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Wednesday, 19 August 2009

A brief history of fasting; a cut and paste version

I have to apologize for this cut and paste job I'm about to do. Life haven't been the same since those swines (I mean, real swines) gave the humans a mutated version of their fever. Trust me, this fever ain't a lovely way to burn. I now, actually have to work, when I'm at work, so that means lesser time on the net. That, coupled with the tragic death of our beloved Yasmin Ahmad, my work load seem to be more, with people coming in insisting that they have either H1N1 or hypertension or even brain aneurysm, or for hypochondriacs, all of the above. Apart from screening for H1N1 victims, which I'm not complaining at all, it's nice to see some patients who are actually sick, and not malingering, my statistic seem to show that "hypochondriacs" contributes overwhelming numbers compared to cases of H1N1, Hypertension AND aneurysm rolled together. Hmh..watching too much of "Die Hard" I to go....I'm actually typing this in the loo (hey, I'm a multitasker)...not bad, got transmission!! Maxis broadband rocks!!

So here it goes, A Brief History of Fasting, cut and pasted from god knows where...I truly don't remember.

Since early times, fasting has been advocated for spiritual development and promotion of health.
Fasting as a religious practice developed independently among different people and religions
worldwide. In ancient Greece the belief that taking food risked entry of demonic forces contributed to the popularity of fasting. Fasting was required in preparation for many rituals that sought contact with supernatural forces.2 Great importance was placed on fasting as a means of arousing ecstatic forces, dreams or visions. Pythagoras, Abaris and Epimenides in ancient Greece extolled the virtues of fasting, and in biblical times Moses, Elias and John the Baptist recognized its religious value.' During the holy month of Ramadan, Moslems abstain from all food and drink between dawn and dusk.'

In the Old Testament fasting was regarded as a powerful prayer that could prepare a prophet
for divine revelations (Daniel 10:2-14). Although Christ fasted for 40 days in the desert (Luke 4:
1-2; Matthew 4:2-3), he left no definite law on the subject except to insist that it be done humbly
and privately (Matthew 6:16-18). With time, customary observances of fasting developed in
local Christian churches partly in an effort to replace early pagan and Jewish fasting customs.
Fasting in the monastic tradition flourished in the fourth and fifth centuries, the dominant motive being asceticism guided by a spirit of penance and self-humiliation as a monk sought communion with his God.- The motive for the case reported in this paper was consistent with the monastic tradition and was a prayerful penitential response to modern-day social injustice.

Historically, fasting for health has been advocated by many.45 In the mid-1800's, B. H. Dewey,
MD, in his book Thle True Science of Living, wrote, "every disease that afflicts mankind [develops from] more or less habitual eating in excess of the supply of gastric juices." His "miraculously cured" patient and later publisher, Charles Haskell, did much to promote the fasting cure.4 Upton Sinclair, better known for other literary works, wrote extensively on the health benefits of fasting.5 Notable non obese persons who engaged in prolonged fasting and whose experiences were recorded in the early medical literature include Tanner who reportedly fasted for 40 days in 1880(.67 Alexander Jacques, a Frenchman, fasted for 30 days in 1887 and for 40 and again 30 days in 1888.7 Signor Succi, an Italian professional faster, claimed to have completed at least 32 fasts of 20 days or more8; his longest recorded fasts were 40 and 45 days in 1890.9 In 1905 a physician, F. Penny, MD, prompted by the claims of Dewey, fasted for 30 days and recorded simple observations on himself.10 Observations during fasts in nonobese persons are less extensively recorded in the modern medical literature. Benedict's classic study in 1912 of Mr. L, who fasted for 31 days, included detailed physical and metabolic
measurements.9 In 1946 Bernard came under medical observations on the 40th day of a purported 45-day fast.11 About the same time, Gamble's classic life-raft studies, wherein volunteers were subjected to food and water deprivation under conditions simulating being lost at sea, did much to elucidate the essential water requirements and protein-sparing effect of carbohydrate.12 In the early 1950's Ancel Keys and co-workers"1 at the University of Minnesota compiled extensive data on 32 volunteers who underwent eight
months of semistarvation. Fasting as a therapy for obesity has long been advocated. Folin and Denis in 191514 recommended repeated short periods of starvation as a safe and effective method of weight reduction. In modern times Bloom," Duncan and associates'6 and Drenick and colleagues'7 advocated prolonged fasts for weight reduction in morbid obesity. Drenick and colleagues'7 placed obese persons on fasting regimens of up to 117 days, whereas Thomson and co-workers'8 monitored fasts of 139, 236 and 249 days. The longest recorded fast was that of a 27-year-old obese man who fasted 382 days and lost 125 kg (276 lb).'9 Since the late 1950's many of the data on the metabolism of 380 NOVEMBER 1982 * 137 * 5 fasting come from studies carried out on obese persons willing to fast for weight reduction.

Fasting for the treatment of convulsive disorders was used in France by Guelpa and Marie in
1910 (as cited by Keith20) and later investigated here by Geyelin in 1921.21 Changes in the acidbase balance were originally thought to be responsible for the anticonvulsant effect until Wilder in 1921 (also cited by Keith20) suggested a role for starvation-induced ketone bodies. Since that time, ketogenic diets have been used successfully in the management of seizure disorders refractory to conventional drug regimens.22 Fasting has often been used as a means of
political protest. Gandhi fasted for political reasons on at least 14 occasions, 3 times for as long
as 21 days.23 One of the longest recorded political fasts in a nonobese person was by Terence Mac-Swiney, a former mayor of Cork, who fasted for 74 days to his death after his arrest during English-Irish unrest in 1920.24 Joseph Murphy, less well known but also a member of the Irish Volunteers, died on the same day as MacSwiney after 76 days of a hunger strike.24 The hunger strike as a means of political persuasion is being used still in Ireland: To date ten members of the Irish Republican Army have fasted from 45 to 61 days to their death in the now-infamous H block of the Maze prison in Belfast, Northern Ireland.25

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