CAUTION AND COUNSEL
GUIDANCE IS REQUIRED FOR PROTRACTED FASTS:
MUCH though it is to be desired by those who know the inestimable benefits to be derived from a fast that is scientifically conducted, there is but small hope that this natural means of bodily purification, of disease eradication, will ever prove a popular method of health restoration. Self-denial and self-control are two virtues that the average mortal is content to relegate to the side-lines in the game of life. Or, if he be not content so to do, it is easy to shift responsibility to those whose profession it is to prescribe a remedy the purpose of which is to suppress the manifest symptom, to ease present distress or disturbance. The cause of local expression, of the symptom or symptoms, has no place in a philosophy of this character, yet, unless the source of disease is attacked and removed, health is really never his who depends upon symptomatic alleviation. And again, when one is ill, no real self-denial or control is needful to curtail or even entirely to omit food. And, while it is many times accentuated in the text that food withdrawal is the easy, and at once the natural and the scientific measure to be employed whenever illness occurs, since hunger and disease never exist simultaneously in the animal body, few possess courage to apply it.
Now, while in acute or chronic disease there are difficulties to be encountered in prolonged fasting, the results of a "fast to a finish", to the cleansed systemic condition produced by the process of elimination thus engendered, are nevertheless those that thereafter, with proper care of the body, insure continued normal physical existence. And, as above stated, nature constantly indicates abstention from food in disease, but especially does she do so when acute prostrating illness develops, as well as when certain symptoms, become chronic in character, are present.
In more than thirty years of experience with the fast as a therapeutic agency, the writer has discovered that by far the most satisfactory diet upon which to break a fast is one confined to vegetable broths or soups, prepared in such manner as to preserve both vitamin and mineral content, excluding at the same time all but finely comminuted solid matter. Broths thus made, when eaten slowly, are fully insalivated, easily digested, and their food material is absorbed and assimilated without difficulty. In casting about for a dietary that would accomplish these ends, much observation and experiment were in order, and in the course of investigation it was determined that where, in functional disease, a fast protracted in length made upon its subject demand for absolute rest, hence precluding attention to daily duty in business or otherwise, a diet restricted to soups similar to those upon which a fast is broken in great degree permitted the function of elimination to preponderate, satisfied stomach craving if present, and did not, excepting in slightest measure, interfere, either psychologically or physiologically, with intake and outgo of vital force.
Naturally when corrective eating is substituted for fasting, the process of bodily purification, of systemic cleansing, is prolonged; but the symptoms produced are in modified form similar to those noted during the progress of an absolute fast continued to its logical end, the return of natural hunger. And the results that accrue, though delayed and not equal to those obtained by a "fast to a finish," are eminently satisfactory.
For many reasons, quite obvious ones too, complete abstention from food in illness occasions in those who are uninformed upon the benefits that follow in its train, and who are ignorant of the physical resources of the human body and of the physiological changes that abstinence occasions, thoughts that are decidedly deterrent. And this though, as is so often iterated herein, no real desire for food exists at the time. The patient himself may be fully cognizant of body resource and of the advantages that follow abstinence, and he may possess the necessary will to impose upon himself the discipline needful for successful issue; but in the usual instance there are relatives and friends, who are not, as is the sufferer, in touch with nature, and here opposition often evolves that in effect annuls the action, if not the inclination. On the other hand, there is this to be said: if the patient has the will and the determination to carry to conclusion an absolute fast, if, under guidance during its continuance, he employs the essential eliminative agencies, and, if no serious organic condition is uncovered, as it surely will be if it exists, relief with recovery will occur much more rapidly and satisfactorily than is possible when even the small amount of sustenance contained in the restricted regimen described is ingested.
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