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 should be obvious that when energy is low and functions are inefficient, a period of physiological rest will be beneficial. When the digestive function is so badly impaired that every meal is followed with gas, or with nausea, or when undigested food remains in the stomach for prolonged periods, a rest of the digestive system is imperative. Mr. Carrington, who insists upon the necessity of resting in disease, places greatest stress upon rest of the digestive system.
After pointing out that loss of appetite, seen in all acute diseases and common in chronic disease, is "the voice of nature forbidding us to eat," and lamenting the fact that physicians and nurses disregard this "voice of nature" and force food down the throats of "disgusted patients," Dr. T. L. Nichols says, "rest for the stomach, liver, all the organs of the nutritive system, may be the one thing needful. It is the only rest we will not permit.--In certain states of disease, where the organs of digestion are weakened and disordered, the best beginning of a cure may be total abstinence for a time from all kinds of food. There is no cure like it. If the stomach cannot digest, the best way is to give it a rest. It is the one thing which it needs." He also says, "for every disease of every organ of the body, the first condition is rest--rest for stomach, rest for brain. Broken bones and cut or torn muscles, must have rest, or there can be no cure. For the vital organs there must be, at least, diminished labor--intervals of rest--all the repose that is consistent with the necessary operations of life. In disease of the heart, we must diminish the amount of the circulating fluid, and remove all stimulants and excitements to action. It is chiefly through the stomach and nutritive system that we can act on the heart and brain, the more rest we can give to the stomach, the more chance."
When organs have been lashed into impotency by overwork and over-stimulation, rest alone can save, it alone can restore power. Dewey referred to fasting as the "rest cure," and emphasized the urgent necessity of rest in all acute and chronic diseases. Rest, he said, "is not to do any of the curing (healing) any more than it heals the broken bone or the wound; it is only going to furnish the condition for cure." By rest in this statement, he is referring to physiological rest.
Using up nerve energy in business and the general affairs of life to the extent of having too little to take care of the food we eat is common in present-day society and is commonly met with increased food consumption, rather than by the physical and physiological rest the condition demands. If we are sick we "need plenty of good nourishing food"; if we are weak we need "more food." If we are tired and "out of sorts," we need "more food."
Sinclair went upon his first fast when, "after another spell of hard work I found myself unable to digest corn-meal mush and milk." He took a fast when nature compelled him to do so.
The common mode of caring for the body in health and "disease" is a tragedy. It consists of eating food several times a day, of employing stimulants to whip up fatigued organs until they are exhausted, of yielding to indulgences, and dissipations that waste the energies and substances of the body; of whipping into submission any and all organs and functions which attempt to correct matters; of cutting out offended organs and structures which are the seat of discomfort; and of neglecting any and all rational and radically remedial measures until some parts of the organism have become so badly damaged and the organic destruction is so great that recovery is all but impossible.