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Why Did Hippocrates Recommend Fasting for Health & Regeneration?

  • Published on: 04 June, 2014
  • Last update: 29 June, 2020


When an animal, such as a dog or cat, is sick, its natural instinct is to refuse food.  When the crisis is over, and the internal healing work has been accomplished, the appetite will return naturally, of its own accord. The human organism also has a fasting instinct, just like that of other animals. This is why when you are sick, you don’t feel like eating.
Your body knows everything – and it’s using your digestive energy to heal. Fasting is as old as mankind. The ancient Greeks were great believers in fasting. Hippocrates prescribed it, and Plato said that he fasted for greater physical and mental efficiency, as did Aristotle. Spiritually, fasting helps us transcend our addiction and attachment to food, and to realize that “man doesn’t live by bread alone.”

The mind gets clearer, and spiritual awareness deepens. After you are freed from having to satisfy physical hunger, you can then turn your attention to feeding the mind and spirit. In fact, spiritual masters like Pythagoras wouldn’t admit any disciple into their higher teachings unless they had first purified themselves through fasting.

Hippocrates and those who follow his doctrine claim that physically, fasting enables the organism to detoxify and clean house. Because they say that the vast majority of diseases are caused by autointoxication, fasting has wide-ranging therapeutic benefits. It gives the digestive organs a much needed rest, so your body can devote its digestive energy to healing. For all fevers and diseases in the acute crisis stage, Hippocrates prescribed either a strict fast with nothing but water or medicinal teas, or a very slender liquid diet. Fasting is also recommended for colds and flu, arthritis and rheumatism, digestive complaints, as well as all metabolic disorders.

Scientific experiments conducted on laboratory mice have shown that severe restriction of caloric intake greatly extends their lifespan.

The Physiology of Fasting, from

“As long as we’re alive, the Innate Heat, or metabolic fire, is always active. And as long as this metabolic fire is burning, it must consume something for fuel. Normally, this Innate Heat or metabolic fire is fed by nutrients from the food we eat. But when we fast, we cut off this outer supply of fuel, and the metabolic fire begins to feed on the body’s own inner reserves. The body’s own Inner Physician is awakened, and the human organism, in its infinite healing wisdom, starts to clean house and burn off the dross.  What is least essential to the life and health of the organism is consumed first, such as toxins, wastes, and superfluous morbid humors. The Inner Physician knows precisely where to go, what to metabolize and eliminate, and how to eliminate it. This is the process of autolysis.  In this sense, fasting has been described as an operation without surgery. Fasting gives your digestive organs a much needed rest. Instead of digesting food, their digestive secretions and enzymes can serve to digest, neutralize and eliminate toxic wastes from the body via the GI tract. Chief among these secretions is bile, which is secreted by the liver and gall bladder. Depending on where the toxins and morbid humors have been held in the body, they will start to produce various signs and symptoms as this waste is eliminated and passed off:

Head / Brain:  headaches, dizziness, vertigo, wooziness, lightheadedness.
Nose, Sinuses:  sneezing, runny nose, itching, stinging, post nasal drip.
Throat:  soreness or constriction, hoarseness, scratchiness
Lungs:  chest congestion, wheezing, phlegm discharges, foul breath odors
Skin:  rashes, acne, pustules; excessive or abnormal sweating; strange body odors
Stomach:  sour or nervous stomach, stomach cramping, belching, bad breath
Liver:  sore eyes, bitter taste in mouth, sallow complexion, pain or distension under
the ribs on the right side.
Gall Bladder:  colic, spasm, tenderness or pain underneath the liver area.
Intestines:  foul smelling gas, cramping, diarrhea, spastic colon or irritable bowel.
Kidneys:  low back pain and weakness, fatigue; frequent urination, often urgent;
strongly colored or smelling urine. 

Generally, the more recently acquired toxins and accumulations of morbid matter will be the first to be passed off, followed by older and more long-standing ones, backtracking in reverse order of acquisition.  Also, the day’s detoxification tends to start in the morning with head symptoms, and generally works its way down the body.  The cleansing and detoxification symptoms, and the loss of weight and muscle mass, are the most severe and intense for the first three days. Within these first three days, energy levels also tend to be lowest and most problematic. After this initial three day period, a change happens in the body’s internal energy economy, called ketosis, in which the organism switches over to the more efficient burning of its fat reserves to satisfy its basic energy needs. Then, the energy levels get a lot better. During a fast, the organism detoxifies itself during the night, leaving a thick, foul, bitter tasting residue on the tongue in the morning. Upon arising, it’s good to go to the bathroom with a spoon or tongue scraper and scrape this residue off. ”

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