Treatments & Therapies

Therapeutic fasting – treatment, effects & risks

Therapeutic fasting

Therapeutic fasting is not religiously motivated and is intended to cleanse and purify the body. There are different types of therapeutic fasting.

What is therapeutic fasting?

Fasting is the complete or partial abstinence from food. You can fast for just a few hours, for several days or even weeks. People have been fasting for a variety of reasons for thousands of years. Hippocrates recognized fasting as a medical therapy.

Some people have to fast because of bad harvests or because of wars. Fasting is also often religiously motivated. However, these motives play no role in therapeutic fasting. Therapeutic fasting happens either for medical reasons or for preventive reasons. Therapeutic fasting is intended to activate the body’s self-healing powers , stimulate the body to detoxify and initiate purification. Mental changes can also be desired when fasting . This is intended to make it easier for those who are fasting to see inside by abstaining from food.

Function, effect & goals

There are different types of therapeutic fasting. What all forms have in common, however, is that they are intended to prevent and alleviate illnesses. More and more people are suffering from lifestyle diseases such as obesity , gastrointestinal diseases , diabetes mellitus or high blood pressure .Many foods are mixed with preservatives, colorings and flavor enhancers. Followers of alternative medicine assume that the body stores many of these substances. During the fasting cure, the body should be freed from the deposited toxins. By not eating, the metabolism is supposed to be relieved so that the body has more time to eliminate unnecessary substances. Drainage procedures such as colon cleansing or detoxification teas can support the body in this task. The best-known variant of fasting is the tea-juice fasting according to Otto Buchinger. The internist Otto Buchinger recognized that complete fasting leads to complaints for many people.

With Buchinger fasting, vegetable broth, juices and honey are added. A calorie intake of 500 calories per day is not exceeded. This avoids stress on the metabolism. At the same time, the body continues to receive important nutrients and vital substances. In addition, enemas are performed. These serve to cleanse the intestines . Other measures that support the metabolism, such as liver wraps or dry brushing, are also part of the Buchinger cure.

Another type of fasting is the Breuss cure. It is used in alternative medicine to accompany cancer treatment . Breuss fasting involves abstaining from solid food for 42 days. Fruit juices and herbal teas are allowed. According to Breuss, this should selectively starve the cancer cells. However, the theory is highly controversial. The following applies to the fasting cure according to Breuss: the less juice you drink per day, the better the effect of the cure. Breuss also recommends a special juice blend with carrots and beetroot .

A well-known fasting cure is the F.-X.-Mayr cure. The main goal of this fasting cure is intestinal cleansing. The cure is explicitly not for weight reduction. Warm water with Epsom salts is drunk daily in the morning on an empty stomach . This is for colon cleansing. It has a laxative effect. Then light exercise and alternating showers are on the program. A lot of herbal tea and mineral water is drunk during the cure. Clear vegetable broth is also allowed. In the evening, a cured bread roll is eaten together with milk. The roll serves as training for the salivary glands and as a chewing trainer. During a fruit fast, only fruit is eaten. Vegetables, herbs and nuts are also allowed.

On the other hand, with whey fasting, any solid food is avoided. Instead, one liter of whey, half a liter of orange juice and three liters of still water are fed per day. The whey is said to reduce protein loss during fasting. The orange juice serves to supply minerals and vitamins and the mineral water is intended to promote detoxification. In addition, a glass of sauerkraut juice is drunk every morning to cleanse .

Risks, side effects & dangers

Many doctors are rather skeptical about therapeutic fasting. Healthy people can usually fast for a few days without any problems. However, a doctor should always be consulted before longer fasting cures. Pregnant and lactating women should not fast at all.Children and people with an increased tendency to bleed should also avoid fasting. Fasting is also unsuitable for people with an overactive thyroid , people with circulatory disorders in the brain , type 1 diabetics, those who are underweight and people with eating disorders. People with mental illnesses should only fast after consulting their doctor. If the body is not supplied with any usable food, the metabolic metabolism becomes catabolic in the short term. Blood pressure and blood sugar levels drop. In order for the body to get the energy it needs, it breaks down fat and muscle tissue to produce proteinsto obtain. During longer therapeutic fasting, so-called ketone bodies are formed when fat is broken down. These include acetone, 3-hydroxybutyrate, and acetoacet. This state can progress to ketosis.

In ketosis, there are excessive levels of ketone bodies in the blood. There is also an increased excretion of ketones in the urine and in the exhaled air. Fruity bad breath is typical of ketosis. Due to the catabolic metabolism, the uric acid value also increases. This promotes the formation of kidney and bladder stones. People with gout may have a gout attack due to the elevated levels of uric acid during fasting.

Fasting can also cause headaches , fatigue , and weakness. Limited performance and mood swings can also occur. However, the symptoms usually disappear completely after a few days. Otherwise, the fasting cure should be broken off immediately.

Lisa Newlon
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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.