Therapeutic Fasting

Therapeutic Fasting: Overview

The human body is designed with the capacity to fast.  Although fasting is safe as well as effective, it is advisable to be under medical supervision when on any extended fast. "Man lives on one quarter of what he eats.  On the other three quarters lives his doctor."
- Inscription on Egyptian pyramid, 3800 BC.

Fasting is very different to malnutrition.  A poor quality diet consumed for a month results in a lowered state of health.  Fasting, on the other hand, gives the body the opportunity to cleanse and heal itself.  When free from the responsibilities of digestion, the capacity for self-restoration is enhanced.
  • Fasting leads to detoxification and improvement in organ function simultaneously.
  • Fasting often achieves results where other methods have failed.
  • Therapeutic fasting accelerates the healing process and allows the body to recover from serious disease in a dramatically short period of time.
  • Fasting is inexpensive and universally available
Sometimes when people try to make major dietary changes without the benefit of fasting they become frustrated.  Beneficial changes that can take months or years with careful eating happen quickly if a fast is utilized.  Once a person begins to realize the health potential and can see the results, he or she is more likely to become committed to a lifetime of healthful living.

Nature tells us to fast.  When we have no appetite during an acute illness, fasting is nature's way to accelerate recovery.  Feeding the sick individual when his digestive powers are diminished only serves to further complicate the illness.

Function; Why it is Recommended

During an acute viral illness, fasting activates white blood cells and causes more interferon to be produced.

Conditions responding to fasting include: Headaches, hypoglycemia, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, acne and eczema, tinnitus, vertigo, fibromyalgia, glaucoma, cervical dysplasia, chronic neck and back pain, polymyalgia rheumatica, and many others.

Physicians who have used this approach have recorded improvement or recovery from conditions of every description that patients had been needlessly suffering with for years.  Besides the diseases already mentioned, one should assume that in the vast majority of chronic medical conditions this approach may give the disease sufferer the best chance to achieve a complete recovery and avoid a lifetime of suffering or medical treatments.

The withdrawal symptoms of addiction to such drugs as alcohol, cocaine, nicotine and caffeine are resolved quickly while fasting.  Most people are amazed at how easy it is to quit smoking while fasting.  Those who have fasted begin to respect their body in a new way that enables them to take better care of themselves in the future.

Instructions

When non-human animals feel sick, they do not eat.  Listen to your body when you are sick and have no appetite.  Fast for a few days, then proceed to a light diet of fruit and salad vegetables for a few days and you will quickly recover your health.

Counter-Indicators and Warnings

Conditions for which fasting is not recommended include extreme weakness or debilitation, severe anemia, nutritional deficiencies, porphyria, evidence of weakened kidney or liver function, and pregnancy.  Malnourished patients with cancer or AIDS should not fast.  Medications should be tapered and discontinued prior to fasting whenever possible.

References & Further Information

A very useful book is Fasting and Eating for Health, A Medical Doctor's Program For Conquering Disease. by Joel Fuhrman, MD.  1995.

Therapeutic Fasting

Information On This Page

Therapeutic Fasting can help with the following:

Addictions

Therapeutic Fasting is highly recommended for Addictions / Addictive TendenciesAddictions / Addictive Tendencies
Fasting makes it easier to overcome bad habits and addictions.  Many people have overcome tobacco and alcohol cravings, and even drug addictions, by fasting.
Therapeutic Fasting is highly recommended for Cigarette Smoke DamageCigarette Smoke Damage
Most people are amazed at how easy it is to quit smoking while fasting.  Fasting makes it easier to overcome a tobacco addiction by reducing the craving for nicotine.
Therapeutic Fasting often helps with Alcohol-related ProblemsAlcohol-related Problems
Fasting makes it easier to overcome bad habits and addictions.  Many people have overcome tobacco and alcohol addictions, and even drug addictions, by fasting.  Fasting rapidly dissipates the craving for alcohol.
Therapeutic Fasting often helps with Cocaine AddictionCocaine Addiction
Fasting makes it easier to overcome bad habits and addictions.  Many people have overcome tobacco and alcohol addictions, and even drug addictions, by fasting.  Fasting rapidly dissipates the craving for drugs.

Allergy

Therapeutic Fasting may help with Allergic Rhinitis / Hay FeverAllergic Rhinitis / Hay Fever
Fasting lowers the allergic reactions producing hay fever.

Autoimmune

Therapeutic Fasting is highly recommended for Autoimmune TendencyAutoimmune Tendency
Dr. Joel Fuhrman, M.D.  has spent much of his professional life treating disease by fasting his patients.  He has an entire chapter in his book, Fasting and Eating for Health, dedicated to the subject of autoimmune disease.  He is convinced that fasting with subsequent dietary changes is a much superior approach to autoimmune disease than conventional treatments.
Therapeutic Fasting often helps with Crohns DiseaseCrohn's Disease
Fasting is an important element of treatment if a sustained remission is to be expected.
Therapeutic Fasting often helps with Ulcerative ColitisUlcerative Colitis
Short fasts can be beneficial, giving the entire organism an opportunity to restore its cellular and immunogenic integrity.

Circulation

Therapeutic Fasting is highly recommended for Phlebitis / ThrombophlebitisPhlebitis / Thrombophlebitis
Increased fibrinolysis during fasting may account for the dramatic improvement seen when patients suffering from thrombophlebitis fast.
Therapeutic Fasting often helps with Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)
Fasting is a way to correct high blood pressure without drugs.  Fasting will normalize blood pressure in the vast majority of cases; the blood pressure will remain low after the fast if a person follows a health-supporting diet and lifestyle.
Not recommended for:
Therapeutic Fasting is sometimes not recommended for Iron Deficiency AnemiaIron Deficiency Anemia
Fasting should be avoided in severe cases of iron deficiency anemia.

Diet

Not recommended for:
Therapeutic Fasting is often not recommended for Protein DeficiencyProtein Deficiency
Fasting should not be used when there is malnutrition.

Digestion

Therapeutic Fasting is highly recommended for Dyspepsia / Poor DigestionDyspepsia / Poor Digestion
Fasting gives the digestive system a much-needed rest.  After fasting, both digestion and elimination are invigorated.

Environment / Toxicity

Hormones

Immunity

Therapeutic Fasting may help with Chronic Fatigue / Fibromyalgia SyndromeChronic Fatigue / Fibromyalgia Syndrome
Fasting is reported to help in cases of fibromyalgia, but probably not chronic fatigue syndrome.
Not recommended for:
Therapeutic Fasting is NOT recommended for HIV/AIDSHIV/AIDS
Extended fasting should be avoided in AIDS patients, who tend to be malnourished already.

Infections

Therapeutic Fasting is highly recommended for Cold Or FluCold Or Flu
It is generally best not to eat for at least a day when sick with a cold or flu.  Not eating will help your immune system to concentrate on the battle taking place.  Fasting is more likely to make a difference with the flu than with a simple cold.

Inflammation

Therapeutic Fasting is highly recommended for Chronic InflammationChronic Inflammation
Fasting promotes the resolution of inflammatory processes, as seen, for example, in rheumatoid arthritis.

Lab Values

Metabolic

Therapeutic Fasting is highly recommended for Migraine/Tension HeadachesMigraine/Tension Headaches
It is believed by those specializing in detoxification that the major cause of both tension headaches and migraines is the retention of toxins or tissue irritants within the central nervous system.  These chemical irritants may cause an oversensitivity of nerve tissues to other stimuli, resulting in headache.  Drugs for relieving pain are rarely necessary if headache sufferers are allowed to fast and detoxify at the first sign of headache symptoms. 

During periods when you are not ingesting harmful food substances or drugs, your body will often use that opportunity to detoxify, which may initiate another headache.  This is the time when you must try to use non drug measures such as cold compresses, rest in a dark room, banding with Velcro, and biofeedback.

Headaches can also be caused and worsened by not eating.  The reason is that not eating triggers withdrawal symptoms as the body begins to detoxify and get rid of retained toxins.  Remember: For a short time you may feel bad so that for a long time you can feel good.  Persistent severe headaches that do not respond within a few days of fasting should always be further evaluated by a physician.
Therapeutic Fasting is highly recommended for Edema (Water Retention)Edema (Water Retention)
Fasting promotes the drying up of abnormal fluid accumulations, such as edema in the ankles and legs and swelling in the abdomen.
Therapeutic Fasting often helps with HypoglycemiaHypoglycemia
In severe cases, additional methods of support besides diet may be needed and perhaps the best of these is fasting.  Fasting is a useful, inexpensive and universally available treatment for hypoglycemia.  The fast allows the entire system to restore its cellular integrity.
Not recommended for:
Therapeutic Fasting is NOT recommended for Acute, Intermittent PorphoriaAcute, Intermittent Porphoria
Fasting should be avoided in cases of porphoria.

Musculo-Skeletal

Therapeutic Fasting often helps with Rheumatoid ArthritisRheumatoid Arthritis
The fast allows the entire system to restore its cellular and immunogenic integrity.  Fasting can cause regression of some autoimmune and inflammatory disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis.  [Controlled trial of fasting and a one-year vegetarian diet eased symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis; The Lancet, 1991, 338]
Not recommended for:
Therapeutic Fasting is sometimes not recommended for General WeaknessGeneral Weakness
Fasting should not be employed if a general weakness exists due to malnutrition.

Nervous System

Therapeutic Fasting often helps with Neuritis/NeuropathyNeuritis/Neuropathy
In severe cases, a short juice fast for four or five days with carrot, beet, citrus fruits, apple and pineapple may be used to hasten the recovery process prior to an alkalinizing diet.

Nutrients

Not recommended for:
Therapeutic Fasting is sometimes not recommended for Multiple Vitamin NeedMultiple Vitamin Need
Major nutritional deficiencies may best be corrected prior to the start of a lengthy fast.  Supplementation during a fast is also a possibility.
Therapeutic Fasting is sometimes not recommended for General Mineral RequirementGeneral Mineral Requirement
Major nutritional deficiencies may best be corrected prior to the start of a lengthy fast.  Supplementation during a fast is also a possibility.

Organ Health

Therapeutic Fasting is highly recommended for Liver Detoxification / Support RequirementLiver Detoxification / Support Requirement
Fasting has a powerful effect on improving liver function, an effect which continues after the fast.  However, fasting should be avoided in cases of severe liver disease or failure.
Not recommended for:
Therapeutic Fasting is sometimes not recommended for HepatitisHepatitis
Extended fasting should be avoided in cases of compromised liver function.
Therapeutic Fasting is NOT recommended for Chronic Renal InsufficiencyChronic Renal Insufficiency
Lengthy fasting should generally be avoided by people with renal failure.  Short-term fasts may be helpful, but must be done under an experienced doctor's supervision.

Pain

Reproductive

Not recommended for:
Therapeutic Fasting is NOT recommended for Pregnancy-Related IssuesPregnancy-Related Issues
Fasting should be avoided during pregnancy.

Respiratory

Therapeutic Fasting may help with AsthmaAsthma
Fasting lowers the allergic reactions causing asthma.

Skin-Hair-Nails

Therapeutic Fasting often helps with Adult AcneAdult Acne
Fasting clears the skin and whitens the eyes.  It is a common experience to see skin eruptions clear while fasting.
Therapeutic Fasting may help with Adolescent AcneAdolescent Acne
Fasting clears the skin and whitens the eyes.  It is common to see skin eruptions clear while fasting.

Tumors, Malignant

Not recommended for:
Therapeutic Fasting is often not recommended for Cancer, GeneralCancer, General
Extended fasting should be avoided by patients with a current known cancer who have experienced significant weight loss.  These patients tend to be malnourished already, and further nutrient restriction by fasting would make matters worse.

Uro-Genital

Therapeutic Fasting often helps with Cervical DysplasiaCervical Dysplasia
Cervical dysplasia is helped by fasting.

KEY

May be useful: may help with
May be useful:
may help with
Moderately useful: often helps with
Moderately useful:
often helps with
Very useful: is highly recommended for
Very useful:
is highly recommended for
Caution: is sometimes not recommended for
Caution:
is sometimes not recommended for
Often counterindicated: is often not recommended for
Often counterindicated:
is often not recommended for
Should be avoided: is NOT recommended for
Should be avoided:
is NOT recommended for