In the January 9, 1875 issue of The Science of Health, Trall reproduced a letter from a correspondent, who after thanking him for his letter of advice says: "I immediately commenced a protracted fast, eating nothing for several successive days and, after that, barely enough to sustain life . . ." This man says that for years he had been a "miserable invalid," thus stressing the fact that his disease was chronic, one which had "defied" a "vain search for health." This case indicates the advice to fast in chronic conditions.

Graham said: "Fasting removes those substances which are of the least use to the economy, and hence all morbid accumulations, such as wens, tumours, abscesses and so on, are rapidly diminished and wholly removed by abstinence and fasting." The reader will note that the conditions here instanced by Graham are chronic, thus stressing the use of fasting in chronic conditions.

Kittredge probably made more use of fasting in chronic disease than did any of his contemporaries. He said: "I know very well I am peculiar in my treatment of chronic disease, and many cry out "starvation, &c., but I know also that I have cured hundreds of what the faculty had pronounced 'hopeless cases,' by my plan, and shall not, therefore, be frightened by any bugbear from pursuing it." He "most respectfully" suggested to the hydropaths of the time that they try fasting in connection with water treatments in chronic disease. He said that he was certain they would find it most valuable as an auxiliary to their water applications, and that it would greatly expedite cures in many cases, and that in some cases a cure is impossible without it.

On the whole, however, the early Hygienists did not make as much use of fasting as we do today and rarely used a long fast. This fact is brought forcefully to our attention by the comments of Dr. Walter on Dr. Tanner's second fast, made while the fast was in progress, which appeared in The Laws of Health, August 1880. His editorial, written on the 22nd day of Tanner's fast, predicted that Tanner could not live much beyond 40 days and expressed doubts that, if he succeeded in fasting 40 days, he would ever recover from the ordeal. He said: "A man in certain conditions of disease might live 40 days without eating, but we doubt if it be possible for a person in vigorous health to accomplish so remarkable a task."

This seems to be an echo of a statement made by Dr. Jennings, who seems to have thought that in some manner the sick organism was better able to sustain itself without food than the healthy organism. Writing of a sick child Jennings had said: "The child has taken no nourishment for a number of days and may take none for many days to come, if it should live; yet there is nothing to be feared on this account. Take a healthy child from food while its vital machinery is in full operation, and it will use up its building material and fall into ruin within two or three weeks, but in this case the system has been prepared for a long suspension of the nutritive function."

Dr. Walter continues: "We can but admire, however, the pluck, energy, and we believe, devotion to a principle, that has induced the doctor to make a martyr of himself. We hope that he may succeed, if not in fasting for 40 days, at least in convincing the medical profession that it is not necessary that a man should stuff himself three or four times a day in order to live. There never was a more ridiculous fallacy than to suppose that a man will die if he abstains from food for a few days. The ignorance of the people, not only, but the total subjection of reason to appetite, of the profession, was surely proved by the prediction of medical men that a week or ten days would finish Dr. Tanner. We have never doubted his ability to live four or five weeks without eating; but to return to health and vigor after a six-weeks' fast is more than we expect."

Although there was plenty of evidence available to the men of the era to show that return to health and vigor after a lengthy fast was easily possible, the idea persisted even into our own century that there is something basically different in fasting by the sick and in fasting by the healthy. Dr. Walter said on this occasion: "And yet, moderate fasting is not destructive to life or health. On the other hand, we hold it to be one of the most powerful agents in many cases toward the improvement of nutrition, and consequently, of health and vigor . . . Fasting, whereby the vital powers shall be permitted to free themselves, is one of the most efficient means for recovery. We have remarkable cures, and one of the most remarkable that we ever performed was on a lady who, under our direction, abstained from food entirely for four days. She was a hopeless invalid, and according to her physician's diagnoses, hopelessly incurable, and yet in three weeks she was restored to good health . . . One of the greatest errors of the medical profession today consists in the habit of stuffing patients whether they can use the food or not. Appetite we hold to be the language of nature. When the appetite fails, the evidence is clear that food cannot be used . . ."

Dr. Walter thought that "Tanner has proved by his experiment that the people are not so dependent upon food as is generally imagined." It was his view that this error of the people and the profession grew out of the common practice of employing so-called stimulants. "No man," he wrote, "is so dependent upon food or some other staying influence as is the man who eats or drinks stimulating substances. Who does not employ stimulants will live 24 hours without food and suffer no serious inconvenience; but if he is addicted to coffee, tobacco, alcohol, or highly seasoned food, he needs to return to his stomach every few hours the substances which will keep up its activities."

Continuing his remarks, Dr. Walter says: "Dr. Hammond is to pay Dr. Tanner $1,000 if the latter succeeds in his undertaking. Though Hammond should save his thousand dollars, Tanner will, nevertheless, have proved Dr. Hammond to be one of the poorest and wildest medical philosophers of the age. No man has done more to sustain the practice of stimulation, increase drunkeness, exhaust the vital powers of the patient, and bring about gluttonous excesses than he." Tanner's fast was taken under the strictest surveillance, being carefully watched by medical men and others around the clock, both day and night, and when the 40 days of abstinence had ended, "even Dr. Hammond, who was most loud in his declarations of the impossibility of the performance of such a feat," admitted "that the fast was a genuine one." In spite of the fact that the fast was admittedly genuine, the Encyclopedia Britannica continued to carry the statement that human beings could not go without food for more than six days, until after the Cork hunger strike.

Returning again to his prediction that Tanner would not live long beyond his experiment, Dr. Walter ends his editorial with the following words: "We venture again the prediction that Dr. Tanner will not live long beyond his experiment, and yet he is not likely to die for two or three weeks yet. Possibly we may be called upon to congratulate the Doctor on his recovery after his long fast, though in common with most physicians, we doubt his ability to endure." It will interest my readers to learn that Dr. Tanner recovered excellent health and remained in good health for 30 years thereafter, or until his death in 1910.

In the September 1880 issue of The Laws of Health, Dr. Walter returns to the fast by Tanner. "The long fast has ended," he says, "as we predicted it would, successfully; but we admit to some disappointment as to the Doctor's ability to immediately retain food. Though he had been vomiting continually for days, up to the end of the fast, he, nevertheless, was able to drink half a pint of milk and eat a large slice of watermelon without any apparent difficulty, and soon thereafter repeat the doses of victuals until one would suppose he had a stomach capable of enduring anything, notwithstanding its long season of depletion." It must be admitted that Dr. Walter's prediction that Tanner would successfully complete the fast was a rather hesitant and doubtful one.

Considering then, the question that was being asked: "What good will come of it all?" Dr. Walter said: "It must be apparent to physicians generally that man's dependance upon food has been greatly overrated.

Food is not, by any means, of first importance; air and water certainly precede it. If the doctors will hereafter cease stuffing their patients when the system is already gorged with material, the fast will not be without its uses." Thus it will be seen that he regarded the success of Tanner's undertaking as an object lesson and that he hoped that the lesson would not be lost to the medical profession. Amazingly enough, to this day, Hygienists are still trying to impress the medical profession. We never seem to learn the simple lesson that medical men cannot be impressed. Instead of going directly to the people with our message, we waste too much time trying to convert an unconvertible profession.

Sometimes it is contended by physicians that the employment of food and fasting in the care of the sick is no new thing, that they have employed and sanctioned these things for ages. But the venerable sanctity of the profession cannot hide the fact that, as a body, they have relied on drugs and have neglected both diet and abstinence for ages. Nor can the profession any longer claim that it possesses a monopoly of facts pertaining to health.

The more frequent employment of the fast by Hygienists of the present in chronic disease and the employment of longer fasts followed the work of Edward Hooker Dewey, M.D., who became known as The Father of the Fasting Cure. Dewey was not a Hygienist and promoted the fast as a cure. His work, together with that of his successors, especially Dr. Linda Burfield Hazzard and Benarr Macfadden and his associates greatly popularized the fast, not so much as an integral factor of a Hygienic plan of care, but as a cure.

Today we do not stress so much the length of the fast as its effectiveness. To arbitrarily limit the duration of the fast is to limit the benefits one may derive from it. The only logical plan of determining the length of a fast is to watch day-by-day developments and to break or continue the fast according to these. No man possesses sufficient knowledge to determine in advance how much fasting one requires in one's particular condition. In adjusting the length of the fast to individual requirements, a close study and observation of the faster, as the fast progresses, is required.