Benefits of fasting
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Self-healing through water fasting: more powerful than any pill

ARTICLE SECTIONS:
My Story /
Why Western medicine fails; Poison, sweet poison /
Healing from within through fasting; How long should I fast?; A role for dry fasting; No magic pill; Fasting for palliative care /
Final thoughts

My story

I became a convert to water fasting after experiencing firsthand the miraculous self-healing powers of the body. It happened many years ago on the last day of my first 7-day fast. For about a decade I had suffered from debilitating sinusitis every winter. Some days were so bad that I could hardly get out of bed. Well, I wasn’t thinking about sinusitis during my fast, because it was spring and there were plenty of other detox symptoms to keep me preoccupied! On that last day, though, I began to feel a familiar tightening in the sinus around my left eye. Not having yet heard about what a healing crisis is, I couldn’t understand why this was happening, and why the water fast should have brought on mild symptoms of sinusitis. The water fast was coming to an end, though, and within a day the ache had fully dissipated.

I didn’t think any more of it – especially since at the time I was much more focussed on food and refeeding! However, the following winter I did notice that my sinusitis was significantly less severe than in previous years. And in the meantime I’d also read about how water fasts can elicit a healing crisis: how symptoms of illness often return as the body heals itself once and for all. (More information about healing crises can be found here.) I now understood that I’d broken my fast too soon, before the healing crisis had finished and I was fully healed. So the following spring I undertook a 10-day fast. The symptoms of sinusitis returned almost immediately, before receding a day or two later. The rest is history. I’ve never suffered from sinusitis again.

Since then, fasting has been my ‘go-to’ for dealing with simple health issues, from healing physical injuries such as tendonitis and muscle strains to fighting off colds and the flu. (More information in the article: ‘A stronger immune system through water fasting.’)

But water fasting can do so much more than heal simple ailments.
What if I told you that water fasting can even cure the incurable?

The fact is that through the healing metabolism unlocked by water fasting, your body can completely heal from an array of serious illnesses which modern Western medicine considers incurable.  Such diseases include: multiple sclerosis (MS), high blood pressure, asthma, Type II diabetes, digestive disorders such as colitis and Crohn’s disease, certain tumors, skin issues such as psoriasis, coronary artery disease… At best, these illnesses seriously complicate life.  At worst, they are terminal: the direct cause of death.

Why Western medicine fails

Don’t get me wrong: Western medicine can work wonders in certain situations, especially those concerning acute medical issues. If you have a splitting headache and have to perform at your best in an hour, then taking a pill really is the best solution. If you’ve been hit by a car, then allowing a surgeon to stitch you back together again really is more efficient than allowing your body to take its own sweet time. It may also save your life!

When it comes to chronic health issues, though, Western medical science offers few credible solutions. This is due primarily to a symptom-based approach which ignores the deeper causes underlying medical issues. It simply fights fire with fire. Pharmaceutical drugs, for instance, aim to manipulate your metabolism, suppressing the symptoms of illness (eg. ashthma, diabetes or multiple sclerosis), or to poison out the disease from your body (eg. chemotherapy). Or, in the case of surgery, it aims to repair the issue (eg. the removal of a tumor).

Without taking into account the underlying cause of an illness, though, it’s no wonder that so many serious illnesses consequently recur or are simply written off as incurable.

This is also why so many people hear their M.D. tell them these fateful words: ‘You’ll need to take this medication for the rest of your life…’

Poison, sweet poison…

In treating chronic health issues, the failure of pharmaceutical science doesn’t end here. No matter how you look at it, all drugs are poison. This is the reason that only doctors are allowed to prescribe such ‘medicine’ in the first place! Any poison running through your system is going to detrimentally affect the system as a whole, not just impact on the specific area affected by disease. The stronger the poison, the stronger the side-effect to your body as a whole. The human body is incredibly resilient, and the occasional pill taken to alleviate an acute situation won’t kill you. But over the long term, in treating chronic conditions, the toxic load of powerful drugs leads to a potentially downward spiral – and all the more so if the body builds up resistance to the given drug, and increasingly higher dosages must be administered to maintain a stable condition (eg. high blood pressure).

Healing from within through fasting

How can you truly heal – a word related etymologically to the word whole – when your body as a whole is being poisoned? How can you heal when, medically, the illness afflicting you isn’t considered in relation to your body as a whole? How can you heal when Western medicine usually considers only the physical body, and not your being as a whole, which also includes deeper emotional and spiritual elements?

Clearly, you can’t.

The only way to truly heal from chronic illness is to allow your own body to do it. You don’t need any pill. You don’t need someone to tell you how to do it – your body already knows. You just need you. This can and should be hugely self-empowering!

The most powerful and effective way to heal from a chronic illness is to undertake an extended healing fast. Exactly how long you’ll need to complete the process of healing depends primarily on three physical factors:

1. The specific illness, as well as the severity of your illness
2. The strength of your immune system
3. Your underlying toxic load (consisting of environmental toxins built up over a lifetime, as well as the residue of pharmaceutical drugs you may have taken to treat the illness)

In addition to these three physical factors, it’s also hugely important to allow the fast to bring up and heal the emotional issues which almost always underlie serious chronic illness. I see this time and again among my clients. Quite simply, those who are willing to open up emotionally heal faster than those who treat the fast as merely a physical exercise.

How long should I fast?

Usually, you’ll need at least 14 days to heal any chronic illness. This is because the body usually prioritizes the cleansing of environmental toxins first – and this takes time. You also need time for ketosis and your healing metabolism to strengthen more deeply, so that your energy can focus more effectively on addressing the illness itself.

To be brutally honest, most chronic illness requires significantly longer than 14 days of water fasting. The truth is that, even with the strongest immune system, sometimes even 40 days isn’t enough. This isn’t necessarily the end of the world, though, as it’s possible to undertake one healing fast, refeed, and then continue with a second healing fast if necessary. Another option is to begin with an extended healing fast, refeed, and then continue with periodic, shorter, follow-up fasts. Yet another option is to consider splitting up the number of days required to heal into a longer series of shorter fasts. (In most cases, this last option tends to be the least effective.)

Aiming for the longest possible fast is usually the most effective approach, but it’s worth discussing this first with a fasting coach like myself. Beyond a certain point, your healing metabolism can eventually tire, becoming less effective on a day-by-day basis. For example, whereas one person may respond best to a 40-day fast, another person may heal better if this is divided into two 21-day fasts.

It’s crucial that people who are already significantly weakened by their illness understand this. If you are significantly weakened by your illness, it probably means that your immune system is too. At this point, forcing yourself into an unnaturally long fast can do you damage rather than good.

A role for dry fasting

In certain cases, periods of dry fasting inserted within an extended water fast can significantly accelerate the rate of healing. I have witnessed near miracles among my clients, especially when it comes to the healing of growths (such as tumors and fibroids) as well as ridding the body of chronic pathogens. However, I would not advise dry fasting to anyone without guidance from an expert like myself. The detox symptoms can simply be too strong without adequate preparation, and this can lead to prematurely aborting the water fast as a result. (More information and articles about dry fasting here.)

No magic pill

Unfortunately, sometimes the body simply doesn’t have the strength for a full healing, even if you’ve fasted as wisely as possible. This is something which anyone hoping to heal from a chronic illness must recognise. You can read about miracle recoveries on Facebook or watch miracle videos on YouTube – and amazing things often do happen thanks to water fasting. (It’s also one of the most rewarding parts of being a water fasting coach!) Even so, not every story has a fairy-tale ending. The illness might be already too far developed. Or perhaps your strength and your immune system are already too compromised.

Although it’s impossible to guarantee a complete recovery in 100% of the cases 100% of the time, water fasting nevertheless offers realistic hope where otherwise there is none. And even when complete healing does not occur, fasting usually leads to a significant long-term reduction of symptoms – especially when combined with an appropriate diet afterwards. My very first client, for instance, undertook a 14-day extended healing fast to heal his colitis, preceded by an initial preliminary cleansing fast. Although an examination after the fast showed that a few micro-lesions remained, he nevertheless felt 100% better.

Fasting for palliative care

In certain cases, chronic terminal illness may be already too far advanced in order for fasting to reverse the final outcome. Even here, though, fasting can and usually does improve both the quality and length of life. This is because when the body has been severely weakened through disease, digestion robs excessive energy from all other areas of life. In many cases, fasting also specifically reduces pain caused by the disease.

I once had a client who was diagnosed with Stage 4 metastatic cancer (tumors spread throughout the body), and who had been given only a few months to live. She fasted three days every week, and loved it, refeeding every four days with a highly nutritious no-sugar diet. Although it was already too late to reverse the course of her disease, the growth of her tumors stopped almost completely, and she found she was able to function normally again. Over a year and a half after we started working together, she was still going strong.

Final thoughts

Although there are no guarantees, water fasting almost always brings some improvement, if not a full recovery, to chronic illness. It is not an easy path. But then again, the path of self-empowerment is never easy, for it means taking responsibility for yourself – and your illness. This is another reason why those who approach their fast as an emotional and spiritual journey (and not just as a physical exercise) tend to find that they heal more deeply.

When it comes to health issues, we’re usually accustomed to submitting ourselves to the word of someone in power or authority: a doctor or expert. But it’s only when we trust in ourselves, our bodies and, yes, our illness, that we permit the deepest healing – and somewhere along the way, we also learn how to live.

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48 Comments

  1. Eddie says

    Hi Dr. Barker, thank you for your informative website.

    I have done a few 7 and 14 day water-fasts(WF), and one 21 day WF, but this time I am attempting a 31day WF. (It has been 6 months since my last WF). I have a pterygium in the right eye that I hope will start healing. I only take pure spring water which I fetch myself from a mountaintop spring. Electrolytes are pure sea salt, Potassium Citrate(powder) and Magnesium Bisglycinate(powder) which I mix with the water separately and spread out across the day.

    The first 5 days of the current fast was uneventful, on day 6 I started coughing up green phlegm and it has persisted until now – day 17, is this normal?
    My throat was sore between day 6 and 11, but that has disappeared.

    Also, have you had any testimonials from any of your clients where pterygiums have disappeared/healed ?

    Thank you for your wonderful work.

    • Tallis Barker, D.Phil. says

      Hi Eddie,

      Thanks for sharing. I haven’t had any clients suffering from pterygiums, but then again, they are quite rare :-). Theoretically, an extended fast should eventually address it. However, the fact that the mucous membrane over your cornea doesn’t have a copious blood supply means that the cells of your immune system will take a long time to reach it. Having said this, once a fasting body does recognise there is pathological tissue, it can be remarkably quick in clearing up the damage.

      So it’s really a question of how long it takes for your body to figure things out. It may or may not happen within 31 days, and it would be very difficult for me to make an estimate on an issue like this. If I did have to make an estimate, though, it would be more like 30-40 days.

      If you do decide to fast, you should know that taking electrolytes slows down the rate of healing. Human beings fasted for millennia before big business thought of reasons you ‘need’ them. As a result of not taking electrolytes, detox symptoms are likely to be stronger – but this is because you’re detoxing more strongly! It’s a no-brainer, and is the best way to accelerate the progress of your fast.

      All the best,
      Tallis

  2. Arthur Batalona says

    Hi Tallis, having witnessed someone close getting rid of a tumor after a 14 day water fast, I started reading up on this topic and discovered your website. Having various ailments I would like to give it a go. Do you have by chance any experience in people suffering from lipoma throughout their body? Many thanks Artur

    • Tallis Barker, D.Phil. says

      Hi Arthur,
      Thanks for sharing, and sorry for the slow response! Although I’ve not actually worked with anyone specifically in order to heal lipoma, I’ve worked with clients suffering from cancer, benign tumors, fatty growths of all sorts, and water fasting can certainly be effective in healing all of them. The actual time your body will need to autophagise the lipomas is going to depend on the size and number of them, your immune system strength, underlying toxic load, age, and length of time that you’ve had the lipomas. This can vary widely from somewhere in the region of 14 to 40+ days. Go for it!
      Tallis

  3. Majid Ali says

    Hey, so I took trazadone a little over 2 months ago. I quit after like 5 days due to the fact that I felt horrible.

    Since then, I have have symptoms such as pssd, anhedonia, emotional blunting, low libido, brain fog, etc.

    My question to you is, have you had clients with the same issues and did prolonged water fasting actually help?

    I plan to do a 40 day water fast soon in an attempt to reset my body.

    • Tallis Barker, D.Phil. says

      Hi Majid,
      Thanks for writing. Unfortunately, as you’ve discovered the hard way, antidepressants can cause nasty side effects both while taking them and then afterwards through withdrawal. The good news is that I’ve had numerous clients who have used fasting to come off different types of anti-depressants. I would definitely recommend that you proceed carefully, though! Antidepressants can show up underlying weak points in your health, and so it’s very possible that there are other health issues which the fast will want to address.
      All the best,
      Tallis

  4. Spotted Cow says

    Hello Tallis,
    Thank you for the informative content on your website! If possible, could you please comment on weight loss issues? I am at the end of day 12 of a water fast, and want to continue. My weight has dropped a lot, though, and this gives me pause. I started out at 44 kg // 97 lb (height:155 cm // 5’1″). At the end of day 11, I was down to 36.5 kg // 80.5 lb. I would hate to burn the 12-day investment by giving up now. Am I right in thinking that significant weight loss is normal and unavoidable?

    • Tallis Barker, D.Phil. says

      Hi Spotted Cow,
      Apologies for the delay in responding. I’ve just noticed there’s been a glitch with messaging on the website.
      This is a lot of weight loss – especially for someone of your initial weight and height. Without knowing any further details about your case, I would consider stopping the fast immediately.
      Hope this helps,
      Tallis

  5. Juan says

    Hi, thanks for this dive deep.
    I recently commented on another post but I believe the question is answered here.
    A new question that opens is, how long (or how to assess on the go) should one fast to help heal a lower back pain, of the sort of hernia or pinched nerves that some times are debilitating, like the ones you get by long term bad posture plus gym injuries. (I’m currently on day 6 feeling discomfort in the area)

    • Tallis Barker, D.Phil. says

      Hi Juan,
      (I just answered your previous comment in the other post.)
      How long you need to heal any kind of injury is going to depend on multiple factors, including: the severity of the injury, the length of time you’ve suffered from it, the general strength of your immune system and your current overall toxic load. If it is specifically a question of nerve damage, this does take longer to heal – and, if so, you also need to stop taking salt asap (this refers back to your other comment), given that salt increases inflammation and slows down the rate of healing.
      Hope this helps,
      Tallis

  6. Shane says

    Hi, and thank you for your work!

    This is a general question, and I realize you can’t make and or offer individualized comments or any guarantees, so no worries.

    But here’s a weird one for you. Last year I got frostbite on my toes. It wasn’t a severe case, and it cleared up within a month. I thought it was gone for good!

    However, this year I noticed it’s returned on my toes, but to a lesser degree. More like frost nip than the full on bite. I speculate that I may have damaged the circulation to my toes, and was wondering (and I recognize this is a weird one and nothing exists in the fasting or CR literature which addresses frostbite or healing damaged toe circulation) but I’m wondering what you think?

    Might a long fast heal circulation damage done to toes by frostbite? Meanwhile, I’m gonna try on my own and see if it improves.

    Thanks again so much!

    • Tallis Barker, D.Phil. says

      Hi Shane,
      Thanks for sharing. Well you’re right about frostbite not being a common reason for fasting! I don’t have any personal experience with it either, but looking at situation theoretically there’s no reason why fasting shouldn’t accelerate healing.
      First, fasting repairs tissue damage, regardless of the source of the damage. In order to do so, your body needs adequate blood flow to the damaged area, to deliver the cells from your immune system which will help clear things up. If circulation is compromised from the frostbite, this might take a little longer than in other situations.
      Second, if there is also nerve damage, fasting will help here too, but in most cases this usually takes longer than healing tissue damage. My clients with nerve damage usually report improvements after 21+ days of fasting. If that sounds like too much, 7-10 days might already bring noticeable improvement to the tissue damage.
      All the best,
      Tallis

      • Shane says

        Right on, thank you, Tallis, for your friendly and helpful reply.

        I’m on day 8 of a water only fast, and currently feeling pretty chill. I’ve loads of fasting experience so understand the roller coaster nature of the practice. But I’ve never made up to the higher highs of 21-days! Wow that’s strength!

        Even for self-experimental attempts to heal miserable frostbite (never get frostbite) I was thinking maybe 10 days or 14. Then I read down your articles on the increasing benefits out past two weeks, even more at 21 days and beyond, and that has me wondering. Meanwhile, day by day for now, and if it all goes wrong I’m prepared with some slow off-ramping with greens and avocado to ease back into nutrition.

        Staring at my toes, though, and asking them politely to get back to peaceful and good health again.

        Sorry for rambling, and thank you again for responding!

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