At the age of 40, John, an old bohemian client of mine, came into a moderate inheritance and went "native" in the Fiji Islands in the South Pacific. He spent about four months hanging out with the locals. Life there was so much fun that John completely forgot that his body was actually rather delicate, that many of his organs were weak, and that to feel good, he had to live a fairly simon-pure life.

But the jovial, accepting, devil-may-care Fijians enjoyed a constant party, even more so because John's money allowed the Fijians to manifest powerful, tropical, home-grown strains of recreational herbs to smoke in abundance, beer and rum and worse, the Fijians (and John) constantly used a very toxic though only mildly-euphoric narcotic called kava, something Europeans usually have no genetic resistance to. The Fijians (and John) also ate a lot of freshly-caught fish fried in grease, well-salted, and huge, brain-numbing bowls of greasy starches, foods that they call i'coi, or "real food" as opposed to things like fruit and vegetables that aren't real food because they don't knock you to the floor for hours trying to digest them in a somnambulant doze.

John miraculously kept up with this party for a few months and then, while scuba diving, got some small coral scratches on his leg. These got infected. The infections got worse. Soon he had several huge, suppurating, ulcerous sores on his legs and worse, the infections became systemic and began spreading rapidly. He was running a fever and was in considerable pain. So John booked an emergency ticket home and fled to find Doctor Isabelle. When I met his plane he was rolled out in a wheelchair, unable to walk because of pain and swelling in his legs.

John was violently opposed to ordinary medical treatment; he especially would not have taken antibiotics even if he had died without them because previous courses of antibiotics had been the precipitant of life-threatening conditions that first brought John to my care. John used his last strength to get to me because he knew that had a hospital gotten its clutches on him the medical doctors would have done exactly as they pleased.

I gave John a colonic, a gentle, mental spanking, and put him to bed without any supper. He started water fasting and did colonics every day. He began gobbling vitamin C (as calcium ascorbate) a few grams every hour. I put huge poultices on his sores made of clay and chopped lawn grass (we needed a week or so before a tray of wheat grass would be ready). John's sores were amazing. Every day a new one seemed to appear on a different part of the body. The old ones kept getting bigger and deeper. The largest original ones were about three inches in diameter, smelled horribly and had almost eaten the flesh down to the bone. His pain was severe; there was no position John could assume that didn't irritate one sore or another, and it was a good thing my house was remote because John frequently relieved his pain by screaming. John was never delirious, but he was always original. He did not have to scream, but enjoyed its relief and howled quite dramatically. I wore earplugs.

After about two weeks of water fasting, John counted up the total of his sores. There were forty three. Seven or eight of them were enormous, two or three inches in diameter and well into the flesh, but the last ones to appear were shallow, small and stayed small. After that point no more new ones showed up and the body began to make visible headway against the infection. Very slowly and then more and more rapidly, the sores began to close up and heal from the edges. John's fever began to drop. And he had less pain. I should mention that John brought an extremely virulent and aggressive pathogenic organism into our house to which we Americans had no resistance. Both my husband and I were attacked where the skin had been broken. However, unlike John, in our cases, our healthy bodies immediately walled-off the organism and the small, reddened pustules, though painful, did not grow and within a week, had been conquered by our immune systems. And after that we had an immunity.

After about three weeks of his fasting we were thoroughly tired of hearing John's cathartic howls, tired of nursing a sick person. We needed a break. John at this point could walk a bit and was feeling a lot better. John had previously water fasted for 30 days and knew the drill very well. So we stocked up the vitamin C bottle by his bed and went to town for the weekend to stay in a motel and see a movie. As they say in the Canadian backwoods, we were bushed.

John had promised to be good. But as soon as we left he decided that since he felt so very much better, he could break his fast. He knew how to do this and fortunately for him, (it was very much premature for John to eat) did it more or less correctly, only eating small quantities of raw fruits and vegetables. But by the time we got back home three days later, John had relapsed. The pain was rapidly getting much worse; the sores were growing again and a few small new ones appeared. Dr. Isabelle again took away his food and gave him another verbal spanking a little more severe than the one he'd had a few weeks earlier and put him to bed again without his supper.

After two more weeks on water, John had gained a great deal on the sores. They were filling in and weren't oozing pus, looked clean and the new forming meat looked a healthy pink instead of purple-black. But John had been very slender to start with and by now he was getting near the end of his food reserves. He probably couldn't have fasted on water for more than one more week without starvation beginning. But this time, when he broke his fast, it was under close supervision. I gave him dilute juice only, introduced other sustenance very cautiously and made absolutely sure that reintroducing nourishment would not permit the organism to gain. This time it didn't. John's own immune system, beefed up by fasting, had conquered a virulent organism that could have easily killed him.

Before the era of antibiotics, before immunizations to the common childhood illnesses, people frequently died of infections as virulent as the one that attacked John. They usually died because they "ate to keep up their strength." Most of these deaths were unnecessary, caused by ignorance and poor nursing care. For example, standard medical treatment for typhoid fever used to consist of spoon-fed milk--sure to kill all but the strongest constitution. Even without the assistance of massive doses of vitamin C, if people would but fast away infections they could cure themselves of almost all of them with little danger, without the side effects of antibiotics or creating mutated antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria.

Dr. John Tilden, a hygienist who practiced in the '20s, before the era of antibiotics, routinely fasted patients with infectious illnesses. Supporting the sick body with wise nursing, he routinely healed scarlet fever, whopping cough, typhoid, typhus, pneumonia, peritonitis, Rocky Mountain fever, tuberculosis, gonorrhea, syphilis, cholera, and rheumatic fever. The one common infection he could not cure was diphtheria involving the throat. (Tilden, Impaired Health, Vol. II).

Recently, medical gerontologists have discovered another reason that fasting heals infections. One body function that deteriorates during the aging process is the production of growth hormone so the effects of growth hormone have been studied. This hormone also stimulates the body to heal wounds and burns, repair broken bones, generally replace any tissues that have been destroyed and, growth hormone stimulates the immune response. Growth hormone also maintains muscle tone and its presence generally slows the aging process.

Growth hormone might make a wonderful life-extension supplement; on it a middle-aged person might readily maintain the muscle tone of youth while slowing aging in general. Unfortunately, growth hormone cannot at this time be inexpensively synthesized and is still far too costly to be used therapeutically except to prevent dwarfism. However, any technique that encourages a body to produce more of this hormone would be of great interest to life extensionists.

The body only produces growth hormone at certain times and only when certain nutrients are present in the blood. Gerontologists call these nutrients "precursors." The precursors are two essential amino acids, argenine and ornithine and certain vitamins such as C and B 6. But having the precursors present is not enough. Growth hormone is only manufactured under certain, specific circumstances: for about one hour immediately after going to sleep and then only if the blood supply is rich with argenine and ornithine but contains few other amino acids; it is also manufactured during heavy aerobic exercise that goes on for more than thirty minutes; and growth hormone is produced at an accelerated rate when fasting. (Pearson and Shaw, 1983). I did not know this when I was fasting John, but now, I would give argenine and ornithine to someone with a serious infection as well as massive quantities of vitamin C.