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 Fasting: Fasting: The Therapeutic Fast  
 
“And the word of the Lord came unto me in the tenth month in the government of Oliver Cromwell, in the year 1653 when I was walking among my sheep, saying, 'Thou shalt not eat nor drink for the space of 14 days anything but water. But fear not for I will feed thee with the dew of heaven and with the sweet incense of my love, and my word shall be unto thee sweeter than honey, and I will make thee to know that I am able to keep thee fresh and strong, and able to do my work without the creatures as well as with it!”
Miles Halhead - (1)
Surely one of the most overlooked and yet most valuable modes of healing that will be rediscovered in the future of the new medicine is the fast. This is because of the increasing interest in looking to oneself for healing powers. For the fast is an inward process and cannot be entered upon only from an outer approach with any expectation of a lasting benefit. The person must invariably be involved with the overall results. This therapeutic encounter is in direct contrast to the usual non-involvement in the physician-directed, disease-oriented medical practice of today.

In this chapter consideration will be given to a review of the medical literature from 1967 to 1977, in which approximately 160 papers dealt in some way with the aspects of the subject. Fifty-two of these, which were felt to be the most pertinent, were reviewed by the author. For several reasons, not much information could be gained from them. Much was too scientific for the general reader, and almost exclusively the subject dealt with obesity and the disease concept (2), not with the healing of the whole person, which is our overriding concern here. Also in this chapter is a brief consideration of the fast as it has been practiced through the ages; and there are extensive comments on the use of the fast in the therapeutic setting at Meadowlark, where several hundred guestpatients have been involved.

Few physicians have seriously considered the fast as a technique worthy of study; and most of those who did, concentrated on its used only in the treatment of obesity. Two notable exceptions, however, are psychiatrists Allan Cott, M.D., and Robert Meiers, M.D. The latter was associated with my work at Meadowlark for a period of three months and initiated my interest in fasting. Dr. Cott spent time in Russia studying the program of Professor Serge Nikoliav of the Moscow Psychiatric institute where, as of 1972, 6,000 patients had fasted under Nikoliav's direction, resulting in a very high success rate for treatment of chronic refractory schizophrenia, and without a fatality. These patients had not responded to the more usual types of psychiatric therapy. Their fasts were on water, lasted 25 to 30 days, and included much aerobic exercise in the form of long periods of daily walking.

Most attention to the medical fast has been given outside the United States. Paavo Airola's studies of the European clinics cite many successful fasts for a wide variety of human ailments. My own acquaintance with the Bircher-Benner Clinic of Zurich has been a strong incentive toward the use at Meadowlark of vegetable juices and the role of raw vegetables and fruits in the therapeutic armamentarium.

The notable work in this country has been carried on by a small group of Naturopathic physicians. Especially useful is the work of Herbert Shelton, who has been employing this modality in his center in Texas for 40 years, guiding many thousands of patients through fasts. His book, The Hygienic System, Fasting and Sun Bathing, Vol. III, is the most complete discussion of the physical aspects that I have encountered.(4)

The New Health Model
Nuclear physics and the new health model view human life with its supporting energy systems as a part of a great continuum. Health is thus seen as a mark of one's resonance with great and universal systems of energies. Disease is a sign of being out of touch. It has always been of interest to me to note that the sicker the individual, the more isolated he or she has become from family, friends and business associates. Thus the role of the physician must be to become increasingly aware of these discordant energies and their sources.

This new challenge is being met by individual physicians, most commonly outside of university settings where they are individually investigating such alternative therapies as acupuncture, homeopathy, polarity therapy, yoga, clairvoyance and psychosynthesis.

These modalities, and I now add fasting as one of the most important on the list, require establishing a contact with the patient, and the future physician accordingly must see his new role as being involved in this interpersonal relationship. He must become absorbed to the limit of his ability in the problems of his patient by listening to the words of that patient and learning even what is behind those words that possibly the patient cannot yet share. Only through this type of empathy can one get beyond the usual objective view of the results of a disease process and begin to get down to causes, many of which are frequently buried in the patient's subconscious. But by being aware, the empathetic physician can gain evidence from the tone of speech, the look in the eyes, in the gestures of the hands, and in those tears that are so obviously being held back. How often in such a time of attunement has a patient said, "I have told you what I have never before shared with anyone, not even my spouse."

To help his patients regain resonance with the universal system, the physician of the new medicine may have to look to areas not often enough considered. He should study the patient's environment, for one example. The physical body's loss of sensitive attunement may be due to such external causes as environmental sources of pollution. These might include chemicals in the air, fallout from atomic testing, more than minimal diagnostic x-ray exposure or other forms of medical radiation, long hours in front of television or microwave ovens, or under fluorescent lights. It might come from drinking fluorinated and chlorinated water, from medically prescribed as well as psychedelic drugs, from synthetic foods along with additives, and in the cases of quite a number of people, even from the artificial materials used in the clothing they commonly wear.

The fast can be most helpful in treatment of patients whose problems have such causes, for it tends toward freeing the body from having to ward off these conflicting sources of energy, and toward freeing the mind from the power of much of the negativity that is all about us today. Once freed, the patient is in a far better position than he was to use his vital energies in a constructive way and so restore homeostasis.

A person needs all of the energy he can healthfully derive, for much is required simply to break down food into its nutritive components, convert the carbohydrates and proteins into glycogen for storage in the liver, and to provide the ready energy needed for healing and optimal physical and mental functioning. type of empathy can one get beyond the usual objective view of the results of a disease process and begin to get down to causes, many of which are frequently buried in the patient's subconscious. But by being aware, the empathetic physician can gain evidence from the tone of speech, the look in the eyes, in the gestures of the hands, and in those tears that are so obviously being held back. How often in such a time of attunement has a patient said, "I have told you what I have never before shared with anyone, not even my spouse."

To help his patients regain resonance with the universal system, the physician of the new medicine may have to look to areas not often enough considered. He should study the patient's environment, for one example. The physical body's loss of sensitive attunement may be due to such external causes as environmental sources of pollution. These might include chemicals in the air, fallout from atomic testing, more than minimal diagnostic x-ray exposure or other forms of medical radiation, long hours in front of television or microwave ovens, or under fluorescent lights. It might come from drinking fluorinated and chlorinated water, from medically prescribed as well as psychedelic drugs, from synthetic foods along with additives, and in the cases of quite a number of people, even from the artificial materials used in the clothing they commonly wear.

The fast can be most helpful in treatment of patients whose problems have such causes, for it tends toward freeing the body from having to ward off these conflicting sources of energy, and toward freeing the mind from the power of much of the negativity that is all about us today. Once freed, the patient is in a far better position than he was to use his vital energies in a constructive way and so restore homeostasis.

A person needs all of the energy he can healthfully derive, for much is required simply to break down food into its nutritive components, convert the carbohydrates and proteins into glycogen for storage in the liver, and to provide the ready energy needed for healing and optimal physical and mental functioning.

All of this should be within the awareness of new medicine, both for the physician who accepts the new challenge, and for the person who is learning to look within for his own healing powers.

We speak of the fast as being a part of the new medicine. It is a rediscovered part, for the fast as an integral part of life is as old as life itself, and its healing power is to be seen all along evolution's pathway. In the insect world, the feasting caterpillar is followed by the fasting butterfly. Then there are the hibernating reptiles and the bear who take their annual prolonged fasts. If nothing more, this indicates that fasting and stanation are not the same things. Many animals when sick know enough to stop eating, but few humans have retained this healthy insight that intuitively bids one eat or fast as the proper occasion arises and in its natural timing. As William Wordsworth so beautifully comments:

The world is too much with us, Getting and spending we lay waste our powers, Little we see in Nature that is ours . . . Yes, we are out of touch, and the fast provides an ideal setting for renewing this all-important contact. Allow me to quote from one of Meadowlark's recent fasters who began the recontact: I am awakened in the morning full of quiet expectation which was deepened by an experience as I sat on the lawn after my simple breakfast of fruit. A honeybee settled on my knee and set about his elaborate grooming of his small person. I was pleased and touched at its confidence in me and extended to him the same. I was struck by his kindness and appreciation showed in every part of his body. I watched with interest and amusement at his insect version of body awareness (referring to an exercise program of that name employed at Meadowlark).

Throughout history, at some time fasts have been used by practically every culture to bring man back in touch with his source of BEING. But unfortunately, Western religion with its only occasional use of fasting has become more and more separated from actual life on an hour to hour basis and needs once more to become interwoven into life's innermost experience, as is still taught by the Shaman of Africa and the Indian medicine man.

Reviewing Briefly Some Aspects of the Fast as Seen in History:
Jesus“This kind (referring to the cure, probably of epilepsy) can come forth by nothing but prayer and fasting.” (Mark 9:29) Before his period of temptation, Jesus fasted for forty days in the wilderness.

Pythagoras—He commanded his disciples to abstain from all things that had life, and from certain other meats which could interfere with mental perception, and to abstain from wine, to eat sparingly, and to sleep little. (Manly Hall)

Moses—In a time of drought, he fasted for forty days on Mt. Horeb.

The Ethiopian Orthodox Church—Among its tenets, it views the stomach as the seat of the emotions and thus as having a marked effect on the personality. Strong foods such as meat are felt to strengthen emotional reactions and thus are seen as being related to violent behavior.(5)

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 About The Author
Evarts Loomis MDRegarded as “the father of holistic medicine,” Evarts G. Loomis, MD, was an internationally known homeopathic physician, surgeon, author, lecturer, and visionary. Preferring to be called “Evarts” rather than “doctor,”......more
 
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