3. The Hygienic Experience
As the students of Life Science well know, fasting is not well-accepted by “traditional” medicine, especially in this country; this in spite of the fact that, generally, it is well accepted abroad and this by many otherwise fully-orthodox practitioners. Much of this acceptance in other lands is due to the persistence of Dr. Otto Buchinger, formerly fleet surgeon in the German navy, who had been elevated in 1917 to this high command, one equivalent to that of rear admiral in the U.S. navy.
Upon receiving his appointment, however, Dr. Buchinger was too ill to carry on with the manifold
duties which the appointment necessarily entailed. It is said that he was totally incapacitated by arthritis as well as severe gallbladder and liver disorders. Fortunately, for all students of Natural Hygiene, he was referred to a Dr. Gustav Riedlin, one of the earliest of European pioneer fasting specialists.
Under Dr. Riedlin’s guidance, Buchinger fasted for some 19 days and found that the arthritic condition had been greatly improved. After a suitable interval, he then fasted again, this time for thirty days, with the astounding result that all his organic troubles had been completely done away with.
Needless to say, Dr. Buchinger became an enthusiastic advocate of fasting and eventually operated two large sanitariums in Germany where records of literally thousands of patients were admirably kept and completely documented. It is said that more than 70,000 people fasted at the Buchinger retreats. Orthodox practitioners confronted by such well-documented case studies began to open their own
fasting clinics and spas.
We well remember visiting with a medical professor in Madrid who reported that he had come to a well-known medical college in America to study but left in short order. He said that he was dismayed to learn that medical doctors in this country seemed to know nothing about fasting. All they were concerned with was “gadgets and drugs!” He further stated they they seemed to have no knowledge of “the healing hand” that soothes away all hurts.
In this country, Dr. Herbert M. Shelton has been the leader. Others have followed in his wake: Dr. Vivian Vetrano, Dr. Robert Gross, Dr. Scott. Probably together they have supervised well over 100,000 fasts. Other fasting retreats around this country have supervised tens of thousands more, while innumerable individuals have successfully fasted on their own.
Not all fasters are successful in achieving total recovery, of course, but those who possess sufficient vitality to commence a fast and then to sustain the period of recovery for a sufficiently-long period of time, have achieved what has often amounted to almost unbelievably salubrious results.
Even short fasts, from three to five days, add up in benefits. Last Christmas, for example, we received a card from Rod. If you recall, Rod suffered from arthritis so badly that he could no longer hold a pen or pencil and so was forced to give up his career as an accountant. We first learned about Rod from a client who told us that he had sought relief from pain first in Arizona, then in Nevada; but all in vain. His lack of muscular coordination and the pain just went on and on, even worsening.
Then he was referred to us and began a Hygienic program which, even without resorting to prolonged fasts, just shorter ones, enabled him to go back to work again.
Rod is now home again and on his Christmas note he reported to us that he is doing so well that he was fully able to cope with the extreme cold which buffeted all this last winter. He reminded us of the fact that prior to beginning his fasting the cold weather had caused him great suffering.
This young man began to fast one day a week and then three days every month. What has this fasting done for Rod? Just a few years ago, Rod cried out with pain in our office and asked us if we could help him. Today he is back home again, working and his last message to us read, “I’m doing just fine!”
3.1 How Long Should We Fast?
Experience shows that the fasting period varies from individual to individual. Few persons fast, however, to completion. On an average, fasting clients abstain from all food for from 10 days to two weeks. In some drastic; cases, persons fast as long as 30 or more days before the signs indicate that the internal cleansing and healing has been completed.
In very severe chronic cases, Dr. Shelton found, it sometimes necessary for patients to fast three and four times before experiencing a complete cleansing and healing.
Many Hygienists have found a yearly 10- to 14-day fast highly beneficial. Others fast one day each week and two to three days every month and find this method quite satisfactory. When the fluids of the body are kept reasonably clean and pure by adhering to strict Hygienic practices and principles both in eating and living, then even in today’s stressed and polluted frenzied environment, one can maintain a high level of wellness and have amazing vitality compared to the rest of our diseased population with only an occasional cleansing fast of comparatively short duration.
Fasting, it seems to us, has no further need to be proved as a body-accepted and, therefore, correct healing modality. The mechanisms for conducting a fast “come with the design,” so to speak, just as the method of cleaning a piece of equipment is dictated by its structure. An engineer must know his/her equipment to be a successful engineer. Unfortunately, most humans neither understand nor appreciate their “equipment,” their own bodies! In the exact same manner the proper method of cleansing the human body is ordained by its structure and, therefore, more proper to it than other artificially-conceived modalities as, for example, the blood-letting of former years and the “marvel” of today’s technology, apheresis.
3.2 Why Clients May Need to Fast
Since all diseases (excepting of course those due to traumatic causes, injury and the like) are the direct result of abnormal metabolism (which, being ongoing, results in certain chemical changes which, by the very nature of things, cause a gradual decline in cellular efficiency and organ degeneration due to the infusion and precipitation of toxic waste by-products, known to German physicians as ZELLENSCHLACKEN, or cell cinders), it follows that such debris should be removed with dispatch and with unerring accuracy and in the order of urgency as best determined by the cerebral powers of the body and not by unproven and questionable powers of man-conceived substance or gadget.
Obviously, if such waste debris were allowed to remain, the entire systemic transportation system would be interfered with, starting first at the more-or-less porous cell membranes where the infusion of debris rapidly begins to set up membrane blockages which reduce the infusion of nutritive materials into the cell and interfere with free flow of arterial blood and its venous return for oxygenation in the lungs. In truth, the whole cleansing of the body is reduced, the endocrine regulation of body chemistry is strangulated and, subsequently, as a natural sequence, every single chemical and/or other cellular work becomes somewhat other than normal.
3.3 Nerve Channels Must be Free
It is not only the free flow of fluids and the possibility of blockages occurring in the arterial and venous channels that are of importance. Still another concern arises, namely, that all bodily activity depends on the free conduit of nerve messages via the nervous mechanisms of the body. Situational problems must be relayed to the central control centers. There they must be evaluated, conclusions reached, and proper solutions determined. Suitable directions to be involved and/or troubled areas must then be transported with precise areas or sites being predetermined. Subsequent follow-up instructions for cells must be carried to wherever a need or problem exists.
Should the sympathetic nervous system be interfered with by any unusual build-up of wastes, the possibility, even the probability, of error exists. The entire body mechanisms could conceivably falter and be subject to error, certainly a matter of grave concern.
To the rational mind, it seems quite obvious that probably every disease to which man is heir can be traced back to this one simple circumstance: that any degree of metabolic abnormality produces an abnormal amount of toxic debris which can build up and interfere not only with the free transport of nutrients to the cells and the subsequent removal of cellular waste but also with nerve message transmission, always with the possibility of single and/or multiple errors occurring either occasionally or constantly, and these being either limited in scope or totally systemic.
If all this be true, and we can see no sound physiological basis for concluding otherwise, then fasting to accelerate the removal both of the waste and its autolysis by proper organic built-in methods which are always under cerebral guidance would appear to be the only proper method to cleanse the system so that free transport through all channels would once again become a reality.
3.4 The Role Played by Water in Fasting
Water is, of course, the greatest of all solvents. Having access to pure distilled water is necessary to a successful fast. All the diseased parts, already “burned up” by a most carefully-controlled autolysis, all the systemic poisons can thus be dissolved in the water and flushed out of the body, no longer a threat to life.
3.5 Fasting “Cures” Nothing
It is important for students to understand that fasting “cures” nothing. Its sole purpose appears to be to permit the system, through physiological rest, to lessen its expenditure of energy, to reduce any buildup of metabolic waste by-products to a minimum, and then to divert all conserved energy resources to certain tasks which have been selected through cerebral evaluation as being needful of a more concentrated effort just at this time. In this manner, autolysis of inferior parts and the elimination of collected waste debris can be accelerated and systemic equilibrium, the recognized hallmark of good health, can be more quickly established.
It is at this precise point, when systemic balance has been achieved, that disease ceases to be a problem and a condition of wellness takes over. As Dr. Allan Cott, psychiatrist, says in his book, Fasting: The Ultimate Diet: “Fasting is certainly not a panacea for all ills, but it may be effective in treating many more varieties of sickness than orthodox medicine is ever likely to concede.”
Dr. Buchinger found the following illnesses either improved or were totally eliminated by fasting and insisted that the merit of fasting should be considered in all such conditions.
3.6 Dr. Buchinger’s List
- Obesity, chronic underweight, diabetes in initial stages
- Rheumatic disorders of joints and muscles; sciatica
- Heart conditions
- All circulatory problems involving blood vessels such as high or low blood pressure, hot flashes, many symptoms of aging
- Stress and nervous exhaustion
- Skin diseases of all kinds
- Diseases of the digestive organs
- Diseases of the respiratory organs
- Kidney and bladder diseases
- Female disorders of many kinds
- Allergic conditions including hay fever
- Eye diseases such as chronic iritis, retinitis, etc.
- Conditions which follow venereal diseases or thecondition itself
- The many forms of glandular disturbances: ovarian, thyroid, etc.
- Periodontal diseases
- Fasting in readiness for operations and for better and easier recovery afterwards
- As a preventative measure (to prevent cancer, etc.)
- Diseases which have their origin in under-nutrition and malnutrition
- General fatigue, spring-fever.
There are probably many other reasons for fasting. We present the following for the consideration of our students:
3.7 Other Possible Reasons for Fasting
- To attain spiritual insight, mental acuity, sensual acuity, increased perceptual awareness, etc.
- To lower the cholesterol level.
- General body clean-out.
- To give the digestive system a rest.
- In the case of wounds, to give the body time to heal.
- To relieve tension.
- To sleep better.
- To regulate the bowels and provide better elimination through this channel.
- To slow the aging process.
- To save money in many, many areas of life.
- To feel and look better, younger.
- To improve one’s sex life.
- To help a person eliminate smoking, drinking, and/or other addictive habits.
- To reduce or totally eliminate pain.
- To provide rest for all organs, muscles and systems; to restore vitality and full energy flow.
- Just to save time (the average person spends three hours a day and more in preparing, serving and eating his/her food!)
Dr. Shelton pointed out that with disorders of the alimentary canal, fasting removes three sources of local irritation, namely:
- The mechanical irritation brought on by particles of
food that come in contact with the raw inflamed mucosal linings;
- The mechanical irritation which results from the vigorous contraction and expansion of the walls of the stomach and the wrinkling of the surfaces as they receive and handle foods; and
- The chemical irritation caused by the secretion of strong acid gastric juice.
Dr. Shelton maintained that in such disorders the fast should be continued until systemic renovation has been completed. It seems logical that these same conditions should pertain with all disorders affecting the entire canal including, for example, the miserable condition of colitis which can cause individuals to become extremely nervous, irritable and, at times, almost hysterical due to headaches and other discomforting symptoms that often accompany this ailment.
3.8 Fear of Fasting
The fear of fasting is widespread due (in great part it seems to us) to what amounts to medical hysteria whenever the subject comes up. Few clients, in fact, will have ever even heard of fasting as a valid means of restoring health. We ourselves had never heard of it in this connection until many years after we had begun our own worldwide search for improved health.
Out of many, many thousands of medical treatises and books on all manner of diseases, methods, opinions, statements and whatnot written and disseminated in this country, fewer than one percent probably even mention fasting as a means of recovery from illness. If the subject comes up at all, it is referred to as “starvation,” which is enough to “make the hair stand up on end,” as the saying goes. It is only in recent years that some physicians have found merit in treating obese patients in this manner.
The reasons for this unwarranted fear are, of course, obvious: negative pre-programming, the prior conditioning about fasting as being something “far out;” a total lack of education about fasting. What people do not understand, they fear. Therefore, persons who are ill and desirous of once again experiencing the euphoria engendered by complete wellness, need to become more knowledgeable about the subject and especially about how a series of shorter fasts but, importantly, a more prolonged fast, might benefit them.
Dr. Ragnar Berg, the celebrated nutritionist and Nobel Prize Winner, stated that he knew of fasts that lasted over 100 days and that he also had supervised or controlled fasts up to as long as 40 and more days, while he himself often fasted as long as 21 days while continuing to work 11 hours daily either in his laboratory, actively engaged, or at desk work. Innumerable stories, both documented and undocumented (in this case from reliable sources) witness to the fact that we need have no fear of either dying from hunger or from not knowing just when to terminate a fast. However, newcomers to Natural Hygiene, for the most part, have to go through a developmental process before they can cognitively accept fasting as a rational experience for them to consider, a healing measure of nature which can accomplish only good.
The mental condition of the fasting patient is of utmost importance to success. All negative thoughts, all fear that worries and depresses the mind, should be eliminated. It is of crucial importance that, before undertaking a fast, the client be well-schooled. If not, should s/he experience any unpleasant and unanticipated symptoms, s/he is likely to magnify the seriousness of what is happening and even to become panicked into terminating the fast too quickly, thus possibly undoing much of all of any benefit accruing to the fast.
This is particularly true of the new fasters. Even though they may be somewhat knowledgeable about the subject, mentally they will perhaps unconsciously anticipate trouble, this because that which they are presently experiencing is so entirely foreign to all that they have yet known. They can become anxious, uncertain, even perturbed, and especially so if not well-schooled.
In all cases, therefore, it is our view that clients should be well-educated in the fast before undertaking one—except, perhaps, in rare circumstances when, at the discretion of an experienced practitioner, an immediate fast may be indicated. The question arises then as to how best to impart this information to the client.
Sometimes we must do so abruptly. For example, just last evening we received a call from out of state from a friend of many years. He wanted to bring his wife to Tucson so that we might devise a suitable diet for her. On inquiry, however, we learned that about a year ago she had received a diagnosis of lymphoma of the parotid gland on one side of her throat and that she had been subjected to radiation and chemotherapy and was presently in, the hospital to have biopsies made of new swellings which had appeared in her throat and right breast. She had-been advised by the supervising oncologist that he feared that the lymphoma had already begun to spread throughout her body.
It was our sad duty to inform this gentleman that, at this late time, just improving the diet would have minimal effect. Because of the seriousness of her condition and the unfortunate “treatments” she had received, probably the only chance his wife had to recover any degree of improved health would lie in her resorting to a prolonged fast. And, knowing the complete confidence this woman has in medical procedures and in her physician, we very much doubt if she will accept our recommendation. However; there was, in this case, no time for delay.
- 1. Introduction
- 2. Energy Flow, Fasting And Mind Control
- 3. The Hygienic Experience
- 4. What We Have Learned Thus Far
- 5. The Learning Process Can Vary From Person To Person
- 6. Case Studies
- 7. Useful Assigments For Reluctant Fasters
- 8. The Elderly Client And Fasting
- 9. The Learning Experience
- 10. Questions & Answers
- Article #1: Health Secrets of a Naturopathic Doctor by M.O. Garten