Therapeutic fasting: Instructions, procedure & duration

Therapeutic fasting is on everyone’s lips, but what exactly is behind giving up our daily food? Maybe a way to get rid of some hip gold quickly? What exactly is behind this and what therapeutic fasting can play a role for, we explain to you below. If you would like to have this fasting experience yourself or find approaches for you, you will find out something about the different forms of therapeutic fasting below.

In the following article you will learn:

  • What therapeutic fasting is anyway
  • How to fast according to Otto Buchinger
  • What types of fasting there are

What is therapeutic fasting?

Fasting is the description of voluntarily giving up food . In some cases, fasting has been practiced by different cultures and religions for thousands of years. The idea of ​​using fasting as a healing method was described primarily in the 20th century by the doctor Otto Buchinger. Advocates of “therapeutic fasting” speak of physiological nutrition “from within” from their own food reserves.

Therapeutic fasting plays a very important role in so-called integrative medicine: The starting point should be the cleansing of body, mind and soul. In this respect, therapeutic fasting can be interesting for both healthy and sick people, but it must not be viewed as a simple means of weight loss . In principle, however, it can also offer an opportunity to start weight loss with a subsequent change in diet. Care by doctors who specialize in fasting therapies is essential.

A distinction is made between the state of health, i.e. whether fasting should be carried out preventively or with a therapeutic background , and the type of care. There are various fasting clinics throughout Germany where you can fast under inpatient supervision. Usually fasting is done in a group, the participants of which are led by a fasting leader.

If done correctly, good performance is maintained without feeling hungry. Sufficient, low-calorie fluid intake in the form of water or tea is essential for this . Warm vegetable broths, fruit and vegetable juices complement the fasting plan in order to promote the highest possible excretion via the intestines, kidneys and liver. In addition, it is important to find a good balance between rest and exercise . To stimulate the metabolism, emphasis is placed on physical activity. The goal is a careful diet after the end of Lent, which should be followed by a healthier goal in life.

Supporters of therapeutic fasting see it as an interdisciplinary form of treatment that intervenes in a large number of metabolic processes and therefore influences various organ systems as well as the psyche. The scientific study situation does not yet provide any definitive evidence for a cure in specific clinical pictures, but beneficial effects are evident e.g. B. with certain chronic inflammations and chronic pain of the musculoskeletal system .

Endocrine nutritional and metabolic diseases such as metabolic syndrome, a combination of increased fasting blood sugar and increased blood lipids, high blood pressure and obesity, can be positively influenced by not eating . Furthermore, therapeutic fasting is said to have a soothing effect on chronic cardiovascular diseases and diseases of the nervous system. A supportive function under chemotherapy is discussed.

So-called fasting crises can occur during therapeutic fasting. This often happens, especially in the early days, in the form of headaches, listlessness and fatigue . In addition, back pain, circulatory problems, electrolyte disorders and a slight hypoglycemia can make the fasting period more difficult.

An Epsom salt solution is used as a laxative measure during fasting.

Anyone suffering from an overactive thyroid, anorexia, advanced liver or kidney failure or other diseases should seek advice from a doctor before starting a therapeutic fasting cure. Pregnant women, children and adolescents should generally refrain from abstaining from food for a long time. Therapeutic fasting is classified as risky for addictions, psychoses and type 1 diabetes mellitus.

The entry into almost all fasting cures is an emptying of the bowels, which many initially shy away from. Because of the reduced intrinsic movement of the intestine, toxins can accumulate that are normally excreted with the digestive tract. The secretion of bile and other fluids continues, but failure to clear it during the fast can make you feel uncomfortable. The bowel evacuation should help suppress the feeling of hunger despite reduced food intake.

The laxative measures differ depending on the type of fasting chosen. Either the intestine is emptied via an enema with body-warm water or, alternatively, a solution with laxative Epsom salt (Glauber’s salt) is drunk. The Hydrocolon method is more like an intestinal irrigation and is used less often. In some cases, the methods are also combined.

Fasting according to Buchinger

Buchinger fasting is only one form of therapeutic fasting, but it is the best known. Otto Buchinger (1878-1966) was a German doctor and is considered the founder of therapeutic fasting. As a supporter of the life reform, nutrition and exercise were and still are the focus of his therapy form. He strictly rejected alcohol and tobacco consumption as harmful. Buchinger speaks of therapeutic fasting as a diet of the three dimensions body-soul-spirit, whereby according to him it is an inseparable unit . For him, therapeutic fasting is not only medical, but also psychosocial and spiritual. Fasters should form their minds through music and literature, meditate and be aware of nature.

His own success in healing his rheumatoid arthritis through a three-week fasting cure inspired him so much that he ended his time as a marine doctor and devoted himself to alternative naturopathy. Buchinger describes the effectiveness of therapeutic fasting in that it activates the self-healing powers and thereby cleanses the organism. For him, “purification” is a metaphor for a variety of health-promoting processes in the fasting organism.

Herbal tea should be drunk in sufficient quantities on fasting days.

At the beginning of 2019, the world’s largest scientific fasting study to date on the effects of Buchinger therapeutic fasting was published in the Buchinger Wilhelmi Clinic in Überlingen. In this study, however, no different fasting methods were compared with one another.

How do you fast according to Buchinger?

The traditional therapeutic fasting according to Otto Buchinger lasts two to four weeks, but the fasting method and duration must always be individually adapted. Healthy people also benefit from short units; longer phases can make sense for certain indications. Fasting doctors speak of 7-10 days , with a relief and several days to add to the diet. The wishes of the patient and the experience of the doctor determine the success of the therapy to a large extent.

The so-called relief day is the day before you start your fast. On this day you eat food that corresponds to about half of your daily energy requirement (approx. 1000 kcal). There is no caffeine, nicotine or alcohol. Rest and physical activity play an important role right from the start.

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The first day of fasting begins with colon cleansing by drinking Glauber’s salt dissolved in water. In general, every fasting day includes one thing above all: drink a lot! At least 2.5 liters should be consumed daily through herbal teas and water, plus fruit and vegetable juices and vegetable broth in the evening. A maximum of 500 kcal per day must not be exceeded. A spoonful of honey is said to help raise blood sugar a little and get the circulation going.

Breaking the fast is traditionally started after a few weeks with a raw or boiled apple, and in the evening you can eat warm potato soup. The diet is easy to digest, vegetarian, rich in fiber (whole grain), rich in unsaturated fatty acids (linseed oil, nuts) and may also include dairy products. The focus of solid food is now on slow and conscious chewing . The calorie intake is increased day by day, although adequate fluid intake is still important. Spontaneous bowel movements usually occur no later than the 4th day after breaking the fast.

Fasting plan according to Buchinger:

Relief day: energy reduction to approx. 1000 kcal

Fastentage:

  • at least 2.5 l herbal tea / water
  • Fruit and vegetable juices (0.25 l)
  • Vegetable broth (0.25 l)
  • if necessary: ​​30 g honey

Breaking the fast: build-up days (depending on the duration of the fast 1-4 days): slow food build-up

Variants of therapeutic fasting

None of the fasting cures described below is recommended for diet or pure weight loss, it is much more a modified fast.

MAYRKUR

The Mayr cure, also known as the milk and roll cure, was developed by the Austrian spa doctor Dr. Mayr (1875-1965) . He saw a close connection between health and digestion. Diagnostics and therapy are intended to serve the treatment of chronic diseases and preventive health care, so far there is no scientific evidence for this.

This fasting method is based on four principles: rest, cleansing, training, substitution. Conservation as the most comprehensive principle means preparation for the cure by reducing food intake and avoiding harmful foods (alcohol, sweets, very fatty foods), which shows parallels to the relief day at Buchinger. To cleanse you have to take laxative Epsom salts, a form of bowel evacuation. The third principle of the training aims to expand the fasting person’s knowledge of how to eat more consciously: one should develop a better sensitivity for sufficient chewing during meals and not too hasty ingesting food. The last pillar is substitution for an adequate supply of the body with essential nutrients and vital substances (vitamins, trace elements and minerals).

The cure comprises three stages of “intestinal cleansing” , which determine the process:

  1. 1. Tea-water fasting: water, herbal teas, vegetable broth for 1-2 weeks
  2. 2. Milk and roll diet: for 1-2 weeks, an old bread roll (white / spelled flour) with a spoonful of milk in the morning and at noon; spoon tea in the evening
  3. 3. Mild derivative diet: light food with gently cooked vegetables; Rolls with milk

According to Mayr, the cure is more of a means to an end for the type of diet. For him, the monotony of the diet is a remedy for the fasting person.

Herbert Krauss had a decisive influence on “juice fasting”.
JUICE FASTING

Juice fasting is also a special form of fasting, especially shaped by Herbert Krauss (1909-1991) .

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For a limited period of time, you can drink up to one and a half liters of fresh fruit and vegetable juices, plus water and tea.  In combination with physical activity, this method is said to  stimulate detoxification and metabolism, with juice fasting being said to have an advantage due to the high intake of vitamins and minerals .

SCHROTH CURE

The Schroth cure according to the carter Johann Schroth (1798-1856) is based on the assumption that a several-week fast activates the self-healing powers by detoxifying the body. The founder describes this in a self-experiment.

Elements of this cure are alternating drinking and drying days, usually in a three-day rhythm. On dry days, you eat special salt-free, fat-free and low-protein food with rice and oatmeal supplemented with cooked vegetables, fruit and dry rolls. You can drink less than half a liter. This includes Schroth packs or vapor wraps, whereby the entire body is wrapped in cold, damp cloths at night.

The German Schroth Association names around 20 possible indications for this fasting method: Metabolic disorders, gout, migraines, allergies and burn-out are the most common.

The classic Schroth cure is strictly rejected by doctors and nutritionists because the diet only provides an insufficient supply of nutrients and is too dehydrating.

WHEY FASTING

The whey fast is a protein-modified fast. It is a special form of the zero diet , similar to juice fasting. Conventional solid foods are avoided and these are replaced with whey and other liquids such as juices. The whey is actually a by-product of cheese making, but it contains very high quality proteins. Rich in minerals (calcium), vitamins and of course protein, whey is said to inhibit your muscle breakdown during fasting, which is normally caused by your body to produce energy. In addition, the lactose in the whey has a laxative effect.

For about two weeks, you drink one liter of whey plus two liters of low-sodium mineral water every day. There is also a warm vegetable broth without seasoning twice a day. Relief and build-up days are again useful . Whey fasting is said to have a supportive effect on joint problems and circulatory disorders.

MARKERT DIET

The doctor Dieter Markert originally developed this diet as a form of therapeutic fasting, but today it has established itself as a low calorie diet for weight loss. In the morning and at noon you eat fruit, vegetables and food with a lot of vegetable fats, in the evening you take a protein drink with iodine and carnitine. The protein is said to boost the thyroid’s hormone production and, consequently, your metabolism, which causes more fat to be burned.

However, this diet is criticized because of an almost inevitable yo-yo effect after you switch back to the daily amount of calories. Neither the effectiveness of the diet in terms of weight loss nor the influence on thyroid function has been scientifically proven.

Therapeutic fasting – a look outside the box

The topic of therapeutic fasting meets with different responses worldwide, even though it represents an approach with a long tradition . There is still too little scientific evidence to incorporate this attempt at the healing method as an evidence-based procedure into everyday medical practice or even to make promises of a cure.

The various fasting cures offer an opportunity to experience therapeutic fasting individually under medical supervision and to form an opinion about its effectiveness

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