You'll find a list of all my blog posts in the blog archive.


Blog categories: 

Fasting is not for everybody.

I've been meaning to write about fasting for this blog for quite a while now. Lucky for me (I won't have to rewrite things), I found this post, from April 2004, in the herblist archives. I've made a few minor changes, but it's essentially the same post. Boyo, was I ever in good form when I wrote this ... but then, the "fasting is good for you" thing has irritated me for years now. Enjoy:

Somebody wrote:

A good detox progeam seeks to remove the causes of disease before it makes us ill. It helps to keep immune responses high, elimination regular, circulation sound, and stress under control. Many undertake a good detox program two or three times a year and find that satisfactory.

I prefer removing allergens from the diet, and keeping the gut healthy, to doing a fast, and "cleansing". A fast is not for everbody.

Body Signs that tell you it's time to cleanse -

1. Frequent, unexplained headaches, joint, or back pain, or arthritis.


2. Chronic respiratory problems, sinus problems, or asthma.


3. Abnormal body odor, bad breath, coated tongue.

Help the liver.

4. Food allergies, bad digestion, chronic constipation with internal bloating/gas.

Help the digestion, help the liver, remove the allergen.

5. Brittle nails, hair, or psoriasis, adult acne.

Help your protein digestion, eat proteins, heat your digestion.

6. Unexplained weight gain of over 10 pounds.

Check the thyroid, exercise, check for syndrome x.

7. Unusually poor memory, chronic insomina, depression, irritability, or chronic fatigue.

Adrenal exhaustion from too much stress for too long, hypothyroid (check for syndrome x), depression, PMS, and allergies: you can get some of these from environmental allergens. For instance, working or living in moldy houses.

8. Environmental sensitivity especially to odors.


I wouldn't use a cleanse for any of those. I would heat the digestion, help the liver, check the diet for allergens (gluten, milk sugar and proteins, eggs, etc.) (and remove those) and do a full intake form to see what's out of balance. Nobody should need to kick the body hard twice a year.

A good detox program has 3 steps: cleansing, rebuilding, and maintaining. An all-liquid diet is called a fast. "It's not absolutely necessary to take all liquids but a few days without solid food can be an enlightening experience"...says Linda Rector Page.

Well, yes, because you're suddenly not eating the foods which you're severely sensitive to.

A fast will severely cool your digestion. And a cool digestion is part of the allergy problem to start with ...

Your body becomes easier to "hear" telling you what foods and herbs will most help you via cravings (i.e., a need for proteins, or B vitamin foods, etc).

Ah, yes. Cravings. Like you crave junk food the week before menses? That's not your body telling you what it needs, that's your body telling you that its fat and/or sugar metabolism is out of whack, and that the liver needs strengthening. And possibly the digestion.

Fasting works by self-digestion.

You know you die rather painfully if you actually ever start to digest yourself? It's called pancreatic cancer ...

Eat only fresh or simply prepared foods during the rebuilding step. The diet should be low in fat, with little dairy (cottage cheese and yogurt is o.k.), and no fried foods.

Fresh foods dampen the digestion. If I were to tell somebody run-down what they should eat it'd be miso soup, chicken soup, and other warm foods. No salads, no sodas, no fruit, no icecream. No cold foods. Regular meals. And regular proteins, preferably pork, but chicken works too.

Generally the digestive troubles go away once the allergen is identified and eliminated.

Avoid alcohol, caffeine, tobacco and sugars.

Yes, those all cool the digestion. On the other hand, you're taking away all of a person's addictions and possibly joys in life. How perfect are you? Are you doing without all those? Are you a vegan on top?

It's my considered opinion that people aren't perfect, and that a perfect therapist is bad for clients.

More coffee, anybody?

Avoid meats except fish, and sea foods. Include supplements and herbal aids as needed.

You need meat if you have protein digestion trouble, like brittle nails or hair trouble, or immune system weaknesses. Help the digestion and eat pork or similar 2-3 times a week.

Maintaining is keeping your body clean and toxin-free.

Better remove the allergens, keep the digestion warm and cozy, and help the liver.

Please do not attempt a cleanse without professional supervision, and never when ill, or just recouperating. Its asking too much of your body.

You're saying it yourself: it's too draining on people. So really, why do it at all?

Honest, I've never seen the need for a cleanse.

And you'll see jolly red-cheeked vital people rave on about it, or about fasts in general, but then, their digestion (and liver) is in perfect working order, hot as a very hot thing. Do the same to somebody with a cold digestion (and liver) and whoa ...

"Why do I have all white stools? And yellow eyes and skin?"
"Your liver just shut down all bile production, dear. Don't worry, it'll clear up again".

Umm, right. (That was one of the skinniest, "coldest" (in terms of liver and digestion) people I've met, but a fast is not for everybody. So stop pushing it.

End of rant.

Related entries: Hot vs. cold liver - Syndrome x - Indigestion - Food sensitivities


Might I also add that hepatic glutathione (GSH) all but disappears 48hrs after beginning a fast. As GSH is your liver's main antioxidant, it is certainly not the time to be taking alteratives and/or hepatics, unless you're also taking something like Milk Thistle or Schisandra, which will help to raise hepatic GSH levels.

Increased 'liver detox activity' (biotransformation) results in enhanced oxidative stress along the liver's mitochondria and smooth endoplasmic reticulum (where the oxidative bursts occur). Not really a good thing to accentuate at the very time your liver's antioxidant capacity is severely reduced.

I've long believed that much of the "cleansing crisis" symptoms that are reported during a fast/cleanse can be attributed to waning GSH levels and enhanced oxidative stress due to so-called liver cleansing herbs.

Knowing when to use herbs is important. Knowing when not to use them, or when to use them in tandem with something else, is just as important.

Hmmm, a bit severe this appraisal of fasting. I've found fasting to be an excellent tool in the treatment of both acute and chronic illness, a very excellent tool. It is tried and true and has been used effectively for thousands of years by virtually all cultures. Toxins cause and provoke disease; removal of toxins removes disease. It ain't rocket science.

What part of "get rid of the all the allergens, then heat the digestion and help the liver" is so difficult to understand?

Because fasting is not for everybody. It's possibly good for those with an iron constitution, who could, if they so wished, eat a horse in one sitting. It's not for the usual folks who fast: the weak of digestion, the cold-liver folks, those with lots of food-derived allergies.

I detest the "we're dirty and need cleaning" paradigm. The idea sets up a lot of guilt - and there's a lot of people who profit from that guilt, or try to. Bleh for them, and bleh for the puke - purge - cleanse - parasite mindframe.

If you can't eat a horse you should strengthen your digestion, not weaken it with a fast or other "cleanse".

OK, it is your blog and you are entitled to the last word so I'll not pester you further on this topic after this comment.
You seem to have a huge disconnect between the massive load of largely man-made chemicals being absorbed into our bodies and (resultant) disease. Pesticides, polychlorinated compounds, organic solvents and hormone mimickers, ... they exist. Cancer, soon be the leading cause of death, and provoked heart disease (eg trans fats) are eminently avoidable and treatable through fasting. No amount of liver warming is going to convert body cells contaminated with hydrogenated molecules or DDT molecules into healthy, unpolluted cells.
Your diatribe is plainly incorrect on this topic, and misguided. The weak are strengthened through fasting. Pain and fever reduced. Disease cleared. Chemical corruption of our bodies is real and the chemicals do interfer with function; tissue and organ, mental and physical.
And absorption of modern chemicals and drugs is just one good reason for an increasing incorporation of fasting into our treatment regimens. There are more. I sent you a link.
There is a considerable amount of idiot "marketing" wrapped around fasting, just as there is around herbs and other therapies, but it does not negate the therapy.
It is so very effective, and obvious in result. You might consider taking pause, and reflection.

Pesticides etc. are much less of a problem if the liver works as it should.
Fever, I grant you. When you have influenza or similar which come with prolonged highish fevers, and have no appetite, you should not eat, just drink.

But fast because you've been told you're "dirty" and need a cleanse? That's just plain wrong, especially if you're the cool liver type.