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THE SCIENCE OF FASTING By HERBERT M. SHELTON1

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THE SCIENCE OF FASTING By HERBERT M. SHELTON2

Vol. III

FASTING and SUN BATHING

PUBLISHED BY
DR. SHELTON’S HEALTH SCHOOL

SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS

First Edition 1934
Third Revised Edition 1950

WANT OF APPETITE is not always a morbid symptom,
nor even a sign of imperfect digestion. Nature may
have found it necessary to muster all the energies of
our system for some special purpose, momentarily
of paramount importance. Organic changes and
repairs, teething, pleuritic eruptions, and the
external elimination of bad humors (boils, etc.), are
often attended with a temporary suspension of the
alimentary process. As a rule, it is always the safest
plan to give Nature her own way.

--FELIX L. OSWALD

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THE SCIENCE OF FASTING By HERBERT M. SHELTON192

of disease it is in the main actually used for purposes of cure. Many people keep
themselves tired and exhausted by using up the energies of the body in continual
digestive processes.”

There is another and equally important reason why the gross overeating which is so
prevalent causes people to be tired. The intestinal toxemia, resulting from excessive
food, poisons the tissues and cells throughout the whole body. Sluggishness,
laziness, and chronic fatigue are some of the results of this poisoning. The fagging
energies of the body revive to a remarkable extent, when eating is discontinued for
a few days, due to the conservation of energy and to the cutting off the source of
toxins.

Dr. Walter also recognizes these facts and says in Life’s Great Law, p. 209: “No
process of treatment ever invented fulfills so many indications for restoration of
health as does fasting. It is nature’s own primal process, her first requirement in
nearly all cases. As a means of prompting circulation, improving nutrition, facilitating
excretion, recuperating vital power, and restoring vital vigor, it has no competitor
* * * “In chronic diseases fasting is hardly less important than in acute cases.
Obstruction of the vital organs, and especially of the process of nutrition, is the rule.
Giving rest to the organs is of utmost importance, in order to improve nutrition, and
restore vigor. The secondary effect is the exact opposite of the primary.

“Extremes of practice, are, however, to be avoided. Men are always prone to indulge
forcing processes. A fast for a few days or at most a week, will often be comforting
and valuable; but to compel the organism to live for a month without food is an
unnecessary violence. But in acute diseases the fasting may continue for weeks,
because nature cannot appropriate the food; we only object to arbitrary fasts for
long periods. Fasting is not a cure-all; it may do evil as well as good; but it should
always be employed in connection with rest of the general system.”

Walter’s fear of the long fast, in chronic “disease” need not engage our attention
at this place, beyond saying that such a process is not essentially violent and that,
while the short fast is preferable in some cases, the long fast is alone productive of
results in others.

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THE SCIENCE OF FASTING By HERBERT M. SHELTON193

THE LENGTH OF THE FAST

CHAPTER XXIII

A long controversy has raged between the advocates of the short fast and the
advocates of the fast to completion. The advocates of the short fast depict what they
believe to be harm resulting from the long fast. While it is true that the short fast is
more popular with most patients, I have yet to see these fancied damages result from
a long fast.

Carrington has defended the long fast for many years. I can do no better than quote
him at this point. He says: “I must contend, and that strenuously, that the breaking
of the fast prematurely is one of the most foolish and dangerous experiments that
can possibly be made. The prevalent idea is that a fast should be undertaken’ and
persisted in for a certain definite period, which can be fixed upon before the fast
is begun, and that the fast can be broken, and even broken with advantage, at
the expiration of this period . . . who is there to decide? Were it thus possible to
determine a priori, the length of time the fast might be protracted, without harm
resulting, or with benefit to the fasting patient, this system of treatment would be
as blindly experimental, and as whimsical, as the orthodox medical treatment of
today-- whereas it is nothing of the kind. Nature would institute no such senseless
code, no ‘law in which there is no law’. . . . I wish to impress the following statement
upon the minds of my readers, since it is one of the most important facts contained
in this entire book; and the failure to appreciate it is, I believe, the cause of almost
all the misunderstanding concerning the fasting cure * * * . . . Nature will always
indicate when the fast should be broken.”—Vitality, Fasting and Nutrition, pp. 543-
544.

He adds that “there can never be any mistake by those who are accustomed to
watching fasting cases, as to when to terminate the fast. Nature will always indicate
when the fast should be broken by a series of symptoms which can never be
misunderstood and which she here displays most obviously--to all those whose
judgement is not perverted by preconceived ideas, and who possess a sound
knowledge of the phenomena and philosophy of fasting.”--Vitality, Fasting and
Nutrition, p. 544.

He says that “the return of natural hunger is the great point to note, and the most
important indication that the fast is ended, and the system is able and willing
to digest and assimilate nutriment, in the form of either solid or liquid food. The
spontaneous and precisely coincidental cleaning of the tongue, of the breath, and
the other and lesser phenomena which may be observed toward the termination
of the ‘finish fast,’ all indicate that Nature and Nature alone, is the authority to be
considered as to when the fast should be broken.”

A ‘finish fast’ does not always mean a long fast. It does not mean a fast until all of
the body’s food reserves are exhausted. It is a curious fact that hunger will return
in three days, even where there are abundant reserves on hand, if three days are
all that are required for the patient to get well; whereas, it will not return for five

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THE SCIENCE OF FASTING By HERBERT M. SHELTON383

THE AIR BATH

CHAPTER XLVI

Sun-baths, light-baths, and air-baths are collectively referred to by Rikli, Monteuius
and others as the atmospheric cure. The literature on the subject is so confused
that one often has difficulty in determining which bath is being considered. I have
tried to avoid this ambiguity of anguage.

One cannot take a sun-bath or light-bath without also receiving an air-bath, but the
air-bath may be taken in one’s own room, or in the darkness of night. It does not
depend on the presence of light. It consists simply in exposing the nude body to the
air.

Dr. Trall considered the air-bath as admirable in cases of scrofula, rickets, and other
conditions. Rikli declared: “Man is made to live in the open air; therefore when
exposed to the action of light, air and sun, he is in his real element. As a natural
agent, water takes only an inferior place, above it comes air, whilst light takes
precedence over every other natural agent, and is the greatest essential wherever
organic life exists. The nervous system which is an inherent principle of our
organism is acted upon by light, especially through the skin. The purposes of the
air treatment is the strengthening of the skin by restoring its natural functions and
vitality and elasticity it has absorbed from its primitive state when directly in contact
with the skin.”

Saleeby quotes the French students as saying, “Baths of water are good, baths of
air are better, baths of light are best.” This is but a shortening of Rikli’s statement
above.

Benjamin Franklin was in the habit of taking air baths each morning in his room. He
made some efforts to induce others to adopt the practice and speaks highly of the
benefits he derived therefrom. Franklin particularly desired to divest himself of all
clothing when doing mental work. Adolph Just, of Germany, also lays great stress
on the air-bath.

Air playing over the body may increase metabolism fifty per cent in ten minutes.
Thyroid extract, medicine’s only claimed stimulant of metabolism, is said to require
a year to accomplish this same thing. An air-bath of twenty minutes duration
reduces the hydrogen-ion content of the blood to normal. No drug method known
can do this in any length of time.

Dr. Leonard Hill showed that “a high cooling power not only increases the heat
production of the body during exposure, but raises the basal metabolism to a higher
level. The fire of life is made to burn faster.” Together with Sir Henry Gauvin he
made a careful examination of children at the Treloar Hospital, Alton, and Hayling
Island, and concluded that the high metabolism, produced equally in pigmented
and unpigmented children, was due to the cooling power of the air, and not to
radiation.

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THE SCIENCE OF FASTING By HERBERT M. SHELTON384

Halstead attributed the results achieved in bone and glandular tuberculosis solely
to fresh air. S. Bangs, who has had much experience with both the air-bath and
the sun-bath, believes that the air-bath is the most beneficial of the two. Prof. J.
Dollinger (Budapest) says that it is impossible to decide whether open air or sunlight
plays the most important role in the healing processes in tuberculosis.

Arringer-Cherkoff says: “All painter’s models, especially those who on account of
their fine figures are in constant demand for sittings and consequently are naked
the greater part of the day, soon acquire a fresh rosy tint of the skin, their figures
improve, and in a few weeks from the time they take up their occupation enjoy far
better health than formerly.”

As soon as people realize that sun and air-baths are more important than water-
baths, all of our cities will have public sun-parks where the people may go and take
their sun and air-baths.

Air baths, accompanied by gymnastic exercise, which are more pleasantly practiced
in a state of nudity, will do much to add to the health of everyone. They will also
harden one and make him or her more resistant to weather changes. It is a good
thing to train oneself to resist an exaggerated dread of cold.

The weak and debilitated person must use due caution in beginning air bathing.
Everything must be in proportion to capacity and that of chronic patients or of those
troubled with nervous disorders is often very limited. In such cases the first few
baths must be short ones. It frequently happens that delicate and sensitive patients
. cannot endure more than three minutes at the beginning. Their hyper-sensitiveness
must be taken into account and duly respected.

The air bath should be pleasant and if it is taken progressively will prove to be so. Its
duration must depend on the temperature and on the condition of the patient. The
patient must not be permitted to chill. Should chilling occur, no time should be lost
in securing proper warmth.

If blind enthusiasm has caused the beginner to prolong the bath too long, fatigue may
be experienced during the day, or discomfort may be pronounced and the patient
may suffer from excessive weariness, varied by aches and pains in the head or back,
accompanied by slight feverishness.

No time is more convenient for the air bath than immediately upon arising in the
morning, while one goes through his or her daily exercises. Air baths a la Franklin
may be taken by the vigorous and healthy without the above precautions.

Thousands of people enjoy their daily air bath, even in the most inclement weather.
Don’t say “Oh! but they are used to it.” Get used to it! You can then withstand the
weather changes with the same ease that they do.

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