How and When to Be Your Own Doctor
by Dr. Isabelle A. Moser
with Steve Solomon
Table of Contents
Forward by Steve Solomon
Chapter One: How I Became a Hygienist
Chapter Two: The Nature and Cause of Disease
Chapter Three: Fasting
Chapter Four: Colon Cleansing
Chapter Five: Diet and Nutrition
Chapter Six: Vitamins and Other Food Supplements
Chapter Seven: The Analysis of Disease States—Helping the Body Recover
Tis a gift to be simple
Tis a gift to be free,
Tis a gift to come down
Where we ought to be.
And when we find ourselves
In a place just right,
It will be in the valley
Of love and delight.
Old Shaker Hymn
Favorite of Dr. Isabelle Moser
I was a physically tough, happy-go-lucky fellow until I reached my late thirties. Then I began to experience more and more off days when I did not feel quite right. I thought I possessed an iron constitution. I thought I could eat anything with impunity though I grew a big food garden and ate mostly "vegetablitarian." I had been fond of drinking beer with my friends while nibbling on salty snacks or heavy foods late into the night. And I could still get up the next morning, feeling good, and would put in a solid day’s work.
When my health began to slip I went looking for a cure. Up to that time the only use I’d had for doctors was to fix a few traumatic injuries. The only preventative health care I concerned myself with was to take multivitamin pill during those rare spells when I felt a bit run down and to eat lots of vegetables. So I’d not learned much about alternative health care.
Naturally, my first stop was a local general practitioner/MD. He gave me his usual half-hour get-acquainted checkout and opined that there almost certainly was nothing wrong with me. I suspect I had the good fortune to encounter an honest doctor, because he also said if it were my wish he could send me around for numerous tests but most likely these would not reveal anything either. More than likely, all that was wrong was that I was approaching 40; with the onset of middle age I would naturally have more aches and pains. ‘Take some aspirin and get used to it,’ was his advice. ‘It’ll only get worse.’
Not satisfied with his dismal prognosis I asked an energetic old guy I knew named Paul, an ‘80-something homesteader who was renowned for his organic garden and his good health. Paul referred me to his doctor, Isabelle Moser, who at that time was running the Great Oaks School of Health, a residential and out-patient spa nearby at Creswell, Oregon.
Dr. Moser had very different methods of analysis than the medicos, was warmly personal and seemed very safe to talk to. She looked me over, did some strange magical thing she called muscle testing and concluded that I still had a very strong constitution. If I would eliminate certain "bad" foods from my diet, eliminate some generally healthful foods that, unfortunately, I was allergic to, if I would reduce my alcohol intake greatly and take some food supplements, then gradually my symptoms would abate. With the persistent application of a little self-discipline over several months, maybe six months, I could feel really well again almost all the time and would probably continue that way for many years to come. This was good news, though the need to apply personal responsibility toward the solution of my problem seemed a little sobering.
But I could also see that Dr. Moser was obviously not telling me something. So I gently pressed her for the rest. A little shyly, reluctantly, as though she were used to being rebuffed for making such suggestions, Isabelle asked me if I had ever heard of fasting? ‘Yes,’ I said. "I had. Once when I was about twenty and staying at a farm in Missouri, during a bad flu I actually did fast, mainly because I was too sick to take anything but water for nearly one week.’
"Why do you ask?" I demanded.
"If you would fast, you will start feeling really good as soon as the fast is over." she said.
"Fast? How long?"
"Some have fasted for a month or even longer," she said. Then she observed my crestfallen expression and added, "Even a couple of weeks would make an enormous difference."
It just so happened that I was in between set-up stages for a new mail-order business I was starting and right then I did have a couple of weeks when I was virtually free of responsibility. I could also face the idea of not eating for a couple of weeks. "Okay!" I said somewhat impulsively. "I could fast for two weeks. If I start right now maybe even three, depending on how my schedule works out."
So in short order I was given several small books about fasting to read at home and was mentally preparing myself for several weeks of severe privation, my only sustenance to be water and herb tea without sweetener. And then came the clinker.
"Have you ever heard of colonics?" she asked sweetly.
"Yes. Weird practice, akin to anal sex or something?"
"Not at all," she responded. "Colonics are essential during fasting or you will have spells when you’ll feel terrible. Only colonics make water fasting comfortable and safe."
Then followed some explanation about bowel cleansing (and another little book to take home) and soon I was agreeing to get my body over to her place for a colonic every two or three days during the fasting period, the first colonic scheduled for the next afternoon. I’ll spare you a detailed description of my first fast with colonics; you’ll read about others shortly. In the end I withstood the boredom of water fasting for 17 days. During the fast I had about 7 colonics. I ended up feeling great, much trimmer, with an enormous rebirth of energy. And when I resumed eating it turned out to be slightly easier to control my dietary habits and appetites.
Thus began my practice of an annual health-building water fast. Once a year, at whatever season it seemed propitious, I’d set aside a couple of weeks to heal my body. While fasting I’d slowly drive myself over to Great Oaks School for colonics every other day. By the end of my third annual fast in 1981, Isabelle and I had become great friends. About this same time Isabelle’s relationship with her first husband, Douglas Moser, had disintegrated. Some months later, Isabelle and I became partners. And then we married.
In 1982 Isabelle sold Great Oaks School and moved to my homestead. Her colonic machine was installed in our bathroom—could a healthy home be run without one? Now, with my own personal hygienic physician in residence, how could I not continue my practice of a more-or-less annual fast. So I did, but with one change. Isabelle would give back rubs for love, would exchange massage for massage, but she would not give me any more colonics. Administering colonics was rather unpleasant, and were something she’d only do if it were really necessary and if she were paid for so-doing. She showed me how to self-administer my own.
And since I now was living with both a hygienic doctor and her colonic machine, I decided to find out how many colonics it might take to completely empty my colon of old, encrusted fecal matter and totally repair the ravages of forty years on a civilized diet. Thus began a short period when I self-administered a thorough colonic every day. Initially I’d thought a month would do it, but Isabelle only chuckled at my naieveté; my daily colonics went on for over three months before one entire week went by without any old deposits of fecal matter leaving my body. My colon had become entirely cleansed. Thus it was that I developed a personal appreciation for colon cleansing that few have.
My regular fasts continued through 1984, by which time I had recovered my fundamental organic vigor and had retrained my dietary habits. About 1983 Isabelle and I also began using Life Extension megavitamins as a therapy against the aging process. Feeling so much better I began to find the incredibly boring weeks of prophylactic fasting too difficult to motivate myself to do, and I stopped. Since that time I fast only when acutely ill. Generally less than one week on water handles any non-optimum health condition I’ve had since ‘84. I am only 54 years old as I write these words, so I hope it will be many, many years before I find myself in the position where I have to fast for an extended period to deal with a serious or life-threatening condition.
I am a kind of person the Spanish call autodidactico, meaning that I prefer to teach myself. I had already learned the fine art of self-employment and general small-business practice that way, as well as radio and electronic theory, typography and graphic design, the garden seed business, horticulture, and agronomy. When Isabelle moved in with me she also brought most of Great Oak’s extensive library, including very hard to obtain copies of the works of the early hygienic doctors. Naturally I studied her books intensely.
Isabelle also brought her medical practice into our house. At first it was only a few loyal local clients who continued to consult with her on an out-patient basis, but after a few years, the demands for residential care from people who were seriously and sometimes life-threateningly sick grew irresistibly, and I found myself sharing our family house with a parade of really sick people. True, I was not their doctor, but because her residential clients became temporary parts of our family, I helped support and encourage our residents through their fasting process. I’m a natural teacher (and how-to-do-it writer), so I found myself explaining many aspects of hygienic medicine to Isabelle’s clients, while having a first-hand opportunity to observe for myself the healing process at work. Thus it was that I became the doctor’s assistant and came to practice second-hand hygienic medicine.
In 1994, when Isabelle had reached the age of 54, she began to think about passing on her life’s accumulation of healing wisdom by writing a book. She had no experience at writing for the popular market, her only major writing being a Ph.D. dissertation. I on the other hand had published seven books about vegetable gardening. And I grasped the essentials of her wisdom as well as any non-practitioner could. So we took a summer off and rented a house in rural Costa Rica, where I helped Isabelle put down her thoughts. When we returned to the States, I fired-up my "big-mac" and composed this manuscript into a rough book format that was given to some of her clients to get what is trendily called these days, "feedback."
But before we could completely finish her book, Isabelle became dangerously ill and after a long, painful struggle with cancer, she died. After I resurfaced from the worst of my grief and loss, I decided to finish her book. Fortunately, the manuscript needed little more than polishing. I am telling the reader these things because many ghost-written books end up having little direct connection with the originator of the thoughts. Not so in this case. And unlike many ghost writers, I had a long and loving apprenticeship with the author. At every step of our colaboration on this book I have made every effort to communicate Isabelle’s viewpoints in the way she would speak, not my own. Dr. Isabelle Moser was for many years my dearest friend. I have worked on this book to help her pass her understanding on.
Many people consider death to be a complete invalidation of a healing arts practitioner. I don’t. Coping with her own dicey health had been a major motivator for Isabelle’s interest in healing others. She will tell you more about it in the chapters to come. Isabelle had been fending off cancer for thirty years. I view that 30 plus years of defeating Death as a great success rather than consider her ultimate defeat as a failure.
Isabelle Moser was born in 1940 and died in 1996. I think the greatest accomplishment of her 56 years was to meld virtually all available knowledge about health and healing into a workable and most importantly, a simple model that allowed her to have amazing success. Her "system" is simple enough that even a generally well-educated non-medico like me can grasp it. And use it without consulting a doctor every time a symptom appears.
How I Became a Hygienist
From The Hygienic Dictionary
Doctors.  In the matter of disease and healing, the people have been treated as serfs. The doctor is a dictator who knows it all, and the people are stupid, dumb, driven cattle, fit for nothing except to be herded together, bucked and gagged when necessary to force medical opinion down their throats or under their skins. I found that professional dignity was more often pomposity, sordid bigotry and gilded ignorance. The average physician is a fear-monger, if he is anything. He goes about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may scare to death.Dr. John. H. Tllden, Impaired Health: Its Cause and Cure, Vol. 1, 1921.  Today we are not only in the Nuclear Age but also the Antibiotic Age. Unhappily, too, this is the Dark Age of Medicine—an age in which many of my colleagues, when confronted with a patient, consult a volume which rivals the Manhattan telephone directory in size. This book contains the names of thou sands upon thousands of drugs used to alleviate the distressing symptoms of a host of diseased states of the body. The doctor then decides which pink or purple or baby-blue pill to prescribe for the patient. This is not, in my opinion, the practice of medicine. Far too many of these new "miracle" drugs are introduced with fanfare and then reveled as lethal in character, to be silently discarded for newer and more powerful drugs. Dr. Henry Bieler: Food is Your Best Medicine; 1965.
I have two reasons for writing this book. One, to help educate the general public about the virtues of natural medicine. The second, to encourage the next generation of natural healers. Especially the second because it is not easy to become a natural hygienist; there is no school or college or licensing board.
Most AMA-affiliated physicians follow predictable career paths, straight well-marked roads, climbing through apprenticeships in established institutions to high financial rewards and social status. Practitioners of natural medicine are not awarded equally high status, rarely do we become wealthy, and often, naturopaths arrive at their profession rather late in life after following the tangled web of their own inner light. So I think it is worth a few pages to explain how I came to practice a dangerous profession and why I have accepted the daily risks of police prosecution and civil liability without possibility of insurance.
Sometimes it seems to me that I began this lifetime powerfully predisposed to heal others. So, just for childhood warm-ups I was born into a family that would be much in need of my help. As I’ve always disliked an easy win, to make rendering that help even more difficult, I decided to be the youngest child, with two older brothers.
A pair of big, capable brothers might have guided and shielded me. But my life did not work out that way. The younger of my two brothers, three years ahead of me, was born with many health problems. He was weak, small, always ill, and in need of protection from other children, who are generally rough and cruel. My father abandoned our family shortly after I was born; it fell to my mother to work to help support us. Before I was adolescent my older brother left home to pursue a career in the Canadian Air Force.
Though I was the youngest, I was by far the healthiest. Consequently, I had to pretty much raise myself while my single mother struggled to earn a living in rural western Canada. This circumstance probably reinforced my constitutional predilection for independent thought and action. Early on I started to protect my "little" brother, making sure the local bullies didn’t take advantage of him. I learned to fight big boys and win. I also helped him acquire simple skills, ones that most kids grasp without difficulty, such as swimming, bike riding, tree climbing, etc.
And though not yet adolescent, I had to function as a responsible adult in our household. Stressed by anger over her situation and the difficulties of earning our living as a country school teacher (usually in remote one-room schools), my mother’s health deteriorated rapidly. As she steadily lost energy and became less able to take care of the home, I took over more and more of the cleaning, cooking, and learned how to manage her—a person who feels terrible but must work to survive.
During school hours my mother was able to present a positive attitude, and was truly a gifted teacher. However, she had a personality quirk. She obstinately preferred to help the most able students become even more able, but she had little desire to help those with marginal mentalities. This predilection got her into no end of trouble with local school boards; inevitably it seemed the District Chairman would have a stupid, badly-behaved child that my mother refused to cater to. Several times we had to move in the middle of the school year when she was dismissed without notice for "insubordination." This would inevitably happen on the frigid Canadian Prairies during mid-winter.
At night, exhausted by the day’s efforts, my mother’s positiveness dissipated and she allowed her mind to drift into negative thoughts, complaining endlessly about my irresponsible father and about how much she disliked him for treating her so badly. These emotions and their irresponsible expression were very difficult for me to deal with as a child, but it taught me to work on diverting someone’s negative thoughts, and to avoid getting dragged into them myself, skills I had to use continually much later on when I began to manage mentally and physically ill clients on a residential basis.
My own personal health problems had their genesis long before my own birth. Our diet was awful, with very little fresh fruit or vegetables. We normally had canned, evaporated milk, though there were a few rare times when raw milk and free-range fertile farm eggs were available from neighbors. Most of my foods were heavily salted or sugared, and we ate a great deal of fat in the form of lard. My mother had little money but she had no idea that some of the most nutritious foods are also the least expensive.
It is no surprise to me that considering her nutrient-poor, fat-laden diet and stressful life, my mother eventually developed severe gall bladder problems. Her degeneration caused progressively more and more severe pain until she had a cholecystectomy. The gallbladder’s profound deterioration had damaged her liver as well, seeming to her surgeon to require the removal of half her liver. After this surgical insult she had to stop working and never regained her health. Fortunately, by this time all her children were independent.
I had still more to overcome. My eldest brother had a nervous breakdown while working on the DEW Line (he was posted on the Arctic Circle watching radar screens for a possible incoming attack from Russia). I believe his collapse actually began with our childhood nutrition. While in the Arctic all his foods came from cans. He also was working long hours in extremely cramped quarters with no leave for months in a row, never going outside because of the cold, or having the benefit of natural daylight.
When he was still in the acute stage of his illness (I was still a teenager myself) I went to the hospital where my bother was being held, and talked the attending psychiatrist into immediately discharging him into my care. The physician also agreed to refrain from giving him electroshock therapy, a commonly used treatment for mental conditions in Canadian hospitals at that time. Somehow I knew the treatment they were using was wrong.
I brought my brother home still on heavy doses of thorazine. The side effects of this drug were so severe he could barely exist: blurred vision, clenched jaw, trembling hands, and restless feet that could not be kept still. These are common problems with the older generation of psycho tropic medications, generally controlled to some extent with still other drugs like cogentin (which he was taking too).
My brother steadily reduced his tranquilizers until he was able to think and do a few things. On his own he started taking a lot of B vitamins and eating whole grains. I do not know exactly why he did this, but I believe he was following his intuition. (I personally did not know enough to suggest a natural approach at that time.) In any case after three months on vitamins and an improved diet he no long needed any medication, and was delighted to be free of their side effects. He remained somewhat emotionally fragile for a few more months but he soon returned to work, and has had no mental trouble from that time to this day. This was the beginning of my interest in mental illness, and my first exposure to the limitations of ‘modern’ psychiatry.
I always preferred self-discipline to being directed by others. So I took every advantage of having a teacher for a mother and studied at home instead of being bored silly in a classroom. In Canada of that era you didn’t have to go to high school to enter university, you only had to pass the written government entrance exams. At age 16, never having spent a single day in high school, I passed the university entrance exams with a grade of 97 percent. At that point in my life I really wanted to go to medical school and become a doctor, but I didn’t have the financial backing to embark on such a long and costly course of study, so I settled on a four year nursing course at the University of Alberta, with all my expenses paid in exchange for work at the university teaching hospital.
At the start of my nurses training I was intensely curious about everything in the hospital: birth, death, surgery, illness, etc. I found most births to be joyful, at least when everything came out all right. Most people died very alone in the hospital, terrified if they were conscious, and all seemed totally unprepared for death, emotionally or spiritually. None of the hospital staff wanted to be with a dying person except me; most hospital staff were unable to confront death any more bravely than those who were dying. So I made it a point of being at the death bed. The doctors and nurses found it extremely unpleasant to have to deal with the preparation of the dead body for the morgue; this chore usually fell to me also. I did not mind dead bodies. They certainly did not mind me!
I had the most difficulty accepting surgery. There were times when surgery was clearly a life saving intervention, particularly when the person had incurred a traumatic injury, but there were many other cases when, though the knife was the treatment of choice, the results were disastrous.
Whenever I think of surgery, my recollections always go to a man with cancer of the larynx. At that time the University of Alberta had the most respected surgeons and cancer specialists in the country. To treat cancer they invariably did surgery, plus radiation and chemotherapy to eradicate all traces of cancerous tissue in the body, but they seemed to forget there also was a human being residing in that very same cancerous body. This particularly unfortunate man came into our hospital as a whole human being, though sick with cancer. He could still speak, eat, swallow, and looked normal. But after surgery he had no larynx, nor esophagus, nor tongue, and no lower jaw.
The head surgeon, who, by the way, was considered to be a virtual god amongst gods, came back from the operating room smiling from ear to ear, announcing proudly that he had ‘got all the cancer’. But when I saw the result I thought he’d done a butcher’s job. The victim couldn’t speak at all, nor eat except through a tube, and he looked grotesque. Worst, he had lost all will to live. I thought the man would have been much better off to keep his body parts as long as he could, and die a whole person able to speak, eating if he felt like it, being with friends and family without inspiring a gasp of horror.
I was sure there must be better ways of dealing with degenerative conditions such as cancer, but I had no idea what they might be or how to find out. There was no literature on medical alternatives in the university library, and no one in the medical school ever hinted at the possibility except when the doctors took jabs at chiropractors. Since no one else viewed the situation as I did I started to think I might be in the wrong profession.
It also bothered me that patients were not respected, were not people; they were considered a "case" or a "condition." I was frequently reprimanded for wasting time talking to patients, trying to get acquainted. The only place in the hospital where human contact was acceptable was the psychiatric ward. So I enjoyed the rotation to psychiatry for that reason, and decided that I would like to make psychiatry or psychology my specialty.
By the time I finished nursing school, it was clear that the hospital was not for me. I especially didn’t like its rigid hierarchical system, where all bowed down to the doctors. The very first week in school we were taught that when entering a elevator, make sure that the doctor entered first, then the intern, then the charge nurse. Followed by, in declining order of status: graduate nurses, third year nurses, second year nurses, first year nurses, then nursing aids, then orderlies, then ward clerks, and only then, the cleaning staff. No matter what the doctor said, the nurse was supposed to do it immediately without question—a very military sort of organization.
Nursing school wasn’t all bad. I learned how to take care of all kinds of people with every variety of illness. I demonstrated for myself that simple nursing care could support a struggling body through its natural healing process. But the doctor-gods tended to belittle and denigrate nurses. No wonder—so much of nursing care consists of unpleasant chores like bed baths, giving enemas and dealing with other bodily functions.
I also studied the state-of-the-art science concerning every conceivable medical condition, its symptoms, and treatment. At the university hospital nurses were required to take the same pre-med courses as the doctors—including anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, and pharmacology. Consequently, I think it is essential for holistic healers to first ground themselves in the basic sciences of the body’s physiological systems. There is also much valuable data in standard medical texts about the digestion, assimilation, and elimination. To really understand illness, the alternative practitioner must be fully aware of the proper functioning of the cardiovascular/pulmonary system, the autonomic and voluntary nervous system, the endocrine system, plus the mechanics and detailed nomenclature of the skeleton, muscles, tendons and ligaments. Also it is helpful to know the conventional medical models for treating various disorders, because they do appear to work well for some people, and should not be totally invali dated simply on the basis of one’s philosophical or religious viewpoints.
Many otherwise well-meaning holistic practitioners, lacking an honest grounding in science, sometimes express their understanding of the human body in non-scientific, metaphysical terms that can seem absurd to the well-instructed. I am not denying here that there is a spiritual aspect to health and illness; I believe there are energy flows in and around the body that can effect physiological functioning. I am only suggesting that to discuss illness without hard science is like calling oneself a abstract artist because the painter has no ability to even do a simple, accurate representational drawing of a human figure.
Though hospital life had already become distasteful to me I was young and poor when I graduated. So after nursing school I buckled down and worked just long enough to save enough money to obtain a masters degree in Clinical Psychology from the University of British Columbia. Then I started working at Riverview Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., doing diagnostic testing, and group therapy, mostly with psychotic people. At Riverview I had a three-year-long opportunity to observe the results of conventional psychiatric treatment.
The first thing I noticed was the ‘revolving door’ phenomena. That is, people go out, and then they’re back in, over and over again, demonstrating that standard treatment—drugs, electroshock and group therapy—had been ineffective. Worse, the treatments given at Riverside were dangerous, often with long term side effects that were more damaging than the disease being treated. It felt like nursing school all over again; in the core of my being I somehow knew there was a better way, a more effective way of helping people to regain their mental health. Feeling like an outsider, I started investigating the hospital’s nooks and crannies. Much to my surprise, in a back ward, one not open to the public, I noticed a number of people with bright purple skins.
I asked the staff about this and every one of the psychiatrists denied these patients existed. This outright and widely-agreed-upon lie really raised my curiosity. Finally after pouring through the journals in the hospital library I found an article describing psycho tropic-drug-induced disruptions of melatonin (the dark skin pigment). Thorazine, a commonly used psychiatric drug, when taken in high doses over a long period of time would do this. Excess melatonin eventually was deposited in vital organs such as the heart and the liver, causing death.
I found it especially upsetting to see patients receive electroshock treatments. These violent, physician-induced traumas did seem to disrupt dysfunctional thought patterns such as an impulse to commit suicide, but afterwards the victim couldn’t remember huge parts of their life or even recall who they were. Like many other dangerous medical treatments, electroshock can save life but it can also take life away by obliterating identity.
According the Hippocratic Oath, the first criteria of a treatment is that it should do no harm. Once again I found myself trapped in a system that made me feel severe protest. Yet none of these specialists or university professors, or academic libraries had any information about alternatives. Worse, none of these mind-doctor-gods were even looking for better treatments.
Though unpleasant and profoundly disappointing, my experience as a mental hospital psychologist was, like being in nursing school, also very valuable. Not only did I learn how to diagnose, and evaluate the severity of mental illness and assess the dangerousness of the mentally ill, I learned to understand them, to feel comfortable with them, and found that I was never afraid of them. Fearlessness is a huge advantage. The mentally ill seem to have a heightened ability to spot fear in others. If they sense that you are afraid they frequently enjoy terrorizing you. When psychotic people know you feel comfortable with them, and probably understand a great deal of what they are experiencing, when they know that you can and intend to control them, they experience a huge sense of relief. I could always get mentally ill people to tell me what was really going on in their heads when no one else could get them to communicate.
A few years later I married an American and became the Mental Health Coordinator for Whatcom County, the northwestern corner of Washington State. I handled all the legal proceedings in the county for mentally ill people. After treatment in the state mental hospital I supervised their reentry into the community, and attempted to provide some follow up. This work further confirmed my conclusions that in most cases the mentally ill weren’t helped by conventional treatment. Most of them rapidly became social problems after discharge. It seemed the mental hospital’s only ethically defensible function was incarceration—providing temporary relief for the family and community from the mentally ill person’s destructiveness.
I did see a few people recover in the mental health system. Inevitably these were young, and had not yet become institutionalized, a term describing someone who comes to like being in the hospital because confinement feels safe. Hospitalization can mean three square meals and a bed. It frequently means an opportunity to have a sex life (many female inmates are highly promiscuous). Many psychotics are also criminal; the hospital seems far better to them than jail. Many chronically mentally ill are also experts at manipulating the system. When homeless, they deliberately get hospitalized for some outrageous deed just before winter. They then "recover" when the fine weather of spring returns.
After a year as Mental Health Co-ordinator, I had enough of the "system" and decided that it was as good a time as any to return to school for a Ph.D., this time at University. of Oregon where I studied clinical and counseling psychology and gerontology. While in graduate school I became pregnant and had my first child. Not surprisingly, this experience profoundly changed my consciousness. I realized that it had perhaps been all right for me to be somewhat irresponsible about my own nutrition and health, but that it was not okay to inflict poor nutrition on my unborn child. At that time I was addicted to salty, deep-fat fried corn chips and a diet pop. I thought I had to have these so-called foods every day. I tended to eat for taste, in other words, what I liked, not necessarily what would give me the best nutrition. I was also eating a lot of what most people would consider healthy food: meat, cheese, milk, whole grains, nuts, vegetables, and fruits.
My constitution had seemed strong and vital enough through my twenties to allow this level of dietary irresponsibility. During my early 20s I had even recovered from a breast cancer by sheer will power. (I will discuss this later.) So before my pregnancy I had not questioned my eating habits.
As my body changed and adapted itself to it’s new purpose I began visiting the libraries and voraciously read everything obtainable under the topic of nutrition—all the texts, current magazines, nutritional journals, and health newsletters. My childhood habit of self-directed study paid off. I discovered alternative health magazines like Let’s Live, Prevention, Organic Gardening, and Best Ways, and promptly obtained every back issue since they were first published. Along the way I ran into articles by Linus Pauling on vitamin C, and sent away for all of his books, one of these was co-authored with David Hawkins, called The Orthomolecular Approach to Mental Disorders.
This book had a profound effect on me. I instantly recognized that it was Truth with a capital "T", although the orthomolecular approach was clearly in opposition to the established medical model and contradicted everything I had ever learned as a student or professional. Here at last was the exciting alternative approach to treating mental disorders I had so long sought. I filed this information away, waiting for an opportunity to use it. And I began to study all the references in The Orthomolecular Approach to Mental Disorders dealing with correcting the perceptual functioning of psychotic people using natural substances.
In the course of delving through libraries and book stores, I also came across the Mokelumne Hill Publishing Company (now defunct). This obscure publisher reprinted many unusual and generally crudely reproduced out-of-print books about raw foods diets, hygienic medicine, fruitarianism, fasting, breathairianism, plus some works discussing spiritual aspects of living that were far more esoteric than I had ever thought existed. I decided that weird or not, I might as well find out everything potentially useful. So I spent a lot of money ordering their books. Some of Mokelumne Hill’s material really expanded my thoughts. Though much of it seemed totally outrageous, in every book there usually was one line, one paragraph, or if I was lucky one whole chapter that rang true for me.
Recognizing capital "T" Truth when one sees it is one of the most important abilities a person can have. Unfortunately, every aspect of our mass educational system attempts to invalidate this skill. Students are repeatedly told that derivation from recognized authority and/or the scientific method are the only valid means to assess the validity of data. But there is another parallel method to determine the truth or falsehood of information: Knowing. We Know by the simple method of looking at something and recognizing its correctness. It is a spiritual ability. I believe we all have it. But in my case, I never lost the ability to Know because I almost never attended school.
Thus it is that I am absolutely certain How and When to Be Your Own Doctor will be recognized as Truth by some of my readers and rejected as unscientific, unsubstantiated, or anecdotal information by others. I accept this limitation on my ability to teach. If what you read in the following pages seems True for you, great! If it doesn’t, there is little or nothing I could do to further convince.
I return now to the time of my first pregnancy. In the face of all these new Truths I was discovering concerning health and nutrition, I made immediate changes in my diet. I severely reduced my animal protein intake and limited cooked food in general. I began taking vitamin and mineral supplements. I also choose a highly atypical Ph.D. dissertation topic, "The Orthomolecular Treatment of Mental Disorders." This fifty cent word, orthomolecular, basically means readjusting the body chemistry by providing unusually large amounts of specific nutrient substances normally found in the human body (vitamins and minerals). Orthomolecular therapy for mental disorders is supported by good diet, by removal of allergy-producing substances, by control of hypoglycemia, plus counseling, and provision of a therapeutic environment.
My proposed dissertation topic met with nothing but opposition. The professors on my doctoral committee had never heard of the word orthomolecular, and all of them were certain it wasn’t an accepted, traditional area of research. Research in academia is supposed to be based on the works of a previous researchers who arrived at hypothesis based on data obtained by strictly following scientific methodology. "Scientific" data requires control groups, matched populations, statistical analysis, etc. In my case there was no previous work my dissertation committee would accept, because the available data did not originate from a medical school or psychology department they recognized.
Due to a lot of determination and perseverance I finally did succeed in getting my thesis accepted, and triumphed over my doctoral committee. And I graduated with a dual Ph.D. in both counseling psychology and gerontology. My ambition was to establish the orthomolecular approach on the west coast. At that time I knew of only two clinics in the world actively using nutritional therapy. One was in New York and the other, was a Russian experimental fasting program for schizophrenics. Doctors Hoffer and Osmond had used orthomolecular therapy in a Canadian mental hospital as early as 1950, but they had both gone on to other things.
The newly graduated Dr. Isabelle Moser, Ph.D. was at this point actually an unemployed mother, renting an old, end-of-the-road, far-in-the-country farmhouse; by then I had two small daughters. I strongly preferred to take care of my own children instead of turning them over to a baby sitter. My location and my children made it difficult for me to work any place but at home. So naturally, I made my family home into a hospital for psychotic individuals. I started out with one resident patient at a time, using no psychiatric drugs. I had very good results and learned a tremendous amount with each client, because each one was different and each was my first of each type.
With any psychotic residing in your home it is foolhardy to become inattentive even for one hour, including what are normally considered sleeping hours. I have found the most profoundly ill mentally ill person still to be very crafty and aware even though they may appear to be unconscious or nonresponsive. Psychotics are also generally very intuitive, using faculties most of us use very little or not at all. For example one of my first patients, Christine, believed that I was trying to electrocute her. Though she would not talk, she repeatedly drew pictures depicting this. She had, quite logically within her own reality, decided to kill me with a butcher knife in self-defense before I succeeded in killing her. I had to disarm Christine several times, hide all the household knives, change my sleeping spot frequently, and generally stay sufficiently awake at night to respond to slight, creaky sounds that could indicate the approach of stealthily placed small bare feet.
With orthomolecular treatment Christine improved but also became more difficult to live with as she got better. For example, when she came out of catatonic-like immobility, she became extremely promiscuous, and was determined to sleep with my husband. In fact she kept crawling into bed with him with no clothes on. Either we had to forcefully remove her or the bed would be handed over to her—without a resident man. Christine then decided (logically) that I was an obstacle to her sex life, and once more set out to kill me. This stage also passed, eventually and Christine got tolerably well.
Christine’s healing process is quite typical and demonstrates why orthomolecular treatment is not popular. As a psychotic genuinely improves, their aberrated behavior often becomes more aggressive initially and thus, harder to control. It seems far more convenient for all concerned to suppress psychotic behavior with stupefying drugs. A drugged person can be controlled when they’re in a sort of perpetual sedation but then, they never get genuinely well, either.
Another early patient, Elizabeth, gave me a particularly valuable lesson, one that changed the direction of my career away from curing insanity and toward regular medicine. Elizabeth was a catatonic schizophrenic who did not speak or move, except for some waxy posturing. She had to be fed, dressed and pottied.
Elizabeth was a pretty little brunette who got through a couple of years of college and then spent several years in a state mental hospital. She had recently run away from a hospital, and had been found wandering aimlessly or standing rigidly, apparently staring fixedly at nothing. The emergency mental health facility in a small city nearby called me up and asked if I would take her. I said I would, and drove into town to pick her up. I found Elizabeth in someone’s back yard staring at a bush. It took me three hours to persuade her to get in my car, but that effort turned out to be the easiest part of the next months.
Elizabeth would do nothing for herself, including going to the bathroom. I managed to get some nutrition into her, and change her clothes, but that was about all I could do. Eventually she wore me down; I drifted off for an hour’s nap instead of watching her all night. Elizabeth slipped away in the autumn darkness and vanished. Needless to say, when daylight came I desperately searched the buildings, the yard, gardens, woods, and even the nearby river. I called in a missing person report and the police looked as well. We stopped searching after a week because there just wasn’t any place else to look. Then, into my kitchen, right in front of our round eyes and gaping mouths, walked a smiling, pleasant, talkative young woman who was quite sane.
She said, "Hello I’m Elizabeth! I’m sorry I was such a hassle last week, and thank you for trying to take care of me so well. I was too sick to know any better." She said she had gone out our back door the week before and crawled under a pile of fallen leaves on the ground in our back yard with a black tarp over them. We had looked under the tarp at least fifty times during the days past, but never thought to look under the leaves as well.
This amazing occurrence made my head go bong to say the least; it was obvious that Elizabeth had not been ‘schizophrenic’ because of her genetics, nor because of stress, nor malnutrition, nor hypoglycemia, nor because of any of the causes of mental illness I had previously learned to identify and rectify, but because of food allergies. Elizabeth was spontaneously cured because she’d had nothing to eat for a week. The composting pile of leaves hiding her had produced enough heat to keep her warm at night and the heap contained sufficient moisture to keep her from getting too dehydrated. She looked wonderful, with clear shiny blue eyes, clear skin with good color, though she was slightly slimmer than when I had last seen her.
I then administered Coca’s Pulse Test (see the Appendix) and quickly discovered Elizabeth was wildly intolerant to wheat and dairy products. Following the well known health gurus of that time like Adelle Davis, I had self-righteously been feeding her home-made whole wheat bread from hand-ground Organic wheat, and home-made cultured yogurt from our own organically-fed goats. But by doing this I had only maintained her insanity. Elizabeth was an intelligent young woman, and once she understood what was causing her problems, she had no trouble completely eliminating certain foods from her diet. She shuddered at the thought that had she not come to my place and discovered the problem, she would probably have died on the back ward of some institution for the chronically mentally ill.
As for me, I will always be grateful to her for opening my eyes and mind a little wider. Elizabeth’s case showed me why Russian schizophrenics put on a 30 day water fast had such a high recovery rate. I also remembered all the esoteric books I had read extolling the benefits of fasting. I also remembered two occasions during my own youth when I had eaten little or nothing for approximately a month each without realizing that I was "fasting." And doing this had done me nothing but good.
Once when I was thirteen my mother sent my "little" brother and I to a residential fundamentalist bible school. I did not want to go there, although my brother did; he had decided he wanted to be a evangelical minister. I hated bible school because I was allowed absolutely no independence of action. We were required to attend church services three times a day during the week, and five services on Sunday. As I became more and more unhappy, I ate less and less; in short order I wasn’t eating at all. The school administration became concerned after I had dropped about 30 pounds in two months, notified my mother and sent me home. I returned to at-home schooling. I also resumed eating.
I fasted one other time for about a month when I was 21. It happened because I had nothing to do while visiting my mother before returning to University except help with housework and prepare meals. The food available in the backwoods of central B.C. didn’t appeal to me because it was mostly canned vegetables, canned milk, canned moose meat and bear meat stews with lots of gravy and greasy potatoes. I decided to pass on it altogether. I remember rather enjoying that time as a fine rest and I left feeling very good ready to take on the world full force ahead. At that time I didn’t know there was such a thing as fasting, it just happened that way.
After Elizabeth went on her way, I decided to experimentally fast myself. I consumed only water for two weeks. But I must have had counter intentions to this fast because I found myself frequently having dreams about sugared plums, and egg omelets, etc. And I didn’t end up feeling much better after this fast was over (although I didn’t feel any worse either), because I foolishly broke the fast with one of my dream omelets. And I knew better! Every book I’d ever read on fasting stated how important it is to break a fast gradually, eating only easy-to-digest foods for days or weeks before resuming one’s regular diet.
From this experiment I painfully learned how important it is to break a fast properly. Those eggs just didn’t feel right, like I had an indigestible stone in my belly. I felt very tired after the omelet, not energized one bit by the food. I immediately cut back my intake to raw fruits and vegetables while the eggs cleared out of my system. After a few days on raw food I felt okay, but I never did regain the shine I had achieved just before I resumed eating.
This is one of the many fine things about fasting, it allows you to get in much better communication with your own body, so that you can hear it when it objects to something you’re putting in it or doing to it. It is not easy to acquire this degree of sensitivity to your body unless you remove all food for a sufficiently long period; this allows the body to get a word in edgewise that we are willing and able to listen to. Even when we do hear the body protesting, we frequently decide to turn a deaf ear, at least until the body starts producing severe pain or some other symptom that we can’t ignore.
Within a few years after Elizabeth’s cure I had handily repaired quite a few mentally ill people in a harmless way no one had heard of; many new people were knocking at my door wanting to be admitted to my drug free, home-based treatment program. So many in fact that my ability to accommodate them was overwhelmed. I decided that it was necessary to move to a larger facility and we bought an old, somewhat run-down estate that I called Great Oaks School of Health because of the magnificent oak trees growing in the front yard.
At Great Oaks initially I continued working with psychotics, employing fasting as a tool, especially in those cases with obvious food allergies as identified by Coca’s Pulse Test, because it only takes five days for a fasting body to eliminate all traces of an allergic food substance and return to normal functioning. If the person was so severely hypoglycemic that they were unable to tolerate a water fast, an elimination diet (to be described in detail later) was employed, while stringently avoiding all foods usually found to be allergy producing.
I also decided that if I was going to employ fasting as my primary medicine, it was important for me to have a more intense personal experience with it, because in the process of reviewing the literature on fasting I saw that there were many different approaches, each one staunchly defended by highly partisan advocates. For example, the capital "N" Natural, capital "H" Hygienists, such a Herbert Shelton, aggressively assert that only a pure water fast can be called a fast. Sheltonites contend that juice fasting as advocated by Paavo Airola, for example, is not a fast but rather a modified diet without the benefits of real fasting. Colon cleansing was another area of profound disagreement among the authorities. Shelton strongly insisted that enemas and colonics should not be employed; the juice advocates tend to strongly recommend intestinal cleansing.
To be able to intelligently take a position in this maze of conflict I decided to first try every system on myself. It seems to me that if I can be said to really own anything in this life it is my own body, and I have the absolute right to experiment with it as long as I’m not irresponsible about important things such as care of my kids. I also feel strongly that it was unethical to ask anyone to do anything that I was not willing or able to do myself. Just imagine what would happen if all medical doctors applied this principal in their practice of medicine, if all surgeons did it too!
I set out to do a complete and fully rigorous water fast according to the Natural Hygiene model—only pure water and bed rest (with no colon cleansing) until hunger returns, something the hygienists all assured me would happen when the body had completed its detoxification process. The only aspect of a hygienic fast I could not fulfill properly was the bed rest part; unfortunately I was in sole charge of a busy holistic treatment center (and two little girls); there were things I had to do, though I did my chores and duties at a very slow pace with many rest periods.
I water fasted for 42 days dropping from 135 pounds to 85 pounds on a 5’ 7" frame. At the end I looked like a Nazi concentration camp victim. I tended to hide when people came to the door, because the sight of all my bones scared them to death. Despite my assurances visitors assumed I was trying to commit suicide. In any case I persevered, watching my body change, observing my emotions, my mental functioning, and my spiritual awareness. I thought, if Moses could fast for 42 days so can I, even though the average length of a full water fast to skeletal weight for a person that is not overweight is more in the order of 30 days. I broke the fast with small amounts of carrot juice diluted 50/50 with water and stayed on that regimen for two more weeks.
After I resumed eating solid food it took six weeks to regain enough strength to be able to run the same distance in the same time I had before fasting, and it took me about six months to regain my previous weight. My eyes and skin had become exceptionally clear, and some damaged areas of my body such as my twice-broken shoulder had undergone considerable healing. I ate far smaller meals after the fast, but food was so much more efficiently absorbed that I got a lot more miles to the gallon from what I did eat. I also became more aware when my body did not want me to eat something. After the fast, if I ignored my body’s protest and persisted, it would immediately create some unpleasant sensation that quickly persuaded me to curb my appetite.
I later experimented with other approaches to fasting, with juice fasts, with colon cleansing, and began to establish my own eclectic approach to fasting and detoxification, using different types of programs for different conditions and adjusting for psychological tolerances. I’ll have a lot more to say about fasting.
After my own rigorous fasting experience I felt capable of supervising extended fasts on very ill or very overweight people. Great Oaks was gradually shifting from being a place that mentally ill people came to regain their sanity to being a spa where anyone who wanted to improve their health could come for a few days, some weeks or even a few months. It had been my observation from the beginning that the mentally ill people in my program also improved remarkably in physical health; it was obvious that my method was good for anyone. Even people with good health could feel better.
By this time I’d also had enough of psychotic people anyway, and longed for sane, responsible company.
So people started to come to Great Oaks School of Health to rest up from a demanding job, to drop some excess weight, and generally to eliminate the adverse effects of destructive living and eating habits. I also began to get cancer patients, ranging from those who had just been diagnosed and did not wish to go the AMA-approved medical route of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation, to those with well-advanced cancer who had been sent home to die after receiving all of the above treatments and were now ready to give alternative therapies a try since they expected to die anyway. I also had a few people who were beyond help because their vital organs had been so badly damaged that they knew they were dying, and they wanted to die in peace without medical intervention, in a supportive hospice cared for by people who could confront death.
Great Oaks School was intentionally named a "school" of health partially to deflect the attentions of the AMA. It is, after all, entirely legal to teach about how to maintain health, about how to prevent illness, and how to go about making yourself well once you were sick. Education could not be called "practicing medicine without a license." Great Oaks was also structured as a school because I wanted to both learn and teach. Toward this end we started putting out a holistic health newsletter and offering classes and seminars to the public on various aspects of holistic health. From the early 1970s through the early 1980s I invited a succession of holistic specialists to reside at GOSH, or to teach at Great Oaks while living elsewhere. These teachers not only provided a service to the community, but they all became my teachers as well. I apprenticed myself to each one in turn.
There came and went a steady parade of alternative practitioners of the healing arts and assorted forms of metapsychology: acupuncturists, acupressurists, reflexologists, polarity therapists, massage therapists, postural integrationists, Rolfers, Feldenkries therapists, neurolinguistic programmers, biokinesiologists, iridologists, psychic healers, laying on of handsers, past life readers, crystal therapists, toning therapists in the person of Patricia Sun, color therapy with lamps and different colored lenses a la Stanley Bourroughs, Bach Flower therapists, aroma therapists, herbalists, homeopaths, Tai Chi classes, yoga classes, Arica classes, Guergieff and Ouspensky fourth-way study groups, EST workshops, Zen Meditation classes. Refugee Lamas from Tibet gave lectures on The Book of the Dead and led meditation and chanting sessions, and we held communication classes using Scientology techniques. There were anatomy and physiology classes, classes on nutrition and the orthomolecular approach to t reating mental disorders (given by me of course); there were chiropractors teaching adjustment techniques, even first aid classes. And we even had a few medical doctors of the alternative ilk who were interested in life style changes as an approach to maintaining health.
Classes were also offered on colon health including herbs, clays, enemas, and colonics. So many of my client at Great Oaks were demanding colonics in conjunction with their cleansing programs, that I took time out to go to Indio, Calif. to take a course in colon therapy from a chiropractor, and purchase a state of the art colonic machine featuring all the gauges, electric water solenoids and stainless steel knobs one could ask for.
During this period almost all alternative therapists and their specialties were very interesting to me, but I found that most of the approaches they advocated did not suit my personality. For example, I think that acupuncture is a very useful tool, but I personally did not want to use needles. Similarly I thought that Rolfing was a very effective tool but I did not enjoy administering that much pain, although a significant number of the clients really wanted pain. Some of the techniques appealed to me in the beginning, and I used them frequently with good results but over time I decided to abandon them, mostly because of a desire to simplify and lighten up my bag of tricks.
Because of my enthusiasm and successes Great Oaks kept on growing. Originally the estate served as both the offices of the Holt Adoption Agency and the Holt family mansion. The Holt family had consisted of Harry and Bertha Holt, six of their biological children, and eight adopted Korean orphans. For this reason the ten thousand square foot two story house had large common rooms, and lots and lots of bedrooms. It was ideal for housing spa clients and my own family. The adjoining Holt Adoption Agency office building was also very large with a multitude of rooms. It became living space for those helpers and hangers-on we came to refer to as "community members." My first husband added even more to the physical plant constructing a large, rustic gym and workshop.
Many "alternative" people visited and then begged to stay on with room and board provided in exchange for their work. A few of these people made a significant contribution such as cooking, child care, gardening, tending the ever-ravenous wood-fired boiler we used to keep the huge concrete mansion heated, or doing general cleaning. But the majority of the ‘work exchangers’ did not really understand what work really was, or didn’t have sufficient ethical presence to uphold the principle of fair exchange, which is basically giving something of equal value for getting something of value and, perhaps more importantly, giving in exchange what is needed and asked for.
I also found that community members, once in residence, were very difficult to dislodge. My healing services were supporting far too much dead wood. This was basically my own fault, my own poor management.
Still, I learned a great deal from all of this waste. First of all it is not a genuine service to another human being to give them something for nothing. If a fair exchange is expected and received, positive ethical behavior is strengthened, allowing the individual to maintain their self-respect. I also came to realize what an important factor conducting one’s life ethically is in the individual healing process. Those patients who were out exchange in their relationships with others in one or more areas of their life frequently did not get well until they changed these behaviors.
Toward the end of 1982, after providing a decade of services to a great many clients, many of these in critical condition, I reached to point where I was physically, mentally, and spiritually drained. I needed a vacation desperately but no one, including my first husband, could run Great Oaks in my absence much less cover the heavy mortgage. So I decided to sell it. This decision stunned the community members and shocked the clientele who had become dependent on my services. I also got a divorce at this time. In fact I went through quite a dramatic life change in many areas—true to pattern, a classic mid-life crisis. All I kept from these years was my two daughters, my life experiences, and far too many books from the enormous Great Oaks library.
These changes were however, necessary for my survival. Any person who works with, yes, lives on a day-to-day basis with sick people and who is constantly giving or outflowing must take time out to refill their vessel so that they can give again. Failure to do this can result in a serious loss of health, or death. Most healers are empathic people who feel other peoples’ pains and stresses and sometimes have difficulty determining exactly what is their own personal ‘baggage’ and what belongs to the clients. This is especially difficult when the therapy involves a lot of ‘hands on’ techniques.
After leaving Great Oaks it took me a couple of years to rest up enough to want to resume practicing again. This time, instead of creating a substantial institution, Steve, my second husband and my best friend, built a tiny office next to our family home. I had a guest room that I would use for occasional residential patients. Usually these were people I had known from Great Oaks days or were people I particularly liked and wanted to help through a life crisis.
At the time I am writing this book over ten years have passed since I sold Great Oaks. I continue to have an active outpatient practice, preferring to protect the privacy of my home and family life since I was remarried by limiting inpatients to a special few who required more intensive care, and then, only one at a time, and then, with long spells without a resident.
The Nature and Cause of Disease
From The Hygienic Dictionary
Toxemia.  "Toxemia is the basic cause of all so-called diseases. In the process of tissue-building (metabolism), there is cell-building (anabolism) and cell destruction (catabolism). The broken-down tissue is toxic. In the healthy body (when nerve energy is normal), this toxic material is eliminated from the blood as fast as it is evolved. But when nerve energy is dissipated from any cause (such as physical or mental excitement or bad habits) the body becomes weakened or enervated. When the body is enervated, elimination is checked. This, in turn, results in a retention of toxins in the blood—the condition which we speak of as toxemia. This state produces a crisis which is nothing more than heroic or extraordinary efforts by the body to eliminate waste or toxin from the blood. It is this crisis which we term disease. Such accumulation of toxin when once established, will continue until nerve energy has been restored to normal by removing the cause. So-called disease is nature’s effort to eliminate toxin from the blood. All so-called diseases are crises of toxemia."John H. Tilden, M.D., Toxemia Explained.  Toxins are divided into two groups; namely exogenous, those formed in the alimentary canal from fermentation and decomposition following imperfect or faulty digestion. If the fermentation is of vegetables or fruit, the toxins are irritating, stimulating and enervating, but not so dangerous or destructive to organic life as putrefaction, which is a fermentation set up in nitrogenous matter—protein-bearing foods, but particularly animal foods. Endogenous toxins are autogenerated. They are the waste products of metabolism. Dr. John. H. Tllden, Impaired Health: Its Cause and Cure, 1921.
Suppose a fast-growing city is having traffic jams. "We don’t like it!" protest the voters." Why are these problems happening?" asks the city council, trying to look like they are doing something about it.
Experts then proffer answers. "Because there are too many cars," says the Get A Horse Society. The auto makers suggest it is because there are uncoordinated traffic lights and because almost all the businesses send their employees home at the same time. Easy to fix! And no reason whatsoever to limit the number of cars. The asphalt industry suggests it is because the size and amount of roads is inadequate.
What do we do then? Tax cars severely until few can afford them? Legislate opening and closing hours of businesses to stagger to'ing and fro'ing? Hire a smarter municipal highway engineer to synchronize the traffic lights? Build larger and more efficient streets? Demand that auto companies make cars smaller so more can fit the existing roads? Tax gasoline prohibitively, pass out and give away free bicycles in virtually unlimited quantities while simultaneously building mass rail systems? What? Which?
When we settle on a solution we have simultaneously chosen what we consider the real, underlying cause of the problem. If our chosen reason was the real reason. then our solution results in a real cure. If we picked wrongly, our attempt at solution may result in no cure, or create a worse situation than we had before.
The American Medical Association style of medicine (a philosophy I will henceforth call allopathic) has a model that explains the causes of illness. It suggests that anyone who is sick is a victim. Either they were attacked by a "bad" organism—virus, bacteria, yeast, pollen, cancer cell, etc.—or they have a "bad" organ—liver, kidney, gall bladder, even brain. Or, the victim may also have been cursed by bad genes. In any case, the cause of the disease is not the person and the person is neither responsible for creating their own complaint nor is the victim capable of making it go away. This institutionalized irresponsibility seems useful for both parties to the illness, doctor and patient. The patient is not required to do anything about their complaint except pay (a lot) and obediently follow the instructions of the doctor, submitting unquestioningly to their drugs and surgeries. The physician then acquires a role of being considered vital to the survival of others and thus obtains great status, prestige, authority, and financial remuneration.
Perhaps because the sick person is seen to have been victimized, and it is logically impossible to consider a victimizer as anything but something evil, the physician’s cure is often violent, confrontational. Powerful poisons are used to rejigger body chemistry or to arrest the multiplication of disease bacteria or to suppress symptoms; if it is possible to sustain life without them, "bad," poorly-functioning organs are cut out.
I’ve had a lot of trouble with the medical profession. Over the years doctors have made attempts to put me in jail and keep me in fear. But they never stopped me. When I’ve had a client die there has been an almost inevitable coroner’s investigation, complete with detectives and the sheriff. Fortunately, I practice in rural Oregon, where the local people have a deeply-held belief in individual liberty and where the authorities know they would have had a very hard time finding a jury to convict me. Had I chosen to practice with a high profile and had I located Great Oaks School of Health in a major market area where the physicians were able to charge top dollar, I probably would have spent years behind bars as did other heroes of my profession such as Linda Hazzard and Royal Lee.
So I have acquired an uncomplimentary attitude about medical doctors, a viewpoint I am going to share with you ungently, despite the fact that doing so will alienate some of my readers. But I do so because most Americans are entirely enthralled by doctors, and this doctor-god worship kills a lot of them.
However, before I get started on the medicos, let me state that one area exists where I do have fundamental admiration for allopathic medicine. This is its handling of trauma. I agree that a body can become the genuine victim of fast moving bullets. It can be innocently cut, smashed, burned, crushed and broken. Trauma are not diseases and modern medicine has become quite skilled at putting traumatized bodies back together. Genetic abnormality may be another undesirable physical condition that is beyond the purview of natural medicine. However, the expression of contra-survival genetics can often be controlled by nutrition. And the expression of poor genetics often results from poor nutrition, and thus is similar to a degenerative disease condition, and thus is well within the scope of natural medicine.
Today’s suffering American public is firmly in the AMA’s grip. People have been effectively prevented from learning much about medical alternatives, have been virtually brainwashed by clever media management that portrays other medical models as dangerous and/or ineffective. Legislation influenced by the allopathic doctors’ union, the American Medical Association, severely limits or prohibits the practice of holistic health. People are repeatedly directed by those with authority to an allopathic doctor whenever they have a health problem, question or confusion. Other types of healers are considered to be at best harmless as long as they confine themselves to minor complaints; at worst, when naturopaths, hygienists, or homeopaths seek to treat serious disease conditions they are called quacks, accused of unlicensed practice of medicine and if they persist or develop a broad, successful, high-profile and (this is the very worst) profitable practice, they are frequently jailed.
Even licensed MDs are crushed by the authorities if they offer non-standard treatments. So when anyone seeks an alternative health approach it is usually because their complaint has already failed to vanish after consulting a whole series of allopathic doctors. This highly unfortunate kind of sufferer not only has a degenerative condition to rectify, they may have been further damaged by harsh medical treatments and additionally, they have a considerable amount of brainwashing to overcome.
The AMA has succeeded at making their influence over information and media so pervasive that most people do not even realize that the doctors’ union is the source of their medical outlook. Whenever an American complains of some malady, a concerned and honestly caring friend will demand to know have they yet consulted a medical doctor. Failure to do so on one’s own behalf is considered highly irresponsible. Concerned relatives of seriously ill adults who decline standard medical therapy may, with a great show of self-righteousness, have the sick person judged mentally incompetent so that treatment can be forced upon them. When a parent fails to seek standard medical treatment for their child, the adult may well be found guilty of criminal negligence, raising the interesting issue of who "owns" the child, the parents or the State.
It is perfectly acceptable to die while under conventional medical care. Happens all the time, in fact. But holistic alternatives are represented as stupidly risky, especially for serious conditions such as cancer. People with cancer see no choice but to do chemotherapy, radiation, and radical surgery because this is the current allopathic medical approach. On some level people may know that these remedies are highly dangerous but they have been told by their attending oncologist that violent therapies are their only hope of survival, however poor that may be. If a cancer victim doesn’t proceed immediately with such treatment their official prognosis becomes worse by the hour. Such scare tactics are common amongst the medical profession, and they leave the recipient so terrified that they meekly and obediently give up all self-determinism, sign the liability waiver, and submit, no questions asked. Many then die after suffering intensely from the therapy, long before the so-called disease could have act ually caused their demise. I will later offer alternative and frequently successful (but not guaranteed) approaches to treating cancer that do not require the earliest-possible detection, surgery or poisons.
If holistic practitioners were to apply painful treatments like allopaths use, ones with such poor statistical outcomes like allopaths use, there would most certainly be witch hunts and all such irresponsible, greedy quacks would be safely imprisoned. I find it highly ironic that for at least the past twenty five hundred years the basic principle of good medicine has been that the treatment must first do no harm. This is such an obvious truism that even the AMA doctors pledge to do the same thing when they take the Hippocratic Oath. Yet virtually every action taken by the allopath is a conscious compromise between the potential harm of the therapy and its potential benefit.
In absolute contrast, if a person dies while on a natural hygiene program, they died because their end was inevitable no matter what therapy was attempted. Almost certainly receiving hygienic therapy contributed to making their last days far more comfortable and relatively freer of pain without using opiates. I have personally taken on clients sent home to die after they had suffered everything the doctors could do to them, told they had only a few days, weeks, or months to live. Some of these clients survived as a result of hygienic programs even at that late date. And some didn’t. The amazing thing was that any of them survived at all, because the best time to begin a hygienic program is as early in the degenerative process as possible, not after the body has been drastically weakened by invasive and toxic treatments. Later on, I’ll tell you about some of these cases.
Something I consider especially ironic is that when the patient of a medical doctor dies, it is inevitably thought that the blessed doctor did all that could be done; rarely is any blame laid. If the physician was especially careless or stupid, their fault can only result in a civil suit, covered by malpractice insurance. But let a holistic practitioner treat a sick person and have that person follow any of their suggestions or take any natural remedies and have that person die or worsen and it instantly becomes the natural doctor’s fault. Great blame is placed and the practitioner faces inquests, grand juries, manslaughter charges, jail time and civil suits that can’t be insured against.
Allopathic medicine rarely makes a connection between the real causes of a degenerative or infectious disease and its cure. The causes are usually considered mysterious: we don’t know why the pancreas is acting up, etc. The sick are sympathized with as victims who did nothing to contribute to their condition. The cure is a highly technical battle against the illness, whose weapons are defined in Latin and far beyond the understanding of a layperson.
Hygienic medicine presents an opposite view. To the naturopath, illness is not a perplexing and mysterious occurrence over which you have no control or understanding. The causes of disease are clear and simple, the sick person is rarely a victim of circumstance and the cure is obvious and within the competence of a moderately intelligent sick person themselves to understand and help administer. In natural medicine, disease is a part of living that you are responsible for, and quite capable of handling.
Asserting that the sick are pitiable victims is financially beneficial to doctors. It makes medical intervention seem a vital necessity for every ache and pain. It makes the sick become dependent. I’m not implying that most doctors knowingly are conniving extortionists. Actually most medical doctors are genuinely well-intentioned. I’ve also noticed that most medical doctors are at heart very timid individuals who consider that possession of a MD degree and license proves that they are very important, proves them to be highly intelligent, even makes them fully qualified to pontificate on many subjects not related to medicine at all.
Doctors obtain an enormous sense of self-importance at medical school, where they proudly endured the high pressure weeding out of any free spirit unwilling to grind away into the night for seven or more years. Anyone incapable of absorbing and regurgitating huge amounts of rote information; anyone with a disrespectful or irreverent attitude toward the senior doctor-gods who arrogantly serve as med school professors, anyone like this was eliminated with especial rapidity. When the thoroughly submissive, homogenized survivors are finally licensed, they assume the status of junior doctor-gods.
But becoming an official medical deity doesn’t permit one to create their own methods. No no, the AMA’s professional oversight and control system makes continued possession of the license to practice (and the high income that usually comes with it) entirely dependent on continued conformity to what is defined by the AMA as "correct practice." Any doctor who innovates beyond strict limits or uses non-standard treatments is in real danger of losing their livelihood and status.
Not only are licensed graduates of AMA-sanctioned medical schools kept on a very tight leash, doctors of other persuasions who use other methods to heal the sick or help them heal themselves are persecuted and prosecuted. Extension of the AMA’s control through regulatory law and police power is justified in the name of preventing quackery and making sure the ignorant and gullible public receives only scientifically proven effective medical care.
Those on the other side of the fence view the AMA’s oppression as an effective way to make sure the public has no real choices but to use union doctors, pay their high fees and suffer greatly by misunderstanding of the true cause of disease and its proper cure. If there are any actual villains responsible for this suppressive tragedy some of them are to be found in the inner core of the AMA, officials who may perhaps fully and consciously comprehend the suppressive system they promulgate.
Hygienists usually inform the patient quite clearly and directly that the practitioner has no ability to heal them or cure their condition and that no doctor of any type actually is able to heal. Only the body can heal itself, something it is eager and usually very able to do if only given the chance. One pithy old saying among hygienists goes, "if the body can’t heal itself, nothing can heal it." The primary job of the hygienic practitioner is to reeducate the patient by conducting them through their first natural healing process. If this is done well the sick person learns how to get out of their own body’s way and permit its native healing power to manifest. Unless later the victim of severe traumatic injury, never again will that person need obscenely expensive medical procedures. Hygienists rarely make six figure incomes from regular, repeat business.
This aspect of hygienic medicine makes it different than almost all the others, even most other holistic methods. Hygiene is the only system that does not interpose the assumed healing power of a doctor between the patient and wellness. When I was younger and less experienced I thought that the main reason traditional medical practice did not stress the body’s own healing power and represented the doctor as a necessary intervention was for profit. But after practicing for over twenty years I now understand that the last thing most people want to hear is that their own habits, especially their eating patterns and food choices, are responsible for their disease and that their cure is to only be accomplished through dietary reform, which means unremittingly applied self-discipline.
One of the hardest things to ask of a person is to change a habit. The reason that AMA doctors have most of the patients is they’re giving the patients exactly what they want, which is to be allowed to continue in their unconscious irresponsibility.
The Cause Of Disease
Ever since natural medicine arose in opposition to the violence of so-called scientific medicine, every book on the subject of hygiene, once it gets past its obligatory introductions and warm ups, must address The Cause of Disease. This is a required step because we see the cause of disease and its consequent cure in a very different manner than the allopath. Instead of many causes, we see one basic reason why. Instead of many unrelated cures, we have basically one approach to fix all ills that can be fixed.
A beautiful fifty cent word that means a system for explaining something is paradigm, pronounced para-dime. I am fond of this word because it admits the possibility of many differing yet equally true explanations for the same reality. Of all available paradigms, Natural Hygiene suits me best and has been the one I’ve used for most of my career.
The Natural Hygienist’s paradigm for the cause of both degenerative and infectious disease is called the Theory of Toxemia, or "self-poisoning."
Before explaining this theory it will help many readers if I digress a brief moment about the nature and validity of alternative paradigms. Not too many decades ago, scientists thought that reality was a singular, real, perpetual—that Natural Law existed much as a tree or a rock existed. In physics, for example, the mechanics of Newton were considered capital "T" True, the only possible paradigm. Any other view, not being True, was False. There was capital "N" natural capital "L" law.
More recently, great uncertainty has entered science; it has become indisputable that a theory or explanation of reality is only true only to the degree it seems to work; conflicting or various explanations can all work, all can be "true." At least, this uncertainty has overtaken the hard, physical sciences. It has not yet done so with medicine. The AMA is convinced (or is working hard to convince everyone else) that its paradigm, the allopathic approach, is Truth, is scientific, and therefore, anything else is Falsehood, is irresponsibility, is a crime against the sick.
But the actual worth or truth of any paradigm is found not in its "reality," but in its utility. Does an explanation or theory allow a person to manipulate experience and create a desired outcome. To the extent a paradigm does that, it can be considered valuable. Judged by this standard, the Theory of Toxemia must be far truer than the hodgepodge of psuedoscience taught in medical schools. Keep that in mind the next time some officious medical doctor disdainfully informs you that Theory of Toxemia was disproven in 1927 by Doctors Jeckel and Hyde.
Why People Get Sick
This is the Theory of Toxemia. A healthy body struggles continually to purify itself of poisons that are inevitably produced while going about its business of digesting food, moving about, and repairing itself. The body is a marvelous creation, a carbon, oxygen combustion machine, constantly burning fuel, disposing of the waste products of combustion, and constantly rebuilding tissue by replacing worn out, dead cells with new, fresh ones. Every seven years virtually every cell in the body is replaced, some types of cells having a faster turnover rate than others, which means that over a seven year period several hundred pounds of dead cells must be digested (autolyzed) and eliminated. All by itself this would be a lot of waste disposal for the body to handle. Added to that waste load are numerous mild poisons created during proper digestion. And added to that can be an enormous burden of waste products created as the body’s attempts to digest the indigestible, or those tasty items I’ve heard called "fun food." Add to that burden the ruinous effects of just plain overeating.
The waste products of digestion, of indigestion, of cellular breakdown and the general metabolism are all poisonous to one degree or another. Another word for this is toxic. If these toxins were allowed to remain and accumulate in the body, it would poison itself and die in agony. So the body has a processing system to eliminate toxins. And when that system does break down the body does die in agony, as from liver or kidney failure.
The organs of detoxification remove things from the body’s system, but these two vital organs should not be confused with what hygienists call the secondary organs of elimination, such as the large intestine, lungs, bladder and the skin, because none of these other eliminatory organs are supposed to purify the body of toxins. But when the body is faced with toxemia, the secondary organs of elimination are frequently pressed into this duty and the consequences are the symptoms we call illness.
The lungs are supposed to eliminate only carbon dioxide gas; not self-generated toxic substances. The large intestine is supposed to pass only insoluble food solids (and some nasty stuff dumped into the small intestine by the liver). Skin eliminates in the form of sweat (which contains mineral salts) to cool the body, but the skin is not supposed to move toxins outside the system. But when toxins are flowed out through secondary organs of elimination these areas become inflamed, irritated, weakened. The results can be skin irritations, sinusitis or a whole host of other "itises" depending on the area involved, bacterial or viral infections, asthma. When excess toxemia is deposited instead of eliminated, the results can be arthritis if toxins are stored in joints, rheumatism if in muscle tissues, cysts and benign tumors. And if toxins weaken the body’s immune response, cancer.
The liver and the kidneys, the two heroic organs of detoxification, are the most important ones; these jointly act as filters to purify the blood. Hygienists pay a lot of attention to these organs, the liver especially.
In an ideal world, the liver and kidneys would keep up with their job for 80 years or more before even beginning to tire. In this ideal world, the food would of course, be very nutritious and free of pesticide residues, the air and water would be pure, people would not denature their food and turn it into junk. In this perfect world everyone would get moderate exercise into old age, and live virtually without stress. In this utopian vision, the average healthy productive life span would approach a century, entirely without using food supplements or vitamins. In this world doctors would have next to no work other than repairing traumatic injuries, because everyone would be healthy. But this is not the way it is.
In our less-than-ideal world virtually everything we eat is denatured, processed, fried, salted, sweetened, preserved; thus more stress is placed on the liver and kidneys than nature designed them to handle. Except for a few highly fortunate individuals blessed with an incredible genetic endowment that permits them to live to age 99 on moose meat, well-larded white flour biscuits, coffee with evaporated milk and sugar, brandy and cigarettes (we’ve all heard of someone like this), most peoples’ liver and kidneys begin to break down prematurely. Thus doctoring has become a financially rewarding profession.
Most people overburden their organs of elimination by eating whatever they feel like eating whenever they feel like it. Or, they irresponsibly eat whatever is served to them by a mother, wife, institution or cook because doing so is easy or expected. Eating is a very habitual and unconscious activity; frequently we continue to eat as adults whatever our mother fed us as a child. I consider it unsurprising that when people develop the very same disease conditions as their parents. they wrongly assume the cause is genetic inheritance, when actually it was just because they were putting their feet under the same table as their parents.
Toxemia also comes about from following the wrongheaded recommendations of allopathic-inspired nutritional texts and licensed dietitians. For example, people believe they should eat one food from each of the four so-called basic food groups at each meal, thinking they are doing the right thing for their health by having four colors of food on every plate, when they really aren’t. What they have actually done is force their bodies to attempt the digestion of indigestible food combinations, and the resulting indigestion creates massive doses of toxins. I’ll have a lot more to say about that later when I discuss the art of food combining.
Table 1: The Actual Food Groups*
Starches Proteins Fats Sugars Watery Vegetables
bread meats butter honey zucchini (summer squash)
potatoes eggs oils fruit green beans
noodles fish lard sugar tomatoes
manioc / yuca nuts most nuts molasses peppers
baked goods dry beans avocado malt syrup eggplant
grains nut butters nut butters maple syrup radish
winter squash split peas dried fruit rutabaga
parsnips lentils melons turnips
sweet potatoes soybeans carrot juice Brussels sprouts
yams tofu beet juice celery
taro root tempeh cauliflower
plantains wheat grass juice broccoli
beets "green" drinks okra
* Standard dietitians divide our foods into four basic food groups and recommend the ridiculous practice of mixing them at every meal. This guarantees indigestion and lots of business for the medical profession. This chart illustrates the actual food groups. It is usually a poor practice to mix different foods from one group with those from another.
The Digestive Process
After we have eaten our four-color meal—often we do this in a hurry, without much chewing, under a lot of stress, or in the presence of negative emotions—we give no thought to what becomes of our food once it has been swallowed. We have been led to assume that anything put in the mouth automatically gets digested flawlessly, is efficiently absorbed into the body where it nourishes our cells, with the waste products being eliminated completely by the large intestine. This vision of efficiency may exist in the best cases but for most there is many a slip between the table and the toilet. Most bodies are not optimally efficient at performing all the required functions, especially after years of poor living habits, stress, fatigue, and aging. To the Natural Hygienist, most disease begins and ends with our food; most of our healing efforts are focused on improving the process of digestion.
Digestion means chemically changing the foods we eat into substances that can pass into the blood stream and circulate through the body where nutrition is used for bodily functions. Our bodies use nutritional substances for fuel, for repair and rebuilding, and to conduct an incredibly complex biochemistry. Scientists are still busily engaged in trying to understand the chemical mysteries of our bodies. But as bewildering as the chemistry of life is, the chemistry of digestion itself is actually a relatively simple process, and one doctors have had a fairly good understanding of for many decades.
Though relatively straightforward, a lot can and does go wrong with digestion. The body breaks down foods with a series of different enzymes that are mixed with food at various points as it passes from mouth to stomach to small intestine. An enzyme is a large, complex molecule that has the ability to chemically change other large, complex molecules without being changed itself. Digestive enzymes perform relatively simple functions—breaking large molecules into smaller parts that can dissolve in water.
Digestion starts in the mouth when food is mixed with ptyalin, an enzyme secreted by the salivary glands. Pylatin converts insoluble starches into simple sugars. If the digestion of starchy foods is impaired, the body is less able to extract the energy contained in our foods, while far worse from the point of view of the genesis of diseases, undigested starches pass through the stomach and into the gut where they ferment and thereby create an additional toxic burden for the liver to process. And fermenting starches also create gas.
As we chew our food it gets mixed with saliva; as we continue to chew the starches in the food are converted into sugar. There is a very simple experiment you can conduct to prove to yourself how this works. Get a plain piece of bread, no jam, no butter, plain, and without swallowing it or allowing much of it to pass down the throat, begin to chew it until it seems to literally dissolve. Pylatin works fast in our mouths so you may be surprised at how sweet the taste gets. As important as chewing is, I have only run into about one client in a hundred that actually makes an effort to consciously chew their food.
Horace Fletcher, whose name has become synonymous with the importance of chewing food well (Fletcherizing), ran an experiment on a military population in Canada. He required half his experimental group to chew thoroughly, and the other half to gulp things down as usual,. His study reports significant improvement in the overall health and performance of the group that persistently chewed. Fletcher’s report recommended that every mouthful be chewed 50 times for half a minute before being swallowed. Try it, you might be very surprised at what a beneficial effect such a simple change in your approach to eating can make. Not only will you have less intestinal gas, if overweight you will probably find yourself getting smaller because your blood sugar will elevate quicker as you are eating and thus your sense of hunger will go away sooner. If you are very thin and have difficulty gaining weight you may find that the pounds go on easier because chewing well makes your body more capable of actually assimilating the calories you are consuming.
A logical conclusion from this data is that anything that would prevent or reduce chewing would be unhealthful. For example, food eaten when too hot tends to be gulped down. The same tends to happen when food is seasoned with fresh Jalapeño or habaneo peppers. People with poor teeth should blend or mash starchy foods and then gum them thoroughly to mix them with saliva. Keep in mind that even so-called protein foods such as beans often contain large quantities of starches and the starch portion of protein foods is also digested in the mouth.
Once the food is in the stomach, whatever proteins that may be contained in the well-chewed food must well-mixed with additional slow-acting digestive enzymes such as hydrochloric acid secreted by the stomach itself and pepsin made by the pancreas. Together these break proteins down into water-soluble amino acids. To accomplish this the stomach muscles agitate the food continuously, somewhat like a washing machine. This extended churning forms a kind of ball in the stomach called a bolis.
Many things can and frequently do go wrong at this stage of the digestive process. First, the stomach’s very acid environment inactivates pylatin, so any starch not converted to sugar in the mouth does not get properly processed thereafter. Most cooked proteins are virtually indigestible no matter how strong the constitution, no matter how concentrated the stomach acid or how many enzymes the pancreas is capable of making. Then too, stress immediately inhibits the churning action in the stomach so that otherwise digestible foods may not be mixed efficiently with digestive enzymes. Consequently, undigested proteins may pass into the gut along with undigested starches.
When starches do not break down into sugars while under the alkaline conditions found in the mouth, they pass into the acid stomach where starch digestion virtually ceases, and from there into the small intestine where undigested starches are fermented by yeasts. The products of starch fermentation are only mildly toxic. The gases produced by yeast fermentations usually don’t smell particularly bad; bodies that regularly contain starch fermentation usually don’t smell particularly bad either. In otherwise healthy people it can take many years of exposure to starch fermentation toxins to produce a life-threatening disease.
But undigested proteins aren’t fermented by yeasts, they putrefy in the gut (are attacked by anaerobic bacteria). Many of the waste products of anaerobic putrefaction are highly toxic and evil smelling; when these toxins are absorbed through the small or large intestines they are very irritating to the mucous membranes, frequently contributing to or causing cancer of the colon. Protein putrefaction may even cause psychotic symptoms in some individuals. Meat eaters often have a very unpleasant body odor even when they are not releasing intestinal gasses.
Adding a heavy toxic burden from misdigested foods to the normal toxic load a body already has to handle creates a myriad of unpleasant symptoms, and greatly shortens life. But misdigestion also carries with it a double whammy; fermenting and/or putrefying foods immediately interfere with the functioning of another vital organ—the large intestine—and cause constipation.
Most people don’t know what the word constipation really means. Not being able to move one’s bowels is only the most elementary type of constipation. A more accurate definition of constipation is "the retention of waste products in the large intestine beyond the time that is conducive to health." Properly digested food is not sticky and exits the large intestine quickly. But improperly digested food (or indigestible food) gradually coats the large intestine, making an ever-thicker lining that interferes with the intestine’s functioning. Far worse, this coating steadily putrefies, creating additional highly-potent toxins. Lining the colon with undigested food can be compared to the mineral deposits filling in the inside of an old water pipe, gradually choking off the flow. In the colon, this deposit can become rock-hard, just like water pipe scale.
Since the large intestine is also an organ that removes moisture and water-soluble minerals from the food and moves them into the blood stream, when the large intestine is lined with putrefying undigested food waste, the toxins of this putrefaction are also steadily moved into the bloodstream and place an even greater burden on the liver and kidneys, accelerating their breakdown, accelerating the aging process and contributing to a lot of interesting and unpleasant symptoms that keep doctors busy and financially solvent. I’ll have quite a bit more to say about colon cleansing later.
The Progress Of Disease: Irritation, Enervation, Toxemia
Disease routinely lies at the end of a three-part chain that goes: irritation or sub-clinical malnutrition, enervation, toxemia. Irritations are something the person does to themselves or something that happens around them. Stresses, in other words.
Mental stressors include strong negative emotional states such as anger, fear, resentment, hopelessness, etc. Behind most diseases it is common to find a problematic mind churning in profound confusion, one generated by a character that avoids responsibility. There may also be job stress or ongoing hostile relationships, often within the family.
Indigestible foods and misdigestion are also stressful irritations, as are mild recreational poisons such as "soft" drugs, tobacco and alcohol. Opiates are somewhat more toxifying, primarily because they paralyze the gut and induce profound constipation. Stimulants like cocaine and amphetamines are the most damaging recreational drugs ; these are highly toxic and rapidly shorten life.
Repeated irritations and/or malnutrition eventually produce enervation. The old-time hygienists defined enervation as a lack of or decline in an unmeasurable phenomena, "nerve energy." They viewed the functioning of vital organs as being controlled by or driven by nerve force, sometimes called life force or élan vital. Whatever this vital force actually is, it can be observed and subjectively measured by comparing one person with another. Some people are full of it and literally sparkle with overflowing energy. Beings like this make everyone around them feel good because they somehow momentarily give energy to those endowed with less. Others possess very little and dully plod through life.
As vital force drops, the overall efficiency of all the body’s organs correspondingly decline. The pancreas creates less digestive enzymes; the thymus secretes less of its vital hormones that mobilize the immune system; the pituitary makes less growth hormone so the overall repair and rebuilding of cells and tissues slows correspondingly; and so forth. It does not really matter if there is or is not something called nerve energy that can or cannot be measured in a laboratory. Vital force is observable to many people. However, it is measurable by laboratory test that after repeated irritation the overall functioning of the essential organs and glands does deteriorate.
Enervation may develop so gradually that it progresses below the level of awareness of the person, or times of increased enervation can be experienced as a complaint—as a lack of energy, as tiredness, as difficulties digesting, as a new inability to handle a previously-tolerated insult like alcohol.
Long-term consumption of poor-quality food causes enervation. The body is a carbon/oxygen engine designed to run efficiently only on highly nutritious food and this aspect of human genetic programming cannot be changed significantly by adaptation. Given enough generations a human gene pool can adapt to extracting its nutrition from a different group of foods. For example, a group of isolated Fijians currently enjoying long healthy lives eating a diet of seafoods and tropical root crops could suddenly be moved to the highlands of Switzerland and forced to eat the local fare or starve. But most of the Fijians would not have systems adept at making those enzymes necessary to digest cows milk. So the transplanted Fijians would experience many generations of poorer health and shorter life spans until their genes had been selected for adaptation to the new dietary. Ultimately their descendants could become uniformly healthy on rye bread and dairy products just like the highland Swiss were.
However, modern industrial farming and processing of foodstuffs significantly contributes to mass, widespread enervation in two ways. Humans will probably adjust to the first; the second will, I’m sure, prove insurmountable. First, industrially processed foods are a recent invention and our bodies have not yet adapted to digesting them. In a few more generations humans might be able to accomplish that and public health could improve on factory food. In the meanwhile, the health of humans has declined. Industrially farmed foods have also been lowered in nutritional content compared to what food could be. I gravely doubt if any biological organism can ever adapt to an overall dietary that contains significantly lowered levels of nutrition. I will explain this more fully in the chapter on diet.
Secondary Eliminations Are Disease
However the exact form the chain from irritation or malnutrition to enervation progresses, the ultimate result is an increased level of toxemia, placing an eliminatory burden on the liver and kidneys in excess of their ability. Eventually these organs begin to weaken. Decline of liver and/or kidney function threatens the stability and purity of blood chemistry. Rather than risk complete incapacitation or death from self-poisoning, the overloaded, toxic body, guided by its genetic predisposition and the nature of the toxins (what was eaten, in what state of stress), cleverly channels surplus toxins into its first line of defense—alternative or secondary elimination systems.
Most non-life-threatening yet highly annoying disease conditions originate as secondary eliminations. For example, the skin was designed to sweat, elimination of fluids. Toxemia is often pushed out the sweat glands and is recognized as an unpleasant body odor. A healthy, non-toxic body smells sweet and pleasant (like a newborn baby’s body) even after exercise when it has been sweating heavily. Other skin-like organs such as the sinus tissues, were designed to secrete small amounts of mucus for lubrication. The lungs eliminate used air and the tissues are lubricated with mucus-like secretions too. These secretions are types of eliminations, but are not intended for the elimination of toxins. When toxins are discharged in mucus through tissues not designed to handle them, the tissues themselves become irritated, inflamed, weakened and thus much more subject to bacterial or viral infection. Despite this danger, not eliminating surplus toxins carries with it the greater penalty of serious disability or dea th. Because of this liability, the body, in its wisdom, initially chooses secondary elimination routes as far from vital tissues and organs as possible. Almost inevitably the skin or skin-like mucus membranes such as the sinuses, or lung tissues become the first line of defense.
Thus the average person’s disease history begins with colds, flu, sinusitis, bronchitis, chronic cough, asthma, rashes, acne, eczema, psoriasis. If these secondary eliminations are suppressed with drugs (either from the medical doctor or with over the counter remedies), if the eating or lifestyle habits that created the toxemia are not changed, or if the toxic load increases beyond the limits of this technique, the body then begins to store toxins in fat or muscle tissues or the joint cavities, overburdens the kidneys, creates cysts, fibroids, and benign tumors to store those toxins. If toxic overload continues over a longer time the body will eventually have to permit damages to vital tissues, and life-threatening conditions develop.
Hygienic doctors always stress that disease is remedial effort. Illness comes from the body’s best attempt to lighten its toxic load without immediately threatening its survival. The body always does the very best it can to remedy toxemia given its circumstances, and it should be commended for these efforts regardless of how uncomfortable they might be to the person inhabiting the body. Symptoms of secondary elimination are actually a positive thing because they are the body’s efforts to lessen a dangerously toxic condition. Secondary eliminations shouldn’t be treated immediately with a drug to suppress the process. If you squelch the bodies best and least-life-threatening method to eliminate toxins, the body will ultimately have to resort to another more dangerous though probably less immediately uncomfortable channel.
The conventional medical model does not view disease this way and sees the symptoms of secondary elimination as the disease itself. So the conventional doctor takes steps to halt the body’s remedial efforts, thus stopping the undesirable symptom and then, the symptom gone, proclaims the patient cured. Actually, the disease is the cure.
A common pattern of symptom suppression under the contemporary medical model is this progression: treat colds with antihistamines until the body gets influenza; suppress a flu repeatedly with antibiotics and eventually you get pneumonia. Or, suppress eczema with cortisone ointment repeatedly, and eventually you develop kidney disease. Or, suppress asthma with bronkiodialators and eventually you need cortisone to suppress it. Continue treating asthma with steroids and you destroy the adrenals; now the body has become allergic to virtually everything.
The presence of toxins in an organ of secondary elimination is frequently the cause of infection. Sinuses and lungs, inflamed by secondary eliminations, are attacked by viruses or bacteria; infectious diseases of the skin result from pushing toxins out of the skin. More generalized infections also result from toxemia; in this case the immune system has become compromised and the body is overwhelmed by an organism that it normally should be able to resist easily. The wise cure of infections is not to use antibiotics to suppress the bacteria while simultaneously whipping the immune system; most people, including most medical doctors, do not realize that antibiotics also goose the immune system into super efforts. But when one chooses to whip a tired horse, eventually the exhausted animal collapses and cannot rise again no matter how vigorously it is beaten. The wise cure is to detoxify the body, a step that simultaneously eliminates secondary eliminations and rebuilds the immune system.
The wise way to deal with the body’s eliminative efforts is to accept that disease is an opportunity to pay the piper for past indiscretions. You should go to bed, rest, and drink nothing but water or dilute juice until the condition has passed. This allows the body to conserve its vital energy, direct this energy toward healing the disordered body part, and catch up on its waste disposal. In this way you can help your body, be in harmony with its efforts instead of working against it which is what most people do.
Please forgive another semi-political polemic here, but in my practice I have often been amazed to hear my clients complain that they have not the time nor the ability to be patient with their body, to rest it through an illness because they have a job they can’t afford to miss or responsibilities they can’t put down. This is a sad commentary on the supposed wealth and prosperity of the United States. In our country most people are enslaved by their debts, incurred because they had been enthralled by the illusion of happiness secured by the possession of material things. Debt slaves believe they cannot miss a week of work. People who feel they can’t afford to be sick think they can afford to live on pills. So people push through their symptoms by sheer grit for years on end, and keep that up until their exhausted horse of a body breaks down totally and they find themselves in the hospital running up bills to the tune of several thousand dollars a day. But these very same people do not think they can afford the loss of a few hundred dollars of current income undertaking some virtually harmless preventative maintenance on their bodies.
Given half a chance the body will throw off toxic overburdens and cleanse itself. And once the body has been cleansed of toxemia, disagreeable symptoms usually cease. This means that to make relatively mild but unwanted symptoms lessen and ultimately stop it is merely necessary to temporarily cut back food intake, eating only what does not cause toxemia. These foods I classify as cleansing, such as raw fruits and vegetables and their juices. If the symptoms are extreme, are perceived as overwhelming or are actually life-threatening, detoxification can be speeded up by dropping back to only dilute raw juices or vegetable broth made only from greens, without eating the solids. In the most extreme cases hygienists use their most powerful medicine: a long fast on herb teas, or just water. I will have a lot to say about fasting, later.
When acutely ill, the most important thing to do is to just get out of the body’s way, and let it heal itself. In our ignorance we are usually our own worst enemy in this regard. We have been very successfully conditioned to think that all symptoms are bad. But I know from experience that people can and do learn a new way of viewing the body, an understanding that puts them at cause over their own body. It allows you to be empowered in one more area of life instead of being dependent and at the mercy of other peoples decisions about your body.
Finally, and this is why natural medicine is doubly unpopular, to prevent the recurrence of toxemia and acute disease states, person must discover what they are doing wrong and change their life. Often as not this means elimination of the person’s favorite (indigestible) foods and/or (stress-producing) bad habits. Naturally, I will have a lot more to say about this later, too.
From The Hygienic Dictionary
Cure.  There is no "cure" for disease; fasting is not a cure. Fasting facilitates natural healing processes. Foods do not cure. Until we have discarded our faith in cures, there can be no intelligent approach to the problems presented by suffering and no proper use of foods by those who are ill.Herbert Shelton, The Hygienic System, v. 3, Fasting and Sunbathing.  All cure starts from within out and from the head down and in reverse order as the symptoms have appeared. Hering’s Law of Cure.  Life is made up of crises. The individual establishes a standard of health peculiarly his own, which must vary from all other standards as greatly as his personality varies from others. The individual standard may be such as to favor the development of indigestion, catarrh, gout, rheumatic and glandular inflammations, tubercular developmen ts, congestions, sluggish secretions and excretions, or inhibitions of various functions, both mental and physical, wherever the environmental or habit strain is greater than usual. The standard of resistance may be opposed so strenuously by habits and unusual physical agencies—that the body breaks down under the strain. This is a crisis. Appetite fails, discomfort or pain forces rest, and, as a result of physiological rest (fasting) and physical rest (rest from daily work and habits), a readjustment takes place, and the patient is "cured." This is what the profession and the people call a cure, and it is for the time being—until an unusual enervation is brought on from accident or dissipation; then another crisis. These crises are the ordinary sickness of all communities—all catalogued diseases. When the cold is gone or the hay-fever fully relieved, it does not mean the patient is cured. Indeed, he is as much diseased as before he suffered the attack—the crisis—and he never will be cured until the habits of life that keep up toxin poisoning are corrected. To recover from a crisis is not a cure; the tendency is back to the individual standard; hence all crises are self-limited, unless nature by maltreatment is prevented from reacting. All so-called healing systems ride to glory on the backs of self-limited crises, and the self-deluded doctors and their credulous clients, believe, when the crises are past, that a cure has been wrought, whereas the real truth is that the treatment may have delayed reaction. This is largely true of anything that has been done except rest. A cure consists in changing the manner of living to such a rational standard that full resistance and a balanced metabolism is established. I suppose it is not quite human to expect those of a standardized school of healing to give utterance to discovered truth which, if accepted by the people, would rob them of the glory of being curers of disease. Indeed, nature, and nature only, cures; and as for crises, they come and go, whether or no t there is a doctor or healer within a thousand miles. Dr. John.H. Tllden, Impaired Health: Its Cause and Cure, 1921.
The accelerated healing process that occurs during fasting can scarcely be believed by a person who has not fasted. No matter how gifted the writer, the experiential reality of fasting cannot be communicated. The great novelist Upton Sinclair wrote a book about fasting and it failed to convince the multitudes. But once a person has fasted long enough to be certain of what their own body can do to fix itself, they acquire a degree of independence little known today. Many of those experienced with fasting no longer dread being without health insurance and feel far less need for a doctor or of having a regular checkup. They know with certainty that if something degenerates in their body, their own body can fix it by itself.
Like Upton Sinclair and many others who largely failed before me, I am going to try to convince you of the virtues of fasting by urging you to try fasting yourself. If you will but try you will be changed for the better for the rest of your life. If you do not try, you will never Know.
To prompt your first step on this health-freedom road, I ask you to please carefully consider the importance of this fact: the body’s routine energy budget includes a very large allocation for the daily digestion and assimilation of the food you eat. You may find my estimate surprising, but about one-third of a fairly sedentary person’s entire energy consumption goes into food processing. Other uses for the body’s energy include the creation or rebuilding of tissues, detoxification, moving (walking, running, etc.), talking, producing hormones, etc. Digestion is one aspect of the body’s efforts that we can readily control, it is the key to having or losing health.
The Effort Of Digestion
Digestion is a huge, unappreciated task, unappreciated because few of us are aware of its happening in the same way we are aware of making efforts to use our voluntary muscles when working or exercising. Digestion begins in the mouth with thorough chewing. If you don’t think chewing is effort, try making coleslaw in your own mouth. Chew up at least half a big head of cabbage and three big carrots that have not been shredded. Grind each bit until it liquefies and has been thoroughly mixed with saliva. I guarantee that if you even finish the chore your jaw will be tired and you will have lost all desire to eat anything else, especially if it requires chewing.
Making the saliva you just used while chewing the cabbage is by itself, a huge and unappreciated chemical effort.
Once in the stomach, chewed food has to be churned in order to mix it with hydrochloric acid, pepsin, and other digestive enzymes. Manufacturing these enzymes is also considerable work! Churning is even harder work than chewing but normally, people are unaware of its happening. While the stomach is churning (like a washing machine) a large portion of the blood supply is redirected from the muscles in the extremities to the stomach and intestines to aid in this process. Anyone who has tried to go for a run, or take part in any other strenuous physical activity immediately after a large meal feels like a slug and wonders why they just can’t make their legs move the way they usually do. So, to assist the body while it is digesting, it is wise to take a siesta as los Latinos do instead of expecting the blood to be two places at once like los norteamericanos.
After the stomach is through churning, the partially digested food is moved into the small intestine where it is mixed with more pancreatin secreted by the pancreas, and with bile from the gall bladder. Pancreatin further solubilizes proteins. Bile aids in the digestion of fatty foods. Manufacturing bile and pancreatic enzymes is also a lot of effort. Only after the carbohydrates (starches and sugars), proteins and fats have been broken down into simpler water soluble food units such as simple sugars, amino acids and fatty acids, can the body pass these nutrients into the blood thorough the little projections in the small intestines called villi.
The leftovers, elements of the food that can’t be solubilized plus some remaining liquids, are passed into the large intestine. There, water and the vital mineral salts dissolved in that water, are extracted and absorbed into the blood stream through thin permeable membranes. Mucous is also secreted in the large intestine to facilitate passage of the dryish remains. This is an effort. (Intestinal mucous can become a route of secondary elimination, especially during fasting. While fasting, it is essential to take steps to expel toxic mucous in the colon before the poisons are re adsorbed.) The final residue, now called fecal matter, is squeezed along the length of the large intestines and passes out the rectum.
If all the digestive processes have been efficient there now are an abundance of soluble nutrients for the blood stream to distribute to hungry cells throughout the body. It is important to understand the process at least on the level of oversimplification just presented in order to begin to understand better how health is lost or regained through eating, digestion, and elimination. And most importantly, through not eating.
How Fasting Heals
Its an old hygienic maxim that the doctor does not heal, the medicines do not heal, only the body heals itself. If the body can’t heal then nothing can heal it. The body always knows best what it needs and what to do.
But healing means repairing damaged organs and tissues and this takes energy, while a sick body is already enervated, weakened and not coping with its current stressors. If the sick person could but somehow increase the body’s energy resources sufficiently, then a slowly healing body could heal faster while a worsening one, or one that was failing or one that was not getting better might heal.
Fasting does just that. To whatever degree food intake is reduced the body’s digestive workload is proportionately reduced and it will naturally, and far more intelligently than any physician could order, redirect energy to wherever it decides that energy is most needed. A fasting body begins accessing nutritional reserves (vitamins and minerals) previously stored in the tissues and starts converting body fat into sugar for energy fuel. During a time of water fasting, sustaining the body’s entire energy and nutritional needs from reserves and fat does require a small effort, but far less effort than eating. I would guess a fasting body used about five percent of its normal daily energy budget on nutritional concerns rather than the 33 percent it needs to process new food. Thus, water fasting puts something like 28 percent more energy at the body’s disposal. This is true even though the water faster may feel weak, energyless.
I would worry if sick or toxic fasters did not complain about their weakness. They should expect to feel energyless. In fact, the more internal healing and detoxification the body requires, the tireder the faster feels because the body is very hard at work internally. A great deal of the body’s energy will go toward boosting the immune system if the problem is an infection. Liberated energy can also be used for healing damaged parts, rebuilding failing organs, for breaking down and eliminating deposits of toxic materials. Only after most of the healing has occurred does a faster begin to feel energetic again. Don’t expect to feel anything but tired and weak.
The only exception to this would be a person who has already significantly detoxified and healed their body by previous fasting, or the rare soul that has gone from birth through adulthood enjoying extraordinarily good nutrition and without experiencing the stressors of improper digestion. When one experienced faster I know finds himself getting "run down" or catching a cold, he quits eating until he feels really well. Instead of feeling weak as most fasters do, as each of the first four or five days of water fasting pass, he experiences a resurgence of more and more energy. On the first fasting day he would usually feel rotten, which was why he started fasting in the first place. On the second fasting day he’d feel more alert and catch up on his paper work. By his third day on only water he would be out doing hard physical chores like cutting the grass, splitting wood or weeding his vegetable garden. Day four would also be an energetic one, but if the fast extended beyond that, lowering blood sugar would begin to make him tired and he’d feel forced to begin laying down.
After a day of water fasting the average person’s blood sugar level naturally drops; making a faster feel somewhat tired and "spacey," so a typical faster usually begins to spend much more time resting, further reducing the amount of energy being expended on moving the body around, serendipitously redirecting even more of the body’s energy budget toward healing. By the end of five or six days on water, I estimate that from 40 to 50 percent of the body’s available energy is being used for healing, repair and detoxification.
The amount of work that a fasting body’s own healing energy can do and what it feels like to be there when it is happening is incredible. But you can’t know it if you haven’t felt it. So hardly anyone in our present culture knows.
As I mentioned in the first chapter, at Great Oaks School I apprenticed myself to the traveling masters of virtually every system of natural healing that existed during the ‘70s. I observed every one of them at work and tried most of them on my clients. After all that I can say with experience that I am not aware of any other healing tool that can be so effective as the fast.
Essentials of a Successful, Safe Fast
1. Fast in a bright airy room, with exceptionally good ventilation, because fasters not only need a lot of fresh air; their bodies give off powerfully offensive odors.
2. Sun bathe if possible in warm climates for 10 to 20 minutes in the morning before the sun gets too strong.
3. Scrub/massage the skin with a dry brush, stroking toward the heart, followed by a warm water shower two to four times a day to assist the skin in eliminating toxins. If you are too weak to do this, have an assisted bed bath.
4. Have two enemas daily for the first week of a fast and then once daily until the fast is terminated.
5. Insure a harmonious environment with supportive people or else fast alone if you are experienced. Avoid well-meaning interference or anxious criticism at all cost. The faster becomes hypersensitive to others’ emotions.
6. Rest profoundly except for a short walk of about 200 yards morning and night.
7. Drink water! At least three quarts every day. Do not allow yourself to become dehydrated!
8. Control yourself! Break a long fast on diluted non-sweet fruit juice such as grapefruit juice, sipped a teaspoon at a time, no more than eight ounces at a time no oftener than every 2 or 3 hours. The second day you eat, add small quantities of fresh juicy fruit to the same amount of juice you took the day before no oftener than every 3 hours. By small quantities I mean half an apple or the equivalent. On the third day of eating, add small quantities of vegetable juice and juicy vegetables such as tomatoes and cucumbers.
Control yourself! The second week after eating resumed add complex vegetable salads plus more complex fruit salads. Do not mix fruit and vegetables at meals. The third week add raw nuts and seeds no more than 1/2 ounce three times daily. Add 1/4 avocado daily. Fourth week increase to 3 ounces of raw soaked nuts and seeds daily and 1/2 avocado daily. Cooked grains may also be added, along with steamed vegetables and vegetable soups.
The Prime Rules Of Fasting
Another truism of natural hygiene is that we dig our own graves with our teeth. It is sad but true that almost all eat too much quantity of too little quality. Dietary excesses are the main cause of death in North America. Fasting balances these excesses. If people were to eat a perfect diet and not overeat, fasting would rarely be necessary.
There are two essential rules of fasting. If these rules are ignored or broken, fasting itself can be life threatening. But if the rules are followed, fasting presents far less risk than any other important medical procedure with a far greater likelihood of a positive outcome. And let me stress here, there is no medical procedure without risk. Life itself is fraught with risk, it is a one-way ticket from birth to death, with no certainty as to when the end of the line will be reached. But in my opinion, when handling degenerative illness and infections, natural hygiene and fasting usually offer the best hope of healing with the least possible risk.
The first vital concern is the duration of the fast. Two eliminatory processes go on simultaneously while fasting. One is the dissolving and elimination of the excess, toxic or dysfunctional deposits in the body, and second process, the gradual exhaustion of the body’s stored nutritional reserves. The fasting body first consumes those parts of the body that are unhealthy; eventually these are all gone. Simultaneously the body uses up stored fat and other reserve nutritional elements. A well-fed reasonably healthy body usually has enough stored nutrition to fast for quite a bit longer than it takes to "clean house."
While house cleaning is going on the body uses its reserves to rebuild organs and rejuvenate itself. Rebuilding starts out very slowly but the repairs increase at an ever-accelerating rate. The "overhaul" can last only until the body has no more reserves. Because several weeks of fasting must pass by before the "overhaul" gets going full speed, it is wise to continue fasting as long as possible so as to benefit from as much rejuvenation as possible.
It is best not to end the fast before all toxic or dysfunctional deposits are eliminated, or before the infection is overcome, or before the cause for complaint has been healed. The fast must be ended when most of the body’s essential-to-life stored nutritional reserves are exhausted. If the fast goes beyond this point, starvation begins. Then, fasting-induced organic damage can occur, and death can follow, usually several weeks later. Almost anyone not immediately close to death has enough stored nutrition to water fast for ten days to two weeks. Most reasonably healthy people have sufficient reserves to water fast for a month. Later I will explain how a faster can somewhat resupply their nutritional reserves while continuing to fast, and thus safely extend the fasting period.
The second essential concern has to do with adjusting the intensity of the fast. Some individuals are so toxic that the waste products released during a fast are too strong, too concentrated or too poisonous for the organs of elimination to handle safely, or to be handled within the willingness of the faster to tolerate the discomforts that toxic releases generate. The highly-toxic faster may even experience life-threatening symptoms such as violent asthma attacks. This kind of faster has almost certainly been dangerously ill before the fast began. Others, though not dangerously sick prior to fasting, may be nearly as toxic and though not in danger of death, they may not be willing to tolerate the degree of discomfort fasting can trigger. For this reason I recommend that if at all possible, before undertaking a fast the person eat mostly raw foods for two months and clean up all addictions. This will give the body a chance to detoxify significantly before the water fast is started, and will make water fasting much more comfortable. Seriously, dangerously ill people should only fast with experienced guidance, so the rapidity of their detoxification process may be adjusted to a lower level if necessary.
A fast of only one week can accomplish a significant amount of healing. Slight healing does occur on shorter fasts, but it is much more difficult to see or feel the results. Many people experience rapid relief from acute headache pain or digestive distress such as gas attacks, mild gallbladder pain, stomach aches, etc., after only one day’s abstention from food. In one week of fasting a person can relieve more dangerous conditions such as arthritic pain, rheumatism, kidney pain, and many symptoms associated with allergic reactions,. But even more fasting time is generally needed for the body to completely heal serious diseases. That’s because eliminating life-threatening problems usually involve rebuilding organs that aren’t functioning too well. Major rebuilding begins only after major detoxification has been accomplished, and this takes time.
Yes, even lost organ function can be partially or completely restored by fasting. Aging and age-related degeneration is progressive, diminishing organ functioning. Organs that make digestive enzymes secrete less enzymes. The degenerated immune system loses the ability to mobilize as effectively when the body is attacked. Liver and kidney efficiency declines. The adrenals tire, becoming incapable of dumping massive amounts of stress-handling hormones or of repeating that effort time after time without considerable rest in between. The consequences of these inter-dependent deterioration’s is a cascade of deterioration that contributes to even more rapid deterioration’s. The name for this cascading process is aging. Its inevitable result—death.
Fasting can, to a degree, reverse aging. Because fasting improves organ functioning, it can slow down aging.
Fasters are often surprised that intensified healing can be uncomfortable. They have been programmed by our culture and by allopathic doctors to think that if they are doing the right thing for their bodies they should feel better immediately. I wish it weren’t so, but most people have to pay the piper for their dietary indiscretions and other errors in living. There will be aches and minor pains and uncomfortable sensations. More about that later. A rare faster does feel immediately better, and continues to feel ever better by the day, and even has incredible energy while eating nothing, but the majority of us folks just have to tough it out, keeping in mind that the way out is the way through. It is important to remind yourself at times that even with some discomfort and considering the inconvenience of fasting that you are getting off easy—one month of self-denial pays for those years of indulgence and buys a regenerated body.
Length Of The Fast
How long should a person fast? In cases where there are serious complaints to remedy but where there are no life threatening disease conditions, a good rule of thumb is to fast on water for one complete day (24 hours) for each year that the person has lived. If you are 30 years old, it will take 30 consecutive days of fasting to restore complete health. However, thirty fasting days, done a few days here and a few there won’t equal a month of steady fasting; the body accomplishes enormously more in 7 or l4 days of consecutive fasting, than 7 or 14 days of fasting accumulated sporadically, such as one day a week. This is not to say that regular short fasts are not useful medicine. Periodic day-long fasts have been incorporated into many religious traditions, and for good reason; it gives the body one day a week to rest, to be free of digestive obligations, and to catch up on garbage disposal. I heartily recommend it. But it takes many years of unfailingly regular brief fasting to equal the benefits o f one, intensive experience.
Fasting on water much longer than fifteen consecutive days may be dangerous for the very sick, (unless under experienced supervision) or too intense for those who are not motivated by severe illness to withstand the discomfort and boredom. However, it is possible to finish a healing process initiated by one long water fast by repeating the fast later. My husband’s healing is a good example of this. His health began to noticeably decline about age 38 and he started fasting. He fasted on water 14 to 18 days at a time, once a year, for five consecutive years before most of his complaints and problems entirely vanished.
The longest fast I ever supervised was a 90 day water fast on an extraordinarily obese woman, who at 5' 2" weighed close to 400 pounds. She was a Mormon; generally members of the LDS Church eat a healthier diet than most Americans, but her’s included far too much of what I call "healthfood junkfood," in the form of whole grain cakes and cookies, lots of granola made with lots of honey, oil, and dried fruit, lots of honey heaped atop heavily buttered whole grain bread. (I will explain more about the trap of healthfood junkfood later on.) A whole foods relatively meatless diet is far superior to its refined white flour, white sugar and white grease (lard) counterpart, but it still produced a serious heath problem in just 30 years of life. Like many women, she expressed love-for-family in the kitchen by serving too-much too-tasty food. The Mormons have a very strong family orientation and this lady was no exception, but she was insecure and unhappy in her marriage and sought consolation in food , eaten far in excess of what her body needed.
On her 90 day water fast she lost about 150 pounds, but was still grossly overweight when the fast ended. Toward the end it became clear that it was unrealistic to try to shrink this woman any closer to normal body weight because to her, fat represented an invaluable insulation or buffer that she was not prepared to give up. As the weight melted away on the fast and she was able to actually feel the outline of a hip bone her neurosis became more and more apparent, and the ability to feel a part of her skeleton was so upsetting to her that her choice was between life threatening obesity and pervasive anxiety.
Her weight was still excessive but the solace of eating was even more important. This woman needed intensive counseling not more fasting. Unfortunately, at the end she choose to remain obese. Fat was much less frightening to her than confronting her emotions and fears. The positive side was that after the fast she was able to maintain her weight at 225 instead of 375 which was an enormous relief to her exhausted heart.
Another client I fasted for 90 days was a 6’ 1" tall, chronic schizophrenic man who weighed in at 400 pounds. He was so big he could barely get through my front door, and mine was an extraordinarily wide door in what had been an upper-class mansion. This man, now in his mid twenties, had spent his last seven years in a mental institution before his parents decided to give him one last chance by sending to Great Oaks School. The state mental hospitals at that time provided the mentally ill with cigarettes, coffee, and lots of sugary treats, but none of these substances were part of my treatment program so he had a lot of immediate withdrawal to go through. The quickest and easiest way to get him through it was to put him on a water fast after a few days of preparation on raw food.
This was not an easily managed case! He was wildly psychotic, on heavy doses of chloropromazine, with many bizarre behaviors. Besides talking to himself continuously in gibberish, he collected bugs, moss, sticks, piles or dirt, and switched to smoking oak leaves instead of cigarettes. He was such a fire hazard that I had to move him to a downstairs room with concrete floor. Even in the basement he was a fire hazard with his smoking and piles of sticks and other inflammables next to his bed, but all of this debris was his "precious." I knew that I was in for trouble if I disturbed his precious, but the insects and dirt piles seemed to be expanding exponentially.
One day the dirt exceeded my tolerance level. To make a long story short he caught me in the act of cleaning up his precious. Was he furious! All 350 pounds of him! (By this time he had lost 50 pounds.) He barreled into me, fists flying, and knocked me into the pipes next to the furnace and seemed ready to really teach me what was what. I prefer to avoid fights, but if they are inevitable, I can really get into the spirit of the thing. I’d had lots of childhood practice defending myself because I was an incurable tomboy who loved to wrestle; I could usually pin big boys who considered themselves tough. So I began using my fists and what little martial arts training I had to good use. After I hurt him a bit he realized that I was not going to be easily intimidated, and that in fact he was in danger of getting seriously damaged. So he called a truce before either of us were badly beaten up. He had only a few bruises and welts, nothing serious.
After that he refrained from collecting things inside the building (he continued to collect outside). This compromise was fine with me, and the incident allowed me to maintain the authority I needed to bully him into co-operating with the program: taking his vitamins, and sticking to his fast until he finally reached 200 pounds. After 90 days on water he actually looked quite handsome, he no longer smoked, he was off psychotropic medication, and his behaviors were within an acceptable range as long as your expectations were not too high.
He was well enough to live outside a hospital and also clear-headed enough to know that if he let too many people know how well he really was, he might have to give up his mental disability pension and actually become responsible for himself. No way, Jose! This fellow knew a good thing when he saw it. So he continued to pull bizarre stunts just often enough in front of the right audience to keep his disability checks coming in, while managing to act sane enough to be allowed to live comfortably at home instead of in the hospital. By keeping to my program he could stay off mind-numbing psychotropic medication if he kept up his megavitamins and minerals. This compromise was tolerable from his point of view, because there were no side effects like he experienced from his tranquilizers.
It is very rare for a mentally ill person who has spent more than a few months in a mental hospital to ever usefully return to society because they find "mental illness" too rewarding.
My Own 56 Day Long Fast
Fasters go through a lot of different emotional states, these can get intense and do change quite rapidly. The physical body, too, will manifest transitory conditions. Some can be quite uncomfortable. But, I don’t want to leave the reader with the impression that fasting is inevitably painful. So I will now recount my own longest fast in detail.
When I did my own 42 day water fast followed by two weeks on carrot juice diluted 50/50 with water, which really amounted to 56 consecutive days, my predominant sensation for the first three days was a desire to eat that was mostly a mental condition, and a lot of rumbling and growling from my stomach. This is not real hunger, just the sounds the stomach likes to make when it is shrinking. After all, this organ is accustomed to being filled at regular intervals, and then, all of a sudden, it gets nothing, so naturally the stomach wants to know what is going on. Once it realizes it is on temporary vacation, the stomach wisely decides to reduce itself to a size suitable for a retired organ. And it shuts up. This process usually takes three to five days and for most people, no further "hunger pangs" are felt until the fast is over.
Real hunger comes only when the body is actually starving. The intense discomforts many people experience upon missing a meal are frequently interpreted as hunger but they aren’t. What is actually happening is that their highly toxic bodies are taking the opportunity presented by having missed a meal or two to begin to cleanse. The toxins being released and processed make assorted unpleasant symptoms such as headaches and inability to think clearly. These symptoms can be instantly eliminated by the intake of a bit of food, bringing the detox to a screeching halt.
Two weeks into the fast I experienced sharp abdominal pains that felt like I imagine appendicitis feels, which compelled me toward the nearest toilet in a state of great urgency where I productively busied myself for about half an hour. As I mentioned earlier, I was experimentally adhering to a rigid type of fast of the sort recommended by Dr. Herbert Shelton, a famous advocate of the Natural Hygiene school. Shelton was such a powerful writer and personality that there still exists a Natural Hygiene Society that keeps his books in print and maintains his library. The words "Natural Hygiene" are almost owned by the society like a trademark and they object when anyone describes themselves as a hygienist and then advocates any practice that Dr. Shelton did not approve of.
Per Dr. Shelton, I was going to fast from the time hunger left until the time it returned and I was not going to use any form of colon cleansing. Shelton strongly opposed bowel cleansing so I did no enemas nor colonics, nor herbs, nor clays, nor psyllium seed designed to clean the bowel, etc. Obviously at day 14 the bowel said, enough is enough of this crap, and initiated a goods house cleaning session. When I saw what was eliminated I was horrified to think that I had left that stuff in there for two weeks. I then started to wonder if the Sheltonites were mistaken about this aspect of fasting. Nonetheless, I persevered on the same regimen because my hunger had not returned, my tongue was still thickly coated with foul-smelling, foul-tasting mucus and I still had some fat on my feet that had not been metabolized.
Shelton said that cleansing is not complete until a skeletal condition is reached—that is, absolutely no fat reserves are left. Up until that time I did not even know that I had fat on my feet, but much to my surprise, as the weeks went on, not only did my breasts disappear except for a couple of land marks well-known to my babies, but my ribs and hip bones became positively dangerous to passersby, and my shoes would not stay on my feet. This was not all that surprising because I went from 135 pounds down to 85 on a 5' 7" frame with substantial bone structure.
Toward the end of the fast my eyes became brighter and clearer blue, my skin took on a good texture, my breath finally became sweet, my tongue cleared up and became pink, my mind was clear, and my spiritual awareness and sensitivity was heightened. In other words, I was no longer a walking hulk of stored-up toxemia. I also felt quite weak and had to rest for ten minutes out every hour in horizontal position. (I should have rested much more.) I also required very little sleep, although it felt good to just lie quietly and rest, being aware of what was going on in various parts of my body.
During the last few weeks on water I became very attentive to my right shoulder. Two separate times in the past, while flying head first over the handlebars of my bicycle I had broken my shoulder with considerable tearing of ligaments and tendons. At night when I was totally still I felt a whole crew of pixies and brownies with picks and shovels at work in the joint doing major repair work. This activity was not entirely comfortable, but I knew it was constructive work, not destructive, so I joined the work crew with my mind’s eye and helped the work along.
It seemed my visualizations actually did help. Ever since, I’ve had the fasters I supervised use creative imagery or write affirmations to help their bodies heal. There are lots of books on this subject. I’ve found that the techniques work far better on a faster than when a person is eating normally.
After breaking the fast it took me six weeks to regain enough strength that I could run my usual distance in my regular time; it took me six months to regain my full 135 pound weight because I was very careful to break the fast slowly and correctly. Coming off water with two weeks on dilute carrot juice I then added small portions of raw food such as apples, raw vegetables, sprouts, vegetable juices, and finally in the fourth week after I began drinking dilute carrot juice, I added seven daily well-chewed almonds to my rebuilding diet. Much later I increased to 14 almonds, but that was the maximum amount of such highly concentrated fare my body wanted digest at one time for over one year. I found I got a lot more miles to the gallon out of the food that I did eat, and did not crave recreational foods. Overall I was very pleased with my educational fast, it had taught me a great deal.
If I had undertaken such a lengthy fast at a time when I was actually ill, and therefore had felt forced into it, my experience could have been different. A positive mental attitude is an essential part of the healing process so fasting should not be undertaken in a negative, protesting mental state. The mind is so powerful that fear or the resistance fear generates can override the healing capacity of the body. For that reason I always recommend that people who consider themselves to be healthy, who have no serious complaints, but who are interested in water fasting, should limit themselves to ten consecutive days or so, certainly never more than 14. Few healthy people, even those with a deep interest in the process, can find enough personal motivation to overcome the extreme boredom of water fasting for longer than that. Healthy people usually begin protesting severely after about two weeks. If there is any one vital rule of fasting, one never should fast over strong, personal protest. Anytime you’r e fasting and you really desire to quit, you probably should. Unless, of course, you are critically ill. Then you may have no choice—its fast or die.
Common Fasting Complaints And Discomforts
The most frequently heard complaints of fasters are headaches, dry, cracked lips, dizziness, blurred vision with black spots that float, skin rashes, and weakness in the first few days plus what they think is intense hunger. The dizziness and weakness are really real, and are due to increased levels of toxins circulating in the blood and from unavoidably low blood sugar which is a natural consequence of the cessation of eating. The blood sugar does reestablish a new equilibrium in the second and third week of the fast and then, the dizziness may cease, but still, it is important to expect dizziness at the beginning.
It always takes more time for the blood to reach the head on a fast because everything has slowed down, including the rate of the heart beat, so blood pressure probably has dropped as well. If you stand up very quickly you may faint. I repetitively instruct all of my clients to stand up very slowly, moving from a lying to a sitting position, pausing there for ten or twenty seconds, and then rising slowly from a sitting to a standing position. They are told that at the first sign of dizziness they must immediately put their head between their knees so that the head is lower than the heart, or squat/sit down on the floor, I once had a faster who forgot to obey my frequent warnings. About two weeks into a long fast, she got up rapidly from the toilet and felt dizzy. The obvious thing to do was to sit back down on the toilet or lie down on the bath rug on the floor, but no, she decided that because she was dizzy she should rush back to her bed in the adjoining room. She made it as far as the bathroom door and fainted, out cold, putting a deep grove into the drywall with her pretty nose on the way down. We then had to make an unscheduled visit to a nose specialist, who calmly put a tape-wrapped spoon inside her bent-over nose and pried it back to dead center. This was not much fun for either of us; it is well worthwhile preventing such complications.
Other common complaints during the fast include coldness, due to low blood sugar as well as a consequence of weight loss and slowed circulation due to lessened physical activity. People also dislike inactivity which seems excruciatingly boring, and some are upset by weight loss itself. Coldness is best handled with lots of clothes, bedding, hot water bottles or hot pads, and warm baths. Great Oaks School of Health was in Oregon, where the endlessly rainy winters are chilly and the concrete building never seemed to get really warm. I used to dream of moving my fasters to a tropical climate where I could also get the best, ripest fruits to wean them back on to food.
If the fast goes on for more than a week or ten days, many people complain of back discomfort, usually caused by over-worked kidneys. This passes. Hot baths or hot water bottles provide some relief. Drinking more fluids may also help a bit. Nausea is fairly common too, due to toxic discharges from the gall bladder. Drinking lots of water or herbal tea dilutes toxic bile in the stomach and makes it more tolerable.
Very few fasters sleep well and for some reason they expect to, certainly fasters hope to, because they think that if they sleep all night they will better survive one more deadly dull day in a state of relative unconsciousness. They find out much to their displeasure that very little sleep is required on a fast because the body is at rest already. Many fasters sleep only two to four hours but doze frequently and require a great deal of rest. Being mentally prepared for this change of habit is the best handling. Generalized low-grade aches and pains in the area of the diseased organs or body parts are common and can often be alleviated with hot water bottles, warm but not hot bath water and massage. If this type of discomfort exists, it usually lessens with each passing day until it disappears altogether.
Many fasters complain that their vision is blurred, and that they are unable to concentrate. These are really major inconveniences because then fasters can’t read or even pay close attention to video-taped movies, and if they can’t divert themselves some fasters think they will go stir crazy. They are so addicted to a hectic schedule of doingness, and/or being entertained that they just can’t stand just being with themselves, forced to confront and deal with the sensations of their own body, forced to face their own thoughts, to confront their own emotions, many of which are negative. People who are fasting release a lot of mental/emotional garbage at the same time as they let go of old physical garbage. Usually the psychological stuff contributed greatly to their illness and just like the physical garbage and degenerated organs, it all needs to be processed.
One of the most distressing experiences that happen occasionally is hair loss. Deprived of adequate nutrition, the follicles can not keep growing hair, and the existing hair dies. However, the follicles themselves do not die and once the fast has ended and sufficient nutrition is forthcoming, hair will regrow as well or better than before.
There are also complaints that occur after the fast has been broken. Post-fast cravings, even after only two weeks of deprivation, are to be expected. These may take the form of desires for sweet, sour, salt, or a specific food dreamed of while fasting, like chocolate fudge sundays or just plain toast. Food cravings must be controlled at all costs because if acted upon, each indulgence chips away the health gains of the previous weeks. A single indulgence can be remedied by a day of restricting the diet to juice or raw food. After the repair, the person feels as good as they did when the fast ended. Repeated indulgences will require another extended bout of fasting to repair. It is far better to learn self-control.
The Healing Crisis And Retracing
Certain unpleasant somatics that occur while fasting (or while on a healing diet) may not be dangerous or "bad." Two types, the healing crisis, and retracing, are almost inevitable. A well-educated faster should welcome these discomforts when they happen. The healing crisis (but not retracing) also occurs on a healing diet.
The healing crisis can seem a big surprise to a faster who has been progressing wonderfully. Suddenly, usually after a few days of noticeably increased well-being, they suddenly experience a set of severe symptoms and feel just awful. This is not a setback, not something to be upset or disappointed about, but a healing crisis, actually a positive sign
Healing crises always occur after a period of marked improvement. As the vital force builds up during the healing process, the body decides it now has obtained enough energy to throw off some accumulated toxins, and forcefully pushes them out through a typical and usually previously used route of secondary elimination, such as the nose, lungs, stomach, intestines, skin, or perhaps produces a flu-like experience with fever chills, sweat, aches and pains, etc. Though unpleasant, this experience is to be encouraged; the body has merely accelerated its elimination process. Do not attempt to suppress any of these symptoms, don’t even try to moderate fever, which is the body’s effective way to burn out a virus or bacteria infection, unless it is a dangerously high fever (over 102° Fahrenheit). Fever can be lowered without drugs by putting the person into a cool/cold bath, or using cold towel wraps and cold water sponge baths. The good news is that healing crises usually do not last long, and when they are pa st you feel better than you did before the crisis.
Asthmatics seem to have the worst crises. I have had asthmatics bring up a quart of obnoxious mucous from their lungs every night for weeks. They have stayed awake all night for three nights continuously coughing and choking on the material that was being eliminated. After that clearing-out process they were able to breath much more freely. Likewise I have had people who have had sinusitis have nothing but non-stop pussy discharge from their sinuses for three weeks. Some of this would run down the throat and cause nausea. All I could say to encourage the sufferer was that it needed to come out and to please stand aside and let the body work its magic. These fasters were not grateful until the sinus problem that had plagued them since childhood disappeared.
The interesting thing about healing crises are that the symptoms produced retrace earlier complaints; they are almost never something entirely unknown to the patient. Usually they are old, familiar somatics, often complaints that haven’t bothered the faster for many years. The reason the symptom is familiar but is not currently a problem is because as the body degenerates it loses vital force; with less vital force it loses the ability to create such acute detoxification episodes in non-life-threatening secondary elimination routes. The degenerated body makes less violent efforts to cleanse, efforts that aren’t as uncomfortable. The negative side of this is that instead of creating acute discomfort in peripheral systems, the toxemia goes to more vital organs where it hastens the formation of life-threatening conditions.
There is a very normal and typical progress for each person’s fatal illness. Their ultimate disease starts out in childhood or adolescence as acute inflammations of skin-like organs, viral or bacterial infections of the same. Then, as vital force weakens, secondary eliminations are shifted to more vital organs. Allergies or colds stop happening so frequently; the person becomes rheumatic, arthritic or experience weakness in joints, tendons, ligaments, or to have back pains, or to have digestive upsets. These new symptoms are more constant but usually less acute. Ultimately, vital organs begin to malfunction, and serious disease develop. But a hygienist sees the beginning of fatal diseases such as cancer in adolescent infections and allergies.
Retracing is generally seen only on water fasts, not on extended cleansing diets. The body begins to repair itself by healing conditions in the reverse order to that which they occurred originally. This means that the body would first direct healing toward the lungs if the most recently serious illness was an attack of pneumonia six months previously. In this case you would expect to quickly and intensely experience a mini-case of pneumonia while the body eliminates residues in the lungs that were not completely discharged at the time. Next the body might take you through a period of depression that you had experienced five years in the past. The faster may be profoundly depressed for a few days and come out of it feeling much better. You could then reexperience sensation-states like those caused by recreational drugs you had playfully experimented with ten years previously along with the "trippiness" if it were a hallucinogen, speediness if it was ‘speed’ or the dopiness if it was heroin. Re tracing further, the faster might then experience something similar to a raging attack of tonsillitis which you vaguely remember having when you were five years old, but fortunately this time it passes in three days (or maybe six hours), instead of three weeks. This is retracing.
Please do not be surprised or alarmed if it happens to you on a fast, and immediately throw out the baby with the bath water thinking that you are doing the wrong thing because all those old illnesses are coming back to haunt you. It is the body’s magnificent healing effort working on your behalf, and for doing it your body deserves lots of "well done", "good body" thoughts rather than gnashing of teeth and thinking what did I do to deserve this. The body won’t tell you what you did to deserve this, but it knows and is trying its darndest to undo it.
The Unrelenting Boredom Of Fasting
Then there’s the unrelenting boredom of fasting. Most people have been media junkies since they were kids; the only way they believe they can survive another day of fasting is by diverting their minds with TV. This is far from ideal because often the emotions of a faster are like an open wound and when they resonate with the emotions portrayed on most TV shows, the faster gets into some very unpleasant states that interfere with healing. And the emotions many movies prompt people to sympathetically generate are powerful ones, often highly negative, and contrary to healing. Especially unhelpful are the adrenaline rushes in action movies. But if TV is the best a faster can do, it is far better that someone fast with television programming filling their minds than to not fast at all. I keep a library of positive VHS tapes for these addicts—comedies, stories of heroic over-comings, depiction’s of humans at their best.
Boredom is probably the most limiting factor to fasting a long time. That is because boredom is progressive, it gets worse with each slowly-passing day. But concurrently, the rate of healing is accelerating with each slowly-passing day. Every day the faster gets through does them considerably more good than the previous day. However, fasters rarely are motivated enough to overcome boredom for more than two weeks or so, unless they started the fast to solve a very serious or life-threatening condition. For this reason, basically well people should not expect to be able to fast for more than a couple of weeks every six months or year, no matter how much good a longer fast might do.
Exercise While Fasting
The issue of how much activity is called for on a fast is controversial. Natural Hygienists in the Herbert Shelton tradition insist that all fasters absolutely must have complete bed rest, with no books, no TV, no visitors, no enemas, no exercise, no music, and of course no food, not even a cup of herb tea. In my many years of conducting people through fasts, I have yet to meet an individual that could mentally tolerate this degree of nothingness. It is too drastic a withdrawal from all the stimulation people are used to in the twentieth century. I still don’t know how Shelton managed to make his patients do it, but my guess is that he must have been a very intimidating guy. Shelton was a body builder of some renown in his day. I bet Shelton’s patients kept a few books and magazines under their mattress and only took them out when he wasn’t looking. If I had tried to enforced this type of sensory deprivation, I know my patients would have grabbed their clothes and run, vowing never to fast again. I think it is most important that people fast, and that they feel so good about the experience that they want to do it again, and talk all their sick friends into doing the same thing.
In contrast to enforced inactivity, Russian researchers who supervised schizophrenics on 30 day water fasts insisted that they walk for three hours every day, without stopping. I would like to have been there to see how they managed to enforce that. I suspect some patients cheated. I lived with schizophrenics enough years to know that it is very difficult to get them to do anything that they don’t want to do, and very few of them are into exercise, especially when fasting.
In my experience both of these approaches to activity during the fast are extremes. The correct activity level should be arrived at on an individual basis. I have had clients who walked six miles a day during an extended water fast, but they were not feeling very sick when they started the fast, and they were also physically fit. In contrast I have had people on extended fasts who were unable to walk for exercise, or so weak they were unable to even walk to the bathroom, but these people were critically ill when they started fasting, and desperately needed to conserve what little vital force they had for healing.
Most people who are not critically ill need to walk at least 200 yards twice a day, with assistance if necessary, if only to move the lymph through the system. The lymphatic system is a network of ducts and nodes which are distributed throughout the body, with high concentrations of nodes in the neck, chest, arm pits, and groin. Its job is to carry waste products from the extremities to the center of the body where they can be eliminated. The blood is circulated through the arteries and veins in the body by the contractions of the heart, but the lymphatic system does not have a pump. Lymphatic fluid is moved by the contractions of the muscles, primarily those of the arms and legs. If the faster is too weak to move, massage and assisted movements are essential.
Lymph nodes are also a part of our immune system and produce white blood cells to help control invading organisms. When the lymph is overloaded with waste products the ducts and nodes swell, and until the source of the local irritation is removed, are incapable of handling further debris. If left in this condition for years they become so hard they feel like rocks under the skin. Lumps in the armpits or the groin are prime sites for the future development of a cancer. Fasting, massage, and poultices will often soften overloaded lymph nodes and coax them back into operation.
The Stages Of Fasting
The best way to understand what happens when we fast is to break up the process into six stages: preparation for the fast, loss of hunger, acidosis, normalization, healing, and breaking the fast.
A person that has consumed the typical American diet most of their life and whose life is not in immediate danger would be very wise to gently prepare their body for the fast. Two weeks would be a minimum amount of time, and if the prospective faster wants an easier time of it, they should allow a month or even two for preliminary housecleaning During this time, eliminate all meat, fish, dairy products, eggs, coffee, black tea, salt, sugar, alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, and greasy foods. This de-addiction will make the process of fasting much more pleasant, and is strongly recommended. However, eliminating all these harmful substances is withdrawal from addictive substances and will not be easy for most. I have more to say about this later when I talk about allergies and addictions.
The second stage, psychological hunger, usually is felt as an intense desire for food. This passes within three or four days of not eating anything. Psychological hunger usually begins with the first missed meal. If the faster seems to be losing their resolve, I have them drink unlimited quantities of good-tasting herb teas, (sweetened —only if absolutely necessary—with nutrisweet). Salt-free broths made from meatless instant powder (obtainable at the health food store) can also fend off the desire to eat until the stage of hunger has passed.
Acidosis, the third stage, usually begins a couple of days after the last meal and lasts about one week. During acidosis the body vigorously throws off acid waste products. Most people starting a fast begin with an overly acid blood pH from the typical American diet that contains a predominance of acid-forming foods. Switching over to burning fat for fuel triggers the release of even more acidic substances. Acidosis is usually accompanied by fatigue, blurred vision, and possibly dizziness. The breath smells very bad, the tongue is coated with bad-tasting dryish mucus, and the urine may be concentrated and foul unless a good deal of water is taken daily. Two to three quarts a day is a reasonable amount.
Mild states of acidosis are a common occurrence. While sleeping after the last meal of the day is digested bodies normally work very hard trying to detoxify from yesterday’s abuses. So people routinely awaken in a state of acidosis. Their tongue is coated, their breath foul and they feel poorly. They end their brief overnight fast with breakfast, bringing the detoxification process to a screeching halt and feel much better. Many people think they awaken hungry and don’t feel well until they eat. They confuse acidosis with hunger when most have never experienced real hunger in their entire lives. If you typically awaken in acidosis, you are being given a strong sign by your body that it would like to continue fasting far beyond breakfast. In fact, it probably would enjoy fasting long beyond the end of acidosis.
Most fasters feel much more comfortable by the end of the first seven to ten days, when they enter the normalization phase; here the acidic blood chemistry is gradually corrected. This sets the stage for serious healing of body tissues and organs. Normalization may take one or two more weeks depending on how badly the body was out of balance. As the blood chemistry steadily approaches perfection, the faster usually feels an increasing sense of well-being, broken by short spells of discomfort that are usually healing crises or retracings.
The next stage, accelerated healing, can take one or many weeks more, again depending on how badly the body has been damaged. Healing proceeds rapidly after the blood chemistry has been stabilized, the person is usually in a state of profound rest and the maximum amount of vital force can be directed toward repair and regeneration of tissues. This is a miraculous time when tumors are metabolized as food for the body, when arthritic deposits dissolve, when scar tissues tend to disappear, when damaged organs regain lost function (if they can). Seriously ill people who never fast long enough to get into this stage (usually it takes about ten days to two weeks of water fasting to seriously begin healing) never find out what fasting can really do for them.
Breaking the fast is equally or more important a stage than the fast itself. It is the most dangerous time in the entire fast. If you stop fasting prematurely, that is, before the body has completed detoxification and healing, expect the body to reject food when you try to make it eat, even if you introduce foods very gradually. The faster, the spiritual being running the body, may have become bored and want some action, but the faster’s body hasn’t finished. The body wants to continue healing.
By rejection, I mean that food may not digest, may feel like a stone in your stomach, make you feel terrible. If that happens and if, despite that clear signal you refuse to return to fasting, you should go on a juice diet, take as little as possible, sip it slowly (almost chew it) and stay on juice until you find yourself digesting it easily. Then and only then, reintroduce a little solid raw food like a green salad.
Weaning yourself back on to food should last just as long as the fast. Your first tentative meals should be dilute, raw juices. After several days of slowly building up to solid raw fruit, small amounts of raw vegetable foods should be added. If it has been a long fast, say over three weeks, this reintroduction should be done gingerly over a few weeks. If this stage is poorly managed or ignored you may become acutely ill, and for someone who started fasting while dangerously ill, loss of self control and impulsive eating could prove fatal. Even for those fasting to cure non-life-threatening illnesses it is pointless to go through the effort and discipline of a long fast without carefully establishing a correct diet after the fast ends, or the effort will have largely been wasted.
Foods For Monodiet, Juice or Broth Fasting
zucchini, garlic, onion, green beans, kale, celery, beet greens and root, cabbage, carrot, wheat grass juice, alfalfa juice, barley green juice, parsley juice, lemon/lime juice, grapefruit juice, apples (not juice, too sweet), diluted orange juice, diluted grape juice
There are gradations of fasting measures ranging from rigorous to relatively casual. Water fasting is the most rapid and effective one. Other methods have been created by grasping the underlying truth of fasting, namely whenever the digestive effort can be reduced, by whatever degree, whenever the formation of the toxins of misdigestion can be reduced or prevented, to that extent the body can divert energy to the healing process. Thus comes about assorted famous and sometimes notorious monodiet semi-fasts like the grape cure where the faster eats only grapes for a month or so, or the lemon cure, where the juice of one or more lemons is added to water and nothing else is consumed for weeks on end. Here I should also mention the "lemon juice/cayenne pepper/maple syrup cure," the various green drink cures using spirulina, chlorella, barley green or wheat grass, and the famous Bieler broths—vegetable soups made of overcooked green beans or zucchini.
I do not believe that monodiets work because of some magical property of a particular food used. They work because they are semi-fasts and may be extremely useful, especially for those individuals who can not or will not tolerate a water fast.
The best foods for monodiet fasting are the easiest ones digest: juices of raw fruits and nonstarchy vegetables with all solids strained out. Strained mineral broths made of long-simmered non-starchy vegetables (the best of them made of leafy green vegetables) fall in the same category. So if you are highly partial to the flavor of grapes or lemons or cayenne and (highly diluted) maple syrup, a long fast on one of these would do you a world of good, just not quite as much good as the same amount of time spent on water alone. If you select something more "solid" for a long monodiet fast, like pureed zucchini, it is essential that you not overeat. Dr. Bieler gave his fasting patients only one pint of zucchini soup three or four times a day. The way to evaluate how much to eat is by how much weight you are losing. When fasting, you must lose weight! And the faster the better.
Pure absolute water fasting while not taking any vitamins or other nutritional supplementation has a very limited maximum duration, perhaps 45 days. The key concept here is nutritional reserves. Body fat is stored, surplus energy fuel. But energy alone cannot keep a body going. It needs much more than fuel to rebuild and repair and maintain its systems. So the body in its wisdom also stores up vitamins and minerals and other essential substances in and in-between all its cells. Bodies that have been very well nourished for a long time have very large reserves; poorly nourished ones may have very little set aside for a rainy day. And it is almost a truism that a sick person has, for quite some time, been a poorly nourished one. With low nutritional reserves. This fact alone can make it difficult for a sick person to water fast for enough time to completely heal their damaged organs and other systems.
Obese people have fat reserves sufficient to provide energy for long periods, but rarely can any body, no matter how complete its nutrition was for years previously, contain sufficient nutritional reserves to support a water fast of over six weeks. To water fast the very obese down to normal weight can take months but to make this possible, rather diverse and concentrated nutrition containing few calories must be given. It is possible to fast even a very slim a person for quite a bit longer than a month when their body is receiving easily assimilable vitamins and minerals and small amounts of sugars or other simple carbohydrates.
I estimate that fasting on raw juices and mineral broths will result in healing at 25 to 75 percent of the efficiency of water fasting, depending on the amount of nutrition taken and the amount the juices or broths are diluted. But juice fasting can permit healing to go on several times longer than water might.
Fasting on dilute juice and broth can also save the life of someone whose organs of elimination are insufficiently strong to withstand the work load created by water fasting. In this sense, juices can be regarded as similar to the moderators in a nuclear reactor, slowing the process down so it won’t destroy the container. On a fast of undiluted juice, the healing power drops considerably, but a person on this regimen, if not sick, is usually capable of working.
Duration of juice fasts can vary greatly. Most of the time there is no need to continue fasting after the symptoms causing concern have been eliminated, and this could happen as quickly as one week or take as long as 60 days if the person is very obese. Fasters also lose their motivation once the complaint has vanished. But feeling better is no certain indication that the need to fast has ended. This points up one of the liabilities of juice fasting; the person is already eating, their digestive system never shut down and consequently, it is much easier for them to resume eating. The thing to keep in mind is that if the symptoms return, the fast was not long enough or the diet was not properly reformed after the fast.
During a long fast on water or dilute juice, if the body has used up all of it’s reserves and/or the body has reached skeletal condition, and the condition or symptoms being addressed persists the fast should be ended, the person should go on a raw food healing diet. If three to six months on raw food don’t solve the complaint then another spell of water or dilute juice fasting should be attempted. Most fasters are incapable of persisting until the body reserves have been used up because social conditioning is telling them their emaciated-looking body must be dying when it is actually far from death, but return of true hunger is the critical indicator that must not be ignored. True hunger is not what most people think of when they think they are hungry. Few Americans have ever experienced true hunger. It is not a rumbling in the stomach or a set of uncomfortable sensations (caused by the beginning of detoxification) you know will go away after eating. True hunger is an animal, instinctual feelin g in the back of one’s throat (not in the stomach) that demands you eat something, anything, even grass or shoe leather.
Seriously ill people inevitably start the cleansing process with a pre-existing and serious mineral deficiencies. I say inevitably because they likely would not have become ill had they been properly nourished. Sick fasters may be wise to take in minerals from thin vegetable broths or vitamin-like supplements in order to prevent uncomfortable deficiency states. For example calcium or magnesium deficiencies can make water fasters experience unpleasant symptoms such as hand tremors, stiff muscles, cramps in the hands, feet, and legs, and difficulty relaxing. I want to stress here that fasting itself does not create deficiencies. But a person already deficient in minerals should watch for these symptoms and take steps to remedy the deficiencies if necessary.
Raw Food Healing Diets
Next in declining order of healing effectiveness is what I call a raw food healing diet or cleansing diet. It consists of those very same watery fruits and nonstarchy vegetables one juices or makes into vegetable broths, but eaten whole and raw. Heating food does two harmful things: it destroys many vitamins, enzymes and other nutritional elements and it makes many foods much harder to digest. So no cooked vegetables or fruits are allowed because to maintain health on this limited regimen it is essential that every possible vitamin and enzyme present in the food be available for digestion. Even though still raw, no starchy or fatty vegetables or fruits are allowed that contain concentrated calories like potatoes, winter squash, avocados, sweet potatoes, fresh raw corn, dates, figs, raisins, or bananas. And naturally, no salad dressings containing vegetable oils or (raw) ground seeds are allowed. Nor are raw grains or other raw concentrated energy sources.
When a person starts this diet they will at first experience considerable weight loss because it is difficult to extract a large number of calories from these foods (though I have seen people actually gain weight on a pure melon diet, so much sugar do these fruits have, and well-chewed watermelon seeds are very nourishing). Eating even large quantities of only raw fruit and raw non-starchy vegetables results in a slow but steady healing process about 10 to 20 percent as rapid as water fasting.
A raw food cleansing diet has several huge advantages. It is possible to maintain this regimen and regularly do non-strenuous work for many months, even a year or more without experiencing massive weight loss and, more important to some people, without suffering the extremes of low blood sugar, weakness and loss of ability to concentrate that happen when water fasting. Someone on a raw food cleanse will have periods of lowered energy and strong cravings for more concentrated foods, but if they have the self-discipline to not break their cleansing process they can accomplish a great deal of healing while still maintaining more or less normal (though slower paced) life activities. However, almost no one on this diet is able to sustain an extremely active life-style involving hard physical labor or competitive sports. And from the very beginning someone on a raw food cleanse must be willing and able to lie down and rest any time they feel tired or unable to face their responsibilities. Otherwise they will inevitably succumb to the mental certainty that their feelings of exhaustion or overwhelm can be immediately solved by eating some concentrated food to "give them energy." Such low-energy states will, however, pass quickly after a brief nap or rest.
Something else gradually happens to a body when on such a diet. Do you recall that I mentioned that after my own long fast I began to get more "mileage" out of my food. A cleansed, healed body becomes far more efficient at digestion and assimilation; a body that is kept on a raw food cleansing diet will initially lose weight rapidly, but eventually weight loss slows to virtually nothing and then stabilizes. However, long-term raw fooders are usually thin as toothpicks.
Once starchy vegetables like potatoes or winter squash, raw or cooked, or any cereals, raw or cooked, are added to a cleansing diet, the detoxification and healing virtually ceases and it becomes very easy to maintain or even gain weight, particularly if larger quantities of more concentrated foods like seeds and nuts are eaten. Though this diet has ceased to be cleansing, few if any toxins from misdigestion will be produced and health is easy to maintain.
"Raw fooders" are usually people who have healed themselves of a serious diseases and ever after continue to maintain themselves on unfired food, almost as a matter of religious belief. They have become convinced that eating only raw, unfired food is the key to extraordinarily long life and supreme good health. When raw fooders wish to perform hard physical work or strenuous exercise, they’ll consume raw nuts and some raw grains such as finely-ground oats soaked overnight in warm water or deliciously sweet "Essene bread," made from slightly sprouted wheat that is then ground wet, made into cakes, and sun baked at temperatures below about 115 degrees Fahrenheit. Essene bread can be purchased in some health food stores. However, little or no healing or detoxification can happen once concentrated energy sources are added to the diet, even raw ones.
During my days at Great Oaks School I was a raw fooder for some years, though I found it very difficult to maintain body heat on raw food during chilly, rainy Oregon winters and eventually struck a personal compromise where I ate about half my diet raw and the rest fired. I have listed some books by raw fooders in the Bibliography. Joe Alexander’s is the most fun.
Complete Recovery Of The Seriously Ill
Its a virtual certainty that to fully recover, a seriously ill person will have to significantly rebuild numerous organs. They have a hard choice: to accept a life of misery, one that the medical doctors with drugs and surgery may be able to prolong into an interminable hell on earth, or, spend several years working on really healing their body, rotating between water fasting, juice or broth fasting, extended periods on a cleansing raw food diet, and periods of no-cleansing on a more complete diet that includes moderate amounts of cooked vegetables and small quantities of cooked cereals. And even after recovery someone who was quite ill may have to live the rest of their life on a rather restricted regimen.
It is unrealistic to expect one fast to fix everything. The body will heal as much as it can in the allotted time, but if a dangerous illness has not been fully remedied by the first intense fast, a raw food diet must be followed for three to six months until weight has been regained, nutritional reserves have been rebuilt and it is safe to undertake another extended fast. More than two water or juice fasts a year of thirty continuous days are not recommended nor should they be necessary unless the life is in imminent danger and there is no other option.
The story of Jake’s catastrophic illness and almost-cure is a good example of this type of program. Jake was from back East. He phoned me because he had read a health magazine article I had written, his weak voice faintly describing a desperate condition. He was in a wheelchair unable to walk, unable to control his legs or arms very well, was unable to control his bladder and required a catheter. He had poor bowel control, had not the strength to talk much or loudly and most frightening to him, he was steadily losing weight although he was eating large amounts of cooked vegetables and grains. Jake had wasted away to 90 pounds at 5’10" and looked pathetic when I first saw him wheeled off an airplane at my local airport.
Jake had seen a lot of medical doctors and had variously been diagnosed as having chronic fatigue syndrome, chronic (whatever that is) meningitis, and multiple sclerosis. He had been treated by virtually every medical expert and many famous alternative practitioners, utilizing a host of old and new techniques, all to no avail. He had even tried intravenous chelation therapy and colonics. It had also been suggested that he enter a hospital for the treatment of eating disorders and/or see a psychiatrist. He had tried to gain admittance to a number of holistic fasting institutions back east, but they all refused him because they considered the risk was too high to fast a person at such a low body weight. But I had previously fasted emaciated people like Jake, and there was something I liked about his telephone presence. Perhaps this is why I foolishly decided I knew better than the other experts.
People commonly waste away and die while eating large amounts of food. Obviously they are unable to digest or assimilate nutrients or they wouldn’t be wasting. Eating further increases their toxic burden from undigested meals, further worsening their already failing organs. The real solution is to stop feeding them altogether so that their digestive functions can heal. In Jake’s case, his body’s nutritional reserves had already become sadly depleted due to poor absorption over such an extended period, so I could not fast him on water. I immediately put Jake on a rich mineral broth prepared from everything left alive in our garden at the end of winter—leaves of kale, endive plants, whole huge splitting Savoy cabbages, garlic, huge leeks including their green tops, the whole stew fortified with sea weed. It did not matter too much what vegetables I used as long as there were lots of leafy greens containing lots of chlorophyll (where the most concentrated mineral nutrition is located).
Jake was given colonics every day, but had to be carried to the colonic table because he could not support his own weight. Whoever had given him colonics previously had not accomplished much for I must say that Jake had the most foul smelling discharges that I had ever encountered in administering over 6,000 colonics over many years. It was as if his body was literally rotting from the inside out.
After 30 days on mineral broth Jake, who really did weigh 90 pounds when he arrived, was only down to 85! When a person already close to skeletal weight starts fasting, to conserve vital tissue the body goes rapidly into a state of profound rest so it uses very little energy, thus it loses very little weight each day. This degree of resting also helps heal abnormal body parts earlier. After one month on mineral broth Jake began to show signs of mineral deficiencies in the form of a fine tremor of the hands, and cramps in the feet, so I put him on mineral supplements too.
Jake was in my house for a long time. At the end of the second month on broth he started two weeks on raw carrot juice with a lot of chlorophyll added from sources such as algae (spirulina), wheat grass juice, alfalfa, etc.. This was followed by two more weeks on small quantities of raw fruits and vegetables, and then followed by two weeks with added steamed vegetables, and finally, he achieved a diet which included small amounts of grain, cooked legumes and raw nuts, plus the fruits and vegetables previously mentioned. Jake health steadily improved. He gained control of his bladder, bowels, speech, hands, and legs. He began to exercise in the living room on a stationary bike, and walked slowly up and down our long driveway, picking daffodils in the beautiful spring weather.
Sadly, though I could help his body to heal it was next to impossible to stem the tides of Jake’s appetites or to pleasantly withstand his tantrums when he was denied; he always wanted more in terms of quantity, more in terms of variety, and at more frequent intervals. Though his organs had healed significantly, his digestive capacity was not nearly as large as he remembered himself enjoying before he got sick. And never would be. Jake was not happy about the dietary restrictions necessary for him to retain his newly attained health, and unwilling to stay within the limits of his digestive system’s ability to process foods. He had gained weight and was back up to 120 pounds. It was time for him to go home before I lost my good humor.
Jake left with a lot of "good lucks" and stern admonitions to stick to his stringent diet and supplement program. It was a big moment for Jake. He had arrived in a wheelchair three months before. Now he walked unaided to the airplane, something he had not been able to do for two years.
Back at home Jake had no one courageous enough to set limits for him. His immediate family and every one of his brow beaten associates were compelled to give him everything that he wanted. So his appetite and lack of personal discipline got the better of him. He started eating lots of dates and figs. These had been eliminated from his diet because he was unable to process foods which such a high sugar content. He also ate larger and larger quantities of grains, nuts and avocados, although I had warned him of specific quantity limits on rich foods. Most sadly, he returned to enjoying spaghetti with lots of cheese grated on top. Within months of leaving my care his paralysis and weakness returned, except that unfortunately for him, he still retained the ability to assimilate food and maintain his body weight. Ironically, the only ultimate benefit of his fasting with me was to permit him to suffer a far longer existence in a wheelchair without wasting away and escaping into death.
I would be failing my readers if I did not explain why Jake became ill in the first place. Jake had started what grew to become a very successful chain of spaghetti restaurants with a unique noodles and sauces made to his own formula. He ate a lot of his own spaghetti over the years, and had been reared in a good Italian family with lots of other kinds of rich food. Jake had a reputation for being able to outeat everybody in terms of quantity and in the amount of time spent eating. In childhood, this ability had made his Italian mother very happy because it showed appreciation for her great culinary skill.
Secondly, Jake the adult was still at his core, Jake the spoiled brat child, with a bad, unregulated temper. He was in the habit of dumping his temper on other people whether they needed a helping of his angry emotions or not. A lot of people in his employ and in his extended family tiptoed around Jake, always careful of triggering his wrath. At my place as Jake began to get well he began to use his increased energy and much stronger voice to demonstrate his poor character. At meal times Jake would bang the table with a fork hard enough to leave dents in the wood table top while yelling for more, complaining loudly about the lack of rich sauces and other culinary delights he craved. This was a character problem that Jake could not seem to overcome, even with a lot of intervention from the local minister on his behalf and my counseling. Jake was a Catholic who went to church regularly, but acted like a Christian only while he was in church. On some level Jake knew that he was not treating others fairly, but he would not change his habitual responses. His negative thoughts and actions interfered with his digestive capacity to the extent that his gluttonous eating habits produced illness, a vegetative paralyzing illness, but not death. To me this seems almost a form of karmic justice.
It is common for people who have been very ill for extended periods of time to realize what a wonderful gift life is and arrive at a willingness to do almost anything to have a second chance at doing ‘life’ right. Some succeed with their second chance and some don’t. If they don’t succeed in changing their life and relationships, they frequently relapse.
Luigi Cornaro’s left the world his story of sickness and rejuvenation. His little book may be the world’s first alternative healing text. It is a classic example of the value of abstentousness. Had Jake taken this story to heart he would have totally recovered. Cornaro was a sixteenth century Venetian nobleman. He, like Jake the spaghetti baron, was near death at the young age of forty. (Jake was also in his early 40s when he broke down.) Cornaro’s many doctors were unable to cure him. Finally he saw a doctor who understood the principles of natural healing. This wise physician determined that this illness was caused by a mismatch between Cornaro’s limited digestive capacity and the excessive amount of food he was eating. So Cornaro was put on a diet of only 12 ounces of solid food and fourteen ounces of liquid a day. Any twelve ounces of any solids he wanted and any fourteen ounces of liquid. It could be meat and wine, salad or orange juice, no matter.
Cornaro soon regained his health and he continued to follow the diet until the age of 78. His health was so outstanding during this period that people who were much younger in terms of years were unable to keep up with him. At 78 his friends, worried about how thin he was (doesn’t it always seem that it is your so-called friends who always ruin a natural cure) persuaded him to increase his daily ration by two ounces a day. His delicate and weak digestive system, which had operated perfectly for many years, was unable to deal with the additional two ounces, and he became very ill after a very short period of over eating.
Worse, his recent indulgence had even further damaged the organs of digestion and to survive Cornaro had to cut his daily ration to eight ounces of solid food and eleven of liquids. On this reduced dietary he again regained his health and lived to be 100. Cornaro wrote four books on the value of abstinence or "sober living" as he called it, writing the last and perhaps the most interesting at 96 years of age. Had my patient Jake been able to confine his food intake to the level of his body’s ability to digest, he might still be walking and enjoying life. But try as I might I could not make him understand. Perhaps he enjoys doing penance in his wheel chair more than he would enjoy health and life.
Tissue Losses at Death By Starvation*
Brain and Spinal Cord 3
* From Keys, Ancel, Joseph Brozek , Austin Henchel, Olaf Mickelson and Henry L. Taylor, (1950) The Biology of Human Starvation. Two Vols. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
It is true that ethical medical doctors use the least-risky procedure they are allowed to use. But this does not mean there are no risks to allopathic treatment. The medical doctor justifies taking the risks by saying that the risk/reward ratio is the best possible. Any sick person is already at risk. Life comes with only one guarantee: that none of us gets out of it alive.
Compared to the risks of allopathic medicine, fasting is a far safer method of treating disease. The oft-repeated scare stories medical doctors and their allies circulate about fasting are not true, and it is important to remember that none of these people portraying fasting as evil and dangerous have ever fasted themselves—I’ll put money on that one. Or, on the slim possibility that someone telling fasting horror stories did actually not eat for 24 hours (probably because some accident or acute illness prevented them), they had a terrible experience because they didn’t understand the process, were highly toxic, and were scared to death the whole time.
Or worse yet they fasted for a short period with an "open mind"—a very dangerous state in which to approach anything new. I have found through considerable experience with people professing to have open minds that the expression "I’m open minded" usually means that someone has already made up their mind and new data just passes straight through their open mind—in one ear and out the other. Or sometimes, the phrase "open mind" means a person that does not believe any information has reality and is entirely unable to make up their mind.
The most commonly leveled criticism of fasting is that in its efforts to survive self-imposed starvation the body metabolizes vital tissue, not just fat, and therefore, fasting is damaging, potentially fatally damaging. People who tell you this will also tell you that fasters have destroyed their heart muscle or ruined their nervous system permanently. But this kind of damage happen only when a person starves to death or starves to a point very close to death, not when someone fasts.
There is a huge difference between fasting and starvation. Someone starving is usually eating, but eating poorly and inadequately, eating scraps of whatever is available such as sugar, white flour, rancid grease, shoe leather, or even dirt. Frequently a starving person is forced to exercise a great deal as they struggle to survive and additionally is highly apprehensive. Or someone starving to death is confined to a small space, may become severely dehydrated too and is in terror. Fear is very damaging to the digestive process, and to the body in general; fear speeds up the destruction of vital tissue. People starve when trekking vast distances through wastelands without food to eat, they starved in concentration camps, buried in mind disasters, they starve during famines and starve while being tortured in prisons.
Until water fasting goes on past the point where all fatty tissues and all abnormal deposits have been burned for fuel and recycled for the nutritional elements they contain, vital muscle tissues and organs are not consumed. And as long as the body contains sufficient nutritional reserves, vital organs and essential tissues are rebuilt and maintained. In fact the body has a great deal of intelligence that we don’t give it credit for. It knows exactly which cells are essential to survival, which ones are not. The body knows which cells are abnormal deposits, and it goes to work to metabolize them first. For example, the body recognizes arthritic deposits, cysts, fibroids, and tumors as offensive parts of the landscape, and obligingly uses them for foods in preference to anything else. A starving (not fasting) body also knows precisely in what order of priority body cells should be metabolized to minimize risk of death or permanent disability.
After a starving body has reached skeletal condition, or where some small amount of fat remains but nutritional reserves (vitamins and minerals) are exhausted and there is insufficient nourishment forthcoming, the body begins to consume nutrient-rich muscle and organ tissue in a last-ditch effort to stay alive. Under these dire circumstances, the least essential muscles and organs from the standpoint of survival are metabolized first. For example, muscles in the arms and legs would be consumed early in the process, the heart muscle used only toward the very end. The very last part of the body to be metabolized when one is starving and as has come very close to death would be the brain and the nervous system.
Starvation begins where fasting ends, which is when real hunger begins. If the return of hunger is ignored whenever it takes place, whether it is in 30, 60, or 90 days depending upon body weight and type of fast, at that point exactly, not a day before, starvation begins very slowly. Usually it takes a considerable period of time after that before death occurs. It is important to note that this discussion applies only to the abstention from food, not water. Death takes place very quickly in the absence of water.
The chart on the previous page shows numerically the phenomenal ability of the body to protect the most essential tissues of the body right up to the time of death. If a person fasted for 30 days, the average time it takes for the return of hunger in a person that is not overweight, and then ignored the return of hunger, and continued to abstain from food—if the person could avoid forced exercise, keep warm, and had enough hydration, it could take as much as an additional 20 to 60 days to die of starvation! At death the body would have experienced losses of 40 to 60 percent of its starting body weight. (Ancel Keys et al, 1950) A emaciated person can not afford to lose nearly as much weight as an obese person, and death under conditions of starvation will occur earlier. In all cases of starvation the brain, nerves, heart, lungs, kidneys and liver remain largely intact and functional to the very end. During a fast, it is almost impossible to damage essential organs, unless of course the person creates th e damage by fears about the process, or by internalizing the fears of others. If those fears are present, the fast should not be attempted.
Weight Loss By Fasting
Loss of weight indicates, almost guarantees, that detoxification and healing is occurring. I can’t stress this too much. Of all the things I find my patients seem to misunderstand or forget after being told, it is that they can’t heal in a rapid manner without getting smaller. This reality is especially hard for the family and friends of someone who is fasting, who will say, "you’re looking terrible dear, so thin. Your skin is hanging on your bones. You’re not eating enough protein or nutrient food to be healthy and you must eat more or you’re going to develop serious deficiencies. You don’t have any energy, you must be getting sicker. You’re doing the wrong thing, obviously. You have less energy and look worse every day. Go and see a doctor before it is too late." To succeed with friends like this, a faster has to be a mighty self-determined person with a powerful ability to disagree with others.
Medical personnel claim that rapid weight loss often causes dangerous deficiencies; these deficiencies force the person to overeat and regain even more weight afterward. This is largely untrue, though there is one true aspect to it: a fasted, detoxified body becomes a much more efficient digester and assimilator, extracting a lot more nutrition from the same amount food is used to eat. If, after extended fasting a person returns to eating the same number of calories as they did before; they will gain weight even more rapidly than before they stated fasting. When fasting for weight loss, the only way to keep the weight off is to greatly reform the diet; to go on, and stay on, a diet made up largely of non-starchy, watery fruits and vegetables, limited quantities of cooked food, and very limited amounts of highly concentrated food sources like cereals and cooked legumes. Unless, of course, after fasting, one’s lifestyle involves much very hard physical labor or exercise. I’ve had a few obes e fasters become quite angry with me for this reason; they hoped to get thin through fasting and after the fast, to resume overeating with complete irresponsibility as before, without weight gain.
People also fear weight loss during fasting because they fear becoming anorexic or bulimic. They won’t! A person who abstains from eating for the purpose of improving their health, in order to prevent or treat illness, or even one who fasts for weight loss will not develop an eating disorder. Eating disorders mean eating compulsively because of a distorted body image. Anorexics and bulimics have obsessions with the thinner-is-better school of thought. The anorexic looks at their emaciated frame in the mirror and thinks they are fat! This is the distorted perception of a very insecure person badly in need of therapy. A bulimic, on the other hand stuffs themselves, usually with bad food, and then purges it by vomiting, or with laxatives. Anorexics and bulimics are not accelerating the healing potential of their bodies; these are life threatening conditions. Fasters are genuinely trying to enhance their survival potential.
Occasionally a neurotic individual with a pre-existing eating disorder will become obsessed with fasting and colon cleansing as a justification to legitimize their compulsion. During my career while monitoring hundreds of fasters, I’ve known two of these. I discourage them from fasting or colon cleansing, and refuse to assist them, because they carry the practices to absurd extremes, and contribute to bad press about natural medicine by ending up in the emergency ward of a hospital with an intravenous feeding tube in their arm.
Cases Beyond The Remedy Of Fasting
Occasionally, very ill people have a liver that has become so degenerated it cannot sustain the burden of detoxification. This organ is as vital to survival as the brain, heart and lungs. We can get along with only one kidney, we can live with no spleen, with no gallbladder, with only small parts of the stomach and intestines, but we can not survive without a liver for more than a day or so. The liver is the most active organ in the body during detoxification. To reach an understanding of detoxification, it helps to know just what the liver does for us on an ongoing basis.
The liver is a powerful chemical filter where blood is refined and purified. The liver passes this cleansed blood out through the superior vena cava, directly to the heart. The blood is then pumped into general and systemic circulation, where it reaches all parts of the body, delivering nutrition and oxygen at a cellular level. On its return flow, a large proportion of the depleted blood is collected by the gastric, splenic and superior and inferior mesenteric veins that converge to form the large portal vein which enters the liver. Thus a massive flow of waste from all the cells of the body is constantly flowing into the liver. The huge hepatic artery also enters the liver to supply oxygen and nutrients with which to sustain the liver cells themselves.
The liver is constantly at work refining the blood. It is synthesizing, purifying, renovating, washing, filtering, separating, and detoxifying. It works day and night without stopping. Many toxins are broken down by enzymes and their component parts are efficiently reused in various parts of the body. Some impurities are filtered out and held back from the general circulation. These debris are collected and stored in the gall bladder, which is a little sack appended to the liver. After a meal, the contents of the gall bladder (bile) are discharged into the duodenum, the upper part of the small intestine just beyond the stomach. This bile also contains digestive enzymes produced by the liver that permit the breakdown of fatty foods in the small intestine.
Sometimes a large flow of bile finds its way into the stomach by pressure or is sucked into the stomach by vomiting. Excessive biliary secretion and excretion can also result from overeating, which overcrowds the area. Sometimes colonics or massage can also stimulate a massive flow of bile. Extremely bitter and irritating, when bile gets into the stomach the person either vomits or wishes they could. And after vomiting and experiencing the taste of bile, wishes they hadn’t.
When no food at all enters the system, the blood keeps right on passing through the liver/filter just as it does when we are eating. When the liver does not have to take care of toxins generated by the current food intake, each passage through the liver results in a cleaner blood stream, with the debris decreasing in quantity, viscosity, and toxicity, until the blood becomes normalized. During fasting, debris from the gall bladder still pass through the small intestine and into the large intestine. However, if the bowels do not move the toxins in the bile are readsorbed into the blood stream and get recirculated in an endless loop. This toxic recycling makes a faster feel just terrible, like they had a flu or worse!
The bowels rarely move while fasting. During fasting only enemas or colonics permit elimination from the large intestine. If done effectively and frequently, enemas will greatly add to the well being and comfort of the faster. Many times when a faster seems to be retracing or experiencing a sudden onset of acute discomfort or symptoms, these can be almost immediately relieved by an enema or colonic.
A person with major liver degeneration inevitably dies, with or without fasting, with or without traditional medicine. Significantly impaired kidney function can also bring about this same result. Mercifully, death while fasting is usually accomplished relatively free of pain, clear of mind and with dignity. That often can not be said of death in a hospital. There are much worse experiences than death.
Fasting is not a cure-all. There are some conditions that are beyond the ability of the body to heal. Ultimately, old age gets us all.
Dr. Linda Hazzard, one of the greats of natural hygiene, who practiced Osteopathic medicine in the 1920s, had a useful way of categorizing conditions that respond well to fasting. These she labeled "acute conditions," and "chronic degenerative conditions." A third classification, "chronic conditions with organic damage," does not respond to fasting. Acute conditions, are usually inflammations or infections with irritated tissue, with swelling, redness, and often copious secretions of mucous and pus, such as colds, flu, a first time case of pneumonia, inflamed joints as in the early stages of arthritis, etc. These acute conditions usually remedy in one to three weeks of fasting. Acute conditions are excellent candidates for self-doctoring. Chronic degenerative conditions are more serious and the patient usually requires supervision. These include conditions such as cancer, aids, chronic arthritis, chronic pneumonia, emphysema and asthma. Chronic degenerative conditions usua lly respond within a month to three months of fasting. The fasting should be broken up into two or three sessions if the condition has not been relieved in one stint of supervised fasting. Each successive fast will produce some improvement and if a light, largely raw-food diet is adhered to between fasts the patient should not worsen and should be fairly comfortable between fastings.
If there has been major functional damage to an organ as a result of any of these degenerative conditions, healing will not be complete, or may be impossible. By organic damage, I mean that a vital part of the body has ceased to function due to some degenerative process, injury, or surgery—so badly damaged that the cells that make up the organ can not be replaced.
I once had a twenty five year old man come to my spa to die in peace because he had been through enough diagnostic procedures in three hospitals to know that his liver was beyond repair. He had been working on an apple farm in between terms at university when he was poisoned several times with insecticide from an aerial spray on the whole orchard. He absorbed so much insecticide that his liver incurred massive organic damage.
When he came to me his body had reached the point where it was incapable of digesting, and because of lack of liver function, it was incapable of healing while fasting, a condition in which death is a certainty. He was a Buddhist, did not fear death and did not want to be kept alive in agony or in prolonged unconsciousness by any extraordinary means, nor did he want to die with tubes in every orifice. I was honored to be a supportive participant in his passing. He died fasting, in peace, and without pain, with a clear mind that allowed him to consciously prepare for the experience. He was not in a state of denial or fear, and made no frantic attempts to escape the inevitable. He went quietly into that still dark night with a tranquil demeanor and a slight smile.
Fortunately, in my many years of practice I had the pleasure of seeing the majority of the people totally regain their health or at least greatly improve it by means of the fasting and healing diets. Many cancer patients watched with amazement as their tumors disappeared before their eyes, many arthritics regained their function, serious skin conditions such as psoriasis disappeared, mental conditions improved, addictions vanished, fatigue was replaced by energy, and fat dissolved revealing the hidden sculpture beneath. I will talk more about procedures and the particular reasons bodies develop specific conditions in later chapters.
Social/Cultural/Psychological Obstacles To Fasting
Numerous attitudes make it difficult to fast or to provide moral support to friends or loved ones that are fasting. Many people harbor fears of losing weight because they think that if times were really tough, if there was a famine or they became ill and lost a lot of weight they would have no reserves and would certainly perish. These people have no idea how much fat can be concealed on an even skinny body, nor of how slowly a skinny body loses weight while fasting. Substantial fat reserves are helpful as heat-retaining insulation in those rare accidents when someone is dropped into a cold ocean and must survive until the rescue boat arrives. Being fat might keep a person alive longer who is lost in the wilderness awaiting rescue with no supplies, no means of procuring food, and no means of keeping warm. On the other hand, fat people would have a far harder time walking out of the wilderness. And extensive fat deposits are merely fuel and do not contain extensive nutritional reserves. An ob ese person fasting without significant nutritional supplementation would begin starving long before they became really skinny. On the balance, carrying excess weight is a far greater liability than any potential prosurvival aspects it might have.
There are other attitudes associated with weight loss that make it difficult for people to fast. People hold rather stereotypical notions about what constitutes an attractive person; usually it involves having some meat on ones bones. Hollywood and Hugh Hefner have both influenced the masses to think that women should have hourglass figures with large, upthrust, firm breasts. Since breasts are almost all useless fatty tissue supporting some milk-producing glands that do not give a breast much volume except when engorged, most women fasters loose a good percentage of their breast mass. If the fast is extensive, there should also develop an impressive showing of ribs and hip bones; these are not soft and cuddly. Husbands, lovers, parents, and friends frequently point out that you don’t look good this way and exhort you to put on weight. Most people think pleasantly plump is healthy.
Skinny men, especially those who had lost a lot of weight during an illness, are pressured by associates to put on weight to prove that they are healthy. I had a client who was formerly a college varsity football player. Before his illness he had lifted weights and looked like a hunk. His family and friends liked to see him that way and justifiably so. Then he got seriously ill. On a long extended healing diet he lost a significant amount of weight and seemed down right skinny, causing all who knew him well and cared about him to tempt him with all kinds of scrumptious delicacies from the best of kitchens. But this case was like Luigi Cornaro, a man who never again could look like a hunk. His "friends" made an absolutely necessary change in life style and appearance far more difficult than it was already. My client was torn between a desire to please others, and a desire to regain and retain his health. This problem a sick person doesn’t need.
If you have the independence to consider following an alternative medical program in a culture that highly values conformity and agreement, you are also going to have to defend your own course of self-determined action based on the best available data that you have. But fasters are usually in fragile emotional condition, so I advise my clients who are subjected to this kind of pressure to beg their friends and associates to refrain from saying anything if they can’t support the course of action you have chosen. After this, if friends or relatives are still incapable of saying nothing (even non-verbally), it is important to exclude them from your life until you have accomplished your health goals, have regained some weight and have returned to eating a maintenance diet, rather than getting skinnier on a healing one.
The very worst aspect of our culture’s eating programming is that people have been wrongfully taught that when ill they must eat to keep up their strength. Inherent in this recommendation is an unstated belief that when the body is weakened by a disease state, the weakness can somehow be overcome with food, and that the body needs this food to kill the virus, bacteria, or invading yeast, and uses the protein to heal or rebuild tissue. Sadly, the exact opposite is the case. Disease organisms feed and multiply on the toxic waste products of misdigestion, and the body is unable to digest well when it is weak or ill.
There’s an old saying about this: ‘feed a cold, starve a fever.’ Most people think this saying means you should eat when you have a cold. What the saying really means is if you feed a cold then you will soon have to starve a fever. Protein foods especially are not digested by a diseased body, and as mentioned before, the waste products of protein indigestion are especially poisonous. That is all the body needs when it is already down, another load of poison which it can’t eliminate due to weakness and enervation.
Weight loss is usually associated with illness, as it should be! In times of acute illness an otherwise healthy body loses its appetite for food because it is prosurvival to stop eating. It is very hard to coax a sick animal to eat. Their bodies, not controlled by a mind full of complex learned responses and false ideas, automatically know that fasting is nature’s method of healing. Contrary to popular understanding, digestion, assimilation, and elimination require the expenditure of considerable energy. This fact may contradict the reader’s experience because everyone has become tired when they have worked a long time without eating, and then experienced the lift after eating. But an ill body cannot digest efficiently so instead of providing energy extracted from foods, the body is further burdened by yet another load of toxic material produced by fermented and putrefied food. This adds insult to injury in a sick body that is already drowning in its own garbage.
Worse, during illness most available vital force is already redirected into healing; it is not available for digestion. It is important to allow a sick body to proceed with healing and not to obstruct the process with unnecessary digestion or suppress the symptoms (which actually are the healing efforts) with drugs. If you have an acute illness, and you stop all food intake except for pure water and herb teas, and perhaps some vegetable broth, or dilute non-sweet juice, you have relieved your body of an immense effort. Instead of digesting, the body goes to work on catching up on healing. The body can and will almost inevitably heal itself if the sick person will have faith in it, cooperate with the body’s efforts by allowing the symptoms of healing to exist, reduce or eliminate the intake of food to allow the body to marshal its energies, maintain a positive mental attitude and otherwise stay out of the way.
Many people intensely dread missing even one meal. These folks usually are and have been so toxic that their bodies had been stashing uneliminated toxins in their fat for years. They are usually so addicted to caffeine, cigarettes, alcohol, and so forth, that when they had fasted, even briefly, their bodies were forced to dip into highly-polluted fat reserves while simultaneously the body begins withdrawal. People like this who try to fast experience highly unpleasant symptoms including headache, irritability, inability to think or concentrate, blurred vision, profound fatigue, aches, etc. Most of these symptoms come from low blood sugar, but combined with the toxins being released from fat and combined with going through multiple addictive withdrawals, the discomforts are more than most people are willing to tolerate. Fasting on juice is much more realistic for cases like this. It is little wonder that when a hygienist suggests a fast to improve health, this type of case asserts positively that fasting is quite impossible, they have tried it, it is absolutely terrible and know that they can’t do it.
This rejection is partly due to a cultural expectation (one reinforced by western medicine) that all unpleasant symptoms should be avoided or suppressed. To voluntarily experience unpleasant sensations such as those mentioned above is more than the ordinary timid person will subject themselves to, even in order to regain health. They will allow surgery, drugs with violent and dangerous side effects, painful and invasive testing procedures and radiation—all unpleasant and sometimes extremely uncomfortable. These therapies are accepted because someone else with authority is doing it to them. And, they have been told that it they don’t submit they will not ever feel better and probably will die in the near future. Also people think that they have no alternative, that the expert in front of them knows what is best, so they feel relieved to have been relieved of the responsibility for their own condition and its treatment.
During the years it takes for a body to degenerate enough to prompt a fast, the body has been storing up large quantities of unprocessed toxins in the cells, tissues, fat deposits, and organs. The body in its wisdom will always choose to temporarily deposit overwhelming amounts of toxins somewhere harmless rather than permit the blood supply to become polluted or to use secondary elimination routes. A body will use times when the liver is less burdened to eliminate these stored toxic debris. The hygienists’ paradigm asserts that the manifestation of symptoms or illness are all by themselves, absolute, unassailable proof that further storage of toxic wastes in the cells, tissues, fat deposits, and organs is not possible and that an effort toward elimination is absolutely necessary. Thus the first time a person fasts a great quantity of toxins will normally be released. Being the resident of a body when this is happening can be quite uncomfortable. For this reason alone, preventative fasting is a ver y wise idea.
Before the body becomes critically ill, clean up your reserve fuel supply (fat deposits) by burning off some accumulated fat that is rich in toxic deposits and then replace it with clean, non-toxic fat that you will make while eating sensibly. If you had but fasted prophylactically as a preventative or health-creating measure before you became seriously ill, the initial detoxification of your body could have been accomplished far more comfortably, while you were healthy, while your vital force was high and while your body otherwise more able to deal with detoxification.
Each time you fast, even if it is only one day, you allow your body to go through a partial detox, and each time it becomes easier and more comfortable than the last time. The body learns how to fast. Each time you fast it, your body slips into a cleansing mode more quickly, and each time you fast you lighten the load of stored toxins. Perhaps you have already eliminated the caffeine your body had stored, which frequently causes severe headaches on withdrawal, not to mention fatigue. It certainly helps to have this behind you before you go on to the elimination of other irritating substances. Many people have gone through alcohol or tobacco withdrawal, and understand that it is very unpleasant, and also that it must be done in the pursuit of health. Why not withdraw from the rest of the irritating and debilitating substances we take into our system on an ongoing basis, and why not grit your way through the eliminative process, withdraw, from food addictions such as sugar or salt, and from foods that yo u may be allergic to like wheat, dairy products or eggs.
It is very wise to invest in your own insurance plan by systematically detoxifying while you are still healthy. Plan it into your life, when it is convenient, such as once a week on Sunday, or even once a month on a quiet day. Take a few days of vacation, go to a warm, beautiful place and devote part or all of it to cleansing. Treat yourself by taking an annual trip to Hawaii, fasting at a hotel on the beach—do whatever it takes to motivate yourself. And consider this: vacations are enormously cheaper when you stay out of restaurants.
If you have accustomed your body to 24 hour fasts, then you can work on 48 hour fasts, and over time work up to 72 hour fasts, all on a continuum. You may find it becoming increasingly comfortable, perhaps even pleasant, something you look forward to. Fasting a relatively detoxified body feels good, and people eventually really get into the clean, light, clear headed, perhaps spiritually aware state that goes along with it.
By contrast, fasting when you are sick is much more difficult because your vitality or vital force is very low, you already have no energy, and probably have unpleasant symptoms that must be dealt with at the same time. There may be the added stress of being forced into a cleanse because you are too nauseous to eat. Most people let their health go until they are forced into dealing with it; they are too busy living, so why bother.
The truth is that our body does age, and over time becomes less able to deal with insults; the accumulated effect of insults and aging eventually leads most of us to some serious degenerative illness. Normally this begins happening around age 50 if not sooner. Some of us that were gifted with good genes or what I call "a good start" may have reached the age of 60 or 75 or even 90 without serious illness, but those people are few and far between. Why not tip the scales in your favor by preventing or staving off health problems with systematic detoxification at your own convenience.
Climb into the drivers seat and start to take control and gain confidence in your own ability to deal with your body, your own health, and your own life. When it gets right down to the bottom line, there is really only one thing in the world that is really yours, and that is your life. Take control and start managing it. The reward will be a more qualitative life.
From The Hygienic Dictionary
Autointoxication.  the accumulations on the bowel wall become a breeding ground for unhealthy bacterial life forms. The heavy mucus coating in the colon thickens and becomes a host for putrefaction. The blood capillaries to the colon begin to pick up the toxins, poisons and noxious debris as it seeps through the bowel wall. All tissues and organs of the body are now taking on toxic substances. Here is the beginning of true autointoxication on a physiological level.Bernard Jensen, Tissue Cleansing Through Bowel Management.  All maladies are due to the lack of certain food principles, such as mineral salts or vitamins, or to the absence of the normal defenses of the body, such as the natural protective flora. When this occurs, toxic bacteria invade the lower alimentary canal, and the poisons thus generated pollute the bloodstream and gradually deteriorate and destroy every tissue, gland and organ of the body. Sir Arbuthnot Lane.  The common cause of gastro-intestinal indigestion is enervation and overeating When food is not digested, it becomes a poison. Dr. John.H. Tllden, Impaired Health: Its Cause and Cure, 1921.  a clogging up of the large intestine by a building up (on) the bowel wall to such an extent that feces can hardly pass through. autointoxication is a direct result of intestinal constipation. Faulty nutrition is a major underlying factor in constipation. The frequency or quantity of fecal elimination is not an indication of the lack of constipation in the bowel. Bernard Jensen, Tissue Cleansing Through Bowel Management.
I am not a true believer in any single healing method or system. I find much truth in many schools and use a wide variety of techniques. The word for my inclination is eclectic.
The most effective medicine in my arsenal is water fasting followed closely in potency by other, less rigorous detoxifying diets. Colon cleansing ranks next in healing power. In fact it is difficult to separate colon cleansing from fasting because detoxification programs should always be accompanied by colon cleansing. Further down the scale of efficatiousness comes dietary reform to eliminate allergic reactions and to present the body with foods it is capable of digesting without creating toxemia. Last, and usually least in effectiveness in my arsenal, are orthotropic substances (in the form of little pills and capsules) commonly known as vitamins or food supplements.
Interestingly, acceptance of these methods by my clients runs in exact opposition to their effectiveness. People prefer taking vitamins because they seem like the allopaths’ pills, taking pills demands little or no responsibility for change. The least popular prescription I can write is a monodiet of water for several weeks or a month. Yet this is my most powerful medicine.
It is possible to resolve many health complaints without fasting, simply by cleansing the colon and regaining normal lower bowel function. Colonics take little personal effort and are much easier to get people to accept than fasting. So I can fully understand how perfectly honest and ethical naturopaths have developed obsessions with colon cleansing. Some healers have loudly and repeatedly (and wrongly) proclaimed that constipation is the sole cause of disease, and thus, the only real cure for any illness is colon cleansing.
Even though it is possible to have a lot of successes with the simple (though unpleasant to administer) technique of colon cleansing, degenerated lower bowels are the only cause of disease. I prefer to use bowel cleansing as an adjunct to more complete healing programs. However, old classics of hygiene and even a few new books strongly make the case for colonics. Some of these books are entirely one-sided, single-cause single-cure approaches, and sound convincing to the layperson. For this reason, I think I should take a few paragraphs and explain why some otherwise well-intentioned health professionals have overly-advocated colonics (and other practices as well).
Most Diseases Cure Themselves
If you ask any honest medical doctor how they cure diseases, they will tell you that most acute disease conditions and a smaller, though significant percentage (probably a majority) of chronic disease conditions are self-limiting and will, given time, get better all by themselves. So for most complaints, the honest allopathic doctor sees their job as giving comfort and easing the severity of the symptoms until a cure happens.
This same scenario, when viewed from a hygienist’s perspective, is that almost all acute and many chronic conditions are simply the body’s attempt to handle a crisis of toxemia. For two reasons the current crisis will probably go away by itself. The positive reason is that the toxic overload will be resolved: the person changes their dietary habits or the stressor that temporarily lowered their vital force and produced enervation is removed, then digestion improves and the level of self-generated toxins is reduced. The negative reason for a complaint to "cure" itself is that the suffering person’s vital force drops below the level that the symptom can be manifested and the complaint goes away because a new, more serious disease is developing.
I view this second possibility as highly undesirable because strong, healthy bodies possessing a high degree of vital force are able to eliminate toxins rather violently, frequently producing very uncomfortable symptoms that are not life-threatening. However, as the vital force drops, the body changes its routes of secondary elimination and begins using more centrally located vital organs and systems to dispose of toxemia. This degeneration producing less unpleasant symptoms, but in the long run, damages essential organs and moves the person closer to their final disease.
A young vigorous body possessing a large degree of vital force will almost always route surplus toxins through skin tissues and skin-like mucus membranes, producing repeated bouts of sinusitis, or asthma, or colds, or a combination of all these. Each acute manifestation will "cure" itself by itself eventually. But eventually the body’s vital force can no longer create these aggressive cleansing phenomena and the toxemia begins to go deeper. When the allopathic doctor gets a patient complaining of sinusitis, they know they will eventually get a cure. The "cure" however, might well be a case of arthritis.
This unfortunate reality tends to make young, idealistic physicians become rather disillusioned about treating degenerative conditions because the end result of all their efforts is, in the end, death anyway. The best they can do is to alleviate suffering and to a degree, prolong life. The worst they can do is to prolong suffering.
Thus, the physicians main job is to get the patient to be patient, to wait until the body corrects itself and stops manifesting the undesired symptom. Thus comes the prime rule of all humane medicine: first of all, do no harm! If the doctor simply refrains from making the body worse, it will probably get better by itself. But the patient, rarely resigned to quiet suffering, comes in demanding fast relief, demanding a cure. In fact, if the patient were resigned to quiet suffering they would not consult a doctor. So if the doctor wants to keep this patient and make a living they must do something. If that something the doctor must do does little or no harm and better yet, can also alleviate the symptoms, the doctor is practicing good medicine and will have a very high cure rate and be financially successful if they have a good bedside manner. This kind of doctor may be allopathic and/or "natural," may use herbs or practice homeopathy.
The story of Dr. Jennings, a very successful and famous or infamous (depending on your viewpoint) physician, who practiced in Connecticut in the early 1800s exemplifies this type of approach.
Dr. Jennings had his own unique medicines. Their composition was of his own devising, and were absolutely secret. He had pills and colored bitter drops of various sorts that were compounded himself in his own pharmacy. Dr. Jennings’ patients generally recovered and had few or no complications. This must be viewed in contrast to the practices of his fellow doctors of that era, whose black bags were full of mercury and arsenic and strychnine, whose practices included obligatory bleeding. These techniques and medicines "worked" by poisoning the body or by reducing its blood supply and thus lowering its vital force, ending the body’s ability to manifest the undesirable symptom. If the poor patient survived being victimized by their own physician, they were tough enough to survive both their disease and the doctor’s cure. Typically, the sick had many, lengthy complications, long illnesses, and many "setbacks" requiring many visits, earning the physician a great living.
Dr. Jennings operated differently. He would prescribe one or two secret medicines from his black bag and instruct the patient to stay in bed, get lots of rest, drink lots of water, eat little and lightly, and continue taking the medicine until they were well. His cure rate was phenomenal. Demand they might, but Dr. Jennings would never reveal what was in his pills and vials. Finally at the end of his career, to instruct his fellow man, Dr. Jennings confessed. His pills were made from flour dough, various bitter but harmless herbal substances, and a little sugar. His red and green and black tinctures, prescribed five or ten drips at a time mixed in a glass of water several times daily, were only water and alcohol, some colorant and something bitter tasting, but harmless. Placebos in other words.
Upon confessing, Dr. Jennings had to run for his life. I believe he ended up retiring on the western frontier, in Indiana. Some of his former patients were extremely angry because they had paid good money, top dollar for "real" medicines, but were given only flour and water. The fact that they got better didn’t seem to count.
If the physicians curative procedure suppresses the symptom and/or lowers the vital force with toxic drugs or surgery, (either result will often as not end the complaint) the allopathic doctor is practicing bad medicine. This doctor too will have a high cure rate and a good business (if they have an effective bedside manner) because their drugs really do make the current symptoms vanish very rapidly. Additionally, their practice harmonizes with a common but vicious dramatization of many people which goes: when a body is malfunctioning, it is a bad body and needs to be punished. So lets punish it with poisons and if that don’t work, lets really punish it by cutting out the offending part.
However, if the physician can do something that will do no harm but raises the vital force and/or lowers the level of toxemia, this doctor will have a genuine cure rate higher than either of the two techniques. Why does raising the vital force help? Because it reduces enervation, improves the digestion, lowers the creation of new toxins and improves the function of the organs of elimination, also reducing the toxic overload that is causing the complaint.
Techniques that temporarily and quickly raise the vital force include homeopathy, chiropractic, vitamin therapy, massage, acupuncture and acupressure and many more spiritually oriented practices. Healers who use these approaches and have a good bedside manner can have a very good business, they can have an especially-profitable practice if they do nothing to lower the level of toxemia being currently generated. Their patients do experience prompt relief but must repeatedly take the remedy. This makes for satisfied customers and a repeat business.
The best approach of all focuses on reducing the self-generated level of toxemia, cleansing to remove deposits of old toxemia, rebuilding the organs of elimination and digestion to prevent the formation of new toxemia, and then, to alleviate the current symptoms and make it easier for the patient to be patient while their body heals, the healer raises artificially and temporarily the vital force with vitamins, massage, acupressure, etc. This wise and benevolent physician is going to have the highest cure rate among those wise patients who will accept the prescription, but will not make as much money because the patients permanently get better and no longer need a physician. There’s not nearly as much repeat business.
Colonics are one of the best types of medicine. They clean up deposits of old toxemia (though there are sure to be other deposits in the body’s tissues colonics do not touch). Colon cleansing reduces the formation of new toxemia from putrefying fecal matter (but dietary reform is necessary to maximize this benefit). Most noticeable to the patient, a colonic immediately alleviates current symptoms by almost instantly reducing the current toxic load. A well-done enema or colonic is such a powerful technique that a single one will often make a severe headache vanish, make an onsetting cold go away, end a bout of sinusitis, end an asthmatic attack, reduce the pain of acute arthritic inflammation, reduce or stop an allergic reaction. Enemas are also thrifty: they are self-administered and can prevent most doctor’s visits seeking relief for acute conditions.
Diseases of the colon itself, including chronic constipation, colitis, diverteculitis, hemorrhoids, irritable bowel syndrome, and mucous colitis, are often cured solely by an intensive series of several dozen colonics given close together. Contrary to popular belief, many people think that if they have dysentery or other forms of loose stools that a colonic is the last thing they need. Surprisingly, a series of colonics will eliminate many of these conditions as well. People with chronic diarrhea or loose stools are usually very badly constipated. This may seem a contradiction in terms but it will be explained shortly.
A century ago there was much less scientific data about the functioning of the human body. Then it was easy for a hygienically-oriented physician to come to believe that colonics were the single best medicine available. The doctor practicing nothing but colonics will have a very high rate of cure and a lot of very satisfied clients. Most importantly, this medicine will have done no harm.
The Repugnant Bowel
I don’t know why, but people of our culture have a deep-seated reluctance to relate to the colon or it’s functions. People don’t want to think about the colon or personally get involved with it by giving themselves enemas or colonics. They become deeply embarrassed at having someone else do it for them. People are also shy about farts, and most Americans have a hard time not smiling or reacting in some way when someone in their presence breaks wind, although the polite amongst us pretend that we didn’t notice. Comedians usually succeed in getting a laugh out of an audience when they come up with a fart or make reference to some other bowel function. People don’t react the same way to urinary functions or discharges, although these also may have an unpleasant odor and originate from the same "private" area.
When I first mention to clients that they need a minimum of 12 colonics or many more enemas than 12 during a fasting or cleansing program they are inevitably shocked. To most it seems that no one in their right mind would recommend such a treatment, and that I must certainly be motivated by greed or some kind of a psychological quirk. Then I routinely show them reproductions of X-rays of the large intestine showing obvious loss of normal structure and function resulting from a combination of constipation, the effects of gravity, poor abdominal muscle tone, emotional stress, and poor diet. In the average colon more than 50% of the hastrum (muscles that impel fecal matter through the organ) are dysfunctional due to loss of tone caused by impaction of fecal matter and/or constriction of the large intestine secondary to stress (holding muscular tension in the abdominal area) and straining during bowel movement.
The average person also has a prolapsed (sagging) transverse colon, and a distorted misplaced ascending and descending colon. I took a course in colon therapy before purchasing my first colonic machine. The chiropractor teaching the class required all of his patients scheduled for colonics to take a barium enema followed by an X-ray of their large intestine prior to having colonics and then make subsequent X-rays after each series of 12 colonics. Most of his patients
A typical diseased colon
A healthy colon
experienced so much immediate relief they voluntarily took at least four complete series, or 48 colonics, before their X-rays began to look normal in terms of structure. It also took about the same number, 48 colonics, for the patients to notice a significant improvement in the function of the colon. In reviewing over 10,000 X-rays taken at his clinic prior to starting colonics, the chiropractor had seen only two normal colon X-rays and these were from farm boys who grew up eating simple foods from the garden and doing lots of hard work.
The X-rays showed that it took a minimum of 12 colon treatments to bring about a minimal but observable change in the structure of the colon in the desired direction, and for the patient to begin to notice that bowel function was improving, plus the fact that they started to feel better.
From my point of view the most amazing part of this whole experience was that the chiropractor did not recommend any dietary changes whatsoever. His patients were achieving great success from colonics alone. I had thought dietary changes would be necessary to avoid having the same dismal bowel condition return. I still think colonics are far more effective if people are on a cleansing diet too. However, I was delighted to see the potential for helping people through colonics.
For me, the most interesting part of this colonic school was that I personally was required to have my own barium enema and X-ray. I was privately certain that mine would look normal, because after all, I had been on a raw food diet for six years, and done considerable amount of fasting, all of which was reputed to repair a civilized colon. Much to my surprise my colon looked just as mangled and dysfunctional as everyone else’s', only somewhat worse because it had a loop in the descending colon similar to a cursive letter "e" which doctors call a volvulus. Surgeons like to cut volvululii out because they frequently cause bowel obstructions. It seemed quite unfair. All those other people with lousy looking colons had been eating the average American diet their whole life, but I had been so ‘pure!’
On further reflection I remembered that I had a tendency toward constipation all through my childhood and young adulthood, and that during my two pregnancies the pressure of the fetus on an already constipated bowel had made it worse resulting in the distorted structure seen in the X-ray. This experience made it very clear that fasting, cleansing diets, and corrected diet would not reverse damage already done. Proper diet and fasting would however, prevent the condition of the colon from getting any worse than it already was.
I then realized that I had just purchased the very tool I needed to correct my own colon, and I was eager to get home to get started on it. I had previously thought that I was just going to use this machine for my patients, because they had been asking for this kind of an adjunct to my services for some time. I ended up giving myself over a hundred colonics at the rate of three a week over many months. I then out of curiosity had another barium enema and X-ray to validate my results. Sure enough the picture showed a colon that looked far more ‘normal’ with no vulvulus. That little "e" had disappeared.
What Is Constipation?
Most people think they are not constipated because they have a bowel movement almost every day, accomplished without straining. I have even had clients tell me that they have a bowel movement once a week, and they are quite certain that they are not constipated. The most surprising thing to novice fasters is that repeated enemas or colonics during fasting begins to release many pounds of undeniably real, old, caked fecal matter and/or huge mucus strings. The first-time faster can hardly believe these were present. These old fecal deposits do not come out the first time one has enemas or necessarily the fifth time. And all of them will not be removed by the tenth enema. But over the course of extended fasting or a long spell of light raw food eating with repeated daily enemas, amazing changes do begin to occur. It seems that no one who has eaten a civilized diet has escaped the formation of caked deposits lining the colon’s walls, interfering with its function. This material does not respond to laxatives or casually administered enemas.
Anyone who has not actually seen (and smelled) what comes out of an "average" apparently healthy person during colonics will really believe it could happen or can accurately imagine it. Often there are dark black lumpy strings, lumps, or gravel, evil smelling discs shaped like sculpted hemispheres similar to the pockets lining the wall of the colon itself. These discs are rock-hard and may come out looking like long black braids. There may also be long tangled strings of gray/brown mucous, sheets and flakes of mucous, and worse yet, an occasional worm (tape worm) or many smaller ones. Once confronted however, it is not hard to imagine how these fecal rocks and other obnoxious debris interfere with the proper function of the colon. They make the colon’s wall rigid and interfere with peristalsis thus leading to further problems with constipation, and interfere with adsorption of nutrients.
Our modern diet is by its "de-"nature, very constipating. In the trenches of the First World War, cheese was given the name ‘chokem ass’ because the soldiers eating this as a part of their daily ration developed severe constipation. Eaten by itself or with other whole foods, moderate amounts of cheese may not produce health problems in people who are capable of digesting dairy products. But cheese when combined with white flour becomes especially constipating. White bread or most white-flour crackers contain a lot of gluten, a very sticky wheat protein that makes the bread bind together and raise well. But white flour is lacking the bran, where most of the fiber is located. And many other processed foods are missing their fiber.
In an earlier chapter I briefly showed how digestion works by following food from the mouth to the large intestine. To fully grasp why becoming constipated is almost a certainty in our civilization a few more details are required. Food leaving the small intestine is called chyme, a semi-liquid mixture of fiber, undigested bits, indigestible bits, and the remains of digestive enzymes. Chyme is propelled through the large intestine by muscular contractions. The large intestine operates on what I dub the "chew chew train" principle, where the most recent meal you ate enters the large intestine as the caboose (the last car of a train) and helps to push out the train engine (the car at the front that toots), which in a healthy colon should represent the meal eaten perhaps twelve hours earlier. The muscles in the colon only contract when they are stretched, so it is the volume of the fecal matter stretching the large intestine that triggers the muscles to push the waste material along toward the re ctum and anus.
Eating food lacking fiber greatly reduces the volume of the chyme and slows peristalsis. But moving through fast or slow, the colon still keeps on doing another of its jobs, which is to transfer the water in the chime back into the bloodstream, reducing dehydration. So the longer chime remains in the colon, the dryer and harder and stickier it gets. That’s why once arrived at the "end of the tracks" fecal matter should be evacuated in a timely manner before it gets to dry and too hard to be moved easily. Some constipated people do have a bowel movement every day but are evacuating the meal eaten many days or even a week previously.
Most hygienists believe that when the colon becomes lined with hardened fecal matter it is permanently and by the very definition of the word itself, constipated. This type of constipation is not perceived as an uncomfortable or overly full feeling or a desire to have a bowel movement that won’t pass. But it has insidious effects. Usually constipation delays transit time, increasing the adsorption of toxins generated from misdigestion of food; by coating and locking up significant portions of colon it also reduces the adsorption of certain minerals and electrolytes.
Sometimes, extremely constipated people have almost constant runny bowels because the colon has become so thickly and impenetrably lined with old fecal matter that it no longer removes much moisture. This condition is often misinterpreted as diarrhea. The large intestine’s most important task is to transfer water-soluble minerals from digested food to the blood. When a significant part of the colon’s surface becomes coated with impermeable dried rigid fecal matter or mucus it can no longer assimilate effectively and the body begins to experience partial mineral starvation in the presence of plenty. It is my observation from dozens of cases that when the colon has been effectively cleansed the person has a tendency to gain weight while eating amounts of food that before only maintained body weight, while people who could not gain weight or who were wasting away despite eating heavily begin to gain. And problems like soft fingernails, bone loss around teeth or porous bones tend to improve.
The Development Of My Own Constipation
The history of my own constipation, though it especially relates to a very rustic childhood, is typical of many people. I was also raised on a very constipating diet which consisted largely of processed cheese and crackers. Mine was accelerated by shyness, amplified by lack of comfortable facilities.
I spent my early years on the Canadian prairies, where everybody had an outhouse. The fancy modern versions are frequently seen on construction sites. These are chemical toilets, quiet different than the ones I was raised with because somebody or something mysteriously comes along, empties them and installs toilet paper. The ones I’m familiar with quickly developed a bad-smelling steaming mound in the center—or it was winter when the outhouse was so cold that everything froze almost before it hit the ground in the hole below. (And my rear end seemed to almost freeze to the seat!) The toilet paper was usually an out of season issue of Eatons mail order catalogue with crisp glossy paper. Perhaps it is a peculiarity of the north country, but at night there are always monsters lurking along the path to the outhouse, and darkness comes early and stays late.
When nature called and it was daylight, and there was no blizzard outside, the outhouse received a visit from me. If on the other hand, when it was dark (we had no electricity), and there was a cold wind creating huge banks of snow, I would ‘just skip it,’ because the alternative—an indoor chamber pot, white enamel with a lid—was worse. This potty had to be used more or less publicly because the bedrooms were shared and there was no indoor bathroom. I was always very modest about my private parts and private functions, and potty’s were only used in emergencies, and usually with considerable embarrassment. No one ever explained to me that it was not good for me to retain fecal matter, and I never thought about it unless my movements became so hard that it was painful to eliminate.
Later in life, I continued this pattern of putting off bowel movements, even though outhouses and potties were a thing of the past. As a young adult I could always think of something more interesting to do than sitting on a pot, besides it was messy and sometimes accompanied by embarrassing sound effects which were definitely not romantic if I was in the company of a young man. During two pregnancies the tendency to constipation was aggravated by the weight of the fetus resting on an already sluggish bowel, and the discomfort of straining to pass my first hard bowel movement after childbirth with a torn perineum I won’t forget.
Rapid Relief From Colon Cleansing
During fasting the liver is hard at work processing toxins released from fat and other body deposits. The liver still dumps its wastes into the intestines through the bile duct. While eating normally, bile, which contains highly toxic substances, is passed through the intestines and is eliminated before too much is reabsorbed. (It is the bile that usually makes the fecal matter so dark in color.) However, reduction of food bulk reduces or completely eliminates peristalsis, thus allowing intestinal contents to sit for extended periods. And the toxins in the bile are readsorbed, forming a continuous loop, further burdening the liver.
The mucus membranes lining the colon constantly secrete lubricants to ease fecal matter through smoothly. This secretion does not stop during fasting; in fact, it may increase because intestinal mucus often becomes a secondary route of elimination. Allowed to remain in the bowel, toxic mucus is an irritant while the toxins in it may be reabsorbed, forming yet another closed loop and further burdening the liver.
Daily enemas or colonics administered during fasting or while on cleansing diets effectively remove old fecal material stored in the colon and immediately ease the livers load, immediately relieve discomfort by allowing the liver’s efforts to further detoxify the blood, and speed healing. Fasters cleansing on juice or raw food should administer two or three enemas in short succession every day for the first three days to get a good start on the cleansing process, and then every other day or at very minimum, every few days. Enemas or colonics should also be taken whenever symptoms become uncomfortable, regardless of whether you have already cleaned the colon that day or not. Once the faster has experienced the relief from symptoms that usually comes from an enema they become more than willing to repeat this mildly unpleasant experience.
Occasionally enemas, by filling the colon and making it press on the liver, induce discharges of highly toxic bile that may cause temporary nausea. Despite the induced nausea it is still far better to continue with colonics because of the great relief experienced after the treatment. If nausea exists or persists during colon cleansing, consider trying slight modifications such as less or no massage of the colon in the area of the gall bladder (abdominal area close to the bottom of the right rib cage), and putting slightly less water in the colon when filling it up. It also helps to make sure that the stomach is empty of any fluid for one hour prior to the colonic. Resume drinking after the colonic sessions is completed. If you are one of these rare people who ‘toss their bile’, just keep a plastic bucket handy and some water to rinse out the mouth after, and carry on as usual.
Enemas Versus Colonics
People frequently wonder what is the difference between a colonic and an enema.
First of all enemas are a lot cheaper because you give them to yourself; an enema bag usually costs about ten dollars, is available at any large drug store, and is indefinitely reusable. Colonics cost anywhere from 30 to 75 dollars a session.
Chiropractors and naturopaths who offer this service hire a colonic technician that may or may not be a skilled operator. It is a good idea to find a person who has a very agreeable and professional manner, who can make you feel at ease since relaxation is very important. It is also beneficial to have a colonic therapist who massages the abdomen and foot reflexes appropriately during the session.
Enemas and colonics can accomplish exactly the same beneficial work. But colonics accomplish more improvement in less time than enemas for several reasons. During a colonic from 30 to 50 gallons of water are flushed through the large intestines, usually in a repetitive series of fill-ups followed by flushing with a continuous flow of water. This efficiency cannot even be approached with an enema. But by repeating the enema three times in close succession a satisfactory cleanse can be achieved. Persisted with long enough, enemas will clean the colon every bit as well as a colonic machine can.
Enemas given at home take a lot less time than traveling to receive a colonics at someone’s clinic, and can be done entirely at you own convenience—a great advantage when fasting because you can save your energy for internal healing. But colonics are more appropriate for some. There are fasters who are unable to give themselves an enema either because their arms are too short and their body is too long and they lack flexibility, or because of a physical handicap or they can’t confront their colon, so they let someone else do it. Some don’t have the motivation to give themselves a little discomfort but are comfortable with someone else doing it to them. Some very sick people are too weak to cleanse their own colon, so they should find someone to assist them with an at-home enema or have someone take them to a colonic therapist.
Few people these days have any idea how to properly give themselves an enema. The practice has been discredited by traditional medical doctors as slightly dangerous, perhaps addictive and a sign of psychological weirdness. Yet Northamericans on their civilized, low fiber, poorly combined diets suffer widely from constipation. One proof of this is the fact that chemical laxatives, with their own set of dangers and liabilities, occupy many feet of drug store shelf space and are widely advertised. Is the medical profession’s disapproval of the enema related to the fact that once the initial purchase of an enema bag has been made there are no further expenses for laxatives? Or perhaps it might be that once a person discovers they can cure a headache, stop a cold dead in its tracks with an enema, they aren’t visiting the M.D.s so often.
The enema has also been wrongly accused of causing a gradual loss of colon muscle tone, eventually preventing bowel movements without the stimulation of an enema, leading finally to flaccidity and enlargement of the lower bowel. This actually can happen; when it does occur it is the result of frequent administration of small amounts of water (fleet enemas) for the purpose of stimulating a normal bowel movement. The result is constant stretching of the rectum without sufficient fluid to enter the descending colon. A completely opposite, highly positive effect comes from properly administered enemas while cleansing.
The difference between helpful and potentially harmful enemas lies in the amount of water injected and the frequency of use. Using a cup or two of water to induce a bowel movement may eventually cause dependency, will not strengthen the colon and may after years of this practice, result in distention and enlargement of the rectum or sigmoid colon. However, a completely empty average-sized colon has the capacity of about a gallon of water. When increasingly larger enemas are administered until the colon is nearly emptied of fecal matter and the injection of close to a gallon of water is achieved, beneficial exercise and an increase in overall muscle tone are the results.
Correctly given, enemas (and especially colonics) serve as strengthening exercises for the colon. This long tubular muscle is repeatedly and completely filled with water, inducing it to vigorously exercise while evacuating itself multiple times. The result is a great increase in muscle tone, acceleration of peristalsis and eventually, after several dozens of repetitions, a considerable reduction of transit time. Well-done enemas work the colon somewhat less effectively and do not improve muscle tone quite as much as colonics.
Injecting an entire gallon of water with an enema bag is very impractical when a person is eating normally. But on a light cleansing diet or while fasting the amount of new material passing into the colon is small or negligible. During the first few days of fasting if two or three enemas are administered each day in immediate succession the colon is soon completely emptied of recently eaten food and it becomes progressively easier to introduce larger amounts of water. Within a few days of this regimen, injecting half a gallon or more of water is easy and painless.
Probably for psychological reasons, some peoples’ colons allow water to be injected one time but then "freeze up" and resist successive enemas. For this reason better results are often obtained by having one enema, waiting a half hour, another enema, wait a half hour, and have a final enema.
A colonic machine in the hands of an expert operator can administer the equivalent of six or seven big enemas in less than one hour, and do this without undue discomfort or effort from the person receiving the colonic. However, the AMA has suppressed the use of colonics; they are illegal to administer in many states. Where colonics are legal, the chiropractors now consider this practice messy and not very profitable compared to manipulations. So it is not easy to find a skilled and willing colonic technician.
Anyone who plans to give themselves therapeutic enemas while fasting would be well advised to first seek out a colonic therapist and receive two or three colonics delivered one day apart while eating lightly and then immediately begin the fast. Three colonics given on three successive days of a light, raw food diet are sufficient to empty all recently eaten food even from a very constipated, distended and bloated colon, while acquainting a person with their own bowel. Having an empty colon is actually a pleasant and to most people a thoroughly novel experience. A few well-delivered colonics can quickly accustom a person to the sensations accompanying the enema and demonstrate the effect to be achieved by oneself with an enema bag, something not quickly discoverable any other way.
How To Give Yourself An Enema
Enemas have been medically out of favor for a long time. Most people have never had one. So here are simple directions to self-administer an effective enema series.
The enema bag you select is important. It must hold at least two quarts and be rapidly refillable. The best American-made brand is made of rubber with about five feet of rubber hose ending in one of two different white hard plastic insertion tips. The bag is designed for either enemas or vaginal douches. It hangs from a detachable plastic "S" hook. When filled to the brim it holds exactly one-half gallon. The maker of this bag offers another model that costs about a dollar more and also functions as a hot water bottle. A good comforter it may make, but the dual purpose construction makes the bag very awkward to rapidly refill. I recommend the inexpensive model.
The plastic insertion tips vary somewhat. The straight tubular tip is intended for enemas; the flared vaginal douche tip can be useful for enemas too, in that it somewhat restrains unintentional expulsion of the nozzle while filling the colon. However, its four small holes do not allow a very rapid rate of flow.
To give yourself an enema, completely fill the bag with tepid water that does not exceed body temperature. The rectum is surprisingly sensitive to heat and you will flinch at temperatures only a degree or two higher than 98 Fahrenheit. Cooler water is no problem; some find the cold stimulating and invigorating. Fasters having difficulty staying warm should be wary of cold water enemas. These can drop core body temperature below the point of comfort.
Make sure the flow clamp on the tube is tightly shut and located a few inches up the tube from the nozzle. Hang the filled bag from a clothes or towel hook, shower nozzle, curtain rod, or other convenient spot about four to five feet above the bathroom floor or tub bottom. The higher the bag the greater the water pressure and speed of filling. But too much pressure can also be uncomfortable. You may have to experiment a bit with this.
Various body positions are possible for filling the colon. None is correct or necessarily more effective than another. Experiment and find the one you prefer. Some fill their colon kneeling and bending forward in the bathtub or shower because there will likely be small dribbles of water leaking from around the nozzle. Usually these leaks do not contain fecal matter. Others prefer to use the bathroom floor. For the bony, a little padding in the form of a folded towel under knees and elbows may make the process more comfortable. You may kneel and bend over while placing your elbows or hands on the floor, reach behind yourself and insert the nozzle. You may also lie on your back or on your side. Some think the left side is preferable because the colon attaches to the rectum on the left side of the body, ascends up the left side of the abdomen to a line almost as high as the solar plexus, then transverses the body to the right side where it descends again on the right almost to the groin. The small intesti ne attaches to the colon near its lower-right extremity. In fact these are the correct names given for the parts of the colon: Ascending, Descending and Transverse Colon along with the Sigmoid Colon or Rectum at the exit end.
As you become more expert at filling your colon with water you will begin to become aware of its location by the weight, pressure and sometimes temperature of the water you’re injecting. You will come to know how much of the colon has been filled by feel. You will also become aware of peristalsis as the water is evacuated vigorously and discover that sensations from a colon hard at work, though a bit uncomfortable, are not necessarily pain.
Insertion of the nozzle is sometimes eased with a little lubricant. A bit of soap or KY jelly is commonly used. If the nozzle can be inserted without lubricant it will have less tendency to slip out. However, do not tear or damage the anus by avoiding necessary lubrication. After insertion, grip the clamp with one hand and open it. The flow rate can be controlled with this clamp. Keeping a hand on the clamp also prevents the nozzle from being expelled.
Water will begin flowing into the colon. Your goal is to empty the entire bag into the colon before sensations of pressure or urgency to evacuate the water force you to remove the nozzle and head for the toilet. Relaxation of mind and body helps achieve this. You are very unlikely to achieve a half-gallon fill up on the first attempt. If painful pressure is experienced try closing the clamp for a moment to allow the water to begin working its way around the obstacle. Or, next time try hanging the bag lower, reducing its height above the body and thus lowering the water pressure. Or, try opening the clamp only partially. Or, try panting hard, so as to make the abdomen move rapidly in and out, sort of shaking the colon. This last technique is particularly good to get the water past a blockage of intestinal gas.
It is especially important for Americans, whose culture does not teach one to be tolerant of discomfort, to keep in mind that pain is the body’s warning that actual damage is being done to tissues. Enemas can do no damage and pose no risk except to that rare individual with weak spots in the colon’s wall from cancers. When an enema is momentarily perceived unpleasantly, the correct name for the experience is a sensation, not pain. You may have to work at increasing your tolerance for unpleasant sensations or it will take you a long time to achieve the goal of totally filling the colon with water. Be brave! And relax. A wise philosopher once said that it is a rough Universe in which only the tigers survive—and sometimes they have a hard time.
Eventually it will be time to remove the nozzle and evacuate the water. Either a blockage (usually fecal matter, an air bubble, or a tight ‘U’ turn in the colon, usually at either the splenetic, or hepatic flexures located right below the rib cage) will prevent further inflow (undesirable) or else the bag will completely empty (good!) or the sensation of bursting will no longer be tolerable. Go sit on the toilet and wait until all the water has passed. Then refill the bag and repeat the process. Each time you fill the colon it will allow more water to enter more easily with less unpleasantness. Fasters and cleansers should make at least three attempts at a complete fill-up each time they do an enema session.
Water and juice fasters will find that after the first few enemas, it will become very easy to inject the entire half-gallon of water. That is because there is little or no chime entering the colon. After a few days the entire colon will seem (this is incorrect) to be empty except when it is filled with water. This is the point to learn an advanced self-administered enema technique. An average colon empty of new food will usually hold about one gallon of water. That is average. A small colon might only hold 3/4 gallon, a large one might accept a gallon and a half, or even more. You’ll need to learn to simultaneously refill the bag while injecting water, so as to achieve a complete irrigation of the whole colon. There are several possible methods. You might try placing a pitcher or half-gallon mason jar of tepid water next to the bag and after the bag has emptied the first time, stand up while holding the tube in the anus, refill the bag and then lie down again and continue filling. You might have an as sistant do this for you. You might try hanging the bag from the shower head and direct a slow, continuous dribble of lukewarm water from the shower into the bag while you kneel or lie relaxed in the tub. This way the bag will never empty and you stop filling only when you feel fullness and pressure all the way back to the beginning of the ascending colon. Of course, hanging from a slowly running shower head the bag will probably overflow and you will get splashed and so will the bathroom floor when your wet body moves rapidly from the tub to the toilet. I’ve imagined making an enema bag from a two gallon plastic bucket with a small plastic hose barb glued into a hole drilled in the bottom or lower edge. If I were in the business of manufacturing enema bags I’d make them hold at least one gallon.
A word of caution to those folks who have a pattern of overdoing it, or tend to think that more is better. This is not true when it comes to colon cleansing. Do not make more than three attempts to fill and clean the colon with an enema bag. Usually the colon begins to protest and won’t accept any more fill-ups. When having colonics on a colonic machine it is a good idea to continue until the water comes back reasonably clear for that session. It is not a good idea for a faster to have colonics that last more than three-quarters of an hour to an hour maximum, or it will be too tiring. Even non-fasters find colonics tiring. After all, the colon is basically a big muscle that has become very lazy on a low-fiber diet.
I’ve personally administered over five thousand colonics, taught several dozen fasters to self-administer their own and stood by while they gave themselves one until they were quite expert. In all that experience I’ve only seen one person have a seriously bad result. This was a suicidally depressed water faster that I (mistakenly) allowed to administer their own colonics with my machine. This person not only took daily colonics, but allowed water to flow through their colon for as long as two hours at a time. Perhaps they were trying to wash out their mind? After several weeks of this extreme excess, the faster became highly confused and disoriented due to a severe electrolyte imbalance. They had to be taken off water fasting immediately and recovered their mental clarity in a few days. The loss of blood electrolytes happened because during colonics there occurs a sort of low-grade very slow reverse osmosis.
Curing With Enemas
It is not wise to continue regular colonics or enemas once a detoxification program has been completed and you have returned to a maintenance diet. The body should be allowed its regular functioning.
But because enemas immediately lower the toxic load on the liver, I do recommend people use them for prevention of an acute illness (you feel like you are coming down with something), and for the treatment of acute illnesses such as a cold. I also like to take one if I have been away traveling for extended periods, eating carelessly. But do not fall into a pattern of bingeing on bad food, and then trying to get rid of it through colonics or laxative. This is bulimia, the eating disorder discussed earlier.
The Sheltonite capital "N" Natural capital "H" Hygienists do not recommend any colon cleansing, ever!. They think that the colon will spontaneously cleanse itself on a long water fast, but my experience learned from monitoring hundreds of fasters is that it doesn't really. Herbert Shelton also considered colon cleansing enervating and therefore undesirable. Colon cleansing does use the faster’s energy but on the balance, colon cleansing saves more work on the part of an overburdened liver than it uses up.
Diet and Nutrition
From The Hygienic Dictionary
Food.  Life is a tragedy of nutrition. In food lies 99.99% of the causes of all diseases and imperfect health of any kind.Prof. Arnold Ehret, Mucusless Diet Healing System.  But elimination will never heal perfectly just so long as you fail to discontinue the supply of inside waste caused by eating and "wrong" eating. You may clean and continue to clean indefinitely, but never with complete results up to a perfect cleanliness, as long as the intake of wrong or even too much right foods, is not stopped. Prof. Arnold Ehret, Mucusless Diet Healing System.  Cooked food favors bacterial, or organized, ferment preponderance, because cooking kills the unorganized and organized ferments, and both are needed to carry on the body’s digestion. Raw foods—fruits and vegetables—favor unorganized ferment digestion, because these foods carr y vitamins, which are unorganized ferments—enzymes. Dr. John.H. Tllden, Impaired Health: Its Cause and Cure, 1921.
Recently, my younger (adult) daughter asked my advice choosing between a root canal or having a bridge made. This led to a discussion of her eating habits in general. Defending her currently less-than-optimum diet against my gentle criticism, she threw me a tough riposte. "Why," she asked, when I was raised so perfectly as a child, "when I ate only Organic food until I was ten and old enough to make you send me to public school where I could eat those lousy school lunches" (her unfeeling, heartless mother home-schooled her), "why even at that young age, (before she spent her adolescent rebellion eating junk food) why at that point did I still have a mouthful of cavities?" And she did. At age ten my daughter needed about ten fillings.
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