A Lifestyle Consultant's Course in Natural Living - Sample Lesson 112a

Subject: Fasting

By John L. Fielder

Introduction to Principles & Practice of Fasting • Part One


One of the most intuitive and inherent ways employed by Nature Curists and Hygienists alike, and which emulates the instinctual reaction of all the animals in the wild to disease or injury is that of fasting.

The term fasting implies total or partial abstinence from food or water for any number of reasons. Thus one may refer to fruit fasts, vegetable fasts, milk fasts, water fasts, and many other types such as religious fasting, professional fasting, pathological fasting, accidental fasting, and experimental fasting.

A fruit fast is abstinence from fruit; a vegetable fast is abstinence from vegetables; milk fast is abstinence from milk; water fast is abstinence from water, and similar fasts may be defined accordingly. Religious fasting is abstinence to develop spiritual thought or fulfil a religious rite. Professional fasting is abstinence for the purposes of notoriety and publicity. Physiological fasting is normal inanition in nature such as the hibernation and seasonal abstinence of certain animals. Pathological fasting is associated with organic derangement, which make one unable to take or retain food. Accidental fasting occurs in such cases as miners entombed in a cave-in. Experimental fasting is forced inanition among man or animals for purposes of scientific investigation.

These are the recognised forms of fasting. There is yet another and perhaps more important classification which is seldom given mention or even known about. This is therapeutic fasting. Salloum and Burton define it, “…as abstinence from all food and drink except water…”

The purpose of therapeutic fasting is the promotion and restoration of health. It is associated with experimental and physiological fasting in the sense that studies of the latter provide the knowledge and information which make therapeutic fasting possible.

Therapeutic fasting is not the result of any particular new scientific discovery, but rather has proceeded to its present development as the result of centuries of experimentation, observation, and study.

Through the process of fasting during such times as disease or injury we are, as many might well claim, living out our biological heritage. It is well for us to keep in mind that we have a similar heritage to the rest of the animal kingdom with many similarities to our close genetical relatives, the chimpanzee, gorilla, and orangutan. That they in their inherent, intuitive way follow this simple, yet very profound method of dealing with injuries and the process which we commonly term as disease, or which might just as well be referred to as dis-equilibrium.

Nature's method of enabling the body to restore equilibrium when a state of disease or dis-equilibrium has occurred is the loss of appetite and subsequent withholding of all food except for the drinking of adequate water—that is to fast—until such time as equilibrium, or a state of health, wholeness, or healing is attained.

Hippocrates referred to this process of self-regulation in 400B.C. as the vis medicatrix naturae—the healing power of nature. In modern parlance it is referred to as the regulation by the homoeostatic mechanism which controls the interconnection of all parts of the body through the circulatory and neuroendocrine systems.

Walter Cannon first used the term “homoeostasis” in 1926 during his work at Harvard to describe the relative constancy of physiologic processes achieved through a complex dynamic equilibrium. This dynamic equilibrium has been described by W.F. Hewitt, Somatic Aspects & Applied Physiology in the following words:

“We are so versatile, because of our servo-mechanisms for adaptation, that we live in climates, ranging from almost absolute dessication to water saturation and from below zero temperatures to desert heat (a range of more than 150 degrees Fahrenheit); we survive the loss of a third of our blood by haemorrhage, or the doubling of our body weight by fluid retention; and we live on, minus many of our organs, riddled with cancer in nearly every remaining tissue, sometimes for years after any 'reasonable' organism would have succumbed.”

This versatility is achieved by constant changes. In describing the homoeostatic mechanism Heraclitus of Ephesus said (preceding Cannon by some twenty-five hundred years):

“Man is like a fountain, always the same form, never the same water.”

To which Bernard added that the mechanism has:

“…only one object, that of preserving the constant conditions of life.”

At all costs, the body attempts to preserve its constancy within the limits of physiological parameters, while adapting to ecological challenges.

Homoeostatic dysfunction occurs firstly on the cellular level, followed by significant cytopathological changes at which level classifiable disease symptoms occur. We may better understand the disease process as a disruption in cellular regulatory and communication processes, which results from the interacting forces of catabolism and anabolism in the context of internal and external factors.

Roger Williams, the biochemist, in A Physician's Handbook on Orthomolecular Medicine addresses homoeostasis through his genotropic theory of disease as:

“…the biological capabilities of a person are set by his/her genotype; these interact with the environment (which includes the nutritional milieu of the cell as well as the external physical, emotional, and social environment) to produce the phenotype of the individual, and the diseases to which he is susceptible.”

The genotropic theory differs from the more static and fatalistic view of disease in which the genotype and phenotype are viewed as the same, eg. a patient develops diabetes at age 40 because of his genetic predisposition.

What part then do the bacteria of Pasteur play in the process? According to G Rosen, From Medical Police to Social Medicine, Louis Pasteur is said to have declared in his latter days:

“Bernard is right. The pathogen is nothing. The terrain is everything.”

Rosen further states:

“For Virchow who saw medicine in its organic relations to the rest of society and recognised health and disease as enmeshed within the web of social activity, the strict bacteriological view could not but seem narrow and limited, if not a complete intellectual aberration. Virchow recognised the discoveries of the bacteriologist, but he could never accept an unqualified causal relationship between bacterium and disease. For him the tubercle bacillus was not identical with tuberculosis.”

It is with this view of disease that we readily concur. We do not, as some would claim, deny the presence of bacteria. They, in our view, are a very important aspect of life and play a very vital role therein. But as to being the cause of disease we find ourselves in complete agreement with Pasteur and his comment:

“The pathogen is nothing, the terrain is everything.”

Hence our undivided support for being guided by the observed factor of “fasting” in injury and disease in the other animal species as the best and most appropriate way to provide the right and correct conditions for the restoration of homoeostasis (healing).

I believe we were ably supported in this aspect by the world famous physician, Sir William Osler who said:

“On of the first duties of the physician is to educate the masses not to take medicine.”

That fasting is not employed as a therapeutic agency in orthodox medical circles is evidence of how far the medical profession has allowed itself to become oblivious to the simplest facts relating to the natural processes involved in the process of cure in its attempts to overcome disease. For they would only have to look to the manner in which the members of the animal and bird kingdoms recover from disease or accident without any external aid whatsoever to see these natural processes in full operation before their eyes everywhere around them.

It is to the living that we must look for guidance in understanding the laws which govern life and health. The fact that much of medical information comes from the study of anatomical specimens—corpses—or from the action of germ cultures under the microscope accounts for much of the present day medical incompetence to deal with disease when face to face with it in the living organism.

Fasting is a natural expedient resorted to by all living creatures when unwell. It is a natural reaction to disease or malaise of any kind by which the living organism seeks to set itself in proper equilibrium again (homoeostasis). Why, then has man refused to take advantage of it? Because as man has grown more and more “civilised” his natural reactions (or instincts) have become more and more over-laid with a veneer of artificial reasoning and logic; so he has turned more and more to outside agencies—to those who can appeal to his credulity; to those in authority—for guidance in the treatment of his body when confronted with the phenomenon of disease.

This is not to say that clear thought and sound reasoning are to be discouraged, but the thought processes of the average human being are far from clear and sound. He is at once a prey to superstition and custom, to habit and tradition, to all the forces, in fact, which exert the wrong influence over his mind and reasoning faculties. And by giving heed to these and denying the existence of the instinctive and natural guides within, modern man does more harm to himself—not only in matters relating to health and disease, but also in all the general affairs of life—than the world at large could possibly believe or imagine.


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