Over the 33 years in my involvement in the health field, there has been one area that has impacted me more than any other.
This was when I was introduced to, and subsequently studied, the subjected of fasting.
Fasting is the voluntary and complete abstinence of all food and beverages except water, while nutritive reserves remain adequate for normal body function. It has been used for thousands of years and is used extensively in the animal kingdom.
I personally have fasted, as have my wife Dawn and our 3 children. Many of our friends and relatives have also fasted.
Over the years I have fasted many patients and have referred hundreds more with very serious illnesses to Dr Alec Burton who ran the residential Arcadia Health Centre north of Sydney for almost 50 years.
To say the least, the results have been spectacular.
This is what Dr Joel Fuhrman says in his book ‘Fasting and Eating for Health’:
“Therapeutic fasting accelerates the healing process and allows the body to recover from serious disease in a relatively short period of time. In my practice I have seen fasting eliminate Lupus, arthritis, remove chronic skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema, heal the digestive tract in patients with ulcerative colitis and Crohns disease, and quickly eliminate cardiovascular diseases such as high blood pressure and angina. In these cases, the recoveries were permanent:
Fasting enabled long time disease sufferers to unchain themselves from their multiple toxic drugs and even eliminate the need for surgery, which was recommended to some of them as their only solutions”.
Dr Alan Goldhammer, who trained under Dr Alec Burton at Arcadia has run the True North Health Centre in California for over 20 years, has fasted over 5,000 patients with remarkable results.
Co author of ‘The Pleasure Trap’, Dr Goldhammer has also conducted a large scientifically controlled study on the positive effects of fasting on high blood pressure. The results were published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics. This study alerted many medical doctors to the wonderful benefits fasting has on hypertension.
Dr Herbert Shelton author of the book ‘Fasting Can Save your Life’ fasted over 40,000 patients at his health school in Texas . Indeed one of Dr Shelton’s patients, at least in an advisory capacity, was Mahatma Ghandi, who counselled with Shelton during his 21 day fast when Ghandi was in his 60’s.
I realise that the average person and health practitioner will be sceptical, as we have all been led to believe that fasting is tantamount to starving and that the practice is dangerous. Nothing could be further from the truth. All animals go off their food when feeling unwell, as do babies and young children. We as adults mistakenly think that we need to eat to keep our strength up.
There have been a number of reports over the years where young children and even babies have survived 10 days without any food at all whilst trapped in earthquake rubble, provided they had access to dripping water.
Frequently Asked Questions about Fasting:
1) Isn’t fasting the same as starving?
No. When we fast, that is drink water only, our bodies use non-vital tissue as fuel to live on. Thus things like fat, cysts, excess fluid, soft tumours, mucous etc are broken down by the body and used as food and fuel, the unused material being excreted by the body through any one of the 10 apertures ( two nostrils, two ears, two eyes, etc).
This process is known as autolysis (auto = self; lysis= eat). We are then living off our reserves and the body is rejuvenating itself and detoxifying.
If we keep fasting beyond our reserves then starvation occurs, although this stage takes many weeks before it occurs. I have personally fasted 4 weeks and many of my patients over the years have also fasted this long.
Fasting is a precisely controlled physiological process, and is safe and beneficial. Starvation is pathological, and follows the stage of fasting after many, many weeks when all nutritive reserves are depleted. The longest fast Dr Burton supervised was 103 days. I personally had one patient go 47 days, with no problems whatsoever, and he was not overweight to begin with.
No, fasting and starving are completely different.
2) Why are there different lengths of fasts?
There are 2 different categories of illness- acute and chronic. Acute sickness is where we experience things like fever, headache, muscle aches and pains, anorexia (loss of hunger), sweating and shivering, vomiting, diarrhoea, prostration and extreme discomfort. Influenza is a common acute illness. There are many labels we give them. The supposed infectious illnesses are here included- measles, chickenpox, mumps, cholera, typhoid etc.
These crises are not to be feared. They are reparatory in nature, allowing the body to rid itself of its toxic load. They are not meant to work against us but are in fact working for us!
With these conditions it is critical that the person fasts and rests. Medication is working against the wisdom of the body. It is particularly dangerous to suppress the fever- this is where most problems get worse. My wife Dawn and I recall nine years ago while living in Borneo a young 7 year old boy was taken to the doctor with what they locally call ‘high fever’. Medication to lower it was prescribed and the fever dropped. Next day the fever recurred, its job not done, only this time the fever was higher. More medication was given. The spiking of the fever went for 5 days with each rise in temperature aggressively medicated. Tragically the boy died on the sixth day. The reason given was the fever. That child had no history of any health problems and was before that a vigorous and robust native child.
A similar story came out of Vietnam in December 2005. A thirteen year old girl was admitted to hospital with Bird Flu. Immediately she was given Tamiflu and fever- lowering drugs. These were administered every day, twice a day until five days later she also tragically passed away, leading some researchers to cast doubt on whether Tamiflu should be the drug of choice in Avian influenza ( Bird Flu). They missed the point! No drugs should have been given, especially to force the fever down. A few days of fasting and complete rest were what was needed to enable the body to eliminate what was ailing it.
The second category is chronic disease, which is longer term. This is where the body has given up the effort to eliminate the irritating internal material and instead has adapted to the internal toxaemia. In the process of adaptation the body then slowly gets worse, with diminished function and increasing deformity and pathology. Thus the diseases of arthritis, heart disease, kidney disease, auto-immune illnesses and many other diseases slowly ruin the patient’s life, all the while being suppressed by drugs.
In these situations longer fasts are needed. Generally between 1-5 weeks is the time frame, depending on many factors.
3) With a longer fast, can I fast at home?
It is not recommended. This is where you need a very experienced practitioner to supervise the fast and the breaking of it. This cannot be emphasised strongly enough.
4) Do you get hungry during a fast?
Surprisingly no. The first 2-3 days maybe but after that you don’t miss food at all.
5) Do you feel weak?
Mostly yes. Your body conserves energy as far as possible. This is then used to “clean house”.
6) My stomach “plays up” when I don’t eat. Shouldn’t I avoid fasting?
Again, no. A fast will quickly allow your intestinal tract to recover its normal function. In healthy individuals, no discomfort like stomach cramping, headaches, dizziness etc should occur if meals are missed or delayed. These are not normal symptoms- they are signs more of sickness than health.
True hunger is not a stomach sensation. It is a mouth and throat sensation- where one salivates when truly hungry, and really looks forward to eating.
7) I heard that you can feel unwell in the first few days of a fast. Is this true?
It is common to experience symptoms and signs of elimination, especially during the early stages of the fast. Headaches, muscle aches, vomiting or diarrhoea may occur although some people never experience them. I’ve found that in people who take social drugs regularly- tea, coffee, alcohol and tobacco- they often suffer during the early stages, not because of fasting but because of withdrawal and their body’s efforts to expel the toxins.
8) How do you break the fast?
On small quantities of diluted fruit juice or watery fruit itself, depending on how long you fast. It is very important to not overeat when breaking a fast, particularly a long one. If you fast a day or two, fruit is fine, but always chew thoroughly and slowly.
9) Can you work when you fast?
No. Rest is needed for the body to conserve its energy for eliminating and healing.If the fast is one day that would be alright for a healthy person who might be feeling “off”, but one day fasting for a socially conventional person (ie who drinks caffeine and alcohol regularly) might result in them feeling terrible, again through stimulant withdrawal and subsequent elimination.
10) What about exercise?
No. Normal movement is enough. Exercise will come later when health has been restored.
11) Do you take any supplements when fasting?
No. Nothing but water, as indicated by thirst. You do not need to drink a lot. When your body enters the stage of ketosis and breaks fat down for energy ( after 3 days approximately), the fat in your body is broken down to water and carbon dioxide, so there is plenty of fluid available. Also, any unwanted mucous, cysts, growths and other stored material is broken down during fasting, again releasing some water. Drink when dry or thirsty, as is the case in normal life.
Nor do you undergo colonic irrigations while fasting.
12) Why isn’t Fasting used in conventional health establishments, such as hospitals?
A good question. If it was used, there would be a complete revolution in the health industry. Medical doctors are not trained in nutrition, let alone fasting. They do not understand it, have never seen the fantastic results that come from fasting and have never been exposed to it on any health-promoting level. Dr Burton has had medical doctors come to him after seeing one of their patients or relatives fast back to health from serious illnesses, (which have no medical cure), and actually request that he explain the rationale behind fasting’s consistent efficacy.
I had one doctor send me a patient of his who had life-threatening asthma, which was no longer responding to the barrage of inhaled corticosteroids and other strong drugs. After a lengthy fast followed by a plant-based diet, this woman made a fantastic recovery. She was able to go off all medications, to the absolute surprise of the referring doctor. He had no idea what the fast was about, but rang me to thank me for “curing “his patient. I explained that fasting was only “doing nothing, intelligently” and that it was not a cure in the sense he was referring to. The body cured itself. If she adopted her old ways of eating, running herself down and not getting proper rest and sleep, she would see her asthma return.
He then stated that most of his patients would be better off if they followed this way. I never heard from him again.
Always remember to remove the causes of what is causing the problem. And fasting does just that – then a healthy life style must follow the fast in order to create healthy, new tissue.
The other reason that it will never become mainstream is that there is no money to be made from people drinking plain water and getting well. Without being cynical, the power and influence the drug companies (Big Pharma) have over the medical training that doctors undergo at University, their hold over the governments and media is unbreakable. You must seize the initiative individually and not rely on conventional opinion. At the present time there are an increasing number of professionals who are themselves speaking out about the uncontrolled power of the drug companies and the needless suffering because drug use is so rampant and the many side-effects so deadly.
A highly recommended book on this is by Dr Ray Strand, called ‘Death by Prescription’.
13) What illnesses have you personally seen recover through fasting?
Wow, there are so many but here are some that come quickly to mind.
Lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, Crohns disease, severe and recurrent tonsillitis/appendicitis, hypertension, angina, anaemia, ulcers anywhere in or on the body, pneumonia, bronchitis, nephritis, Bells Palsy, trigeminal neuralgia, chronic migraines, asthma, IBS ( irritable bowel syndrome), CFS ( chronic fatigue syndrome), depression, infertility in both men and women, eczema and psoriasis, endometriosis, gall stones, bladder and kidney stones are just some. Plus there have been many people who have been extremely unwell but whose conditions defied diagnosis who have fasted their way back to robust health.
The greatest benefit to fasting is rejuvenation, which means “becoming more youthful”. The body cleans itself of much “rubbish” and our whole being regains a sense of youthfulness, mentally and physically.
Remember, fasting is NOT a cure. The body simply gets enormous rest (no work/no digestion/ no exercise) and with the available energy, is enabled to “clean house” to the best of its ability.
Fasting benefits any age-group, however, babies and pregnant mothers should never be fasted for long. If a baby or pregnant mother becomes sick and goes off food for a day or two, this is generally OK as it is their bodies working as designed. Complete rest is called for while fasting.
14) What if I can’t fast for reasons of time or whatever?
If you have an acute illness, you will be off work or school anyway so just do not eat for a couple of days. That’s easy. If however you have a chronic illness and you cannot fast then consult with a practitioner very conversant with the subject of Natural Hygiene, and be prepared to make changes in your diet and other areas. The results will be worthwhile, I can promise you.
15) Where can I find out more about fasting?
As this is a subject that you won’t be hearing a lot about in the media, it would be worthwhile to explore this topic more deeply.
The following books and resources are excellent sources of accurate information about fasting:
Fasting Can Save Your Life and Fasting for Renewal of Life by Herbert Shelton;
The Science and Fine Art of Fasting by Herbert Shelton;
Fasting and Eating for Health by Joel Furhman;
www.healthscience.org (National Health Association);
www.healthpromoting.com (True North Health Centre California ).