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My Own 56 Day Long Fast
Source: How And When To Be Your Own Doctor
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're 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
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
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
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
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.
Next: The Healing Crisis And Retracing
Previous: Length Of The Fast