Naturopathy | Fasting

This is a very powerful cleansing technique but should be used with care. A fast can extend anywhere from one day to about six weeks. The most powerful, but also the most difficult, is the water fast. Next in strength is the juice fast and then the so-called, mono-diet. Fasting relies on the body having sufficient vitality to initiate its own cleansing process once the digestive load is removed, for digestion is a process which requires considerable energy. The larger or more indigestible the meal, the more energy is required by the intestines to secrete digestive enzymes and to absorb and transport the digested food through the intestinal wall. The intestines, in common with all mucus membranes, can be used as an eliminative organ as well as an assimilative one. That is, it can also secrete waste products of metabolism in the reverse direction, out of the bloodstream through the wall and into the intestinal tube. This will only occur when the digestive load is small or nil, so different types of fasts have different effects on the body.

A water fast, in which large quantities of pure water alone are drunk, imposes almost no assimilative load on digestion and in addition provides a useful flushing medium. A juice fast is quite different in action. As well as supplying a liquid volume for flushing, the juice replenishes exhausted cell vitamin and mineral supplies, while the sugar supplies some useful energy. The organic acids such as citric and malic acid yield the valuable bicarbonation after metabolism, which neutralizes acid wastes and replenishes the cell buffer systems. Many more pints of juice can be taken per day in this manner than for the equivalent amount of solid foods.

A more gentle system of fasting is the mono-diet in which only one form of food is taken. In this category come the milk diet, the grape cure and the brown rice diet of macrobiotic fame. In fact any one food can be taken, fruits being generally the most useful. This type of fast has the advantage that it does not interfere greatly with the daily routine, beyond the fact that large amounts of food are usually taken, sometimes about ten pounds of grapes per day. Food of this type, by virtue of its simplicity, imposes a much lower digestive load on the intestines, at the same time still supplying basic nutrients to the system.

In all fasts, elimination through the intestines must be helped by regular enemas, since the bulk may not be enough for normal bowel action. The best enemas are catnip or raspberry leaf herbal teas; slippery elm tea is also good. Soap and water should never be given. It works well enough, but its action on the delicate bowel membrane is excessively irritating. If possible a daily enema of four pints of water should be taken slowly and held for twenty minutes. This allows for maximum cleansing of the whole large intestine. In fact you will be utterly astonished at the result of this descaling process.

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