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How and When to Be Your Own Doctor by Dr. Isabelle A. Moser with Steve Solomon

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it should be commended for these efforts regardless of how
uncomfortable they might be to the person inhabiting the body.
Symptoms of secondary elimination are actually a positive thing
because they are the body's efforts to lessen a dangerously toxic
condition. Secondary eliminations shouldn't be treated immediately
with a drug to suppress the process. If you squelch the bodies best
and least-life-threatening method to eliminate toxins, the body will
ultimately have to resort to another more dangerous though probably
less immediately uncomfortable channel.

The conventional medical model does not view disease this way and
sees the symptoms of secondary elimination as the disease itself. So
the conventional doctor takes steps to halt the body's remedial
efforts, thus stopping the undesirable symptom and then, the symptom
gone, proclaims the patient cured. Actually, the disease is the

A common pattern of symptom suppression under the contemporary
medical model is this progression: treat colds with antihistamines
until the body gets influenza; suppress a flu repeatedly with
antibiotics and eventually you get pneumonia. Or, suppress eczema
with cortisone ointment repeatedly, and eventually you develop
kidney disease. Or, suppress asthma with bronkiodialators and
eventually you need cortisone to suppress it. Continue treating
asthma with steroids and you destroy the adrenals; now the body has
become allergic to virtually everything.

The presence of toxins in an organ of secondary elimination is
frequently the cause of infection. Sinuses and lungs, inflamed by
secondary eliminations, are attacked by viruses or bacteria;
infectious diseases of the skin result from pushing toxins out of
the skin. More generalized infections also result from toxemia; in
this case the immune system has become compromised and the body is
overwhelmed by an organism that it normally should be able to resist
easily. The wise cure of infections is not to use antibiotics to
suppress the bacteria while simultaneously whipping the immune
system; most people, including most medical doctors, do not realize
that antibiotics also goose the immune system into super efforts.
But when one chooses to whip a tired horse, eventually the exhausted
animal collapses and cannot rise again no matter how vigorously it
is beaten. The wise cure is to detoxify the body, a step that
simultaneously eliminates secondary eliminations and rebuilds the
immune system.

The wise way to deal with the body's eliminative efforts is to
accept that disease is an opportunity to pay the piper for past
indiscretions. You should go to bed, rest, and drink nothing but
water or dilute juice until the condition has passed. This allows
the body to conserve its vital energy, direct this energy toward
healing the disordered body part, and catch up on its waste
disposal. In this way you can help your body, be in harmony with its
efforts instead of working against it which is what most people do.

Please forgive another semi-political polemic here, but in my
practice I have often been amazed to hear my clients complain that
they have not the time nor the ability to be patient with their
body, to rest it through an illness because they have a job they
can't afford to miss or responsibilities they can't put down. This
is a sad commentary on the supposed wealth and prosperity of the
United States. In our country most people are enslaved by their
debts, incurred because they had been enthralled by the illusion of
happiness secured by the possession of material things. Debt slaves
believe they cannot miss a week of work. People who feel they can't
afford to be sick think they can afford to live on pills. So people
push through their symptoms by sheer grit for years on end, and keep
that up until their exhausted horse of a body breaks down totally
and they find themselves in the hospital running up bills to the
tune of several thousand dollars a day. But these very same people
do not think they can afford the loss of a few hundred dollars of
current income undertaking some virtually harmless preventative
maintenance on their bodies.

Given half a chance the body will throw off toxic overburdens and
cleanse itself. And once the body has been cleansed of toxemia,
disagreeable symptoms usually cease. This means that to make
relatively mild but unwanted symptoms lessen and ultimately stop it
is merely necessary to temporarily cut back food intake, eating only
what does not cause toxemia. These foods I classify as cleansing,
such as raw fruits and vegetables and their juices. If the symptoms
are extreme, are perceived as overwhelming or are actually
life-threatening, detoxification can be speeded up by dropping back
to only dilute raw juices or vegetable broth made only from greens,
without eating the solids. In the most extreme cases hygienists use
their most powerful medicine: a long fast on herb teas, or just
water. I will have a lot to say about fasting, later.

When acutely ill, the most important thing to do is to just get out
of the body's way, and let it heal itself. In our ignorance we are
usually our own worst enemy in this regard. We have been very
successfully conditioned to think that all symptoms are bad. But I
know from experience that people can and do learn a new way of
viewing the body, an understanding that puts them at cause over
their own body. It allows you to be empowered in one more area of
life instead of being dependent and at the mercy of other peoples
decisions about your body.

Finally, and this is why natural medicine is doubly unpopular, to
prevent the recurrence of toxemia and acute disease states, person
must discover what they are doing wrong and change their life. Often
as not this means elimination of the person's favorite
(indigestible) foods and/or (stress-producing) bad habits.
Naturally, I will have a lot more to say about this later, too.

Chapter Three


From The Hygienic Dictionary

Cure. [1] There is no "cure" for disease; fasting is not a cure.
Fasting facilitates natural healing processes. Foods do not cure.
Until we have discarded our faith in cures, there can be no
intelligent approach to the problems presented by suffering and no
proper use of foods by those who are ill. _Herbert Shelton, The
Hygienic System, v. 3, Fasting and Sunbathing._ [2] All cure starts
from within out and from the head down and in reverse order as the
symptoms have appeared._ Hering's Law of Cure._ [3] Life is made up
of crises. The individual establishes a standard of health
peculiarly his own, which must 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 mental and physical, wherever
the environmental or habit strain is greater than usual. The
standard of resistance may be opposed so strenuously by habits and
unusual physical agencies--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
people call a cure, and it is for the time being--until an unusual
enervation is brought on from accident or dissipation; then another
crisis. These crises are the ordinary sickness of all communities--
all catalogued diseases. When the cold is gone or the hay-fever
fully relieved, it does not mean the patient is cured. Indeed, he
is as much diseased as before he suffered the attack--the
crisis--and he never will be cured until the habits of life that keep
up toxin poisoning are corrected. To recover from a crisis is not a
cure; the tendency is back to the individual standard; hence all
crises 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 crises are past, that a cure
has been wrought, whereas the real truth is that the treatment may
have delayed reaction. This is largely true of anything that has
been done except rest. A cure consists in changing the manner of
living to such a rational standard that full resistance and a
balanced metabolism is established. I suppose it is not quite human
to expect those of a standardized school of healing to give
utterance to discovered truth which, if accepted by the people,
would rob them of the glory of 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. Tilden, Impaired Health: Its Cause and Cure, 1921._

The accelerated healing process that occurs during fasting can
scarcely be believed by a person who has not fasted. No matter how
gifted the writer, the experiential reality of fasting cannot be
communicated. The great novelist Upton 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 can do
to fix itself, they acquire a degree of independence little known
today. Many of those experienced with fasting no longer dread being
without health insurance and feel far less need for a doctor or of
having a regular checkup. They know with certainty that if something
degenerates in their body, their own body can fix it by itself.

Like Upton Sinclair and many others who largely failed before me, I
am going to try to convince you of the virtues of fasting by urging
you to try fasting yourself. If you will but try you will be changed
for the better for the rest of your life. If you do not try, you
will never Know.

To prompt your first step on this health-freedom road, I ask you to
please carefully consider the importance of this fact: the body's
routine energy budget includes a very large allocation for the daily
digestion and assimilation of the food you eat. You may find my
estimate surprising, but about one-third of a fairly sedentary
person's entire energy consumption goes into food processing. Other
uses for the body's energy include the creation or rebuilding of
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 because few
of us are aware of its happening in the same way we are aware of
making efforts to use our voluntary muscles when working or
exercising. Digestion begins in the mouth with thorough chewing. If
you don't think chewing is effort, try making coleslaw in your own
mouth. Chew up at least half a big head of cabbage and three big
carrots that have not been shredded. Grind each bit until it
liquefies and has been thoroughly mixed with saliva. I guarantee
that if you even finish the chore your jaw will be tired and you
will have lost all desire to eat anything else, especially if it
requires chewing.

Making the saliva you just used while chewing the cabbage is by
itself, a huge and unappreciated chemical effort.

Once in the stomach, chewed food has to be churned in order to mix
it with hydrochloric acid, pepsin, and other digestive enzymes.
Manufacturing these enzymes is also considerable work! Churning is
even harder work than chewing but 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 the
muscles 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 physical activity immediately after a large meal
feels like a slug and wonders why they just can't make their legs
move the way they usually do. So, to assist the body while it is
digesting, it is wise to take a siesta as los Latinos do instead of
expecting the blood to be two places at once like los

After the stomach is through churning, the partially digested food
is moved into the small intestine where it is mixed with more
pancreatin secreted by the pancreas, and with bile from the gall
bladder. Pancreatin further solubilizes proteins. Bile aids in the
digestion of fatty foods. Manufacturing bile and pancreatic enzymes
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 such as simple sugars, amino acids and fatty
acids, can the body pass these nutrients into the blood thorough the
little projections in the small intestines called villi.

The leftovers, elements of the food that can't be solubilized plus
some remaining liquids, are passed into the large intestine. There,
water and the vital mineral salts dissolved in that water, are
extracted and absorbed into the blood stream through thin permeable
membranes. Mucous is also secreted in the large intestine to
facilitate passage of the dryish remains. This is an effort.
(Intestinal mucous can become a route of secondary elimination,
especially during fasting. While fasting, it is essential to take
steps to expel toxic mucous in the colon before the poisons are re
adsorbed.) The final residue, now called fecal matter, is squeezed
along the length of the large intestines and passes out the rectum.

If all the digestive processes have been efficient there now are an
abundance of soluble nutrients for the blood stream to distribute to
hungry cells throughout the body. It is important to understand the
process at least on the level of oversimplification just presented
in order to begin to understand better how health is lost or
regained through eating, digestion, and elimination. And most
importantly, 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
heal then nothing can heal it. The body always knows best what it
needs and what to do.

But healing means repairing damaged organs and tissues and this
takes energy, while a sick body is already enervated, weakened and
not coping with its current stressors. If the sick person could but
somehow increase the body's energy resources sufficiently, then a
slowly healing body could heal faster while a worsening one, or one
that was failing or one that was not getting better might heal.

Fasting does just that. To whatever degree food intake is reduced
the body's digestive workload is proportionately reduced and it will
naturally, and far more intelligently than any physician could
order, redirect energy to wherever it decides that energy is most
needed. A fasting body begins accessing nutritional reserves
(vitamins and minerals) previously stored in the tissues and starts
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 and fat does require a small effort, but far
less effort than eating. I would guess a fasting body used about
five percent of its normal daily energy budget on nutritional
concerns rather than the 33 percent it needs to process new food.
Thus, water fasting puts something like 28 percent more energy at
the body's disposal. This is true even though the water faster may
feel weak, energyless.

I would worry if sick or toxic fasters did not complain about their
weakness. They should expect to feel energyless. In fact, the more
internal healing and detoxification the body requires, the tireder
the faster feels because the body is very hard at work internally. A
great deal of the body's energy will go toward boosting the immune
system if the problem is an infection. Liberated energy can also be
used for healing damaged parts, rebuilding failing organs, for
breaking down and eliminating deposits of toxic materials. Only
after most of the healing has occurred does a faster begin to feel
energetic again. Don't expect to feel anything but tired and weak.

The only exception to this would be a person who has already
significantly detoxified and healed their body by previous fasting,
or the rare soul that has gone from birth through adulthood enjoying
extraordinarily good nutrition and without experiencing the
stressors of improper digestion. When one experienced faster I know
finds himself getting "run down" or catching a cold, he quits eating
until he feels really well. Instead of feeling weak as most fasters
do, as each of the first four or five days of water fasting pass, he
experiences a resurgence of more and more energy. On the first
fasting day he would usually feel rotten, which was why he started
fasting in the first place. On the second fasting day he'd feel more
alert and catch up on his paper work. By his third day on only water
he would be out doing hard physical chores like cutting the grass,
splitting wood or weeding his vegetable garden. Day four would also
be an energetic one, but if the fast extended beyond that, lowering
blood sugar would begin to make him tired and he'd feel forced to
begin laying down.

After a day of water fasting the average person's blood sugar level
naturally drops; making a faster feel somewhat tired and "spacey,"
so a typical faster usually begins to spend much more time resting,
further reducing the amount of energy being expended on moving the
body around, serendipitously redirecting even more of the body's
energy budget toward healing. By the end of five or six days on
water, I estimate that from 40 to 50 percent of the body's available
energy is being used for healing, repair and detoxification.

The amount of work that a fasting body's own healing energy 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 present culture knows.

As I mentioned in the first chapter, at Great Oaks School I
apprenticed myself to the traveling masters of virtually every
system of natural healing that existed during the '70s. I observed
every one of them at work and tried most of them on my clients.
After all that I can say with experience that I am not aware 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 own graves with
our teeth. It is sad but true that almost all eat too much quantity
of too 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

There are two essential rules of fasting. If these rules are ignored
or broken, fasting itself can be life threatening. But if the rules
are followed, fasting presents far less risk than any other
important medical procedure with a far greater likelihood of a
positive outcome. And let me stress here, there is no medical
procedure without risk. Life itself is fraught with risk, it is a
one-way ticket from birth to death, with no certainty as to when the
end of the line will be reached. But in my opinion, when handling
degenerative illness and infections, natural hygiene and fasting
usually offer the best hope of healing with the least possible risk.

The first vital concern is the duration of the fast. Two eliminatory
processes go on simultaneously while fasting. One is the dissolving
and elimination of the excess, toxic or dysfunctional deposits in
the body, and second process, the gradual exhaustion of the body's
stored nutritional reserves. The fasting body first consumes those
parts of the body that are unhealthy; eventually these are all gone.
Simultaneously the body uses up stored fat and other reserve
nutritional elements. A well-fed reasonably healthy body usually has
enough stored nutrition to fast for quite a bit longer than it takes
to "clean house."

While house cleaning is going on the body uses its reserves to
rebuild organs and rejuvenate itself. Rebuilding starts out very
slowly but the repairs increase at an ever-accelerating rate. The
"overhaul" can last only until the body has no more reserves.
Because several weeks of fasting must pass by before the "overhaul"
gets going full speed, it is wise to continue fasting 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 dysfunctional
deposits are eliminated, or before the infection is overcome, or
before the cause for complaint has been healed. The fast must be
ended when most of the body's essential-to-life stored nutritional
reserves are exhausted. If the fast goes beyond this point,
starvation begins. Then, fasting-induced organic damage can occur,
and death can follow, usually several weeks later. Almost anyone not
immediately close to death has enough stored nutrition to water fast
for ten days to two weeks. Most reasonably healthy people have
sufficient reserves to water fast for a month. Later I will explain
how a faster can somewhat resupply their nutritional reserves while
continuing to fast, and thus safely extend the fasting period.

The second essential concern has to do with adjusting the intensity
of the fast. Some individuals are so toxic that the waste products
released during a fast are too strong, too concentrated or too
poisonous for the organs of elimination to handle safely, or to be
handled within the willingness of the faster to tolerate the
discomforts that toxic releases generate. The highly-toxic faster
may even experience life-threatening symptoms such as violent asthma
attacks. This kind 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 not in danger of
death, they may not be willing to tolerate the degree of discomfort
fasting can trigger. For this reason I recommend that if at all
possible, before undertaking a fast the person eat mostly raw foods
for two months and clean up all addictions. This will give the body
a chance to detoxify significantly before the water fast is started,
and will make water fasting much more comfortable. Seriously,
dangerously ill people should only fast with experienced guidance,
so the rapidity of their detoxification process may be adjusted to a
lower level if necessary.

A fast of only one week can accomplish a significant amount of
healing. Slight healing does occur on shorter fasts, but it is much
more difficult to see or feel the results. Many people experience
rapid relief from acute headache pain 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 person can
relieve more dangerous conditions such as arthritic pain,
rheumatism, kidney pain, and many symptoms associated with allergic
reactions. But even more fasting time is generally needed for the
body to completely heal serious diseases. That's because eliminating
life-threatening problems usually involve rebuilding organs that
aren't functioning too well. Major rebuilding begins only after
major detoxification has been accomplished, and this takes time.

Yes, even lost organ function can be partially or completely
restored by fasting. Aging and age-related degeneration is
progressive, diminishing organ functioning. Organs that make
digestive enzymes secrete less enzymes. The degenerated immune
system loses the ability to mobilize as effectively when the body is
attacked. Liver and kidney efficiency declines. The adrenals tire,
becoming incapable of dumping massive amounts of stress-handling
hormones or of repeating that effort time after time without
considerable rest in between. The consequences of these
inter-dependent deterioration's is a cascade of deterioration that
contributes to even more rapid deterioration's. The name for this
cascading process is aging. Its inevitable result--death.

Fasting can, to a degree, reverse aging. Because fasting improves
organ functioning, it can slow down aging.

Fasters are often surprised that intensified healing can be
uncomfortable. They have been programmed by our culture and by
allopathic doctors to think that if they are doing the right thing
for their bodies they should feel better immediately. I wish it
weren't so, but most people have to pay the piper for their dietary
indiscretions and other errors in living. There will be aches and
minor pains and uncomfortable sensations. More about that later. A
rare faster does feel immediately better, and continues to feel ever
better by the day, and even has incredible energy while eating
nothing, but the majority of us folks just have to tough it out,
keeping in mind that the way out is the way through. It is important
to remind yourself at times that even with some discomfort and
considering the inconvenience of fasting that you are getting off
easy--one month of self-denial pays for those years of indulgence and
buys a regenerated body.

Length Of The Fast

How long should a person fast? In cases where there are serious
complaints 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 each year that the person has lived. If
you are 30 years old, it will take 30 consecutive days of fasting to
restore complete health. However, thirty fasting days, done a few
days here and a few there won't equal a month of steady fasting; the
body accomplishes enormously more in 7 or l4 days of consecutive
fasting, than 7 or 14 days of fasting accumulated sporadically, such
as one day a week. This is not to say that regular short fasts are
not useful medicine. Periodic day-long fasts have been incorporated
into many religious traditions, and for good reason; it gives the
body one day a week to rest, to be free of digestive obligations,
and to catch up on garbage disposal. I heartily recommend it. But it
takes many years of unfailingly regular brief fasting to equal the
benefits of one, intensive experience.

Fasting on water much longer than fifteen consecutive days may be
dangerous for the very sick, (unless under experienced supervision)
or too intense for those who are not motivated by severe illness to
withstand the discomfort and boredom. However, it is possible to
finish a healing process initiated by one long water fast by
repeating the fast later. My husband's healing is a good example of
this. His health began to noticeably decline about age 38 and he
started fasting. He fasted on water 14 to 18 days at a time, once a
year, for five consecutive years before most of his complaints and
problems entirely vanished.

The longest fast I ever supervised was a 90 day water fast on 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 most Americans, 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 foods relatively meatless diet is far superior to
its refined white flour, white sugar and white grease (lard)
counterpart, but it still produced a serious heath problem in just
30 years of life. Like many women, she expressed love-for-family in
the kitchen by serving too-much too-tasty food. The Mormons have a
very strong family orientation and this lady was no exception, but
she was insecure and unhappy in her marriage and 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 was still
grossly overweight when the fast ended. Toward the end it became
clear that it was unrealistic to try to shrink this woman any closer
to normal body weight because to her, fat represented an invaluable
insulation or buffer that she was not prepared to give up. As the
weight melted away on the fast and she was able to actually feel the
outline of a hip bone her neurosis became more and more apparent,
and the ability to feel a part of her skeleton was so upsetting to
her that her choice was between life threatening obesity and
pervasive anxiety.

Her weight was still excessive but the solace of eating was even
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 than confronting her emotions and
fears. The positive side was that after the fast she was able to
maintain her weight at 225 instead of 375 which was an enormous
relief to 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
could barely get through my front door, and mine was an
extraordinarily wide door in what had been an upper-class mansion.
This man, now in his mid twenties, had spent his last seven years in
a mental institution before his parents decided to give him one last
chance by sending to Great Oaks School. The state mental hospitals
at that time provided the mentally ill with cigarettes, coffee, and
lots of sugary treats, but none of these substances were part of my
treatment program so he had a lot of immediate withdrawal to go
through. The quickest and easiest way to get him through it was to
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 to himself 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 hazard that I had to move
him to a downstairs room with concrete floor. Even in the basement
he was a fire hazard with his smoking and piles of sticks and other
inflammables next to his bed, but all of this debris was his
"precious." I knew that I was in for trouble if I disturbed his
precious, but the insects and dirt piles seemed to be expanding

One day the dirt exceeded my tolerance level. To make a long story
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 ready to 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 practice defending myself because I was an incurable
tomboy who loved to wrestle; I could usually pin big boys who
considered themselves tough. So I began using my fists and what
little martial arts training I had to good use. After I hurt him a
bit he realized that I was not going to be easily intimidated, and
that in fact he was in danger of getting seriously damaged. So he
called a truce before either of us were badly beaten up. He had only
a few bruises and welts, nothing serious.

After that he refrained from collecting things inside the building
(he continued to collect outside). This compromise was fine with me,
and the incident allowed me to maintain the authority I needed to
bully him into co-operating with the program: taking his vitamins,
and sticking to his fast until he finally reached 200 pounds. After
90 days on water he actually looked quite handsome, he no longer
smoked, he was off psychotropic medication, and his behaviors were
within an acceptable range as long as your expectations were not too

He was well enough to live outside a hospital and also clear-headed
enough to know that if he let too many people know how well he
really was, he might have to give up his mental disability pension
and actually become responsible for himself. No way, Jose! This
fellow knew a good thing when he saw it. So he continued to pull
bizarre stunts just often enough in front of the right audience to
keep his disability checks coming in, while managing to act sane
enough to be allowed to live comfortably at home instead of in the
hospital. By keeping to my program he could stay off mind-numbing
psychotropic medication if he kept up his megavitamins and minerals.
This compromise was tolerable from his point of view, because there
were no side effects like he experienced from his tranquilizers.

It is very rare for a mentally ill person who has spent more than a
few months in a mental hospital to ever usefully return to society
because they find "mental illness" too rewarding.

My Own 56 Day Long Fast

Fasters go through a lot of different emotional states, these can
get intense and do change quite rapidly. The physical body, too,
will manifest transitory conditions. Some can be quite
uncomfortable. But, I don't want to leave the reader with the
impression that fasting is inevitably painful. So I will now recount
my own longest fast in detail.

When I did my own 42 day water fast followed by two weeks on carrot
juice diluted 50/50 with water, which really amounted to 56
consecutive days, my predominant sensation for the first three days
was a desire to eat that was 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 is going on. Once it realizes it is on temporary
vacation, the stomach wisely decides to reduce itself to a size
suitable for a retired organ. And it shuts up. This process usually
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
frequently interpreted as hunger but they aren't. What is actually
happening is that their highly toxic bodies are taking the
opportunity presented by having missed a meal or two to begin to
cleanse. The toxins being released and processed make assorted
unpleasant symptoms such as headaches and inability to think
clearly. These symptoms can be instantly eliminated by the intake of
a bit of food, bringing the detox to a screeching halt.

Two weeks into the fast I experienced sharp abdominal pains that
felt like I imagine appendicitis feels, which compelled me toward
the nearest toilet in a state of great urgency where I productively
busied myself for about half an hour. As I mentioned earlier, I was
experimentally adhering to a rigid type of fast of the sort
recommended by Dr. Herbert Shelton, a famous advocate of the Natural
Hygiene school. Shelton was such a powerful writer and personality
that there still exists a Natural Hygiene Society that keeps his
books in print and maintains his library. The words "Natural
Hygiene" are almost owned by the society like a trademark and they
object when anyone describes themselves as a hygienist and then
advocates any practice that Dr. Shelton did not approve of.

Per Dr. Shelton, I was going to fast from the time hunger left 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 14 the bowel
said, enough is enough of this crap, and initiated a goods house
cleaning session. When I saw what was eliminated I was horrified to
think that I had left that stuff in there for two weeks. I then
started to wonder if the Sheltonites were mistaken about this aspect
of fasting. Nonetheless, I persevered on the same regimen because 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 skeletal
condition is reached--that is, absolutely no fat reserves are left.
Up until that time I did not even know that I had fat on my feet,
but much to my surprise, as the weeks went on, not only did my
breasts disappear except for a couple of land marks well-known to my
babies, but my ribs and hip bones became positively dangerous to
passersby, and my shoes would not stay on my feet. This was not all
that surprising because I went from 135 pounds down to 85 on a 5' 7"
frame with substantial bone structure.

Toward the end of the fast my eyes became brighter and clearer blue,
my skin took on a good texture, my breath finally became sweet, my
tongue cleared up and became pink, my mind was clear, and my
spiritual awareness and sensitivity was 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
horizontal position. (I should have rested much more.) I also
required very little sleep, although it felt good to just lie
quietly and rest, being aware of what was going on in various parts
of my body.

During the last few weeks on water I became very attentive to my
right shoulder. Two separate times in the past, while flying head
first over the handlebars of my bicycle I had broken my shoulder
with considerable tearing of ligaments and tendons. At night when I
was totally still I felt a whole crew of pixies and 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 the work along.

It seemed my visualizations actually did help. Ever since, I've had
the fasters I supervised use creative imagery or write affirmations
to help their bodies heal. There are lots of books on this subject.
I've found that 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 enough
strength that I could run my usual distance in my regular time; it
took me six months to regain my full 135 pound weight because I was
very careful to break the fast slowly and correctly. Coming off
water with two weeks on dilute carrot juice I then added small
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 added seven daily well-chewed
almonds to my rebuilding diet. Much later I increased to 14 almonds,
but that was the maximum amount of such highly concentrated fare my
body wanted digest at one time for over one year. I found I got a
lot more miles to the gallon out of the food that I did eat, and did
not crave recreational foods. Overall I 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 I was
actually ill, and therefore had felt forced into it, my experience
could have been different. A positive mental attitude is an
essential part of the healing process so fasting should not be
undertaken in a negative, protesting mental state. The mind is so
powerful that fear or the resistance fear generates can override the
healing capacity of the body. For that reason I always recommend
that people who consider themselves to be healthy, who have no
serious complaints, but who are interested in water fasting, should
limit themselves to ten consecutive days or so, certainly never 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 fasting for longer than that. Healthy people
usually begin protesting severely after about two weeks. If there is
any one vital rule of fasting, one never should fast over strong,
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 have no 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 dizziness and weakness are really real, and
are due to increased levels of toxins circulating in the blood and
from unavoidably low blood sugar which is a natural consequence of
the cessation of eating. The blood sugar does reestablish a new
equilibrium in the 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 head on 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 you may faint. I repetitively instruct all of my
clients to stand up very slowly, moving from a lying to a sitting
position, pausing there for ten or twenty seconds, and then rising
slowly from a sitting to a standing position. They are told that at
the first sign of dizziness they must immediately put their head
between their knees so that the head is lower than the heart, or
squat/sit down on the floor, I once had a faster who forgot to obey
my frequent warnings. About two weeks into a long fast, she got up
rapidly from the toilet and felt dizzy. The obvious thing to do was
to sit back down on the toilet or lie down on the bath rug on the
floor, but no, she decided that because she was dizzy she should
rush back to her bed in the adjoining room. She made it as far as
the bathroom door and fainted, out cold, putting a deep grove into
the drywall with her pretty nose on the way down. We then had to
make an unscheduled visit to a nose specialist, who calmly put a
tape-wrapped spoon inside her bent-over nose and pried it back to
dead center. This was not much fun for 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
circulation due to lessened physical activity. People also dislike
inactivity which seems excruciatingly boring, and some are upset by
weight loss itself. Coldness is best handled with lots of clothes,
bedding, hot water bottles or hot pads, and warm baths. Great Oaks
School of Health was in Oregon, where the endlessly rainy winters
are chilly and the concrete building never seemed to get really
warm. I used to dream of moving my fasters to a tropical climate
where I could also get the best, ripest fruits to wean them back on
to food.

If the fast goes on for more than a week or ten days, many people
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 also help 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 makes it
more tolerable.

Very few fasters sleep well and for some reason they expect to,
certainly fasters hope to, because they think that if they sleep all
night they will 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 fast because the body is at
rest already. Many fasters sleep only two to four hours but doze
frequently and require a great deal of rest. Being mentally prepared
for this change of habit is the best handling. Generalized low-grade
aches and pains in the area of the diseased organs or body parts are
common and can often be alleviated with hot water bottles, warm but
not hot bath water and massage. If this type of discomfort exists,
it usually lessens with each passing day until it disappears

Many fasters complain that their vision is blurred, and that they
are unable to concentrate. These are really major inconveniences
because then fasters can't read or even pay close attention to
video-taped movies, and if they can't divert themselves some fasters
think they will go stir crazy. They are so addicted to a hectic
schedule of doingness, and/or being entertained that they just can't
stand just being with themselves, forced to confront and deal with
the sensations of their own body, forced to face their own thoughts,
to confront their own emotions, many of which are negative. People
who are fasting release a lot 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
like the physical garbage and degenerated organs, it all needs to be

One of the most distressing experiences that happen occasionally is
hair loss. Deprived of adequate nutrition, the follicles can not
keep growing hair, and the existing hair dies. However, the
follicles themselves do not die and once the fast has ended and
sufficient nutrition is forthcoming, hair will regrow as well or
better than before.

There are also complaints that occur after the fast has been broken.
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 dreamed of while fasting, like chocolate
fudge sundays or just plain toast. Food cravings must be controlled
at all costs because if acted upon, each indulgence chips away the
health gains of the previous weeks. A single indulgence can be
remedied by a day of restricting the diet to juice or raw food.
After the repair, the person feels as good as they did when the fast
ended. Repeated indulgences will require another extended 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 (or while on a
healing diet) may not be dangerous or "bad." Two types, the healing
crisis, and retracing, are almost inevitable. A well-educated faster
should welcome 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 who has been
progressing wonderfully. Suddenly, usually after a few days of
noticeably increased well-being, they suddenly experience a set of
severe symptoms and feel just 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 now has obtained enough energy to throw off some
accumulated toxins, and forcefully pushes them 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-like experience with fever chills, sweat, aches and pains, etc.
Though unpleasant, this experience 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 moderate fever,
which is the body's effective way to burn out a virus or bacteria
infection, unless it is a dangerously high fever (over 102 degree
Fahrenheit). Fever can be lowered without drugs by putting the
person into a cool/cold bath, or using cold towel wraps and cold
water sponge baths. The good news is that healing crises usually do
not last 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 asthmatics
bring up a quart of obnoxious mucous from their lungs every night
for weeks. They have stayed awake all night for three nights
continuously coughing and choking on the material that was being
eliminated. After that clearing-out process they were able to breath
much more freely. Likewise I have had people who have had sinusitis
have nothing but non-stop pussy discharge from their sinuses for
three weeks. Some of this would run down the throat and cause
nausea. All I could say to encourage the sufferer was that it needed
to come out and to please stand aside and let the body work its
magic. These fasters were not grateful until the sinus problem that
had plagued them since childhood disappeared.

The interesting thing about healing crises are that the symptoms
produced retrace earlier complaints; they are almost never something
entirely unknown to the patient. Usually they are old, familiar
somatics, often complaints that haven't bothered the faster for many
years. The reason the symptom is familiar but is not currently a
problem is because as the body degenerates it loses vital force;
with less vital force it loses the ability to create such acute
detoxification episodes in non-life-threatening secondary
elimination routes. The degenerated body makes less violent efforts
to cleanse, efforts that aren't as uncomfortable. The negative side
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-threatening conditions.

There is a very normal and typical progress for each person's fatal
illness. Their ultimate disease starts out in childhood or
adolescence as acute inflammations 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,
arthritic or experience weakness in joints, tendons, ligaments, or
to have back pains, or to have digestive upsets. These new symptoms
are more constant but usually less acute. Ultimately, vital organs
begin to malfunction, and serious disease develop. But a hygienist
sees the beginning of fatal diseases such as cancer in adolescent
infections and allergies.

Retracing is generally seen only on water fasts, not on extended
cleansing diets. The body begins to repair itself by healing
conditions in the reverse order to that which they occurred
originally. This means that the body would first direct healing
toward the lungs if the most recently serious illness was an attack
of pneumonia six months previously. In this case you would expect to
quickly and intensely experience a mini-case of pneumonia while the
body eliminates residues in the lungs that were not completely
discharged at the time. Next the body might take you through a
period of depression that you had experienced five years in the
past. The faster may be profoundly depressed for a few days and come
out of it feeling much better. You could then reexperience
sensation-states like those caused by recreational drugs 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 it was heroin. Retracing further, the faster
might then experience something similar to a raging attack of
tonsillitis which you vaguely remember having when you were five
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 you on a
fast, and immediately throw out the baby with the bath water
thinking that you are doing the wrong thing because all those old
illnesses are coming back to haunt you. It is the body's magnificent
healing effort working on your behalf, and for 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 trying its darndest to undo it.

The Unrelenting Boredom Of Fasting

Then there's the unrelenting boredom of fasting. Most people have
been media junkies since they were kids; the only way they believe
they can survive another day of fasting is by diverting their minds
with TV. This is far from ideal because often the emotions of a
faster are like an open wound and when they resonate with the
emotions portrayed on most TV shows, the faster gets into some very
unpleasant states that interfere with healing. And the emotions many
movies prompt people to sympathetically generate are powerful ones,
often highly negative, and contrary to healing. Especially unhelpful
are the adrenaline rushes in action movies. But if TV is the best a
faster can do, it is far better that someone fast with television
programming filling their minds than to not fast at all. I keep a
library 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 a long time.
That is because boredom is progressive, it gets worse with each
slowly-passing day. But concurrently, the rate of healing is
accelerating with each slowly-passing day. Every day the faster gets
through does them considerably more good than the previous day.
However, fasters rarely are motivated enough to overcome boredom for
more than two weeks or so, unless they started the fast to solve a
very serious or life-threatening condition. For this reason,
basically well people should not expect to be able to fast for more
than a couple of weeks every six months or year, no matter how much
good a longer fast might do.

Exercise While Fasting

The issue of how much activity is called for on a fast is
controversial. Natural Hygienists in the Herbert Shelton tradition
insist that all fasters 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 individual
that could mentally tolerate this degree of nothingness. It is too
drastic a withdrawal from all the stimulation people are used to in
the twentieth century. I still don't know how Shelton managed to
make his patients do it, but my guess is that he must have been a
very intimidating guy. Shelton was a body builder of some renown in
his day. I bet Shelton's patients kept a few books and magazines
under their mattress and only took them out when he wasn't looking.
If I had tried to enforced this type of sensory deprivation, I know
my patients would have grabbed their clothes and 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, and talk all their sick friends into doing the same thing.

In contrast to enforced inactivity, Russian researchers who
supervised schizophrenics on 30 day water fasts insisted that they
walk for three hours every day, without stopping. I would like to
have been there to see how they managed to enforce that. I suspect
some patients cheated. I lived with schizophrenics enough years to
know that it is very difficult to get them to do anything that they
don't want to do, and very few of them are into exercise, especially
when fasting.

In my experience both of these approaches to activity during the
fast are extremes. The correct activity level should be arrived at
on an individual basis. 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 also physically fit.
In contrast I have had people on extended fasts who were unable to
walk for exercise, or so weak they were unable to even walk to the
bathroom, but these people were critically ill when they started
fasting, and desperately needed to conserve what little vital force
they had for healing.

Most people who are not critically ill need to walk at least 200
yards twice a day, with assistance if necessary, if only to move the
lymph through the system. The lymphatic system is a network of ducts
and nodes which are distributed throughout 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 center of
the body where they can be eliminated. The blood is circulated
through the arteries and veins in the body by the contractions of
the heart, but the lymphatic system does 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, massage and
assisted movements are essential.

Lymph nodes are also a part of our immune system and produce white
blood cells to help control invading organisms. When the lymph is
overloaded with waste products the ducts and nodes swell, and until
the source of the local irritation is removed, are incapable of
handling further debris. If left in this condition for years they
become so hard they feel like rocks under the skin. Lumps in 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 coax them back into operation.

The Stages Of Fasting

The best way to understand what happens when we fast is to break 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 most of their
life and whose life is not in immediate danger would be very wise to
gently prepare their body for the fast. Two weeks would be a minimum
amount of time, and if the prospective faster wants an easier time
of it, they should allow a month or even 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 is withdrawal from
addictive substances and will not be easy for most. I have more to
say about this later when I talk about allergies and addictions.

The second stage, psychological hunger, usually is felt as an
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 seems to be losing their resolve, I
have them drink unlimited quantities of good-tasting herb teas,
(sweetened--only if absolutely necessary--with nutrisweet). Salt-free
broths made from meatless instant powder (obtainable at the health
food store) can also fend off the desire to eat until the stage of
hunger has passed.

Acidosis, the third stage, usually begins a couple of days after the
last meal and lasts about one week. During acidosis the body
vigorously throws off acid waste products. Most people starting a
fast begin with an overly acid blood pH from the typical American
diet that contains a predominance of acid-forming foods. Switching
over to burning fat for fuel triggers the release of even more
acidic substances. Acidosis is usually accompanied by fatigue,
blurred vision, and possibly dizziness. The breath smells very bad,
the tongue is coated with bad-tasting dryish mucus, and the urine
may be concentrated and foul unless a good deal of water is taken
daily. Two to three quarts a day is a reasonable amount.

Mild states of acidosis are a common occurrence. While sleeping
after the last meal of the day is digested bodies normally work very
hard trying to detoxify from yesterday's abuses. So people routinely
awaken in a state of acidosis. Their tongue is coated, their breath
foul and they feel poorly. They end their brief overnight fast with
breakfast, bringing the detoxification process to a screeching halt
and feel much better. Many people think they awaken hungry and don't
feel well until they eat. They confuse acidosis with hunger when
most have never experienced real hunger in their entire lives. If
you typically awaken in acidosis, you are being given a strong sign
by your body that it would like to continue fasting far beyond
breakfast. In fact, it probably would enjoy fasting long beyond the
end of acidosis.

Most fasters feel much more comfortable by the end of the first
seven to ten days, when they enter the normalization phase; here the
acidic blood chemistry is gradually corrected. This sets the stage
for serious healing of body tissues and organs. Normalization may
take one or two more weeks depending on how badly the body was out
of balance. As the blood chemistry steadily approaches perfection,
the faster usually feels an increasing sense of well-being, broken
by short spells of discomfort that are usually healing crises or

The next stage, accelerated healing, can take one or many weeks
more, again depending on how badly the body has been damaged.
Healing proceeds rapidly after the blood chemistry has been
stabilized, the person is usually in a state of profound rest and
the maximum amount of vital force can be directed toward repair and
regeneration of tissues. This is a miraculous time when tumors are
metabolized as food for the body, when arthritic deposits dissolve,
when scar tissues tend to disappear, when damaged organs regain lost
function (if they can). Seriously ill people who never fast long
enough to get into this stage (usually it takes about ten days to
two weeks of water fasting to seriously begin healing) never find
out what fasting can really do for them.

Breaking the fast is equally or more important a stage than the fast
itself. It is the most dangerous time in the entire fast. If you
stop fasting prematurely, that is, before the body has completed
detoxification and healing, expect the body to reject food when you
try to make it eat, even if you introduce foods very gradually. The
faster, the spiritual being running the body, may have become bored
and want some action, but the faster's body hasn't finished. The
body wants to continue healing.

By rejection, I mean that food may not digest, may feel like a stone
in your stomach, make you feel terrible. If that happens and if,
despite that 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 until you find yourself digesting
it easily. Then and only then, reintroduce a little solid raw food
like a green salad.

Weaning yourself back on to food should last just as long as the
fast. Your first tentative meals should be dilute, raw juices. After
several days of slowly building up to solid raw fruit, small amounts
of raw vegetable foods should be added. If it has been a long fast,
say over three weeks, this reintroduction should be done gingerly
over a few weeks. If this stage is poorly managed or ignored you may
become acutely ill, and for someone who started fasting while
dangerously ill, loss of self control and impulsive eating could
prove fatal. Even for those fasting to cure non-life-threatening
illnesses it is pointless to go through the effort and discipline of
a long fast without carefully establishing a correct diet after 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

Less-Rigorous-Than-Water Fasts

There are gradations of fasting measures ranging from rigorous to
relatively casual. Water fasting is the most rapid and effective
one. Other methods have been created by grasping the underlying
truth of fasting, namely whenever the digestive effort can be
reduced, by whatever degree, whenever the formation of the toxins of
misdigestion can be reduced or prevented, to that extent the body
can divert energy to the healing process. Thus comes about assorted
famous and sometimes notorious monodiet semi-fasts like the grape
cure where the faster eats only grapes for a month or so, or the
lemon cure, where the juice of one or more lemons is added to water
and nothing else is consumed for weeks on end. Here I should also
mention the "lemon juice/cayenne pepper/maple syrup cure," the
various green drink cures using spirulina, chlorella, barley green
or wheat grass, and the famous Bieler broths--vegetable soups made of
overcooked green beans or zucchini.

I do not believe that monodiets work because of some magical
property of a particular food used. They work because they are
semi-fasts and may be extremely useful, especially for those
individuals who can not or will not tolerate a water fast.

The best foods for monodiet fasting are the easiest ones digest:
juices of raw fruits and nonstarchy vegetables with all solids
strained out. Strained mineral broths made of long-simmered
non-starchy vegetables (the best of them made of leafy green
vegetables) fall in the same category. So if you are highly partial
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 much good 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 essential that you not
overeat. Dr. Bieler gave his fasting patients only one pint of
zucchini soup three or four times a day. The way to evaluate how
much to eat is by how much weight you are losing. When fasting, you
must lose weight! And the faster the better.

Pure absolute water fasting while not taking any vitamins or other
nutritional supplementation has a very limited maximum duration,
perhaps 45 days. The key concept here is nutritional reserves. Body
fat is stored, surplus energy fuel. But energy alone cannot keep a
body going. It needs much more than fuel to rebuild and repair and
maintain its systems. So the body in its wisdom also stores up
vitamins and minerals and other essential substances in and
in-between all its cells. Bodies that have been very well nourished
for a long time have very large reserves; poorly nourished ones may
have very little set aside for a rainy day. And it is almost a
truism that a sick person has, for quite some time, been a poorly
nourished one. With low nutritional reserves. This fact alone can
make it difficult for a sick person to water fast for enough time to
completely heal their damaged organs and other systems.

Obese people have fat reserves sufficient to provide energy for long
periods, but rarely can any body, no matter how complete its
nutrition was for years previously, contain sufficient nutritional
reserves to support a water fast of over six weeks. To water fast
the very obese down to normal weight can take months but to make
this possible, rather diverse and concentrated nutrition containing
few calories must be given. It is possible to fast even a very slim
a person for quite a bit longer than a month when their body is
receiving easily assimilable vitamins and minerals and small amounts
of sugars or other simple carbohydrates.

I estimate that fasting on raw juices and mineral broths will result
in healing at 25 to 75 percent of the efficiency of water fasting,
depending on 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 life of someone
whose organs of elimination are insufficiently strong to withstand
the work load created by water fasting. In this sense, juices can be
regarded as similar to the moderators in a nuclear reactor, slowing
the process down so it won't destroy 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 time there is
no need to continue fasting after the symptoms causing concern have
been eliminated, and this could happen as quickly as one week or
take as long as 60 days if the person is very obese. Fasters also
lose their motivation once the complaint has vanished. But feeling
better is no certain indication that the need to fast has ended.
This points up one of the liabilities of juice fasting; the person
is already eating, their digestive system never shut down and
consequently, it is much easier for 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 body has 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 food don't solve the complaint then
another spell of water or dilute juice fasting should be attempted.
Most fasters are incapable of persisting until the body reserves
have been used up because social conditioning is telling them their
emaciated-looking body must be dying when it is actually far from
death, but return of true hunger is the critical indicator that must
not be ignored. True hunger is not what most people think of when
they think they are hungry. Few Americans have ever experienced true
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. True hunger is an animal,
instinctual feeling in the back of one's throat (not in the stomach)
that demands you eat something, anything, even grass or shoe

Seriously ill people inevitably start the cleansing process with a
pre-existing and serious mineral deficiencies. I say inevitably
because they likely would not have become ill had they been properly
nourished. Sick fasters may be wise to take in minerals from thin
vegetable broths or vitamin-like supplements in order to prevent
uncomfortable deficiency states. For example calcium or magnesium
deficiencies can make water fasters experience unpleasant symptoms
such as hand tremors, stiff muscles, cramps in the hands, feet, and
legs, and difficulty relaxing. I want to stress here that fasting
itself does not create deficiencies. But a person already deficient
in minerals should watch for these symptoms and take steps to remedy
the deficiencies if necessary.

Raw Food Healing Diets

Next in declining order of healing effectiveness is what I call a
raw food healing diet or cleansing diet. It consists of those very
same watery 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 this limited regimen it is essential that every possible
vitamin and enzyme present in the food be available for digestion.
Even though still raw, no starchy or fatty vegetables or 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. Nor are raw grains
or other raw concentrated energy sources.

When a person starts this diet they will at first experience
considerable weight loss because it is difficult to extract a large
number of calories from these foods (though I have seen people
actually gain weight on a pure melon diet, so much sugar do these
fruits have, and well-chewed watermelon seeds are very nourishing).
Eating even large quantities of only raw fruit and raw non-starchy
vegetables results in a slow but steady healing process about 10 to
20 percent as rapid as water fasting.

A raw food cleansing diet has several huge advantages. It is
possible to maintain this regimen and regularly do non-strenuous
work for many months, even a year or more without experiencing
massive weight loss and, more important to some people, without
suffering the extremes of low blood sugar, weakness and loss of
ability to concentrate that happen when water fasting. Someone on a
raw food cleanse will 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 can
accomplish a great deal of healing while still maintaining more or
less normal (though slower paced) life activities. However, almost
no one on this diet is able to sustain an 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 able to 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 feelings of
exhaustion or overwhelm can be immediately solved by eating some
concentrated food to "give them energy." Such low-energy states
will, however, pass quickly after a brief nap or rest.

Something else gradually happens to a body when on such a diet. 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 efficient at digestion and assimilation; a body that is
kept on a raw food cleansing diet will initially lose weight
rapidly, but eventually weight loss slows to virtually nothing and
then stabilizes. However, long-term raw fooders are usually thin as

Once starchy vegetables like potatoes or winter squash, raw or
cooked, or any cereals, raw or cooked, are added to a cleansing
diet, the detoxification and 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 nuts are eaten.
Though this diet has ceased to be cleansing, few if any toxins from
misdigestion will be produced and health is easy to maintain.

"Raw fooders" are usually people who have healed themselves of a
serious diseases and ever after continue to maintain themselves on
unfired food, almost as a matter of religious belief. They have
become convinced that eating only raw, unfired food is the key to
extraordinarily long life and supreme good 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
soaked overnight in warm water or deliciously sweet "Essene bread,"
made from slightly sprouted wheat that is then ground wet, made into
cakes, and sun baked at temperatures below about 115 degrees
Fahrenheit. Essene bread can be purchased in some health food
stores. However, little or no healing or detoxification can happen
once concentrated energy sources are added to the diet, even raw

During my days at Great Oaks School I was a raw fooder for some
years, though I found it very difficult to maintain body heat on raw
food during chilly, rainy Oregon winters and eventually struck a
personal compromise where I ate about half my diet raw and the rest
fired. I have listed some books by raw fooders in the Bibliography.
Joe Alexander's is the most fun.

Complete Recovery Of The Seriously Ill

Its a virtual certainty that to fully recover, a seriously ill
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 may be able to prolong into an
interminable hell on earth, or, spend several years working on
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 more complete diet that includes
moderate amounts of cooked vegetables and small quantities of cooked
cereals. And even after recovery someone who was quite ill may have
to live the rest of their life on a rather restricted regimen.

It is unrealistic to expect one fast to fix everything. The body
will heal as much as it can in the allotted time, but if a dangerous
illness has not been fully remedied by the first intense fast, a raw
food diet must be followed for three to six months until weight has
been regained, nutritional reserves have been rebuilt and it is safe
to undertake another extended fast. More than two water or juice
fasts a year of thirty continuous days are not recommended nor
should they be necessary unless the life is in imminent danger and
there is no other option.

The story of Jake's catastrophic illness and almost-cure is a good
example of this type of program. Jake was from back East. He phoned
me because he had read a health magazine article I had written, his
weak voice faintly describing a desperate condition. He was in a
wheelchair unable to walk, unable to control his legs or arms very
well, was unable to control his bladder and required a catheter. He
had poor bowel control, had not the strength to talk much or loudly
and most frightening to him, he was steadily losing weight although
he was eating large amounts of cooked vegetables and grains. Jake
had wasted away to 90 pounds at 5' 10" and looked pathetic when I
first saw him wheeled off an airplane at my local airport.

Jake had seen a lot of medical doctors and had variously been
diagnosed as having chronic fatigue syndrome, chronic (whatever that
is) meningitis, and multiple sclerosis. He had been treated by
virtually every medical expert and many famous alternative
practitioners, utilizing a host of old and new techniques, all to no
avail. He had even tried intravenous chelation therapy and colonics.
It had also been suggested that he enter a hospital for the
treatment of eating disorders and/or see a psychiatrist. He had
tried to gain admittance to a number of holistic fasting
institutions back east, but they all refused him because they
considered the risk was too high to fast a person at such a low body
weight. But I had previously fasted emaciated people like Jake, and
there was something I liked about his telephone presence. Perhaps
this is why I foolishly decided I knew better than the other

People commonly waste away and die while eating large amounts of
food. Obviously they are unable to digest or assimilate nutrients or
they wouldn't be wasting. Eating further increases their toxic
burden from undigested meals, further worsening their already
failing organs. The real solution is to stop feeding them altogether
so that their digestive functions can heal. In Jake's case, his
body's nutritional reserves had already become sadly depleted due to
poor absorption over such an extended period, so I could not fast
him on water. I immediately put Jake on a rich mineral broth
prepared from everything left alive in our garden at the end of
winter--leaves of kale, endive plants, whole huge splitting Savoy
cabbages, garlic, huge leeks including their green tops, the whole
stew fortified with sea weed. It did not matter too much what
vegetables I used as long as there were lots of leafy greens
containing lots of chlorophyll (where the most concentrated mineral
nutrition is located).

Jake was given colonics every day, but had to be carried to the
colonic table because he could not support his own weight. Whoever
had given him colonics previously had not accomplished much for I
must say that Jake had the most foul smelling discharges that I had
ever encountered in administering over 6,000 colonics over many
years. It was as if his body was literally rotting from the inside

After 30 days on mineral broth Jake, who really did weigh 90 pounds
when he arrived, was only down to 85! When a person already close to
skeletal weight starts fasting, to conserve vital tissue the body
goes rapidly into a state of profound rest so it uses very little
energy, thus it loses very little weight each day. This degree of
resting also helps heal abnormal body parts earlier. After one month
on mineral broth Jake began to show signs of mineral deficiencies in
the form of a fine tremor of the hands, and cramps in the feet, so I
put him on mineral supplements too.

Jake was in my house for a long time. At the end of the second month
on broth he started two weeks on raw carrot juice with a lot of
chlorophyll added from sources such as algae (spirulina), wheat
grass juice, alfalfa, etc.. This was 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 achieved a
diet which included small amounts of grain, cooked legumes and raw
nuts, plus the fruits and vegetables previously mentioned. Jake
health steadily improved. He gained control of his bladder, bowels,
speech, hands, and legs. He began to exercise in the 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 to
impossible to stem the tides of Jake's appetites or to pleasantly
withstand his tantrums when he was denied; he always wanted more in
terms of quantity, more in terms of variety, and at more frequent
intervals. Though his organs had healed significantly, his digestive
capacity was not nearly as large as he remembered himself enjoying
before he got sick. And never would be. Jake was not happy about the
dietary restrictions necessary for him to retain his newly attained
health, and unwilling to 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 home before I lost my
good humor.

Jake left with a lot of "good lucks" and stern admonitions to stick
to his stringent diet and supplement program. It was a big moment
for Jake. He had arrived in a wheelchair three months before. Now he
walked unaided to the airplane, something he had not been able to do
for two years.

Back at home Jake had no one courageous enough to set limits for
him. His immediate family and every one of his brow beaten
associates were compelled to give him everything that he wanted. So
his appetite and lack of personal discipline got the better of him.
He started eating lots of dates and figs. These had been eliminated
from 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 I had warned him of specific
quantity limits on rich foods. Most sadly, he returned to enjoying
spaghetti with lots of cheese grated on top. Within months of
leaving my care his paralysis and weakness returned, except that
unfortunately for him, he still 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 far
longer existence in a wheelchair without wasting away and escaping
into death.

I would be failing my readers if I did not explain why Jake became
ill in the first place. Jake had started what grew to become a very
successful chain 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 Italian family with
lots of other kinds of rich food. Jake had a reputation for being
able to 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 showed appreciation for her great
culinary skill.

Secondly, Jake the adult was still at his core, Jake the spoiled
brat child, with a bad, unregulated temper. He was in the habit of
dumping his temper on other people whether they needed a helping of
his angry emotions or not. 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 he began to use his
increased energy and much stronger voice to demonstrate his poor
character. At meal times Jake would bang the table with a fork hard
enough to leave dents in the wood table top while yelling for more,
complaining loudly about the lack of rich sauces and other culinary
delights he craved. This was a character problem that Jake could not
seem to overcome, even with a lot of intervention from the local
minister on his behalf and my counseling. Jake was a Catholic who
went to church regularly, but acted like a Christian only while he
was in church. On some level Jake knew that he was not treating
others fairly, but he would not change his habitual responses. His
negative thoughts and actions interfered with his digestive capacity
to the extent that his gluttonous eating habits produced illness, a
vegetative paralyzing illness, but not death. To me this seems
almost a form of karmic justice.

It is common for people who have been very ill for extended periods
of time to realize what a wonderful gift life is and arrive at a
willingness to do almost anything to have a second chance at doing
"life" right. Some succeed with their second chance and some don't.
If they don't succeed in changing their life and relationships, they
frequently relapse.

Luigi Cornaro's left the world his story of sickness and
rejuvenation. His little book may be the world's first alternative
healing text. It is a classic example of the value of
abstentousness. Had Jake taken this story to heart he would have
totally recovered. Cornaro was a sixteenth century Venetian
nobleman. 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 doctors were unable to cure him. Finally he
saw a doctor who understood the principles of natural healing. This
wise physician determined that this illness was caused by a mismatch
between Cornaro's limited digestive capacity and the excessive
amount of food he was eating. So Cornaro was put on a diet of only
12 ounces of solid food and fourteen ounces of liquid a day. Any
twelve ounces of any solids he wanted and any 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 follow the diet
until the age of 78. His health was so outstanding during this
period that people who were much younger in terms of years were
unable to keep up with him. At 78 his friends, worried about how
thin he was (doesn't it always seem that it is your so-called
friends who always ruin a natural cure) persuaded him to increase
his daily ration by two ounces a day. His delicate and weak
digestive system, which had operated perfectly for many years, was
unable to deal with the additional two ounces, and he became very
ill after a very short period of over eating.

Worse, his recent indulgence had even further damaged the organs of
digestion and to survive Cornaro had to cut his daily ration to
eight ounces of solid food and eleven of liquids. On this reduced
dietary he again regained his health 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 interesting at 96
years of age. Had my patient Jake been able to confine his food
intake to the level of his body's ability to digest, he might still
be walking and enjoying life. But try as I might I could not make
him understand. Perhaps he enjoys doing penance 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 Mickelson
and 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-risky
procedure they are allowed to use. But this does not mean there are
no risks to allopathic treatment. The medical doctor justifies
taking the risks by saying that the risk/reward ratio is the best
possible. Any sick person is already at risk. Life comes with only
one guarantee: that none of us gets out of it alive.

Compared to the risks of allopathic medicine, fasting is a far safer
method of treating disease. The oft-repeated scare stories medical
doctors and their allies circulate about fasting are not true, and
it is important to remember that none of these people portraying
fasting as evil and dangerous have ever fasted themselves--I'll put
money on that one. Or, on the slim possibility that someone telling
fasting horror stories did actually not eat for 24 hours (probably
because some accident or acute illness prevented them), they had a
terrible experience because they didn't understand the process, were
highly toxic, and were scared to death the whole time.

Or worse yet they fasted for a short period with an "open mind"--a
very dangerous state in which to approach anything new. I have found
through considerable experience with people professing to have open
minds that the expression "I'm open minded" usually means that
someone has already made up their mind and new data just passes
straight through their open mind--in one ear and out the other. Or
sometimes, the phrase "open mind" means a person that does not
believe any information has reality and is entirely unable to make
up their mind.

The most commonly leveled criticism of fasting is that in its
efforts to survive self-imposed starvation the body metabolizes
vital tissue, not just fat, and therefore, fasting is damaging,
potentially fatally damaging. People who tell you this will also
tell you that fasters have destroyed their heart muscle or ruined
their nervous system permanently. But this kind of damage happen
only when a person starves to death or starves to a point very close
to death, not when someone fasts.

There is a huge difference between fasting and starvation. Someone
starving is usually eating, but eating poorly and inadequately,
eating scraps of 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 as they struggle to
survive and additionally is highly apprehensive. Or someone starving
to death is confined to a small space, may become severely
dehydrated too and is in 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 vast
distances through wastelands without food to eat, they starved in
concentration camps, buried in mind disasters, they starve during
famines and starve while being tortured in prisons.

Until water fasting goes on past the point where all fatty tissues
and all abnormal deposits have been burned for fuel and recycled for
the nutritional elements they contain, vital muscle tissues and
organs are not consumed. And as long as the body contains sufficient
nutritional reserves, vital organs and essential tissues are rebuilt
and maintained. In fact the body has a great deal of intelligence
that we don't give it credit for. It knows exactly which cells are
essential to survival, which ones are not. The body knows which
cells are abnormal deposits, and it goes to work to metabolize them
first. For example, the body recognizes arthritic deposits, cysts,
fibroids, and tumors as offensive parts of the landscape, and
obligingly uses them for foods in preference to anything else. A
starving (not fasting) body also knows precisely in what order of
priority body cells should be metabolized to minimize risk of death
or permanent disability.

After a starving body has reached skeletal condition, or where some
small amount of fat remains but nutritional reserves (vitamins and
minerals) are exhausted and there is insufficient nourishment
forthcoming, the body begins to 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
standpoint of survival are metabolized first. For example, muscles
in the arms and legs would be 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 has come very
close to death would be the brain and the nervous system.

Starvation begins where fasting ends, which is when real hunger
begins. If the return of hunger is ignored whenever it takes place,
whether it is in 30, 60, or 90 days depending upon body weight and
type of fast, at that point exactly, not a day before, starvation
begins very slowly. Usually it takes a considerable period of time
after that before death occurs. It is important to note that this
discussion applies only to the abstention from food, not water.
Death takes place very quickly in the absence of water.

The chart on the previous page shows numerically the phenomenal
ability of the body to protect the most essential tissues of the
body right up to the time of death. If a person fasted for 30 days,
the average time it takes for the return of hunger in a person that
is not overweight, and then ignored the return of 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 to 60 days to die of starvation! At death the
body would have experienced losses of 40 to 60 percent of its
starting body weight. (Ancel Keys et al, 1950) A emaciated person
can not afford to lose nearly as much weight as an obese person, and
death under conditions of starvation will occur earlier. In all
cases of starvation the brain, nerves, heart, lungs, kidneys and
liver remain largely intact and functional to 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
by internalizing the fears of others. If those fears are present,
the fast should not be attempted.

Weight Loss By Fasting

Loss of weight indicates, almost guarantees, that detoxification and
healing is occurring. I can't stress this too much. Of all the
things I find my patients seem to misunderstand or forget after
being told, it is that they can't heal in a rapid manner without
getting smaller. This reality is especially hard for the family and
friends of someone who is fasting, who will say, "you're looking
terrible dear, so thin. Your skin is hanging on your bones. You're
not eating enough protein or nutrient food to be healthy and you
must eat more or you're going to develop serious deficiencies. You
don't have any energy, you must be getting sicker. You're doing the
wrong thing, obviously. You have less energy and look worse every
day. Go and see a doctor before it is too late." To succeed with
friends like this, a faster has to be a mighty self-determined
person with a powerful ability to disagree with others.

Medical personnel claim that rapid weight loss often causes
dangerous deficiencies; these deficiencies force the person to
overeat and regain even more weight afterward. This is largely
untrue, though there is one true aspect to 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, after extended fasting a person returns to eating the same
number of calories as they did before; 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
reform the diet; to go on, and stay on, a diet made up largely of
non-starchy, watery fruits and vegetables, limited quantities of
cooked food, and very limited amounts of highly concentrated food
sources like cereals and cooked legumes. Unless, of course, after
fasting, 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; they hoped to get thin through fasting and after
the fast, to resume overeating with complete irresponsibility as
before, without weight gain.

People also fear weight loss during fasting because they fear
becoming anorexic or bulimic. They won't! A person who abstains from
eating for 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. Eating disorders mean eating
compulsively because of a distorted body image. Anorexics and
bulimics have obsessions with the thinner-is-better school of
thought. The anorexic looks at their emaciated frame in the mirror
and thinks they are fat! This is the distorted 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 by
vomiting, or with laxatives. Anorexics and bulimics are not
accelerating the healing potential of their bodies; these are life
threatening conditions. Fasters are genuinely trying to enhance
their survival potential.

Occasionally a neurotic individual with a pre-existing eating
disorder will become obsessed with fasting and colon cleansing as a
justification to 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,
and contribute to bad press about natural medicine by ending up in
the emergency ward of 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 become so
degenerated it cannot sustain the burden of detoxification. This
organ is as vital to 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 stomach and 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 an understanding of detoxification, it
helps to know just what the liver does for us on an ongoing basis.

The liver is a powerful chemical filter where blood is refined and
purified. The liver passes this cleansed blood out through the
superior vena cava, 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 cellular level. On
its return flow, a large proportion of the depleted blood is
collected by the gastric, splenic and superior and inferior
mesenteric veins that converge to form the large portal vein which
enters the liver. Thus a massive flow of waste from all the cells of
the body is constantly flowing into the liver. The huge hepatic
artery also enters the liver to supply oxygen and nutrients with
which to sustain the liver cells themselves.

The liver is constantly at work refining the blood. It is
synthesizing, purifying, renovating, washing, filtering, separating,
and detoxifying. It works day and night without stopping. Many
toxins are broken down by enzymes and their component parts are
efficiently reused in various parts of the body. Some impurities are
filtered out and held back from the general circulation. These
debris are collected and stored in the gall bladder, which is a
little sack appended to the liver. After a 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
contains digestive enzymes produced by the liver that permit the
breakdown of fatty foods in the small intestine.

Sometimes a large flow of bile finds its way into the stomach by
pressure or is sucked into the stomach by vomiting. Excessive
biliary secretion and excretion can also result from overeating,
which overcrowds the area. Sometimes colonics or massage can also
stimulate a massive flow of bile. Extremely bitter and irritating,
when bile gets into the stomach the person either vomits or wishes
they could. And after vomiting and experiencing the taste of bile,
wishes they hadn't.

When no food at all enters the system, the blood keeps right on
passing through the liver/filter just as it does when we are eating.
When the liver 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 debris decreasing in quantity,
viscosity, and toxicity, until the blood becomes normalized. During
fasting, debris from the gall bladder still pass through the small
intestine and into the large intestine. However, if the bowels do
not move the toxins in the bile 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 only enemas or
colonics permit elimination from the large intestine. If done
effectively and 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 of acute discomfort or
symptoms, these can be almost immediately relieved by an enema or

A person with major liver degeneration inevitably dies, with or
without fasting, with or without traditional medicine. Significantly
impaired kidney function can also bring about this same result.
Mercifully, death while fasting is 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 experiences than

Fasting is not a cure-all. There are some conditions that are 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
categorizing conditions that respond well to fasting. These she
labeled "acute conditions," and "chronic degenerative conditions." A
third classification, "chronic conditions 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 time case of pneumonia, inflamed joints as in the early stages
of arthritis, etc. These acute conditions usually remedy in one to
three weeks of fasting. Acute conditions are excellent candidates
for self-doctoring. Chronic degenerative conditions are more serious
and the patient usually requires supervision. These include
conditions such as cancer, aids, chronic arthritis, chronic
pneumonia, emphysema and asthma. Chronic degenerative conditions
usually respond within a month to three months of fasting. The
fasting should be broken up into two or three sessions if the
condition has not been relieved in one stint of supervised fasting.
Each successive fast will produce some improvement and if a light,
largely raw-food diet is adhered to between fasts the patient should
not worsen and should be fairly comfortable between fastings.

If there has been major functional damage to an organ as a result of
any of these degenerative conditions, healing will not be complete,
or may be impossible. By organic damage, I mean that a vital part of
the body has ceased to function due to some degenerative process,
injury, or surgery--so badly damaged that 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 die in peace
because he had been through enough diagnostic procedures in three
hospitals to know that his liver was beyond repair. He had been
working on an apple farm in between terms at university when he was
poisoned several times with insecticide from an aerial spray on the
whole orchard. He absorbed so much insecticide that his liver
incurred massive organic damage.

When he came to me his body had reached the point where it was
incapable of digesting, and because of lack of liver function, it
was incapable of 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 unconsciousness by
any extraordinary means, nor did he want to die with tubes in every
orifice. I was 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 the experience. He
was not in a state of denial or fear, and made no frantic attempts
to escape the inevitable. He went quietly into that still dark night
with a tranquil demeanor and a slight smile.

Fortunately, in my many years of practice I had the pleasure of
seeing the majority of the people totally regain their health or at
least greatly improve it by means of the fasting and healing diets.
Many cancer patients watched with amazement as their tumors
disappeared before their eyes, many arthritics regained their
function, serious skin conditions such as psoriasis disappeared,
mental conditions improved, addictions vanished, fatigue was
replaced by energy, and fat dissolved revealing the hidden sculpture
beneath. I will talk more about procedures and the particular
reasons bodies develop specific conditions in later chapters.

Social/Cultural/Psychological Obstacles To Fasting

Numerous attitudes make it difficult to fast or to provide moral
support to friends or loved ones that are fasting. Many people
harbor fears of losing weight because they think that if times were
really tough, if there was a famine or they became ill and lost a
lot of weight they would have no reserves and would certainly
perish. These people have no idea how much fat can be concealed on
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 accidents when someone is
dropped into a cold ocean and must survive until the rescue boat
arrives. Being fat might keep a person alive longer who is lost in
the wilderness awaiting rescue with no supplies, no means of
procuring food, and no means of keeping warm. On the other hand, fat
people would have a far harder time walking out of the wilderness.
And extensive fat deposits are merely fuel and do not contain
extensive nutritional reserves. An obese person fasting without
significant nutritional supplementation would begin starving long
before they became really skinny. On the balance, carrying excess
weight is a far greater liability than any potential prosurvival
aspects it might have.

There are other attitudes associated with weight loss that make it
difficult for people to fast. People hold rather stereotypical
notions about what constitutes an attractive person; usually it
involves having some meat on ones bones. Hollywood and Hugh Hefner
have both influenced the masses to think that women should have
hourglass figures with large, upthrust, firm breasts. Since breasts
are almost all useless fatty tissue supporting some milk-producing
glands that do not give a breast much volume except when engorged,
most women fasters loose a good percentage of their breast mass. If
the fast is extensive, there should also develop an impressive
showing 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 exhort you to put on weight. Most
people think pleasantly plump is healthy.

Skinny men, especially those who had lost a lot of weight during an
illness, are pressured by associates to put on weight to prove that
they are healthy. I had a client who was formerly a college varsity
football player. Before his illness he had lifted weights and looked
like a hunk. His family and friends liked to see him that way and
justifiably so. Then he got seriously ill. On a long extended
healing diet he lost a significant amount of weight and seemed down
right skinny, causing all who knew him well and cared about him to
tempt him with all kinds of scrumptious delicacies from the best of
kitchens. But this case was like Luigi Cornaro, a man who never
again could look like a hunk. His "friends" made an absolutely
necessary change in life style and appearance far more difficult
than it was already. My client was torn between a desire to please
others, and a desire to regain and retain his health. This problem a
sick person doesn't need.

If you have the independence to consider following an alternative
medical program in a culture that highly values conformity and
agreement, you are also going to have to defend your own course of
self-determined action based on the best 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 friends and associates to refrain from saying anything if they
can't support the course of action you have chosen. After this, if
friends or relatives are still incapable of saying nothing (even
non-verbally), it is important to exclude them from your life until
you have accomplished your health goals, have regained some weight
and have returned to eating a maintenance diet, rather than getting
skinnier on a healing one.

The very worst aspect of our culture's eating programming is that
people have been wrongfully taught that when ill they must eat to
keep up their strength. Inherent in this recommendation is an
unstated belief that when the body 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

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