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 quite common to see Dr. Dewey referred to as the "Father of the Fasting Cure." Dr. Hazzard on the other hand, declares that "Dr. Tanner is justly entitled to first place among the pioneers of therapeutic fasting." I have no desire to detract one iota from the credit due these worthy men, but I must insist that first place belongs to Dr. Jennings, and wish to point out in this connection that Jennings possessed a fairly accurate idea of nature's "bill-of-fare for the sick," before Dr. Dewey discovered it in Yeo's Physiology.
Dr. Henry S. Tanner was born in England in 1831; died in California in 1919. His first fast was begun in July 17, 1877. Dr. Edward Hooker Dewey was born in Wayland, Pennsylvania in May, 1839; died March 28, 1904. In July, 1877 Dr. Dewey witnessed the first case that fasted to recovery, the stomach rejecting all food, and which set him to thinking about and finally employing fasting. Thus the work of Dewey and Tanner began almost simultaneously. However, Dr. Jennings was employing the fast before either of these men were born and wrote about it while they were both boys. Dr. Trall, Sylvester Graham, Dr. Shew, and other of their co-workers were also advocating and using the fast while Drs. Tanner and Dewey were school boys, although one almost never sees these men's names in the literature of fasting. We find Dr. Jennings using fasting as early as 1822 and Graham advocating fasting in 1832. In his work on Cholera, which is his published lectures on this subject, first delivered in New York City in 1832, he recommends fasting for cholera and other febrile conditions. The Graham Journal advocated fasting in 1837, its first year.
A writer in the Graham Journal for April 18, 1837, writing under the title "The Graham System--what is it?" includes in his item by item description of the system the fact that "abstinence should always be preferred to taking medicine--it is a benefit to lose a meal occasionally."
Another writer who signed himself, Equilibrist, writing under the title, "Stuff a Cold and Starve a Fever," in the Journal of Sept. 19 of the same year, quotes Dr. Beaumont's Experiments on Digestion--"in febrile diathesis, very little or no gastric juice is secreted. Hence, the importance of withholding food from the stomach in febrile complaints. It can afford no nourishment; but is actually a source of irritation to that organ, and, consequently, to the whole system. No solvent can be secreted under these circumstances; and food is as insoluble in the stomach as lead would be under ordinary circumstances"--and adds, "In other remarks, if I remember right, the doctor states that food has lain in the stomach of Alexis St. Martin from 6 to 30 or 40 hours, unchanged except by chemical affinities (he is here referring to fermentation and putrefaction. H. M. S.) during some of his ill turns. And yet what multitudes think that when they have a 'bad cold' they must eat or they will certainly be sick! Oh! I must 'stuff a cold and starve a fever,' they will tell you, and go at it in earnest; and not unfrequently in this way bring on a 'fever' that will require weeks to 'starve out.'
"I can testify from my own 'experiments' as well as those of Doctor Beaumont, that any person having a 'bad cold' may find entire relief by abstaining from food, one, two, three, or perhaps five or six meals if the case is a bad one, and that too without taking a particle of medicine."
It is worthy of note that Graham and the Grahamites attempted to form their practices in conformity with what was known in physiology while the medical profession, though studying physiology in college, were then as now, forgetting it as soon as they got into practice and followed the time-honored practice of drugging which bears no normal relation to physiology and violates every physiological principle.
Dr. Oswald, who was a contemporary of Dewey, refers to fasting as "the Graham starvation cure."
It is quite probable also that Doctors Page, Oswald and Walter preceded Dewey and Tanner in the employment of fasting. Dr. Page's book, published in 1883, recounts recoveries while fasting and urges fasting in many cases. Dr. Oswald's Fasting Hydropathy and Exercise was published in 1900. These three men were all acquainted with the works of Dr. Jennings and were influenced much by him, frequently quoting him. I feel safe in assuming that they also received much from Trall and Graham. In his How Nature Cures, published in 1892, Dr. Densmore definitely ascribes his use of fasting to "studying the writings of Trall, Nichols, Shew and other writers and hygienic physicians" forty years before writing his own book.
Laboratory confirmation of the benefits of fasting is not lacking; but it is not needed. Science is not confined to the laboratory and human observation is often as reliable in the field of practice as in that of experiment. Much experimental work with fasting, both in men and animals, has been done by approved laboratory men. Little attention has been given by these men to the value of fasting in "disease" conditions, but their work is of value to us in a general study of the subject before us.
Dr. A. Gulepa, of Paris, employed short fasts in the treatment of diabetes and other chronic "diseases" and wrote a book on "Autointoxication and Disintoxication: An account of a new fasting Treatment in Diabetes and other Chronic Diseases." Dr. Herrick Stern published a book on "Fasting and Under-Nutrition in the Treatment of Diabetes (the Allen Treatment); while Drs. Lewis W. Hill and Rene S. Ackman wrote: "The Starvation Treatment of Diabetes," in which they gave an account of the use of fasting in diabetes in the Rockefeller Institute.
In 1915 Frederick M. Allen, A.B., M.D., of the Rockefeller Institute Hospital "discovered" the "starvation treatment" of diabetes. Dr. Dewey successfully employed fasting in diabetes as far back as 1878; while Dr. Hazzard employed fasting in diabetes prior to 1906.
In 1923 "Fasting and Undernutrition" by Sergius Morgulis, Professor of Biochemistry in the University of Nebraska College of Medicine, was published. It is a most thorough study of fasting, starvation and undernutrition as far as these subjects have been worked out in the laboratory.
Although Prof. Morgulis has a wide acquaintance with the so-called scientific literature dealing with the subject of fasting or inanition, he voluntarily cuts himself off from all of the literature of so-called therapeutic fasting, and applies such terms as "enthusiasts," "amateurs" and "faddists" to those whose years of experience with fasting enable them to apply it to the care of human beings in the various states of impaired health. In an extended bibliography he mentions, from the many works on fasting by its exponents, only that of Hereward Carrington. Mr. Carrington's book is one of the best books on the subject which has yet appeared, but it is by no means complete or even up-to-date, having been published in 1908. Morgulis ignores the works of Jennings, Graham, Trall, Densmore, Walter, Dewey, Tanner, Haskell, Macfadden, Sinclair, Hazzard, Tilden, Eales, Rabagliati, Keith and others who have had widest experience with fasting and who have written extensively upon the subject.