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If "disease" is a process of cure, does fasting cure "disease?" If there are no cures for "disease," if "disease" does not need to be cured, is fasting a cure?
To us there are not twenty thousand "diseases," but many local states growing out of a common systemic derangement. We do not seek to cure "disease," but to remove the causes of impairment and to afford the sick organism every natural or hygienic advantage that will facilitate its own spontaneous return to biological and physiological normality.
Does nature cure vomiting, or does she use vomiting as a means of ejecting unwanted materials from the stomach? Does the body cure coughing, or is coughing a vital act by which irritants and obstructions are expelled from the respiratory tract? Does diarrhea need to be cured, or is diarrhea a process by which obnoxious materials are rushed out of the digestive tract? Does nature cure inflammation, or is inflammation a repairative and defensive process by which broken bones are knit, lacerated flesh is healed and foreign bodies are removed from the flesh? Is there a need to cure fever, or is fever part of the body's own healing activities? Does not coughing automatically and spontaneously cease when there is no longer any need for it? Does not diarrhea cease when it has freed the digestive tract of all offensive materials? Does not inflammation subside when the bone has knit or the wound healed? What is there to cure about the various processes of the body that are collectively labeled disease?
Is it not obvious that if fasting suppressed vomiting, diarrhea, coughing, inflammation, fever, and the other symptoms that make up disease, it would be as evil as drugging? To call fasting "the fasting cure," the "hunger cure" or the "abstinence cure," as many have done, is to place it in a false light, unless, of course, we understand by cure what it originally meant--care. Fasting is part of the rational care of the sick body, it does not cure disease, as the word cure is now commonly used.
We are frequently accused of regarding fasting as a cure-all, despite our oft reiterated statement that it is not a cure at all. Using the term cure in its presently accepted sense, we say that fasting does not cure anything. But the charge against us continues to be circulated. This charge grows out of the fact that we employ the fast in all forms of impaired health. Our principle that the forces and processes of life accomplish all healing work, after the causes of impairment and damage have been removed, is not noticed by any of our critics. Indeed, they have shown a singular incapacity for understanding this simple principle. They fasten upon some one of our most commonly used methods of care, the one they think they can use with greatest advantage against us, and ride it for all it is worth.
If we use fasting in nearly all cases, we employ food in exactly all of them. If we employ fasting in nearly all cases we employ exercise in as many. We use sunbathing in nearly all cases, but we never regard it as a cure, much less do we regard it as a cure-all. Physical and mental rest are employed in every case, but not as a cure as this word is commonly misused. Before we employ rest, fasting, exercise, diet, sunshine, or any other means of care, we seek for the causes of the patient's impaired health and seek to eradicate these. Removal of cause is primary. Why can our critics never understand this simple fact?
There are many men in the various schools of so-called healing who admit the great value of fasting in a variety of diseases, but they say: "The absurdity of the fasting care of the sick is its indiscriminate use in a great variety of diseases."
The Hygienic answer to this objection is that, if its use is indiscriminate, undoubtedly that indiscriminate use is absurd. But, we add, this observation is as true of any other mode of care and treatment that has been used and that is now used by the various healing professions. In the days of venesection, was not bleeding used indiscriminately in almost all diseases? During the recent war, was not blood transfusion, in one form or another, employed indiscriminately in a wide variety of diseases and traumatic conditions? Have not alcohol, quinine, mercury, tobacco, antimony and a number of other drugs been used indiscriminately in a wide variety of diseases? Are not the sulfonamides, penicillin, streptomycin, and the other "antibiotics" being used indiscriminately in a wide variety of diseases? Has not the removal of "foci of infection" fad been as indiscriminately applied to a thousand-and-one diseases?
The hydropaths employed their water applications, the chiropractors their spinal adjustments, the osteopaths their manipulations to almost all diseases as indiscriminately as any drug was ever applied. All the schools of so-called healing have been and are guilty of the very indiscriminate use of their therapeutic measures that they charge against the use of fasting. No physician ever purged the bowels of his patients with greater regularity or with less discrimination than the chiropractors have punched the spinal columns of their patients.
When we consider that fasting is not employed to cure disease, as are the various therapeutic measures, its wide use loses its appearance of indiscriminate use. More than this, when we consider that Hygienists do not recognize the existence of a great number of diseases, it will be realized that they cannot apply it indiscriminately. Take the following so-called different diseases--pleuritis, enteritis, pericarditis, peritonitis, arachnitis, cystitis, metritis, appendicitis, ovaritis, colitis, proctitis, prostatitis, gastritis, menengitis, tonsilitis, rhinitis, etc.--they are only one disease--inflammation, in different locations. A different name is imposed on each in order to indicate which organ or tissue is inflamed, but there is no difference in the process of inflammation and there is no difference in its cause. We have many names for disease, according to the location of the inflammation, or functional failure, or atrophy, but we have only one disease. Disease is a unit--forms or modes of manifestation are many. A so-called disease is a name applied to a symptom-complex and the symptom-complex is clustered about the organ most involved.
The Hygienic System is not a system of treating and curing "disease" and "disorder." It does not recognize the existence of hundreds, or thousands, of "diseases," but regards all of these many so-called "diseases" as varying expressions of the same thing. Hygienic methods are methods of caring for the body. By these we seek to place the body under the most favorable conditions for the prosecution of its own healing activities.
Rest and sleep, exercise and cleanliness, water and sunshine--we also employ these in all forms of impaired health. But we do not regard them as cure-alls, or cures at all. There are no "diseased" conditions in which fresh air is not helpful, but it is no cure-all, in fact, it is no cure at all. There are no "diseased" conditions in which rest is not helpful, but rest is no panacea. Why, then, accuse us of regarding fasting as a cure-all because it (with rest, sunshine, fresh air, exercise, sleep, quiet, etc.) is found useful in all so-called "diseases?"
Fasting is primarily a rest of the organism. There is no condition of "disease" in which rest of the vital organs is not of benefit to the whole organism. Rest gives all of the organs an opportunity to repair their damaged structures. Rest affords to organs that have been lashed into impotency by overstimulation, an opportunity to recuperate their substances and forces.
Fasting is not a process of elimination, but it does induce a marked increase in the elimination of toxins and waste from the body, not alone from the fluids, but also from the tissues of the body. It does permit the organs of elimination to bring their work up to date--to balance their books, as it were. There is no state of impaired health in which this increased elimination is not of distinct value.
Fasting means a temporary cessation of the inflow of nutritive substance. This gives the surfeited organism an opportunity to consume its surplus. The removal of a burdensome redundancy always results in increased vigor and improved function.
When fermentative and putrefactive toxins are pouring in from the digestive tract in excess of the body's ability to neutralize and eliminate them and the toxic overflow has been partly stored in the less vital tissues, fasting speedily ends the intake of decomposition-toxins and thus gives the organism an opportunity to catch up with its work of excretion. Not only are the toxins that circulate in the lymph removed, but the toxins deposited in the tissues are removed and excreted. Fasting does not remove the toxins. This is done by the excretory functions of the body. Fasting only affords them the opportunity to perfect their work.
Due to the disproportionate use of the body's reserves during a fast, to a heavy loss of some elements and a storing of others, fasting results in a chemical normalization which nothing else occasions.
Cellular and tissue rejuvenation also occur during a fast. The rejuvenation effected during a fast is of a character and extent not effected by any other method or process in existence.
Just as fasting causes the body to consume its excess of fat and use this to nourish its vital tissues, so it causes the body to break down, by autolysis, growths, or tumors and use the nutritive substances in these to nourish its vital tissues. In like manner dropsical swellings, edematous swellings, and deposits are absorbed and the usable portions salvaged for use in nourishing the vital tissues.
Withholding food from the body for an extended period creates an intense nitrogen hunger and a demand for other nutritive elements. Assimilation is rejuvenated so that frequently the chronically underweight man can gain weight after the fast, who, previous to the fast, could gain in no way. The general increase in functional vigor and the detoxication that take place during the fast contribute greatly to this result.
Fasting does not do anything. It really stops the doing. In thus stopping certain activities, it permits, even enforces certain tissue changes and chemical readjustments in the body which result in increased vigor and improved health. There are no conditions of functional and structural impairment in which these changes are not desirable.
To sum up, fasting, by affording the organs of the body a rest, by withholding raw materials and by stopping the inflow of decomposition-poisons from the alvine canal, permits the repair and recuperation of the organs of the body, the consumption of a burdensome nutritive excess, the removal of circulating and deposited toxins, the normalization of blood chemistry, cellular and tissue rejuvenation, the absorption of deposits, exudates, effusions and growths, and improves the body's powers of digestion and assimilation.
If there are any "diseased" conditions in which some or all of these results are not desirable, I have not seen them, nor even any description of them. Then, although fasting cures nothing and is no panacea, it is useful in all "diseased" conditions.
Fasting is not a cure; it will not cure any "disease." Rightly conducted, it is a sure, quick, safe way to unload a toxic overload, but curing is a physiological process that succeeds if the toxins have been eliminated and life has been righted. Fasting, followed by rational eating, has proved very satisfactory in helping thousands to re-establish health and strength, but it is not a cure.
"Cure is an evolution in reverse," said Dr. Dewey. A period of abstinence, or of very light eating, with rest in bed, and the giving up of enervating habits, mental and physical, will allow nature to eliminate the accumulated toxins; after which, if enervating habits are given up, and rational living habits adopted, good health will evolve and will be maintained so long as the individual continues to live correctly.
The real cure consists of correcting the errors of life that have brought on and perpetuated the toxemia. These errors are not all errors in eating. Personal habits other than dietetic--worry, excesses, dissipations--have as much to do with producing sickness as wrong eating.
When toxemia has been eliminated, or when "disease" is said to be cured, this means that a perverted physiological state has been restored to normal. But the patient may have been reduced down to a dangerous point and he is not in a normal physiological state. Hence, fasting per se is not curing--is not restoring a normal physiological state. It is often necessary to abstain from food until one is far below a normal state in order to give the organism an opportunity to absorb deposits and correct perverted states.
For example, fasting will cause a more rapid absorption of dropsical fluid, which has accumulated in the tissues, than any other known measure. A fibroid tumor may be caused to cease growing, its size may be greatly reduced, or it may be completely absorbed, by a fast; while the fast is in progress the organism can readjust itself and normalize its secretions and excretions--bring these to a state of equilibrium. This done, the patient may consider himself cured, but he is not. He has only commenced to get well.
We do not claim that fasting cures disease, but simply that it enables the organism to heal itself. What, then, does fasting do?
1. It gives the vital organs a complete rest.
2. It stops the intake of foods that decompose in the intestines and further poison the body.
3. It empties the digestive tract and disposes of putrefactive bacteria.
4. It gives the organs of elimination an opportunity to catch up with their work and promotes elimination.
5. It re-establishes normal physiological chemistry and normal secretions.
6 It promotes the breaking down and absorption of exudates, effusions, deposits, "diseased" tissues, and abnormal growths.
7. It restores a youthful condition of the cells and tissues and rejuvenates the body.
8. It permits the conservation and re-canalization of energy.
9. It increases the powers of digestion and assimilation.
10. It clears and strengthens the mind.
11. It improves function throughout the body.
Each of these statements has been fully proved in the pages of this book.
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