention is as important for people in good health as it is for those who have already been overwhelmed by disease. When a healthy or near-healthy person under-goes a fast, he does not feel as uncomfortable as the very sick person does, because the body of the former is not charged with as much morbid waste. Fasting is therefore a preventive of disease. Once or twice a year, an adequately managed fast of three to ten days can do wonders for the man or woman who has reached the age of thirty-five or forty!
At this period the body is in a critical condition because it is past the stage of growth. Shakespeare's clown very aptly described the process which occurs during the maturation of an individual—"First we grow, then we ripen, and then we rot." Under our mode of civilization, the habits of people are such that the body becomes a storehouse of excessive food wastes and other kinds of wastes.
People eat too much; they eat too much of the wrong foods. The fat-forming foods and the muscle-forming foods are generally consumed to excess. What is called good living is the sensual habit of those who are rich as well as those who consider themselves educated and cultured. It is amazing to find how many, who are well versed in the arts and the sciences, eat so badly that they are full of grease and beef!
As we have said, the human organism is, among other things, a waste-forming biochemical entity. The individual therefore becomes a victim of waste accumulation when he is untrained in the basic knowledge that it is dangerous to let the body go without regular cleansing, just as a sewer system is periodically cleansed. Fasting once or twice a year will give the body a potent means of cleansing itself of accumulated wastes.
The normal excretory channels of the bowels and skin, as well as of every cell of the body, will then eject the wastes—that are permeating the tissues and fluids, within the cells and surrounding the cells—that the individual cannot otherwise throw off when eating. It is not new to medicine that cellular pathology can be a basic cause of disease. Much nervous tension that individuals suffer from—fatigue, constipation, premature aging, sclerotic changes of the arteries, the nerves, the heart—could be prevented by fasting periods and subsequent correct dietary periods, undergone annually or biannually by men and women of 35 or over.
The fasting period has a tremendous influence on the individual for many reasons. It helps to condition the body, as well as to direct habits of living into better and more constructive channels.
One who has been in the habit of drug-taking can most readily, most effectively, lose that habit during a correctly managed fast. The tobacco smoker loses his taste for cigarettes after two or three days of fasting. The coffee drinker loses the craving for coffee and other stimulating beverages after a couple of days of fasting, followed by proper feeding. The alcoholic can overcome the pernicious craving for liquor more quickly and more effectively by fasting than by any other method. I have treated some alcoholics—a few only—and I am stating these facts from experience.
Fasting is therefore a method that can condition the individual away from wrong ways of living and direct him to the right ones.
The serious diseases of whose definite causes medical literature claims to have no knowledge have been arrested in many cases by fasting! Tumors, in their early degenerative condition, may be re-absorbed by bodily reconstructive changes, if the physician applies correct fasting guidance and treatment of the patient. The inflammatory diseases that effect the mucous membranes of the nose, throat and chest have been cured by fasting, even after a chronicity of many years duration.
I have had the privilege of treating cases of bronchial asthma in patients who have been sick for over a decade, but who were cured by a few fasting periods alternated with properly chosen diet. The chronic disease, or disease complex, of arthritis, when many of the joints are immobilized and deformed, responds therapeutically to the fasting method. Skin ailments of prolonged duration, such as psoriasis and other forms of eczema, have responded to the fasting method of treatment with pronounced curative results, in my experience.
The younger the patient undergoing a fast, the easier it is to attain curative results in the shortest possible time. While some can be cured by means of fasting in seven or eight weeks, in other cases it may take five to eight months or a year. When it requires eight months of treatment using fasting as a basic "good medicine," it would require many years of treatment by any other methods. I have treated many patients who had been under constant medication for their ailments over a period of years and were getting worse instead of better .
The fasting method of treating disease in most cases requires no medication. In some instances, such as diabetes mellitus, insulin may be required in judicious doses while the diabetic is undergoing a fast.
In the treatment of this particular disease, I discovered that short fasting periods are safer and more effective than the continuous prolonged fast. There is a good biochemical explanation for that which I will not go into at this point.
Fasting is, indeed, a process that gives the body a chance to oxidize its accumulated and retained fluid and tissue wastes. It is, in my belief, the most effective way of controlling chronic disease and of lengthening human life, freeing men and women from the torments of ill health.
Knowledge of fasting as a remedy to halt the progress of mild diseases would be a wonderful thing to be possessed by families. At the first occurrence of a running nose in a child or adult, the patient should be put on a twelve- or twenty-four-hour fast. Many a severe case of disease would thus be stopped before it really got a good start.
Feeding a patient while he is slightly indisposed is one of the unhygienic methods promoted, unfortunately, even by health authorities. A child would get rid of a cold within a day or two if his ordinary food were taken away from him, and fresh fruit juice and raw fruit only were the only bill of fare. No pus can form in the body when no milk and bread are eaten during a cold.
It is also important in mild and acute disease to cleanse the colon quickly. The use of an enema consisting of plain lukewarm water (not soapsuds) is a very effective way of emptying the lower bowel, which is the most easily cleansed part of the sewer channels of the human organism.
In order to cleanse the blood and lymph of impurities, one has to drink fluids such as diluted fruit juices. Water is a good vehicle for body waste. Water with fruit juices is more effective in cleansing the internal structures of the body.
Children would never get the dangerous complications, such as middle ear disease or mastoid infection, if mothers knew the effectiveness of a short fast for the arrest of disease at its inception. The family would save much money that it now spends for doctors' fees and drug medication. That money could be used for the purchase of better foods!
Raw apples, oranges and other raw fruits could be used with greater benefit than some of the packaged groceries that fill the food baskets of our families. While inflation is affecting the raw foods to an alarming degree, more so now than during World War II, it is nevertheless necessary for people to include raw fruits and raw vegetables in the daily diet. The people would then find ways of combating inflation, even as they must find ways of intelligently combating disease and its causation.
The average person who already knows about the value of fasting for health would also be motivated to study and apply methods of correct eating and living that would not require frequent or long periods of fasting.
What an ideal era the human race would achieve if ever people were masters of their health!