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*
Fat 97%
Muscles 31
Blood 27
Liver 54
Spleen 67
Pancreas 17
Skin 21
Intestines 18
Kidneys 26
Lungs 18
Testes 40
Heart 3
Brain and Spinal Cord 3
Nerves 3
Bone 14

* 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.