This section is from the book "The Hygienic System: Fasting And Sun Bathing", by Herbert M. Shelton. Also available from Amazon: The Hygienic System Vol III Fasting and Sun Bathing.
It is not intended here to do more than consider a few so-called diseases, as object lessons in the use of the fast, as these are covered in greater number in Vol. VII of this series.
Denutrition, or temporary abstinence from food, is the most effective, and, at the same time, the safest method for eliminating morbid elements from the system. Any flux, issue, diarrhea, bronchorrhea, dropsy, flow of fluid into the pleura (sac around the lungs), pericardium (sac around the heart), peritoneum (lining of the abdominal cavity) water on the brain, flow of pus from any chronic suppuration, polyuria, and others--any disturbance of the fluids of the body--is favorably influenced by total abstinence from food and water. All catarrhal conditions--rhinitis, ozena, bronchitis, colitis, metritis, cystitis, hay fever, asthma, and other catarrhal conditions--quickly cease to exist under a fast. When the abnormal flow of fluid is controlled, a proper dietary can be fitted to the body; and when impaired nerve-energy--enervation--is brought back to normal, the "disease" is cured.
Every meal eaten, every glass of milk or fluid drunk, raises blood-pressure. Every transfusion of blood raises blood-pressure. When people are sick with catarrh and nose bleeding, or tuberculosis and bleeding from the lungs, or tuberculosis of the bowels with diarrhea, etc., they should stop the intake of water and food, and the hemorrhage will surely cease within twenty-four hours. Then restricted eating should be practiced until hyperemia from plethory is overcome, after which, proper eating and respecting food limitations will bring dependable health.
The editor of an osteopathic journal, an ex-druggist, who still believes in drugs and particularly believes in their use in so-called syphilis, wrote Dr. Alvin N. Davies, of Pa., that Dr. Weger rejects fasting in the conditions labeled syphilis. In reply to a letter to him about the matter, Dr. Weger wrote to me, saying, "I certainly do fast syphilitics."
The authenticated long fast of Ulrich Von Hutten, which was followed by an absolute and openly attested cure of "syphilis," is known to all students of medical history. This treatment of so-called "syphilis" found many zealous champions later on.
The value of fasting in the conditions labeled "syphilis is beyond dispute. Nothing is more effective in the so-called primary and secondary stages. It is valuable also in the tertiary stage; but as this stage is due to drugs, its value is often less apparent. The truth of these things is not impaired by the failure of some individual to employ fasting in such conditions.
Tilden says: "Something more is necessary, however, than simply fasting to overcome and bring about absorption of a fibroid tumor. The proper local treatments for correcting uterine derangement and establishing proper nutrition are absolutely necessary in all cases, if dependable health is to be hoped for." This has not been our experience and we do not approve of the scarification and other local treatment employed by him.
Dewey, Hazzard, Carrington, Macfadden and others record cases of recoveries from diabetes through fasting, before Allen made his experiments and gave the "Allen treatment" to the medical world.
All observers, who have had wide experience with fasting, record cases of improvement of eyesight while fasting, even an occasional case of blindness in which sight is restored. Often, hearing that has been faint for years, is brought up to the acuteness of childhood. In other cases complete deafness is remedied. I had one case of complete blindness in one eye that had existed for several years, in which complete and permanent recovery occurred during a fast undertaken to reduce weight. Another case was one of total deafness in one ear that had existed for twenty-five years. Perfect hearing in this ear was restored during a fast of more than thirty days, undertaken to remedy other troubles. So many pathological changes in the eyes and ears and their associated nerve and brain structures may result in blindness and deafness, it would be folly to expect vision and hearing to be restored in all cases of blindness and deafness. Such recoveries are not to be expected as a regular occurrence.
Carrington says: "lung tissue seems to possess the inherent power of healing itself in a far shorter time, and more effectually, than any other organ which may be diseased. I have repeatedly observed that, in all cases where a fast has been undertaken, in order to cure lung troubles of any description, such fasts have always terminated more speedily and more satisfactorily than in other cases; and such fasts are also undertaken far more easily, and the deprivation and lack of food noticed even less, in such cases, than in any other cases whatever."
He adds that cases of tuberculosis of the lungs are likely to collapse more or less frequently, when they fast, an extreme degree of debility being noted. This, he thinks is due to three chief factors: The real condition of the tubercular is one of debility, but the condition is not apparent, due to the pressure of tonics and stimulants and to the over-feeding to which they are regularly subjected--over-feeding on meats, eggs, milk, and other stimulating foods. The real condition of the patient becomes apparent when the stimulants and the foods are withdrawn, the reaction being severe in proportion to the degree of debility.
"The great sense of freedom which is experienced in the lungs, and the ability to talk and sing with greater clearness and facility, and with greater range and depth of tone, than has been experienced, perhaps, in months and years, will amply testify that the lungs are far sounder and more normal than they have been--perhaps ever!"--Vitality, Fasting and Nutrition, p. 497.
Short fasts are commonly employed in tuberculosis. It should be noted, however, that an amazing number of people are constantly under treatment for tuberculosis who do not have the disease. I once had a case of what I shall call "pseudo-tuberculosis" of the lungs to get well in a week. This case presented the following symptoms upon which the diagnosis had been made--weakness, loss of weight, habitual cough, night sweats, afternoon temperature, "positive" sputum and "spots" on the lungs, as revealed by x-ray. Several physicians had concurred in the diagnosis. Another similar case, which had been under treatment for tuberculosis for four years, growing steadily worse, completely recovered in six weeks.
Some of the most remarkable recoveries it has been my privilege to witness have been in cases of "incurable" heart disease. There are irremediable damages to the heart, but it does not always follow, because some physician has pronounced a given case of heart disease "incurable" that it is really irremediable.
Fasting in heart disease is a sure means of giving the heart a rest. Eating places a load upon the heart. Overeating needlessly increases this burden. Fasting relieves the heart of the excess load it is carrying and provides an opportunity for rest.
Every day people die of "heart attack" or "heart failure" who are eating three square meals a day with extra food between meals. Often these deaths follow immediately upon the heels of a hearty meal, or occur while the sufferer is eating. If "plenty of good nourishing food" will prevent heart collapse, or will assist in the "cure" of heart disease, these patients should not die so regularly. The simple truth is that very few sufferers from heart disease, be they doctor or layman, fail to note from experience that their comforts depend to a great extent upon what and how much they eat. Heart "attacks," from simple acceleration and palpitation to the severe anginas, are in the great majority of instances, due to over-loading, fermentation, distention of the stomach, and indigestion.