Fasting is one of the oldest treatments. Men learned to fast from the animals and from their instincts. A sick animal or a wounded animal does not touch food. Instinct tells him that the body in its struggle for health should be allowed to concentrate upon the disease or the wound. Even the greediest of dogs will abstain from food when ill or badly injured, even if tempted with the most delicious foods which otherwise he would eat greedily.
Fasting has been practise as a routine health measure in the oldest times. Fasting was imposed nominally for religious purposes in many religious of the past, but the purpose was really sanitary, as were the Mosaic health-laws, the quarantine of the Jews imposed upon the sick with infectious diseases, circumcision, etc. Fasting is practised by the aborigines everywhere.
It was practised by the ancient Greeks and Romans, but it fell into destitute in recent times. It was then taken up by nature curers, and lay healers, and their successes caused doctors to become interested in the curative effect of fasting. One of the best books published in modern times on the subject is that mentioned above. It is a stately volume of 194 pages, which gives a very comprehensive view of the subject. The writer, a
doctor experienced in nature cure, introduces the book by a chapter on the history of curative fasts. This is followed by a chapter on the physiology of fasting and its methods. Then the effect of fasts upon numerous diseases is discussed, among these are obesity, emaciation, rheumatism, arthritis, disposition towards cancer, constipation, arteriosclerosis, high blood pressure, angina, pectoris, asthma, diseases of the skin, stone in various organs, gastritis, enteritis, inflammation of the kidneys and so forth and so on.
In another chapter the supplementary treatments are discussed, such as vegetarianism, open-air baths, sun baths, packs, water cure, homoeopathy. We are given also a long chapter on psychological treatment, then a number of cases are described, and the book is concluded with a panegyric of fasting for Dr. Buchinger is enthusiastically in favour of this method of treatment.