History of Fasting

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The patient in question weighed at the time of his apoplectic seizure 228 pounds. Each day of abstinence showed loss in weight, and at the end of the fast the latter was reduced to 174 pounds. Bile in abundance was discharged with the enemas, and at intervals vomiting of the same fluid occurred. The fast was broken with grape-juice and orange-juice, but after a few days more solid food was taken. It is well to quote from a personal letter from the patient, reading as follows:--

"I was totally incapacitated from actual manual labor of any kind before my fast, and I lived in dread of a second stroke, with a strange, unnatural depression evident upon slight over-exertion. Great drowsiness affected me, and on occasions I would sleep thirty to thirty-six hours, almost without intermission. My mentality was impaired, my eyesight defective, and my speech impeded. My right hand and arm were clumsy and weak, and at this stage all ordinary human aid seemed powerless.

"I began the fast, and contrary to my expectations, I had no hunger from the third day to the fortieth. To affirm that there was no inconvenience, however, would be untrue, for by every avenue of elimination most offensive impurities were thrown off, and at times these could not have been borne had the object been lost sight of. My weight before I undertook the fast was 228 pounds, and the girth of my abdomen, 45 inches. After I had completed the total abstinence period, I weighed 174 pounds, and measured in girth 38-1/2 inches. I am cured of my paralysis; my mentality is clear and normal; my entire digestive system is apparently perfect; my vision is better than for years; my hand and arm are strong; I have no dread of a second stroke; I have no sleepy spells; I feel lighter all over; and, when weary, I am quite refreshed and ready for further exertion after a short rest."

A case of the disease symptom known as chorea occurring in a woman twenty-eight years of age next offers itself for description. Preparation was undergone for several weeks and a fast of twenty-two days resulted in the return of hunger with complete restoration to health. The medical history of this case showed obstinate constipation for twenty years; and there were nervous tendencies that had been persistently present in aggravated form. Medical advice and direction had been constantly followed since birth, yet, when first seen, the muscles controlling and forming legs, hands, arms, and face were in constant action, and no effort of the will could command them. During the first week of the fast, improvement in the latter respect appeared, so much so that the young woman was able to walk without any evidence of extraordinary lack of coordination, and by the fourteenth day all muscular signs of nervousness had completely disappeared.

No unusual symptoms developed in this case. The enemas brought away solid matter in decreasing amount until the seventeenth day, and thereafter but a small quantity of bilious fluid. Body manipulation and the baths were daily resorted to, and the loss in weight was not remarkable. There were almost no unpleasant symptoms, and this was of the absence of structural organic defect, and because the patient had always led an outdoor life and possessed an equable disposition. After a time devoted to a dietetic regimen and judicious exercises, the case was discharged as restored to health and with no traces of her former nervous disorder. An added benefit was discovered in that, although there had been decided impairment of sight, myopic in character, the patient was able to dispense with lenses six weeks after the beginning of the fast.

The distressing affliction, epilepsy, is a disease symptom that may be traced to the source of all functional disorder, the digestive machinery.

The case of a young woman, twenty-nine years of age, will demonstrate the effect of the fast and its adjuncts upon this characteristic of disease. Before entering the fast, the patient had tentatively followed a dietetic regimen, and had noted decided improvement in general health, but there was no cessation of the attacks peculiar to the symptom named. Medical attendance had been continuous for years, but no improvement had resulted; rather the reverse, for the epileptic seizures had increased in number and severity as time went by. Before the fast the attacks were recurring at intervals of two weeks, and the latest seizure had happened but three days before the fast began. Food was denied for fifty-six days, and, from the moment of the inception of the method to the present writing not a convulsion has occurred, nor has there been a semblance of attack, while in general health the patient has been better than at any time of her life.

The fast in this instance is to be noted in several minor ways, one of which is that on each of the fifty-six days the patient walked a distance of at least two miles; another, that on the fortieth day of abstinence a mass of dead intestinal worms passed from the bowels in the enema. Improvement was constant from the first, but, after the evacuation of these parasites, it increased rapidly, and natural hunger asserted itself on the fiftyfifth day. The loss in weight was consistently normal, averaging about three-quarters of a pound for each day of the fasting period.


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