Fasting in Acute Disease


   "Instead of using medicine, rather fast a day," wrote Plutarch. Someone else has said: "Wise people, falling into any ailment, take a bath, go to bed, and fast, leaving nature to do her own work of cure, and not hindering her beneficent operations."

   One of the first indications of illness is a failing appetite. Indeed appetite often fails a few days before any other symptoms appear. If the illness begins "suddenly," while the stomach is full of food, or if there is a serious accident or shock to the nervous system while the stomach is full of food, the stomach is immediately emptied by vomiting. Thus does nature indicate, both in animals and in man, that in acute "disease," no food but water should be consumed. In chronic disease she indicates that the amount of food eaten should be much less than that consumed in health. Dr. Eales admonishes: "Let the sick eat only when Nature calls for food." If this rule were adhered to by all, an untold amount of suffering would be avoided and many would be saved from an untimely death. But thanks to the medical delusion that "the sick man must eat to keep up his strength," this rule is not likely to be adopted by the great majority for years to come.

   The common expression applied alike to horse and man, "off his feed," describes the instinctive abstinence from food that comes when power to digest food is low or absent. The loss of digestive power and digestive conditions is proportioned to the severity of the curative actions.

   Writing of the vomiting that occurs in sea-sickness, Dr. Shew asserted that "almost all persons are benefited by it" (sea sickness), and explained the benefit thus: "It is by the beneficial power of fasting that the benefit of sea sickness is caused." Only false teachings can induce people to go on eating regularly in the face of the fact that the food is vomited as promptly as it is ingested. For this false teaching we have the medical profession to thank.


   Physicians have taught the people that there are specific diseases requiring specific causes and that the sick must be fed "to keep up their strength." while being "cured" of their diseases. So long as we believe that the "cure" of a common "disease" depends upon the accidental or providentially ordained discovery of some mysterious compound, we are likely to continue overlooking the plainest indications of nature and go on killing the sick in the time-honored way.

   Not merely in low chronic conditions, but in acute conditions, with high temperature as well, overfeeding is prescribed and enforced. Indeed, a high calorie diet is now the rule in fevers.

   Dr. Kellogg insists on sugar in some form, even in the most violent stages of acute "disease." This insistence is not based on physiology, but on his fear of bacteria. He says that bacteria "will not grow or at least are not virulent and active in producing toxins, in the presence of sugar."

   Fear and false theories lead men away from nature and physiology and cause them to do many absurd and damaging things. With all due respect to Dr. Kellogg, his influence in this matter is highly pernicious and prejudicial to the health and recovery of the sick. The indications of nature are the true guide in a search for health. Ephemeral theories of mis-called science often do much harm.


   Animals will not eat when sick. It has long been known that when animals are severely injured they refuse food. Shock, severe injury of any kind, fever, pain, inflammation, poisoning, reduce or suspend digestive power and reduce the nutritive functions throughout the body. The human animal has no desire for food when ill; in fact, there is a positive repugnance to food, coupled with an inability to digest and utilize it. But, all too often, the human animal disregards his repugnance to food and the discomforts that follow eating in spite of this, and eats because he has become convinced that he will die if he does not eat.

   When animals, young or old, become sick they instinctively refrain from eating. Warmth, Quiet and Fasting, with a little water, are all they want. When they take nourishment, it is a sure sign that they are recovering. They eat but little at first and gradually eat more as they grow better. They never worry about calories or protein requirements either. Warmth, Quiet (rest) and Fasting, with a little water, as demanded by thirst, are the needs of a sick man or woman.

   A sick animal cannot be made to eat; but sick men, women and children can be induced to eat to "keep up their strength." Feeding, with relapses galore, until death ends the various tragedies, is common on both sides of the Atlantic. Every year the loss of life among useful men is appalling. They develop a "spring cold," then eat to keep up their strength; but the eating strengthens the toxins and weakens the body, until friends are shocked by their death.

   Dr. Hazzard claims, and I believe rightly, that while appetite may be and often is present in "disease," true hunger never is. I believe that, with a few possible exceptions, this is as true of chronic as of acute "disease." Liek says that objection to fasting on the part of adults, is usually due not to the working of the instinct but to that of a faulty working intelligence." He illustrates this with a story about a fat woman doctor upon whom he performed an abdominal operation, which was followed by septic developments. Although she admitted she did not have the slightest desire for food and that even the thought of food produced nausea, she thought "she ought to eat something to keep up her strength" and "was worrying for days because she had the idea that she ought to be given strengthening food."

   He very appropriately remarks that "her stomach possessed more sense than her brain." His remark would have been nearer the mark, had he said that her organic instincts possessed more intelligence than her medical instructors who educated her into the false belief that "the sick must eat to keep up their strength."

   Dr. Densmore says: "Quite generally, in severe attacks, the patient has no appetite--food is positively repulsive; but when there seems to be craving for food, it will be found to be a fictitious longing caused by inflammation and not from need of nourishment. This fictitious appetite usually disappears with the first twenty-four hours fast. The effort of the true physician must be to assist Nature, and to be guided by her. If there should still be found longing for food at the expiration of forty-eight hours fasting, it will be evidence that food is needed. * * * The more serious the attack of illness, the longer duration of fast needed. From three to six days will be found advisable in extreme cases. Let nature be absolutely trusted; when the patient has been denied food long enough to overcome the inflammation which is liable to be mistaken for appetite, then give nourishment as soon and no sooner than the patient craves food."--How Nature Cures, p. 23.

   I do not agree that in cases of severe acute illness where the fictitious desire for food persists beyond forty-eight hours of fasting, it indicates a real need for food. There can be no digestion of food in these cases and there is no urgent need for food so long as the patient's reserves are not exhausted.

   The reappearance of a keen appetite in the sick is a sure indication of returning health and strength. The absence of desire for food, whether caused by illness, grief, anger, excitement, fatigue, or other cause, is nature's way of saying that the digestive organs are, for the time being, incapable of digesting food.


   The idea that dominates the physician, the nurses and the relatives of the sick person is that the vital power or strength "must be supported with food" while the "conflict with disease" rages. This supposed need for food to support life, great in proportion to the apparent gravity of the patient's condition, would seem to make the natural or instinctive aversion to food a serious mistake of nature. "The force of custom," wrote Dr. Densmore, "is one of the strongest powers, and doctors and nurses for generations have been in the habit of urging invalids to partake of food, not infrequently to their serious injury." Because we believe that recovery from illness depends on nourishment "our unreasoning sympathy and solicitude prompt us to urge our invalid friends to partake of food. Whatever the origin of the custom, it is one universally to be condemned; when one is seriously ill a fast is indicated."--How; Nature Cures, p. 21.

   One thing is certain; either nature or the physician is mistaken. The furred tongue and loss of relish for food, the absence of "hunger contractions," the mental depression; in short, the entire absence of every physiological requirement for digestion, with, in many conditions, the presence of inflammation and even ulceration in the digestive tract, makes it impossible to sustain the patient's strength by feeding.

   Enforced feeding of the sick is a war against nature, dangerous in proportion to the gravity of the patient's condition. The poisonous products of undigested or imperfectly digested food must handicap the patient who is fed during an acute illness. The stuff-to-kill doctor who feeds milk, eggs, meat broths, etc., were he not so blind, should be able to see that he is killing his patient.


   Beaumont showed that there is no digestion in serious acute illness. He says of one of his experiments, that, this "experiment has considerable pathological importance. 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." Certainly no food should be eaten until normal secretions have been restored.

   A few years ago Prof. Carlson confirmed the findings of Beaumont and several of his successors. He showed that gastric secretion is absent during gastritis and fevers. The absence of hunger in fever has been shown to be associated with absence of the "hunger contractions" of the stomach. "Hunger contractions" have been shown to be absent in nausea, gastritis, tonsillitis, influenza and colds. In dogs these "hunger contractions" have been shown to be absent in infection and pneumonia. The absence of hunger is a concomitant of the absence of gastric and salivary secretions and the absence of the "hunger contractions." It is, in other words, an evidence of a suspension of the digestive process.

   It is unfortunate that few, save Natural Hygienists have ever based their care of the acutely ill upon the fact that there is no power to digest food when there is fever, pain, inflammation and severe poisoning. The practitioners of all schools have continued to urge food upon their acutely ill patients in spite of the protests of nature and in the face of the mounting physiological knowledge of the lack of power to digest food under such circumstances.

   Pain, inflammation, fever, headaches, mental disturbances, etc., take away the appetite, inhibit secretion and excretion, impair digestion and render it injurious to eat under such conditions. Pain, inflammation and fever in all forms of acute "disease" inhibit the secretion of digestive juices, "take away the appetite" and render digestion practically impossible. The dryness of the mouth in fevers is matched by a similar dryness all along the digestive tract. It can be of no advantage to urge food upon a patient suffering with an acute "disease," for there is then no digestive power to work it up.

   There is an almost total absence of the digestive juices. The little of these present, are of such poor quality that they could not properly digest even small amounts of food. Along with the absence of the power to digest and the absence of the digestive juices, there is lacking the keen relish for food which is so essential to normal digestion. Pain inhibits digestion and secretion. Fever inhibits these. So does inflammation. Food taken under such conditions is not digested. Nature has temporarily suspended the digestive functions. This is necessary in order that her undivided attention can be given to the task of cure. Energy that is ordinarily consumed in the work of digesting, absorbing and assimilating food is now being used to carry on the curative processes. The muscles of the stomach and intestine are in about the same condition as the muscles of the arm.

   In acute disease the digestive system is as little fit to digest food as the limbs are for locomotion--both require rest. What is to be gained by eating when there is no ability to digest food? Why should physicians insist upon the patient eating when there is no desire for food, or when there is an actual aversion to food?

   Dr. Emmett Densmore laid down as the first rule to be followed when illness develops: "Partake of no food during forty-eight hours; after that time continue an absolute fast from food until the patient has pronounced natural hunger." He says that "at all such times (when there is fever and inflammation) all food must absolutely be withheld from the patient. This may be only for a day, or for many days; no food is to be taken until all symptoms of fever have entirely abated, and none then until the patient has a decided appetite and relish for it."

   Jennings says: "It is of no advantage to urge food upon the stomach when there it no digestive power to work it up. There is never any danger of starvation so long as there are reserve forces sufficient to hold the citadel of life and start anew its mainsprings.

   For when sustenance becomes a prime necessity, the digestive apparatus will be clothed with power enough to work up some new material, and a call made for it proportioned to the ability to use it. And if there is not power within the domain of life to save the organism, it must perish."

   Trall declared that when the body is struggling to throw off the toxins of "disease," the patient "has no ability, until the struggle is decided, to digest food; and to cram his stomach with it, or to irritate the digestive organs with tonics and stimulants, is merely adding fuel to the fire."

   The stuff-to-kill doctor shuts his eyes to this important fact and, ignoring all the instinctive indications that food is not desirable and all the physiological evidences that food cannot be digested if consumed, insists that "the sick must eat to keep up their strength."


   In all types of acute disease the whole organism is engaged in the work of eliminating toxins, not in that of assimilating food, hence, it is perfectly natural that the body should rebel against food. Anorexia, foul breath, coated tongue, nausea, vomiting, fetid discharges, the excretion of much mucus, constipation alternating with diarrhea, etc., all indicate that the organs are engaged in the work of vicarious or compensatory elimination, and are not able to digest food. It is not possible to nourish the body by feeding under such circumstances.

   "Science and physiology teach," says Dr. Densmore, "that digestion of food can only be performed satisfactorily when there is secretion of the digestive juices; and also that there can be no adequate secretion of the digestive juices, where there is inflammation, or from any cause an absence of appetite. * * * If, as physiologists teach, there can be no effective digestion except from the secretion of digestive juices, and if there is almost no secretion of digestive juices where there is high temperature, we ought to expect that there would be as much emaciation of the fever patient while partaking of food as while fasting; and this is precisely what will be seen to be the result by any physician who will make the experiment. Common sense teaches that if food is taken and not digested, such food does not help nourish the system. If no food at all be taken the processes of life are carried on by consuming the tissues; and if food be taken and not digested the processes of life must be supported by the same consumption of tissues, with the further result that the undigested food must be excreted from the body, which at a glance will be seen to be a strain upon the vital powers, calling for an additional consumption of tissue, and inevitably delaying the restoration of the patient."--How Nature Cures--p.p. 21-22.


   It may be objected to all of this that the patient should be fed so-called pre-digested foods. Our reply is that there are no predigested foods and little ability to absorb them if there were. Efforts to feed so-called pre-digested foods have proven failures, even when the foods were not vomited. Well did Dr. Dewey say: "Pre-digested foods! If they nourish the sick, why not feed the well? Why not abolish our kitchens at an immense saving in the time, expense and worry of cooking and live on them at an immense saving of the tax of digestion and the digestive juices? Brethren of the Medical Profession, make haste to let the world know when you have found a case in which you have made use of the lower bowel so to nourish the sick body that it didn't waste while the cure was going on."

   Rectal feeding is absurd. It feeds nothing. The colon is busy excreting, not absorbing, and the so-called food injected into the colon, not being digested, could not be used if it were absorbed. The least it can do is ferment and putrefy and add to the discomforts and expenditures of the patient. Lavage or stomach tube or duodenal feeding are delusions.

   When such large quantities of fluid are being poured out, there is no absorption from the stomach and intestine. To feed under such conditions, when there is no absorption, and also no digestion, is not to nourish the body. Food adds to the putrescence and to the danger.

   The body never performs any of what Dr. Tilden calls "Hindu tricks," in this matter of taking nourishment. It does not digest and absorb food when digestion is suspended and the membranes of the stomach and intestine are exuding matter instead of absorbing it. It is exuding fluid to aid in expelling the mass of putrescence in the food tube, and to protect the walls of the tube and any irritated surface. Sometimes nature even rejects water, expelling it by vomiting as often as it is forced down. How foolish in such cases to continue to force food and drugs on the patient and water into his stomach. Nature is trying to protect herself by this vomiting. She even guards against water by creating a bad taste in the mouth that causes the patient to refuse water. Dr. Lindlahr likened the process to a sponge. During health, the sponge (intestine) is busy absorbing, during a fast or in acute "disease" the sponge is being squeezed.

   Skin feeding is another absurdity. The skin will not absorb food, and it would not be prepared for use by the organism, if it did do so, as was shown in our study of digestion in a previous volume. I have heard doctors tell of feeding patients through the skin. Milk baths, olive oil rubs and other unphysiological procedures are employed, and then, if the patient does not die, the doctor tells us how long he kept his patient alive by such absurd practices. Had the doctor not been ignorant of the internal resources of the body he would have known that the patient would have lived just as long without such mis-called feeding. Skin foods are delusions. Intravenous feeding is also a delusion.


   If bacteriologists desire to make cultures of "pathogenic" organisms, they use meat broths, meat jellies and boiled milk. These substances provide equally as good culture media for microbes in the digestive tract, when fed to patients who are acutely ill, as when used in the laboratory, and generate just as much putrescence. The doctor who would not feed a putrid culture medium to a patient, will blindly feed the patient the culture medium and see it become putrid in the digestive tract.

   Dr. Josian Oldfield says, in Fasting for Health and Life: "If friends were only present at the post mortem and could see and smell for themselves the foul and filthy contents of the stomach and intestines of those nurse-bullied dying patients, they would pray, as I pray, that when their last days are come they may be allowed to die in quietude and cleanliness, taking only sips of pure water, and such fruit juices as their thirsty cells crave for, until peaceful dissolution takes place."

   What Dr. Oldfield overlooks is that the members of his own profession, who are present at the post mortems and are allowed to see and smell the putrescence in the digestive tract, prescribed the foods the nurse or fond relative forced upon the patient and that these same medical men trained the nurse and taught the relatives.

   Food that is not digested undergoes decomposition, forming a mass of toxins more or less of which are absorbed to further poison and sicken the patient. A veritable cess pool is formed under the diaphragm that is much more dangerous to the individual than any cess pool that may be in the neighborhood.

   To get rid of this rotting, fermenting mass of food and the toxins it has formed requires a needless expenditure of energy. Nature is trying to conserve energy. This is precisely the reason she has temporarily suspended the digestive functions. It is little less than criminal to force the organism to divide its energies and attention between the work of curing and the added task of eliminating a rotting septic mass from the digestive tract.

   The only sensible thing to do is to keep the digestive tract free of all such matter. Nature herself indicates this in the strongest possible manner, for not only is all desire for food cut off, but the most tempting dishes are not relished by the sick person. There is a positive disinclination to take food.

   Bear in mind that the food decomposed and poisoned the patient because his digestive power had been greatly impaired, and that to give more food, under such conditions, is only to add to the poisoning.

   The "disease" will last until the poisons have been eliminated and the decomposing food has been voided. Fever, vomiting and purging are nature's methods of getting rid of the poison, and when these cases are fasted and not fed, such troubles soon end. There is no danger in them. Feeding and drugging are the elements of danger. Never permit a patient to be drugged, and never permit the physician to reduce (suppress) his fever.

   One of our rules for caring for the sick is to stop the absorption of all toxins from the outside. Feeding during acute "disease" does just the opposite. It keeps the digestive tract full of decaying animal and vegetable matter, which the body must void or absorb. Putrescence arising from gastro-intestinal decomposition, grafted onto the pre-existing enervation, toxemia and dyscrasia, forms the cause of practically all the so-called "diseases" from which man suffers.

   In health the body is "potentized with immunizing power" and can to a large extent, render innocuous the toxic substances arising from decomposition. The secretions of the stomach and intestine take care of such substances for us every day of our lives. When wrong eating and poor hygiene have broken down the body's resistance and deranged digestion, so that decomposition produces toxins in excess of the immunizing power of these secretions, trouble begins; the body must defend itself against these toxins, and this defense we call "disease."

   When the decomposition overwhelms the immunizing power of the digestive secretions, vomiting and purging, so commonly regarded as evil, are the conservative and defensive measures which nature employs in expelling the putrescence.

   To absorb the fermenting and putrefying contents of the digestive tract into the bloodstream would mean death. This does not occur. The absorbents reverse their ordinary activities and, instead of taking up the fluid contents of the digestive tract, pour a large amount of fluid (blood-serum), into the stomach and intestine to dilute and neutralize the decomposing matter and wash it away. The great quantity of fluid flushes the entire alimentary canal and the vomiting and purging complete the work of carrying the toxic matter from the body's cavities.


   A standard medical author thus describes the stomach in acute gastritis: "The gastric mucous membrane of such a stomach is red and swollen, it secretes little gastric juice, and this contains very little acid but much mucus. The patient has uncomfortable feelings in his abdomen, with headache, lassitude, some nausea, often vomiting. The vomiting relieves him considerably, for it removes the irritating substance. The tongue is coated, and the flow of saliva is increased. If this decomposing, fermenting, irritating mass is not vomited, but reaches the bowel, colic and diarrhea are the result. As a rule the patient is well in about one day, although he may not have much appetite for the next two or three days."

   With the stomach in this condition, with appetite lacking, and with no digestive juice secreted, eating would be worse than folly. It would seem criminal to add more food to the "decomposing, fermenting, irritating mass" in the stomach. Fasting in such a condition is the only rational procedure. Yet in typhoid fever, with the stomach in an even worse condition, with the intestines in a much worse state and with temperature high, most medical men insist upon heavy feeding; a high calorie diet being generally recommended and employed.

   Not in acute gastritis and typhoid only, but in cholera and other intestinal ills, it is the custom to insist upon plenty of good nourishing food. Indeed, food is literally forced upon the sick. Part of the recognized formula of nursing invalids is to tickle their palates with food dainties. Food is urged upon their unwilling stomach in spite of strong protests.


   Nausea and vomiting are common symptoms in acute disease of all forms. If food is taken it is commonly vomited. Where vomiting does not take place, the food is likely to be thrown out by means of a diarrhea. What can be more ill-advised than to persuade a patient to take food, knowing that it will be vomited immediately? By rejecting food, does the body not indicate in the strongest possible manner, that food is not needed and cannot be used? Yet food is literally forced upon the sick patient, "by order of the physician," in spite of the fact that his whole system rebels against it, and in spite of the nausea and vomiting that follow taking it. Physicians resort to sedatives, anti-emetics and tonics in their efforts to force the rebellious digestive system into submission.


   To feed under such conditions causes the temperature to rise and the pains and general discomfort of the patient to increase. Much of the restlessness and uneasiness usually observed in fever patients of all kinds is due to feeding and drugging. The fasting patient is comparatively comfortable and rests well, and makes a more rapid and satisfactory recovery.

   Dr. Jennings says: "The more you feed a sick man, the sicker you make him." Again, "Don't aggravate the troubles of a sick fellowman by forcing him to swallow food against the protest of his stomach."

   Let us see what happens if we feed in acute "disease." The first thing the patient and physician note is an increase in symptoms. The fever goes up, the pulse increases, pain and other symptoms become more intense; the patient is caused much unnecessary suffering, and the patient's relatives are caused much needless anxiety.

   Graham declared that "the more they nourish (feed) a body while diseased action is kept up in it, the more they increase the disease." Again "when the body is seriously diseased * * * entire and protracted fasting would be the very best means in many cases of removing disease and restoring health. I have seen wonderful effects result from experiments of this kind."--Science of Human Life. He also called attention to the fact that eating increases the pain, inflammation, discomfort, fever and irritableness of the sick and that it does so in proportion to the amount of food eaten and in direct ratio to its supposed nutritive qualities, while fasting reduces the "violence" of the "disease" and renders recovery more certain. All forms of acute disease are cut short and made comfortable by fasting. Fever rapidly abates and inflammation quickly subsides.


   Disease is labor, action, struggle--it is often violent action. Rapid heart action, rapid breathing, vomiting, diarrhea, etc., etc., represent increased effort. This uses up energy. It often leaves the patient exhausted at the end of his strenuous effort. It may so completely exhaust him as to end his life. Disease frequently means a greater expenditure of energy than the normal activities of health require, hence the urgent need for conservation of energy in every possible way. So great is the intensity of the effort, so fully are the powers of life concentrated upon the work in hand, there is no energy available with which to carry on the work of digestion. The suspension of digestive secretions, cessation of the rhythmic contractions of the stomach and intestines and the withdrawal of the desire for food are, therefore, compensatory measures, equally with the prostration of the patient, designed to conserve energy on the one hand that it may be available for use on the other.

   Dr. Jennings wrote of this conservative measure seen in all acute disease: "The great, extensive, and complicated nutritive apparatus, that requires a large amount of force to convert raw material into living structure, is put at rest, that the forces saved thereby may be transferred to the recuperative machinery within their respective limits, so that there is no call for food, and none should be offered until the crisis is passed, or a point is reached where some nutritive labor can be performed, and there is a natural call for nutriment. * * * And food has no more to do with the production of vitality, than the timber, planks, bolts and canvas for the ships have in supplying ship-carpenters and sailors. In the mass of diseases--such as simple, continued, or remittent fever, scarlet fever, measles, mild bilious fevers--and most of the disorders that are termed febrile, that require a few days to do up their recuperative work in, the proper course of treatment to be pursued, is exceedingly plain and simple. So long as there is no call for nutriment, a cup of cool water is all that is needed for the inner man."--Tree of Life, pp. 186-187.

   The urgent demand for increased effort which the presence of toxins occasions is the reason for the increased, even violent effort. But violent effort in one direction requires reduced effort, by way of compensation, in other directions. Fasting by the acutely ill is definitely a compensatory measure and its urgency is in direct proportion to the severity of the symptoms. There remains digestive power in a cold, in pneumonia there is none. By this is meant that the more ill is the patient the greater is the need to refrain from eating. Curious as it may appear at first thought, health and hunger come together.


   "Nothing is remedial," wrote Trall, "except conditions which economize the vital expenditures." The amount of work done by the heart, liver, lungs, kidneys, glands, etc., is largely determined by the amount of food eaten. Why should these organs and the stomach and intestines be given more work to do by eating? Haven't they enough work to perform under the circumstances? Nature demands physiological rest, not physiological over-work. Her call for rest comes in unmistakable terms. Why, then, shall the organs be forced to do extra work by the use of stimulants or by feeding? To stop the use of food for a time affords the most complete rest to the whole vital economy.

   Fasting, or physiological rest is the surest way of economizing vital expenditures. Walter pointed out that "the patient often grows stronger through the process of fasting and always better." It should be understood that when food is eaten by the sick man or woman, much of the vital energies must be diverted from the work of purification to that of ridding the body of the unwanted and unusable food. Even in those mild acute diseases, such as the cold, in which but part of the body's energies have been mobilized for the work of disease, and in which considerable digestive power remains, with, perhaps, some desire for food, fasting often means the difference between a mild illness with quick recovery of physiological equilibrium and a severe illness that is long drawn out, or that may end in death.


   Tilden says: "All acute disease could be prevented if anticipated by a fast of sufficient duration to lower the accumulated toxins below the toleration point. An anticipatory fast establishes a dependable immunization to any so-called disease. If started too late, it will eliminate or render very mild the worst types of epidemics. If this were generally known and acted upon by towns and cities in ordering the people to fast for a few days, and to follow the fast by light eating, epidemics would be shorn of their virulence, and in time rendered impotent or prevented entirely. Only the vulnerable--those pronouncedly toxemic--are attacked (?) by epidemics."

   Fasting does not remove the cause of "disease"--toxemia. It merely allows the body to do its work of elimination more efficiently by not putting any hindrances in the way. Fasting does not stop the processes commonly called "disease"--nor does it shorten their duration — feeding and treatment do often suppress these processes, always impede them, and almost always lengthen their duration. The lengths of time the courses of self-limited "diseases" are said to run are times they run under the feeding and treating plans. Under fasting and resting they never run so long.

   Nature indicates in the strongest possible manner her desire to fast in acute "disease". In proportion to its severity, so-called "disease" means a loss of digestive conditions and digestive power. Anorexia, nausea, vomiting and the absence of all relish for food should convince anyone, who is not a convert to the doctrine of "total depravity," that no food should be given. Due to our distrust of our natural instincts, we all too often disregard the patent demands of Nature and eat in spite of the closed-for-repairs sign she has hung out--an action invariably pursued by Nature.

   If fasting were instituted at the first sign of trouble, few acute diseases would ever become very severe and many of them would be so mild as to lead to the thought that the patients would not have been very sick anyway. Unfortunately, it is the custom to continue eating when symptoms appear. As Dr. Page ably put it, Natural Cure, p. 146: "Nearly all patients continue eating regularly, until food becomes actually disagreeable, even loathsome, often; and after this every effort is exhausted to produce some toothsome compound to 'tempt the appetite.' Furthermore, and often worst of all, after the entire failure of this program, the patient can, and usually does, take to gruel or some sort of 'extract' which he can drink by holding his breath. All this tends to aggravate the acute symptoms, and to fasten the disease in a chronic form upon the rheumatic patient, or to insure rheumatic fever; and the same principle holds in nearly all acute disorders, it is well to remember."

   Dr. Chas. E. Page says: "There is neither pleasure nor nourishment in forced feeding--only pain, poisoning and starving. The fasting cure universally and rationally applied, would save thousands of lives every year. For example, there would be practically no 'typhoid fever,' as all fevers would be aborted in a few days of stomach rest; and never a death or prolonged illness from whooping-cough, which is always a stomach cough from inflammation of that organ. In my busy practice of forty years, no fever has developed into 'typhoid'; nor has there been any whooping beyond a few days, and never a death."


   There is no danger of the patient dying of starvation in the process of getting well. Let us bear in mind that the body is possessed of reserve food stores which will meet its needs for nutriment for a prolonged period. In acute "diseases" the body can supply its nutritive needs from these food reserves with less effort and with less waste of energy and substance than is required to supply them from raw materials.

   We believe that man requires food all the time because we have learned to think of him as an engine or a machine that can run only so long as he is supplied with fuel. This absurd mechanistic view of life insists upon ignoring every prompting of instinct and treating man as an inanimate machine is treated.

   Let the sick eat only when Nature calls for food. A large number of cases will recover, whether they feed or fast, but there is also a very large number of cases who will die, if they are fed, who would otherwise recover. To fast or to feed--this is often the issue of to live or to die.


   Pains that seem unbearable without the use of narcotics and anodynes rapidly lessen while one fasts, so that within a short time to a few days the patient is comfortable. Repeatedly have I watched the almost unbearable pains of acute articular rheumatism subside and the patient become comfortable after three or four days of fasting. In the last stages of cancer, when nothing is done for the patient except to dose him with opium, and when pains induced by opium are as great (or greater) as those resulting from the cancer, a fast will restore comfort and permit the patient to die in peace.


   "Feed the patient anything his fancy may desire; he is going to die anyway," is the advice frequently given by physicians when the patient has been brought so low that death seems inevitable. This is shameful cruelty and often results in death in cases that would otherwise recover. Why make the dying man more miserable? Why increase his suffering? "Do take a little more, dear, just to please me," coaxes the misguided wife or mother. Or a dominating, but ignorant nurse uses all of her mental power and masterful force to get the weak, perhaps dying patient to swallow more boiled milk, more meat broth, or more egg custard, which decomposes rather than digests in the patient's digestive tract.


   Trall insisted that "strictly speaking, fever and food are antagonistic ideas. No simple fever, if well-managed, requires dieting in any way, save the negative one of starvation, until its violence is abated."--Hydropathic Encyclopedia, Vol. I, p. 447. Again he says: "If you give food in the early stage of a fever, you do not feed the system, you only aggravate the fever. Why? Because the vital powers are so occupied in the remedial effort that they cannot digest or assimilate. That is why so many fever patients are fed to death by the nurses and doctors * * * In fever it (the living system) cannot digest food."--Jennings-Trall Debate.

   Fever indicates poisoning, usually decomposition in the intestines. It means that there is a mass of rotting food in the food tube poisoning the body. It means something else--namely: nutrition is suspended until the poisoning is overcome. It means that no food should be given to the patient until all fever and other symptoms are gone. It means that nothing but water, as demanded by thirst, should be given to the patient.

   So long as there is fever and diarrhea, no food, of whatever character, can be of any use to the body. If the patient appears to be hungry, it is thirst. Give him water, for food will not relieve the thirst.

   The following quotation from Trall is to the point in this connection: "Food should not be taken at all until the violence of the fever is materially abated, and then very small quantities of the simplest food only should be permitted, as gruel, with a little toasted bread or cracker, boiled rice, mealy potatoes, baked apples, etc. There is not a more mischievous or more irrational error abroad in relation to the treatment of fever than the almost universal practice of stuffing the patient continually with stimulating slops, under the name of mild nourishing diet, beef tea, mutton broth, chicken soup, panada, etc. The fever will always starve out before the patient is injured by abstinence, at least under hydropathic treatment, and the appetite will always return when the system is capable of assimilating food."--Hydropathic Encyclopedia, Vol. II, p. 84.

   In speaking of the treatment of smallpox, Dr. Shew declared, Hydropathic Family Physician, p. 249: "Most fever patients are allowed to eat too much. Some may be allowed too little; but this must be the exception to the rule. In all severe fevers, the system absolutely refuses nourishment; that is, it is not digested or made into blood. Hence all nutriment, in such cases, is worse than useless, since if it does not go to nourish the system, it must only prove a source of irritation and harm. If the disease is severe, then it would be best as long as the fever lasts, to give no nourishment whatever. In mild cases it would of course be otherwise, although it would harm no one to fast a few days, but would, on the contrary, do them good. When nourishment is given, it should be of some bland and anti-feverish kind. Good and well-ripened fruit in its season would be especially useful, taken always at the time of a regular meal."


   Typhoid fever patients become comfortable in three to four days if the fast is instituted at the "onset" of the "disease," and in from seven to ten days are convalescing. The patient will have such a comfortable sickness and recover so speedily that friends and relatives will declare he was not sick. And, indeed, he will not be very sick.

   It requires feeding and drugging to convert those simple natural processes we call acute "diseases" into serious and complicated troubles. It is not possible to have a typical case of typhoid fever, as described in allopathic text-books, without typical text-book treatment. Unthwarted nature never builds such complications and such serious "diseases" as are described in allopathic works. All this mass of pathology is built by drugging, serum squirting and feeding.

   In a voluminous work on diet, contributed to by a number of medical authorities in dietetics and edited by G. A. Sutherland, M.D., F.R.C.E., and entitled A System of Diet and Dietetics (published by the Physicians and Surgeons Book Co., of New York City) I find a few interesting paragraphs in the chapter on Diet In Fever and Acute Infectious Disease, contributed by Claude E. Ker, M.D., F.R.C.P., Ed., which are worth quoting. He says, in discussing the "starvation treatment" in enteric fever (typhoid fever):

   "The same idea which underlies the empty bowel theory is no doubt responsible for the attempts made to treat enteric fever with either no food by the mouth at all, or at the most with very little quantities. Thus Queirolo has recommended that feeding should be entirely rectal, a lemonade made up with a little hydrochloric acid being the only drink allowed, provided that the bowel of a patient so treated was first emptied by a dose of calomel, or other suitable purgative. Such method of dieting should secure complete rest for the affected parts and absolutely exclude the possibility of fermenting masses of partially digested material lying in the gut. The nutritive value, however, of rectal feeding in a prolonged disease is so limited that this method may be fairly regarded as a treatment by starvation.

   "Similar in its objects and effects is the method suggested by Williams, who, believing that the exhausting diarrhea of the fever is due to improper feeding, endeavors to secure that the bowels shall, as far as possible, remain empty. Only water is allowed in severe cases, sometimes for days at a time, and he regards half a pint of milk in twenty-four hours as a liberal diet, seldom apparently exceeding this amount until the temperature is normal. The method seems drastic, but I have reason to know that the cases do remarkably well. I have often marvelled at the amount of starvation which a typhoid case can safely tolerate after a hemorrhage, and it is only rational to suppose that the patient would support starvation even better before such a depressing complication had occurred. Under such a regime Williams probably more nearly attains the ideal of the 'empty bowel' than any other observer. It seems almost incredible that patients so treated should occasionally gain weight and that they do not in any case waste more than patients more liberally fed; but it is, after all, obvious that, if food is not assimilated there is no benefit to be derived from it, and in many cases of enteric fever assimilation is undoubtedly extremely poor.

   "The theoretical objection to both these methods of treatment is that, if ulceration has once started such a remarkably low diet would apparently give the intestinal lesions only a poor chance of repair. On the other hand, it is possible that the absence of irritation would go far to counterbalance this defect, apparently as the patient seems to stand the starvation so well. If plenty of water was supplied this would be more easily understood, but some of Williams' patients were limited, for a time at least, to one pint of water per diem, which seems to be a most inadequate amount."

   Dr. Ker is unwilling to recommend what he mistakenly calls the "starvation treatment," but thinks there is much to be learned from such things and adds: "It encourages us to starve for two or three days, if necessary, severe cases with marked gastric and intestinal disturbances, probably very much to their advantage. It is, however, unnecessarily severe for the average patient, even while we admit that in enteric fever there is no certainty as to what may happen from day to day."

   We have it stated that the exhausting diarrhea of typhoid is probably due to improper feeding.

   We have it admitted that a "starvation treatment" seems complete rest for the affected parts of the intestine.

   We have it admitted that typhoid patients may "starve" for days and make remarkable improvement during this time.

   We have it admitted that they may do this even after a hemorrhage.

   We also have it admitted that in this "disease" "assimilation is undoubtedly extremely poor." (It is so poor that there is none). We have it admitted that "starvation" leaves no rotting food in  the intestines to irritate and poison the inflamed and ulcerated intestinal wall.

   Every one of these things, Hygienists have been pointing out for a hundred years. We have been denounced as "quacks" and "ignorant pretenders" for so doing and our methods have been rejected by the medical profession as a whole, and, even now, the authorities, in adopting our methods in part, and in reporting favorably upon them, neglect to give credit where credit is plainly due.

   Dr. Ker overlooks the important fact that where typhoid patients are not fed, ulceration is not likely to occur, and that hemorrhages are extremely rare, while he seems to be wholly unaware of the body's ability to heal wounds, broken bones, open sores, ulcers, etc., while fasting.

   The theoretical objection offered to fasting, in enteric fever, is based on ignorance. It completely ignores the preceding statement that "assimilation is undoubtedly extremely poor," and it appears to be made in utter ignorance of the body's own internal resources. The author does not seem to be cognizant of the fact that repair of tissues does go on during a fast. What is more, he overlooks the fact that if feeding is stopped at the "onset" of the "disease" there is not likely to be any ulceration or any hemorrhage. Besides this, the patient is more comfortable and the "disease" of shorter duration--providing no drugging is resorted to. It is encouraging to note that he does not offer, as an objection, the old notion that fasting lowers one's resistance to germs.

   The fault I find with the method of Queirolo is that he does not stop feeding at the outset instead of waiting until the "disease" becomes well developed and not that it is "too severe for the average patient." On the contrary, it is the easiest, safest and best plan. The feeding and drugging plan is the drastic plan; the plan than intensifies and prolongs the patient's suffering. It is no ordeal to do without food in acute illness. The ordeal consists in eating at such times. All we ask when acutely sick is to be let alone and to be free of worry of any kind.


   If fasting is instituted at the very outset in pneumonia, the patient will not be very sick, the exudate into the lungs will not be great and resolution will be hastened. Death in pneumonia will be very rare.


   All medical authorities admit the great value of fasting in appendicitis and recommend its employment, if the patient refuses an operation, or, if for some other reason an operation is considered inadvisable. The pains of appendicitis practically cease after about three days of fasting.


   Page quotes Casey A. Wood, M.D., Professor of Chemistry in the Medical Department of Bishop's College, Montreal, in an article in the Canada Medical Record, entitled "Starvation in the treatment of Acute Articular Rheumatism," as giving the "history of seven cases where the patients were speedily restored to health by simply abstaining from food from four to eight days, and he says he could have given the history of forty more from his own practice." No drugs were used.

   "In no case did this treatment fail." The cases reported "included men and women of different ages, temperaments, occupations, and social positions." Dr. Wood says: "From the quick and almost invariably good results to be obtained by simple abstinence from food, I am inclined to the idea that rheumatism is, after all, only a phase of indigestion." Dr. Page adds: "In chronic rheumatism he obtained less positive results, but did not venture to try fasts of longer duration." Dr. Wood concludes by saying that "this treatment, obviating as it does, almost entirely, danger of cardiac complications, will be bound to realize all that has been claimed for it--a simple, reliable remedy for a disease that has long baffled the physician's skill."


   Most coughs can be stopped by a twenty-four to seventy-two hours fast; then, if the errors in eating are corrected, the cough is gone forever. Relief comes in the very worst cases of bronchial asthma in from twenty-four to seventy-two hours of fasting so that the sufferer can lie down and sleep in comfort.


   Vomiting, restlessness, diarrhea and gross fatness are some of the symptoms of the surfeit disease and its proper cure is--not soothing syrups, but--fasting. Imagine feeding a patient who is having twenty to thirty bowel movements in twenty-four hours; or one that is vomiting frequently! Dysentery medicines may be entirely dispensed with if the sufferer will resort to fasting.

   Oswald says: "For the incipient stages of the disorder the great specific is fasting. Denutrition, or the temporary deprivation of food, exercises an astringent influence, as part of its general constructive effect. The organism, stinted in the supply of its vital resources, soon begins to curtail its current expenditure. The movements of the respiratory process decrease; the temperature of the body sinks, the secretion of bile and uric acid is diminished, and before long the retrenchments of the assimilative process react on the functions of the intestinal organs; the colon contracts, and the smaller intestines retain all but the most irritating ingesta."


   Dewey emphasized the fact that the bodies of the acutely ill always waste, no matter what they are fed nor how much. Indeed, he insisted that in typhoid and other severe fevers, the patient that is fed wastes most. This fact that in acute disease wasting goes on whether food is eaten or not, and that in fact, it is frequently true that the more the patient is fed, the greater the wasting, shows unmistakably that no food is absorbed and used during acute illness. Certainly, if it cannot be digested, it will not be absorbed and if it is not absorbed, it will not be assimilated, and if it is not assimilated, it can do the patient no good.

   Ker believes in feeding to "keep up the strength of the patient," as do all "orthodox" medical men. Feeding in acute "disease" does not keep up strength and does not prevent the wasting of the patient.

   "In all diseases," says Dr. Dewey, "in which there is a high pulse and temperature, pain or discomfort, aversion to food, a foul, dry mouth and tongue, thirst, etc., wasting of the body goes on no matter what the feeding, until a clear, moist tongue and mouth and hunger mark the close of the disease, when food can be taken with relish and digested. This makes it clearly evident that we cannot save the muscles and fat by feeding under these adverse conditions."

   The wasted bodies of patients who have been fed through acute illness is the strongest kind of evidence, to those who are capable of seeing, that the food they were fed was not digested and assimilated, and that their own tissues were drawn upon to provide the materials necessary to carry on the processes of life. We may go a step further and say that in practically every instance the wasting will be greater and the "disease" will be of longer duration if the patient is fed than if he is fasted. Liek says: "From my observations on children and animals, I have come to the conclusion that, particularly in acute diseases, fasting greatly favors the process of healing."

   If the food eaten is not digested, of what value can it be to the sick man or woman? A two hundred pound man may become sick with typhoid fever. He will lose weight no matter how much he is fed, until, when he is well, he is but a shadow of his former self. In fact, the more he is fed the sicker he becomes, the more prolonged his illness, and the more he will lose in weight. What more conclusive evidence is needed to prove that the food eaten does harm and not good? What is true of typhoid is also true of other "diseases."


   Weakness in acute "disease" is not properly attributed to the fast. Indeed, the fasting patient will not become as weak as the eating patient. He is more likely to grow stronger as the fast progresses. I am pleased to present the following orthodox testimony, on this point, by Dr. Liek, who says: "Those who are sick feel weak. Those who have been operated upon and who wake up from the narcosis are greatly enfeebled. According to the text books, we can overcome that weakness with strengthening food. Nothing is more obvious. Hence, we inquire for the most nourishing and strengthening foods and give them to patients. That idea is, of course, completely mistaken. The patient has been weakened not by a short fast, but by the disease, by the after-effects of the narcosis, the shock of the operation, etc." It should be obvious that the weaker the patient is, the less able is he to take and digest nourishment. The weaker he is the greater is the need for rest.