Water fasting and Nature Cure
Water fast is one of the most potent methods used in Nature cure. Water fasting adheres to the basic principles of nature cure which is based on the use of five natural elements – earth, water, fire or sunlight, air and space for self-healing and rejuvenation. In water fasting, food is not consumed and body survives only on pure water, fresh air and sunlight.
According to the Sankhya Philosophy, one of the ancient systems of knowledge, the individual is made of 24 principles or Tattvas. Among the 24 principles, 5 principles or Pancha Tattva has a special significance. The 5 Tattvas are the 5 primordial elements namely – earth, water, fire, air and space. The human body is constituted by the 5 elements. Not only the human body, but also the entire visible universe is made of the five elements.
Nature cure has its roots in the Sankhya Philosophy. According to principles of nature cure, if the body is made of these 5 elements, then why can’t they be used for self-healing and cure of diseases? In fact, the entire human anatomy and physiology happens with the aid of the 5 elements. It is this fundamental belief along with the self-healing properties of the human body that leads to the whole science of nature cure.
Water fasting as a detoxification method has been known from ancient times. All religions and cultures have incorporated fasting as a way of purification. The long 21-day fast in Christianity is well known. Islam emphasises fasts on the Ramzan festival. Hinduism have incorporated fasts into many festivals as well as astronomical events including solar, lunar eclipses, Ekadashi day, etc. In Jainism, water fast is done to purify the soul of past karma and for attaining salvation.
The ancient medical systems like Ayurveda also recognised the importance of fasts for maintaining good health and for curing diseases. They observed that animals rarely get sick because they live on natural food and resources. Even if they do get sick, some resort to fasting to cure themselves. The same principles can be applied to the human body too. The human body has self-healing abilities. When the body is resting, especially during sleep, it is busy repairing and healing itself. Water fasting is one way to enhance this rest.
Our entire digestive system – stomach, liver, pancreas, small and large intestine, gall bladder and the kidneys are constantly working to process the food that we eat and to eliminate the wastes. During water fasting, you are suddenly giving a break to these organs. One has to understand that about 25% – 30% of our energies are utilised by the digestive system alone. During water fasting, this energy is now available and re-directed for carrying out the much needed repair work in the body. Process of healing happens by itself without use of any medicines.
According to the science of Ayurveda, toxins are formed in the body due to improper digestion and food habits. These toxins are carried to the various organs by the blood. Accumulation of these toxins eventually manifests as diseases in those organs. The body would like to throw out these toxins through the intestine, but it never gets a chance as long as we are eating food and the intestines are constantly processing the food. During water fasts, the body finally gets a chance to throw out these toxins through the intestine, the lungs and the skin.
During the detoxification process, there are many signs that indicate the progress in the process. The main sign is the colour of the tongue. The tongue starts to develop a thick white coating which show that the toxins are being thrown out. In fact the entire digestive system from the tongue to the large intestine will have this white putrid coating. That’s why a cleansing enema is recommended every alternate day to flush out this coating. Also, one should drink 2 -3 litres of lukewarm water every day which aids in the cleansing process. As the body becomes more pure, the coating goes away and the tongue regains the original healthy pink colour. Other signs may include foul breath, skin eruptions, head ache, change in taste of saliva, etc.
Water fasting should be done only with the guidance of a doctor trained in Naturopathy. Especially during long fasts, one has to be monitored on a daily basis by a doctor. Shorter one-day or three-day fasts can be taken up by oneself without much problem. However, those who suffer from medical conditions should always consult a doctor before attempting any water fast.
Water fasts can be short term fasts like the One-Day Water fast or the Three-Day water fast or they can be long term fasting like the One-Week, Two-Week or the Three-Week (21 days) water fast. Some even attempt the one-month water fast. Longer fasts should always be done with caution and with support of qualified medical staff.
Benefits of water fast include maintaining vigour and optimum body weight, curing chronic health problems like dyspepsia, loss of appetite, gastritis, inflammation of bowels, sinusitis, allergies, skin problems, diabetes, migraine, joint pains, gas problem, constipation, etc. Fasting improves immunity and gives longevity. It improves glow and texture of the skin.
Due to these varied benefits, Naturopathy centres throughout the world guide their patients to take up the water fast. Those who have fear of fasting may be put on a fruit diet or fasting on juices, though the effectiveness is lesser. Nature cure does not believe in using medicines, yet in many cases, for example, for those suffering from diabetics, the doctor will continue to recommend the use of medicines till one can reduce the dosage or till one gets rid of it permanently. Along with water fasts, one can do light exercises and yoga to speed up the healing process.
Water fasting is great rejuvenator and overhauls the body, mind and spirit.
For further reading on Water fasting, refer to the following articles: