FASTING: The Natural Healer
By Penny Warren (c) 2000 PLIM REPORT, Vol. 9 #3
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"In my opinion, the greatest discovery by modern man is the power to rejuvenate himself physically, mentally, and spiritually with Rational Fasting." The Miracle of Fasting by Paul Bragg, ND, PhD (p. 5).
"No-one realizes how powerful juice-fasting is- until they do it. Then they will never live without it." Richard Schultz, Medical Herbalist and nutritional expert, "JUICE- FASTING: The powerful healing therapy that no-one ever uses." http://home.online.no/~dusan/schulze/herbal news juice fasting.html
Fasting has been a pat of mankind’s existence for thousand of years, as numerous ancient cultures have documented. Fasting was used in mourning rites, initiations into priesthoods, and religious rituals to appease various gods. In modern times, fasting has been used as a form of political protest, to tap into paranormal experiences, and to improve personal health as this article will explain. Most people, however, are unaware of the benefits of fasting because of the pervasive belief in our society of excess and overabundance that more is better than less.
What is the intent of this article?
This article will be the first in a series of articles on fasting. It will appear in two parts and focus on fasting’s effect on the physical body's health, especially as a tool for preventive medicine. Part One of this series will examine fasting in the Hebrew culture and the theory behind fasting. Part Two will provide practical applications and answers to some frequent concerns of first time fasters, including reactions to toxins that are released during a fast. Since the physical body is a temple (1 Cor. 6:19), there must be knowledge of how to keep this temple functioning optimally. Dr. Paul Bragg said that everyone should regard his health "as the most precious temporal blessing that he can possess … He should maintain it in Supreme health, because that is far more important than a knowledge of all the arts (The Miracle of Fasting, p. 106)."
When fasting is examined in terms of health, the two most popular types of fasts are juice fasting and distilled water fasting. Although fasting experts differ in the type of fasts that they believe is most effective, they all agree on the following. If the energy used for digestion is available for cellular repair, elimination, and rejuvenation, the body will begin to purify and heal itself by utilizing its reserve in inverse order of important. Fat, tumors, and damaged cells go first, vital muscle tissue and essential organs last.
This article will also explore the spiritual significance of fasting from physical food, which is a type of spiritual fasting. Now natural fasting causes a power latent in man so powerful and intelligent that it heals the body. Likewise there is power that heals the soul and mind when it fasts from negative attributes as hate, low self esteem, pride, jealously, doubt, etc..
Before we explore why people think it is healthy to eat three meat protein meals a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year with sugary or heavily salted, refined and processed snacks in between, we want to briefly cover fasting within the Hebrew culture.
Did the Hebrews fast?
Fasting is mentioned over 40 times in the Old and New Testament of the Bible. The Hebrew word for fasting is "(tsum,’ ‘innah nephesh, "afflict soul or self " i.e, practice self-denial,’ nesteia, nesteuein):, according to the International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, Electronic Database Copyright (c)1996 by Biblesoft). It is mentioned in the prophets and the historical books (2 Sam 12:16; 1 Kings 21:9-12; Ezra 8:21; Isa 58:3-5; Joel 1:14; 2:15; Zech 8:19; etc.). However, it is not mentioned in the first five books of the Old Testament or the Torah.
The Jewish fasts were observed with various degrees of strictness. When the fast lasted only a single day, from evening to evening, it was the practice to abstain from every kind of food, including water. Whereas in the case of private fasts of a more prolonged character, the practice was merely to drink water and abstain from ordinary food.
When did Israel fast?
As one reads the Bible, one can see the circumstances in which Israel fasted. The Hebrews were in the habit of fasting whenever they were in hard and trying circumstances (1 Sam 1:7), had misfortune, experienced bereavement (20:34; 31:13; 1:12), were threatened of God’s judgments (12:16; 21:27), fell into grievous sin (Ezra 10:6), or wanted to avert heavy affliction (Est. 4: 1,3,16).
Theocratic authorities appointed extraordinary fasts on occasions of great national calamity. Fasting was declared so that the people might humble themselves before Yahweh because of their sins. Following this practice averted His wrath and got Him to look upon them again with favor (Judg 20:26; 1 Sam 7:6; 2 Chron 20:3; Joel 1:14; 2:12; Jer 36:9; Ezra 8:21; Neh 1:4; 2 Macc. 13:12).
King David wrote the following verse that exemplifies the principle of fasting, a humbling of one’s soul before Elohim. He wrote: "But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth: I humbled my soul with fasting; and my prayer returned into mine own bosom (Ps. 35:13 KJV)." Thus, the expression "humble your souls" used in the Law (Lev 16:29-31; 23:27; Num 30:13), implies the sacrifice of personal will and submission to a higher power, which exemplifies the principles and value of fasting.
The Mosaic Law prescribed only one public occasion of strict fasting. Once a year on the great Day of Atonement, this observance seems always to have retained some prominence as "the fast" (Acts 27:9). But as to the nature of the observance, we are nowhere expressly informed, excepting that "it shall be a holy convocation for you" (Lev 23:27-29).
What did the Messiah say about fasting?
When the Messiah was in His ministry, He pointed out the hypocrisy of Israel’s fasting. The religious heads of Israel had turned fasting into work of righteousness and made it a public affair. The Messiah said: "Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast, Verily I say unto you, They have their reward, But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face,’ That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly (KJV Matt 6: 16-18)." The Messiah knew that fasting from food was a private matter and reflected fasting from negative principles, such as doubt, pride, exaltation, anger, fear, etc. No matter how long someone fasts from physical foods, it is not enough to transform his mind or regenerate his soul.
The Messiah told His disciples about spiritual fasting when they could not heal a little boy, who was being plagued by demons (Mk. 9:18-19). The disciples asked the master why they could not cast out this spirit (Mk. 9:28-29). He told them that only much fasting and prayer could cast out the spirit.
What effect does fasting have on health?
Now neither Israel nor other ancient cultures fully understood the impact of fasting upon a person’s health. It has only been in modern times that the benefits of fasting for the body’s health have been scientifically studied and documented. Since the early 1900’s, Paul Bragg promoted the concept of regular fasting to extend life and regain health. Dr. Bragg was the originator of "Health Food Stores" in America, the grandfather of modern natural nutrition, the first person to introduce Juice Therapy in America by importing the first hand juicers, and a man responsible for more firsts in the history of the health movement than any other person.
Let me say at the outset of this article that fasting is not a cure, but a safe, non-toxic, inexpensive, internal cleansing that creates the most ideal conditions in the body for it to heal and purify itself. In short, fasting is a rest or Sabbath from food that restores health through ridding the body of toxins.
Dr. Paul Bragg states: "… fasting is not a cure of any disease or ailment. The purpose of the fast is to allow the body full range and scope to fulfill its self-healing, self-repairing, self-rejuvenating functions to the best advantage. … … [Fasting is] probably the fastest and safest way or means of regaining health ever conceived by the human man. … Fasting puts the body in a condition where all the Vital Force of the body is used to flush out the causes of body miseries (The Miracle of Fasting, p. 145)."
Steve Meyerowitz explains in his book Juice Fasting and Detoxification that: "our bodies are natural healers. ...Without obstacles in its way, our bodies will automatically seek health through the process of eliminating poisons and balancing chemistry. There is a vital force within us that can heal and when that vitality is not exhausted by physical activity, drained by the task of digestion or enervated by stress, it is available to heal. Fasting, essentially promotes self-healing by casting off poisons. It is not so much a cure as it is an opportunity to rejuvenation, ... (p. 2-3)"
Joel Fuhrman, M.D. confirms the restorative powers of a fast. "Fasting enables the body to repair and rejuvenate its own tissues, by directly providing the conditions for recovery and removing the impediments that curtail your recuperative powers. The fast establishes a unique opportunity, vital for the restoration of health." (Fasting and Eating for Health, p. 4)
As noted at the beginning of the article, Richard Schultz also believes in the power of fasting. "Juice fasting is for the incurables. Juice fasting is the answer, because it allows your body to rest—and it lets your body choose what it wants to heal." JUICE-FASTING: The powerful healing therapy that no-one ever uses. http://home.online.no/~dusan/schulze/herbal news juice fasting.html
Now the above quotes and others describe the purpose and efficacy of fasting.
What is fasting?
Joel Fuhrman, M.D. states: "Fasting, in the strictest sense, is defined as the voluntary abstinence from all food and drink, except water, as long as the nutritional reserves of the body are adequate to sustain normal function. This is a state of relative physiologic rest. (Fasting and Eating for Health, p. 8)"
People who juice fast (drink fruit and vegetable juices in addition to water), fruit fast (eat only fruits), follow mono-diets (eat one food a day), or are liquitarians (drink fiberless liquids including juice, herbal teas, vegetable broths, etc.) are actually limiting their dietary intake. But since nutrition is being taken, in the strict sense, these regimens cannot technically be called a fast. However, Steve Meyerowitz states that "modified fasts are all described as fasts for a good reason, The word ‘fast’ actually comes from the archaic Teutonic language fasestan meaning ‘strict.’ These diets are indeed strict in the sense that they stick to a particular regimen, but because that regimen includes nourishment, they cannot be called fasts in the ‘strict’ sense of the word, (Juice Fasting and Detoxification, p. 5)"
Mr. Meyerowitz thinks the semantics are irrelevant since all fasts are valuable as they involve cleansing or balancing the body chemistry. These restricted regimens may be just what a first time fasters needs to develop knowledge or self-assuredness before entering a full-fledged fast.
Richard Schultze states: "Most people think a fast means deprivation, I see it differently, A fast is a flush -a flush with liquids."
Dr. Joel Fuhrman states: "Therapeutic fasting is not a mystical or magical cure. It works because the body has within it the capacity to heal when the obstacles to healing are removed. Health is the normal state. Most chronic disease is the inevitable consequence of living a life-style that places disease-causing stressors on the human organism. Fasting gives the body an interlude without those stressors so that it can speedily repair or accomplish healing that could not otherwise occur in the feeding state. (Fasting and Eating for Health, p. 7)
What are the benefits of fasting?
Quick, safe, long-lasting weight loss is the most obvious result of fasting. Weight loss to fasting is like getting wet is to swimming. You can’t do one without the other. In fact fasting can break many food addictions, such as coffee, sweets, alcohol, smoke and other bad habits (Juice Fasting and Detoxification, p. 9). Although some people may be attracted to fasting for weight maintenance alone, there are other, more vital benefits that result when one stops eating.
"During a fast:
• The natural process of toxin excretion continues, while the influx of new toxins is reduced, This results in a reduction of total body toxicity.
• The energy usually used for digestion is redirected to immune function, cell growth, and eliminatory processes.
• The immune system’s workload is greatly reduced, and the digestive tract is spared any inflammation due to allergic reactions to food.
• Due to a lowering of serum fats that thins the blood; tissue oxygenation is increased and white blood cells are moved more efficiently.
• Fat-stored chemicals, such as pesticides and drugs, are released.
• Physical awareness and sensitivity to diet and surroundings are increased.
Due to these effects of fasting, a fast can help you heal with greater speed,’ cleanse your liver, kidneys, and colon,’ purify your blood,’ help you lose excess weight and water,’ flush out toxins,. clear the eyes and tongue,’ and cleanse the breath."
(Prescription for Nutritional Healing by James and Phyllis Balch, pp. 548-550)
Steve Meyerowitz in his book, Juice Fasting and Detoxification, lists allergies, skin diseases, and digestive disorders that have historically responded well to fasting (p. 9). Mr. Meyerowitz uses "the word ‘historically’ because fasting, today, is not recognized to be of legitimate therapeutic values by allopathic medicine (p. 8)," which we will discuss later. Allergies that fasting has helped are asthma, bronchitis, hay fever, hives, rheumatism, obesity, insomnia, migraine headaches, inflammations, arteriosclerosis and high/low blood pressure. He lists skins diseases such as acne, psoriasis, ulcers, and boils. Digestive disorders that improve with fasting are liver problems, constipation, gall stones, diarrhea, and tumors. Mr. Meyerowitz says that even if a person does not have serious ailments, they "may chose to fast purely for purposes of detoxification and health improvement. This is more a measure of prevention than a treatment of disease. Periodic fasting maintains an optimum level of functioning (p. 9)."
Do animals fast?
In the animal kingdom, fasting is quite common. Animals instinctively fast when sick or hurt. The wounded animal finds a warm secluded spot where it can lie undisturbed to rest and fast for a period of time until it is restored. The ill animal sips only water until well again. (Fasting and Eating for Health, p. 13).
Steve Meyerowitz said that in a study on mice that were fasted every third day the lifespan of mice increased by 40 percent (p. 9).
Does digesting food take a lot of energy?
Digestion drains the body of energy and diverts the healing processes. Richard Schultz states that to digest food takes a tremendous amount of blood and energy to fill the muscles and the tissues of our digestive system. "When you stop eating, your digestive system rests, and all that blood and energy can be put somewhere else to heal you.") JUICE-FASTING: The powerful healing therapy that no-one ever uses. http://home.online.no/~dusan/schulze/herbal news juice fasting.html
The body is constantly busy with the metabolic process, changing food into energy and cell tissue. Fasting allows the body to purge itself from toxins, metabolic debris.
"Each time we take in food we take in not only nutrients but also additives and other toxins. The digestive tract, the liver, the kidney, and other organs must work to remove these non-nutritive substances from the body. These wastes include by-products of digestion, bacterial by-products from the decomposition of inadequately digested foodstuffs, and excess nutrients the body cannot use. All these as well as the waste products of normal cellular metabolism must be actively eliminated for us to maintain excellent health.
Food; therefore, while providing essential nutrients for life, also introduces toxins. Fasting, particularly when we are ill and the body is already overburdened with self-produced wastes, can provide a welcome relief by halting the introduction of further toxins and waste products. Without this extra burden, the body is finally able to heal itself (Joel Fuhrman, Fasting and Eating for Health, p. 8)."
Can the body regenerate?
Since the body is wonderfully and fearfully made (Psa. 139:14), one of its attributes is self-healing or regeneration.
Dr. Paul Bragg said: "Healing is an internal, biological function that only the body can perform, and by fasting you are helping your body do its work efficiently (The Miracle of Fasting, p. 107)."
Dr. Joel Fuhrman knows that the normal state of the body is health and the body will maintain health when the disease-causing stresses are removed. "… Within a short period of time, allergic and mucus-filled individuals clear their nasal passages, asthmatics breathe easier, arthritis sufferers report their pain is resolving, and cardiac patients begin to have increased circulation to their hearts. Healing has begun.
… In our society, most people eat heavy foods during much of their waking hours. This not only overworks the digestive tract, but also forces the body to continue its work of digesting and absorbing foodstuffs and eliminating food-derived wastes well into the night. This prevents the body from totally directing its energies toward repair and self-cleansing of its tissues.
To regain normalcy or health, individuals suffering from chronic illnesses must rid their systems of the burdens of toxic material and excesses, such as fatty or swollen tissues or atherolerotic plaque. … Fasting offers an efficient means of accomplishing healing that is dependent on the elimination of retained waste. This is because fasting gives the body an opportunity to focus completely on the elimination of the waste deposits and the purification of its tissues that are necessary to reach a recovered state of health. (Fasting and Eating for Health, p. 15)
The body’s wondrous ability to autolyze (or self-digest) and destroy needless tissue such as fat, tumors, blood vessel plaque, and other nonessential and diseased tissues, while conserving essential tissues, gives the fast the ability to restore physiologic youth to the system. (Fasting and Eating for Health, p. 16)
Scientific studies prove fasters live longer, better quality lives.
What does allopathic medicine use to treat illness?
As the Scribes and Pharisees rejected the Messiah’s healing, allopathic medicine has frowned on fasting. "The medical profession’s primary method, over the last century for combating the effects of improper diet and life-style has been to offer medication and surgery. This approach has not been effective. Almost every medical treatment offered for the chronic sufferer today attempts only to control symptoms. There are no "cures." The current medical treatments not only have risks, but also represent a Band-Aid type of approach—they can offer relief from symptoms, but they cannot cure because they do not address the cause of the disease. Under "modern" medicine, the incidence of most chronic diseases has increased and the vast, majority of people are still dying from what are preventable, diet- and life-style induced illnesses." (Fasting and Eating for Health, Dr. Joel Fuhrman, p. 21)
In an effort to achieve optimal health, one must do three things. Stop the toxins, internally cleanse the body, and nourish it. If people understood the power that can be released in the body through fasting, everyone would practice it with diligence and regularity. However, very few individuals will choose less instead of more. Dr. Joel Fuhrman states that: "the self healing power of the body is often overlooked because it is rarely given a chance to act in a world that expects the quick fix. " (Fasting and Eating for Health, p. 4)
As long as the advertising media offers the public one more diet substance, remedy, cure (a silver bullet) that promises to give them health, most people will not make a total change in their lifestyle. They would rather continue the conditions that made them sick in the first place and take, in addition to the poisons they consume, one more pill that supposedly will counter all their years of abuses. One treatment cannot fix years of damaging the body. For healing to occur there must be a change in lifestyle. Fasting is a place to start.
Balch, James and Phyllis, Prescription for Nutritional Healing, (Copyright 1977, Avery Publishing Group, Garden City Park, New York)
Barron, Jon, Lessons from The "Miracle Doctors", (Copyright 1999, Progress Printing Co. Inc.)
Bragg, Paul, ND, PhD, The Miracle of Fasting, (Copyright MCMXC Health Science)
Fuhrman, Joel, M.D., Fasting and Eating for Health, (Copyright 1995, St. Martin’s Griffin, New York)
Meyerowitz, Steve, Juice Fasting and Detoxification, (Copyright April 1999, Copyright 1984, 1987, 1990, 1992, 1995, 1996 Book Publishing Company)
Meyerowitz, Steve, Power Juices, Super Drinks
Schultz, Richard, JUICE- FASTING: The powerful healing therapy that no-one ever uses." http://home.online.no/~dusan/schulze/herbal news juice fasting.html
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