This section of the book is from the "How and When to Be Your Own Doctor" book, by Dr. Isabelle A. Moser with Steve Solomon, published in 1997.
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.