Benefits of fasting
Comments 25

Self-healing: more powerful than any pill

Water fasting is well known for its ability to heal minor ailments.  I myself have recovered from chronic sinusitis, physical injuries including tendonitis and muscle strains, as well as numerous colds and flus.

But 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 a 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.

The approach of the modern health industry is twofold.  Firstly, it fights fire with fire.  Drugs aim to manipulate your metabolism, suppressing the symptoms of illness, or to poison out the disease from your body.  Secondly, surgery aims to physically extract the offending element.  These two basic approaches totally fail to take into account the cause of disease.  It’s no surprise, therefore, that so many serious illnesses consequently recur or are simply written off as incurable.

Furthermore, 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.  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?

I don’t want to write off modern medicine entirely.  In my view, it has its place, especially in managing critically acute situations.  Allowing the body to heal naturally often takes more time than prescription poisons or the knife of surgery.  Personally, I believe that the quick, showy results of modern medicine are the reason for its societal and economic success in the first place, over the last 150 years.  When it comes to dealing with chronic conditions, though, this approach so often fails, plain and simple.

In order to heal from the illnesses listed above, a prolonged healing fast lasting from 14 to 40 days is usually necessary (the approximate length of which usually depends on the specific disease).  During such a fast, your body’s first priority is often to detox any prescription poisons you’ve been taking – because the powerful drugs used to treat serious illness themselves constitute a toxic load to the body.  As these clear out, as the healing metabolism achieved through ketosis deepens, your body’s energy becomes more fully devoted to addressing the illness itself.

While water fasting can never offer a ‘magic pill’, guaranteeing a complete recovery in 100% of the cases 100% of the time, it nevertheless offers realistic hope where otherwise there is none.  And even when complete healing does not occur, water fasting often leads to a significant long-term reduction of symptoms – especially when combined with appropriate nutrition afterwards.

How ironic that I should have to tell you always to ‘consult your doctor’ before undertaking a healing fast.  Still, it’s better than being sued by the big brothers of Big Pharma :-).


  1. Dawna says

    Hi Tallis,

    Greatly enjoyed this article, coincides with the research I’ve doing during self-isolation. I’m a small framed petite 5’2″ women with a normal weight for my size, maybe a few pounds under due to exercise and I carry muscle not much fat 17%. Part of my lower body weight was due years of eating foods that I had sensitives and intolerance too. Many doctors and family said it was due to be being to high-strung and working too much. Well, I was filled with anxiety and high-strung due to the various food intolerances destroying my body. In my mid-30;s a naturopath helped identify most of my issues, corn, soy, dairy, wheat and diagnosed me with adrenal fatigue. Unfortunately, 15 years ago alternative options were not as available to pursue. So, I’ve struggled almost 4 decades of poor health.

    Eight weeks ago, I switch from SAD to a vegan diet, with a little salmon. I completed one 3 day fast, gosh was that rough, not surprised considering I didn’t properly pre-plan entry nor had my diet been that good before. I’m on day 5 of a 7-10-14-21 water fast, kinda undecided. Was wondering have you seen improvements in food allergies during fasts? and what number of days is best to help cure colon and food allergies? As much as I would hope it would be resolved in one go, based on my research I’m not naive it will probably take several water fasts.


    • Tallis Barker Ph.D. says

      Hi Dawna,

      Thanks for sharing. I can imagine that your first 3-day fast was tough! Switching to a vegan diet as an initial cleanse was definitely a good idea, but after living on SAD you’d need much longer in order for it to have significantly impacted on your residual toxic load. Still, good for you for having stuck through it!

      I’ve found that extended fasts do almost always bring relief to colon issues and food allergies. You just need to leave enough time for the gut to heal. “Enough time” depends on the severity of the issue, the strength of your immune system as well as the amount of lifetime residual cleansing the body needs to do before it can really devote itself to deeper issues like yours. If you’ve been ill for almost four decades, it WILL almost certainly take more than one fast. I would aim for at least 21 days and see where that leaves you afterwards.

      One other thing: the refeeding period will be critical in your case to make sure you retain the benefits of the fast.

      All the best,

  2. Santosh ?kumar Rai says

    Greetings to you Dr Tallis,
    Can water fasting cure rectal problems ?
    If yes, how many days should be followed ?
    The Republic Of India.

    • Tallis Barker Ph.D. says

      Hi Santosh,

      I’m afraid this is a very general question, which makes it hard to give a specific answer. Generally, any lesions or abnormal growths, as well as haemorrhoids, do respond favourably to water fasting. Likewise, issues such as leaky gut, IBS etc. can heal effectively through fasting. The time required for healing depends on the severity of the condition, the strength of the immune system and the amount of general body-wide detox which must also take place. 7 days should be enough to see at least some degree of improvement, and this can form the basis of planning the suitable length of a longer healing fast afterwards. In such cases it is very important to follow a careful, gradual refeeding protocol after the fast.

      Hope this helps,

    • Nagesh D says

      Hi Santosh, I am not qualified to give any medical advise but my niece suffered with similar issues and I advised her to follow IF, starting with a strict 16 hours fast and 8 hours feeding with 1 meal a day twice a week. It worked wonders for her. Cured her IBS symptoms and then also her hemorrhoids. For me IF did wonders – lost about 20 kgs in 18 months. I did variations of IF from 16 hours fasting minimum to 1 meal a day to 3 days fasting. Of course it was only water during my fasts. Good luck!

  3. Mackenzie Diedrich says

    Hi again Tallis,
    I got into a minor car accident back in July of 2019, and only until recently, over the past two months or so I’ve begun to experience pain in my right shoulder under load at the gym, which persists for a few days. I can only assume it’s a tear of some kind in the rotator cuff structures that is just progressively re-tearing and never healing completely. I had very little issue after my main chiropractic treatment post-crash, performing disc golf and working out a little at the gym, but then pain started to creep in, a little hitch in my shoulder range of movement developed, and now the pain prevents me from loading my arm extended away from my body in certain rotations.

    Also, I have a nagging weakness in my left elbow tendons, on of the forearm attachments.

    Currently on a journey to healing these issues without surgery if I can.
    I set my sights on a 40 day fast a long time ago, but now felt like finally the right time.
    I started around the 22nd of november, with the first 4 days being a juice fast, staying under 1000 calories, and now I’m on just water.

    Have you heard of increased healing in soft tissues like tendons and rotator cuff injuries?

    As a side.. I also have struggled with an eating disorder and poor habits around food, which is partly antagonized by gut bacteria imbalances.. Do you have resources for coming out of a fast reinforcing good eating behaviours? (I do eat vegan, and whole food plants when I summon the energy to prep cook.)

    Thanks in advance for any tips!
    (Not seeking medical advice, if my shoulder doesn’t get better I’ll go see a doctor about it, after I speak with my chiropactor next wednesday about it)

    • Tallis Shivantar says

      Hi Mackenzie,

      Hope your fast is going well. That was a good idea to set it up with a 4-day juice fast :-).

      I’ve found water fasting to be very useful (both when fasting myself and with clients) in relation to both tendons and joints. I can’t speak specifically for rotator cuff injuries, but fasting works well in healing minor injuries to cartilage in general. With tendons the problem is also usually linked to inflammation, which exacerbates the lack of blood flow to an already relatively deprived area. One of the most effective things fasting does is to reduce inflammation, which will allow you to get on with healing your tendons more easily.

      I would hope that 40 days will bring you significant improvement. For lasting improvements to uninjured joints, about 21 days is often the point where things really start happening, so you’ll probably need longer – but 40 days is double that length with more than double the healing power, so fingers crossed!

      For coming out of a fast, I do have a pdf on breaking and refeeding. This is focussed mainly on the actually process of getting back to a normal diet (which after a 40 day fast is a full project in itself!), rather than establishing good eating habits. Still, Section 7 does cover what I call an ‘alternative method’ of refeeding. I believe one of the main causes of bingeing after a fast comes from the traditional method of eating many mini-meals per day, and I suggest a different method of refeeding which helps to re-establish the body’s natural biorhythms as soon as possible. I know it works from what my clients tell me. If you’re interested here is a link:

      All the best,

      • Mackenzie Diedrich says

        Yes, Tallis, I’m coming into day 16 and things are still okay! Not losing weight too drastically, and my HR and BP are both normal. 21 days will be the big milestone, but I’m fairly in tune with my body, if it tells me to stop, I will. I still have about 15 or 20 more lbs of free energy to lose before I start pushing the limit I think.

        Thank you for sharing the pdf, I’ll certainly take a look.

        My issue with binge eating is long standing though, far before I ever tried to do a fast for any period.
        Last fast I did I was doing great after, up until my accident and things started spiraling, with fall coming on the heals of my early recovery, seasonal affective disorder, (if you believe in it) reared it’s head too which made things worse…

        Anyway, Thanks again!

        • Tallis Shivantar says

          Hi Mackenzie,

          Sounds like you’re doing great!

          It’s still a little ways to go, but about a week before you plan to end the fast I’d start affirming the fact that you need to control your eating habits during refeeding. You don’t want the end of the fast to mean the end of self-control, and in order to plant the seed you need to do so ahead of time!

          Also, you may find this video helpful in order to prevent bingeing:


          • Mackenzie Diedrich says

            Yes that video helped! And so did your Re-feeding manual, I just finished reading it!
            I had no idea of those dangers involved with breaking a long fast incorrectly. I knew it would be easy to mess up my intestinal tract if I ate the wrong foods, or too much, but knowing which food group to stick with at first, and how slowly calories must be reintroduced was new and important info!

            I’m especially interested in promoting a healthy and strong mucosal layer in my intestines, so oats, and buckwheat are high on my list for refeeding foods, but obviously not until day 5 of refeeding correct?

            Would you reccomend as a veg, a cooked and then cooled plain potato early in the re-feeding process?
            Cooked and then cooled potatoes contain resistant starch, which is a superfood for healthy gut bacteria, but I’m worried it might be too ‘sticky’ of a food that early on.

            Thanks again for being a guiding light Tallis!

            • Tallis Shivantar says

              Hi Mackenzie,
              Glad the video and pdf helped.
              “Early” in the refeeding process is pretty relative, so I’m not sure how early you mean! A day or two either way really won’t make much difference here in terms of promoting gut bacteria, and the fact is also that your old gut bacteria is mostly going to re-establish itself anyway. If you really want to focus on this issue as soon as possible, then fresh sauerkraut (which also contains a lot of great microbes) is something you can introduce right from the beginning. Also, potato won’t get too sticky if you “stick” with small quantities at first, combining it with a lot of other vegetables. But, honestly, I don’t see much advantage to re-introducing it early.

  4. Wendy says

    Tallis,Thank you for this article. My story is a happy one and I thought it might give encouragement to some who are seeking health on here. From a child I was in miserable health. I had suffered from constant flu and colds and severe allergies and memory / learning problems. At 35 these were compounded with joint pain, hypoglycemia, low iron, low blood pressure, chronic exhaustion, depression, foggy brain, and more. I tried everything my doctors prescribed but with only temporary relief or even worse symptoms. At 47 I began searching for healing. I first started to drink more water, clean filtered water then began to slowly clean up my diet switching to more more organic plant based, non adulterated foods. Then I quit sugar. That was a hard addiction to quit! I started to get a little bit of real healing in one or two areas with herbs after I read a book called The How To Herb Book. In the back of that book they mentioned fasting as a way to heal and recommended a book called Fasting Can Save Your Life by Herbert M. Shelton. I wanted to go on a long 40 day fast but that seemed daunting so I tried just one day. That wasn’t difficult so a few weeks later – 3 days. A month later I did a week juice fast. These fasts only made me feel very hungry and tired but I was convinced that a longer fast is what I needed. I spoke to my doctor about what I wanted to do. He was sorely against it and even threatened to stop seeing me if I went through with it. Poo on his overweight self! I started with a week of fresh juicing and my body went into ketosis and then the healing crisis began. For the next 10 days I had increasingly severe headache, fever, nausea, vomiting, achiness, and a restless feeling. It was NOT easy. I went to bed for those 10 days and could not work. I had no hunger as all these toxins were coming out of me. After those 10 days my body began to slowly wake up. My senses became like super senses and I had a sense of peace and ease. I had restful sleep and tons of energy for the first time in decades, and no pain – at – all! Even my glasses didn’t work anymore, my eyesight had corrected itself! During the last week my hunger began to slowly return (I will be honest – that was hard because I wanted to eat everything!). I made it 39 days I started the juicing again and back to clean eating. Afterwards I felt and looked 20 years younger. I had perfect heath. No pain, no allergies, I could think clearly, and Ha! I have not needed to go back to my doctor because I have not been ill since! I am now 57 and continue to water fast two or three times a year to maintain. I feel like I am 35! I take no medications, not even aspirin. At my last health assessment I got a score of 100+ and the nurse thought my age was a mistake at first. She asked me what I was doing and I told her how I use fasting and eating a clean plant based organic diet. Fasting CAN save your life and aging does not have be ridden with pain and costly medications. Your body knows how to heal if we would just let it.

    • Tallis Shivantar says

      Hi Wendy,
      Thanks for sharing :-). It’s always inspirational to hear success stories like this!
      The body’s almost miraculous healing abilities never cease to amaze me – even as a fasting coach myself, who has seen it happen again and again on extended fasts like this.
      I wish you continued good health,

  5. Nagesh says

    I have read many of your articles. Thank you for providing such valuable information. I have started the ‘life change’ and have been practicing fasting as a healing process. One of the objectives is of course weight loss. I am not heavy but definitely overweight. Secondly, in the recent years I have been diagnosed with Osteoarthritis. I have bad knees and I am only 54. How does fasting heal OA or what level of fasting (extended to 36-48-7-days) will completely heal OA? Thanks in advance. I am trying to avoid surgery and maybe new cell/tissue growth in my joints.

    • Tallis Shivantar says

      Hi Nagesh,

      Thanks for writing. Fasting can definitely help osteoarthritis (OA), although it tends to heal rheumatoid arthritis more effectively. But there are no guarantees, and I’m afraid I can’t give you a magic number in terms of how much you’d need to fast in order to heal OA completely. A lot is going to depend on the severity of the condition, as well as the strength of your immune system.

      What I’d suggest is trying a 7-10 day fast, and see if you feel any difference – both while fasting as well as afterwards. This won’t heal you, but it might give you an idea of whether fasting can improve life for you. If you feel any improvement at all, then I’d suggest aiming for a longer fast afterwards, in which deeper healing can take place. You may need several such extended fasts in order to reach a level of permanent healing. Of course, it would also be possible to try out a longer, let’s say 21-day fast for your first experience (this would be much more effective), but most people find the idea of 21 days quite daunting without having tried water fasting in the past. Having said this, I HAVE had many clients who do successfully dive into a 21-day water fast on their first occasion. (This is where coaching really helps!) There’s no physical reason NOT to try a 21-day fast. It all boils down to you, and whether, emotionally/psychologically, you feel you’re capable of it!

      Hope this helps,

  6. Mary Beth Freckmann says

    I’m very excited about finding this information and your article, Tallis. I’m 54 years old, very overweight (even though I’ve lost 30 lbs in the last 9 months) I have acute asthma, stiffness in my joints, was recently diagnosed with pre diabetes and have had 2 bouts of diverticulitis in the last 6 months.
    I’ve aged faster in the last 2 years and am overwhelmed with how my health is deteriorating.
    I’ve been reading everyone can on low carb, keto, IF and longer water fasts.
    In June I did 12 days of keto and IF and my asthma went away completely, only to return as soon as I went back to the typical SAD.
    I want to do a 14-21 water fast, but don’t know where to begin in terms of getting the support I know I will need.
    Any suggestions will be much appreciated.

    Thank you,

    Mary Beth

    • Tallis Shivantar says

      Hi Mary Beth,

      Thanks for writing. I’m glad you’re excited about the possibility of using water fasting to improve your health! In order for long-term changes to stick, though, it’s going to be really important to change your diet afterwards to something healthy – and yet SUSTAINABLE. The fact that you tried low-carb and then reverted back so soon to the Standard American Diet shows that perhaps it wasn’t right for you. There are certainly other options, and considering some of the health issues you have, I’m not really sure that keto is the best option for you anyway. But let’s not get into that here. A public page like this isn’t the right place to discuss the specifics of individual cases.

      That’s great you responded so well to the keto while you were on it. A water fast is likely to have an even stronger effect, and in the long term has the potential to completely reverse pre-diabetes and heal asthma (especially when combined with the right diet afterwards).

      If you’re interested in online coaching, this is the page to check out:

      All the best,

  7. Shannon Fox says

    Hello Tallis,
    I was diagnosed 15 years ago with Hashimoto’s thyroid. I have taken Levothyroxin ever since. I first experienced something I did not understand fully until reading your articles. I had back surgery several months ago and went on a 48 hours water fast prior to my surgery. After my surgery I was on a liquid only diet for 24 hours which consisted of bone broth and green tea and water. What I experienced was that upon resuming my Levothyroxine my levels were now to high and my thyroid was now going hyperthyroid. Even after a month I was still hyperthyroid. My Dr had to adjust my medication twice to get my levels back to where I felt normal. So, in essence I feel like my system had started to heal itself partially. I have done several 24 hours fasts and routinely do intermittent daily 16-20 hour fasts, but I still take my Levothyroxine. Now I wonder if I go further, say a 7-14 day fast, do yo our have you heard of any experience with fasting in regards thyroid function? I have read a several articles on the subject and have only found a couple that advocate fasting to heal a specific case of Hashimoto’s(or any other autoimmune issue for that matter). I feel this is due to western medicine saying that autoimmune diseases are not curable. But, since I tend to disagree I wonder what your thoughts are.

    • Tallis Shivantar says

      Hi Shannon,

      Thanks for writing and sharing your experiences.
      First, autoimmune issues ARE curable through fasting. It’s a simple fact. You’ve read about it. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. I don’t want to say that every autoimmune issue can be fully healed in every case. Certainly, I’ve occasionally encountered cases which don’t respond favourably to fasting alone, but I can tell you that – at least in my experience – fasting almost always improves symptoms, if it doesn’t eventually bring about a recovery to full health.

      In general, thyroid conditions tend to be tricky, and this also applies to fasting. Because the thyroid is so sensitive, things can very easily get out of balance as a result of the hormonal reset caused by fasting. However, between hyperthyroidism (such as Graves) and hypothyroidism (such as Hashimoto’s), there’s no question in my mind that people suffering from an underactive thyroid usually respond more easily to fasting. So, in a way, consider yourself lucky – despite the ping-pong effect you experienced after your last fast :-).

      I’ve worked online with several people suffering from Hashimoto’s, and in each case an individually tailored fasting program has helped to balance thyroid levels. I don’t want to give you a false sense of security – and, as in any medical case, I’d suggest you discuss everything with an MD who is at least a little knowledgeable about fasting – but I don’t see any reason you shouldn’t consider fasting as a means to restore your health.

      All the best,

      • Shannon Fox says

        I want to thank you for the response. So many times when you post a question to a website or blog no one ever answers it.

        I spoke to my Dr about fasting to heal or at least strengthen my thyroid condition and got the typical response, “you can’t heal an autoimmune disease all we can hope to do is treat and maintain it at its current state”. Now I don’t believe this anymore than you do so I’m currently on the hunt for a new endocrinologist before I try a longer fast. I need to find one willing to accept the possibility of fasting as a means of healing and who is going to do the the testing necessary to keep on top of my thyroid levels. When I find such a Dr I will definitely get back with you and enlist your assistance.

        Thanks again,

        • Tallis Shivantar says

          You’re welcome, Shannon.
          I think you’re taking the right approach to search for a more sympathetic endocrinologist. Given the sensitivity of thyroid issues, it would definitely be an advantage to be able to stay in touch with a doctor throughout any fast in the future.
          Looking forward to hearing from you later,

      • Lois Kaiser says

        Do you recommend stopping thyroid medication during a fast? Or should you continue to take it? I’m personally on just T3 (Cytomel).

        • Tallis Shivantar says

          Hi Lois,
          I’m afraid I can’t comment publicly about what to do with specific medications in specific cases. What I can say is that, in the case of thyroid medication, it’s often possible to gradually lower your dosage during the fast (sometimes coming off it completely), but it’s always advisable to work together with your doctor in doing so.
          Hope this helps,

  8. Franco Catucci says

    Tallis , i was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis, osteoarthritis and pulmonary fibrosis and a sleep disorder by my rheumatologist he prescribed me with humira injections i give myself 2 injections a month with this biologic medication to suppress symptoms. I been taking humira injections now for about 4 months . What would you recommend for a length of fast ??? I wish there was a fasting center here in the city i live in. Have you helped anyone with this diagnosis ? And how was the outcome for this person ? And were they completely healed by water fasting by unlocking the healing metabolism that we pose in our own bodies.. thank you !

    • Tallis Shivantar says

      Hi Franco,
      As always, I have to say that it would be irresponsible for me to comment here on the specifics of individual medical cases on a public forum. All I can say is that, in general, arthritis does often respond to fasting – although (in general) rheumatoid arthritis tends to heal more quickly than osteoarthritis. Fasting can also help to heal the scarring associated with the build up of fibrotic tissue, but there are never any guarantees. In general, both arthritis and especially fibrosis will respond best to a long fast, but I want to make it clear that I’m talking about generalities here and not the specifics of your case.

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