Part III: How Long, How Often
1. Fasting Vs. Starving
There is a difference between fasting and starvation. Starvation results from food being denied to a person whose reserves have been exhausted, and, in its extreme stages, leads to death. Fasting, on the other hand, is a period of rest and renewal with a potential for remarkable benefits with the body using its stored reserves as food.
We are not so much concerned with how long it will require a man to die from want of food, but how long he can safely and beneficially abstain from food. A little over three months are the longest fasts that have been recorded in man and these have been in overweight individuals. The man of moderate weight would not fast so long; and he would not need such an extended period of fasting. It has been said that a well-nourished adult can remain alive from fifty to sixty days without food, provided, of course, that he has water. Hundreds of longer fasts have been recorded and most of these have resulted in great benefit to the fasters.
2. Length Of The Fast Is Guided By Developments
The organism requires time to do its “housecleaning.” If we were to arbitrarily set a time limit for this important work, we would stand in the way of recovery. The best way to determine the length of the fast is to be guided by the developments. It is not possible to know how long it will take a stomach ulcer to heal, or for an asthmatic to attain full recovery. Since it is not advisable to break the fast in advance of complete healing, you must be guided by certain signs.
When symptoms disappear, it is a favorable sign, but it still does not indicate that the fast is to be broken. One of the surest indications is a clear tongue, sweet breath, and return of hunger. This may occur after two days or two months or longer depending on the individual.
Occasionally, it is necessary to break the fast before these signs manifest themselves. A sudden fall in blood pressure; a rapid, feeble and irregular pulse; a disturbing dyspnea (difficult breathing) may indicate that the fast should be broken. The attitude of the patient and his emotional stability are factors that cannot be ignored. If the patient is unwilling to continue the fast or becomes excessively worried and anxious, the fast may have to be terminated.
Although it is always best to continue a fast until its natural termination, breaking the fast under such conditions will do no harm as long as proper feeding is carried out after the fast. After a while, a second fast may be undertaken with benefit.
2.1 The Tongue and the Breath
Soon after entering upon a fast, the tongue coats heavily, and this coat may continue to increase as the fast progresses. This coating will persist during the fast up to a certain point when it begins to spontaneously clean itself up. As long as the body is actively eliminating toxins, the tongue will remain coated, but when this elimination begins to decrease, the tongue will clear up and remain clear. Dr. Hereward Carrington says, “A short while before the return of hunger, this cleansing process of the tongue commences and continues until the tongue is perfectly clean, assuming a beautiful pink-red shade—rarely or never seen in the average man or woman; and the terminus of this cleansing process of the tongue is absolutely coincidental with the return of hunger and of health.”
Carrington stated that this coated condition of the tongue indicates the condition of the mucous membrane throughout the alimentary canal since this membrane is so closely interrelated and connected. I would add that this foul condition of the tongue not only is an indication of the mucous membranes of the intestines but also of the health of the mucous membranes throughout the entire body.
If the fast is broken before the tongue clears, the tongue will become clean after eating has resumed. This indicates that elimination has been halted, but it does not necessarily mean that elimination has been completed. It is always best to fast until completion whenever possible.
The breath is also an indication of elimination of toxic debris. Although the breath may be somewhat foul before the fast, during the fast it becomes more so. This peculiar odor of the breath continues during the fast and only becomes sweet when the fast is ready to be broken after elimination has ceased. Dr. Carrington associates bad breath with elimination via the lungs. He says, “Precisely coincidental with the heavy coating of the tongue—following immediately upon the commencement of the fast—is the greatly increased foulness of the breath, showing unmistakably that the lungs are assisting in the speedy elimination of all corrupt matter from the system with the greatest possible speed.”
The above two conditions serve as a unique and constant guide as to the condition of the tasting patient.
3. How Often
As regards to how often to fast, we again must say, rely on instinct. When hunger disappears or acute symptoms appear, a fast is needed. It is important to understand that fasting is a tool that enables the body to redirect its healing powers where needed. It is not a “cure.” You should not use fasting as a crutch to lean upon every time you choose to live unhealthfully between fasts. Fasting is but one part of an entire way of living that will maintain health. In between fasts, the other conditions for health should be adhered to. This includes proper food and water, exercise, sunshine and fresh air, rest and sleep, and emotional poise.
Lesson 46 – When To Employ Fasting; Determining Who Should Fast; How Long And How Often
- Part I: When To Fast
- Part II: Determining Who Should Fast
- Part III: How Long, How Often
- Questions & Answers
- Article #1: When To Fast By Dr. Herbert M. Shelton
- Article #2: Physical Rest By Dr. Herbert M. Shelton
- Article #3: Pounds That Slip Away By Dr. Herbert M. Shelton
- Article #4: Does Fasting Cure Disease? By Dr. Herbert M. Shelton