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.
Fasting is not a toy to be played with by the ignorant nor should it be looked upon as a stunt. There have been stunt fasters, but we do not advise one to undertake stunt fasts. Nor do we advise indiscriminate fasting of any kind by anyone. Anyone undertaking an extended fast should either be fully acquainted with all the details of fasting, or he should be directly and immediately supervised by one who has had much experience in conducting fasts. In fasting, as elsewhere, but "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing."
Carrington has emphasized the fact that fasting is a great deal more complicated than is commonly supposed, or than is involved in the mere idea of "going without food." "There is a science of fasting," he says, "which we are just now (1909) beginning to realize." While expressing the view that the dangers of fasting are so slight as to be insignificant, and its benefits, when rightly applied, far-reaching and immeasurable, he says: "fasting should be applied by skilled hands; or rather, practiced only under the close supervision and observation of one skilled in" conducting the fast. He says: "the average physician is no more qualified to undertake the supervision of a protracted fast than is any other man who has a good working knowledge of physiology." He advises that the fast be undertaken under the supervision of a good reputable Hygienist.
When one undertakes to fast, one reasonably desires to obtain the greatest possible good in the shortest possible time. To accomplish this requires that the fast be conducted in strict accordance with a few simple and easily understood principles. These few principles must be known and observed in abstaining from food, by either the well or the sick. Tilden says: "Fasting as a remedy requires great knowledge and experience, and should not be assumed by laymen, nor by professional men who have given the subject no thought from a fundamental point of view." Fasting must be fully understood, rightly applied, it must be conducted with skilled hands, if full results are to be expected. There are many factors that must be considered while the patient is abstaining from food.
If the sick person's condition represents years of abuse by bad habits and treatment, great skill is required to take him through a fast to perfect health. Many of the evils ascribed to fasting have resulted from the attempts of unskilled and inexperienced men to conduct fasts.
No greater truth was ever uttered than that contained in Oswald's statement that, "Fasting is a great system-renovator. Ten fast-days a year will purify the blood and eradicate the poison-diathesis more effectively than a hundred bottles of expurgative bitters." But to achieve ideal results the fast must be properly conducted.
The Hygiene of the fast does not differ from the hygiene of "disease." Indeed, we must learn to regard fasting as a hygienic, not as a therapeutic measure. I do not like the terms "fasting cure" and "therapeutic fasting," or "curative fasting."