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 feeling 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.