The Health Benefits of Dry Fasting
Disclaimer: The following is intended as a discussion and exploration of a healing technique called dry fasting, and is not intended to be taken as medical advice, or to suggest a cure or treatment for any disease or illness. If you are interested in this practice, please educate yourself thoroughly, and seek advice from a qualified holistic or medical professional. We do not accept liability for damage or injury that may allegedly arise from any information or suggestions herein. As with anything, taking yourself to extremes can be very dangerous unless you are well trained and know what you’re doing.
You might have noticed that we have several articles about fasting, including the physical benefits and the spirituality behind fasting, but one type of fast that we would like to talk about now is called dry fasting.
Dry Fasting is one of, if not the most extreme level of fast that you can do. Trust us when we say this is not for the faint of heart, and should not be attempted unless you have already experienced at least 1 or more 3-day water fasts. Even in this, when attempting such a fast it is not recommended at first doing it more than a single day to get the feeling of what such a fast entails. Once you are practiced doing this, you can go longer.
So, what makes a dry fast so extreme in the first place?
Where normal fasting entails the consumption of water, dry fasting is the practice of abstaining from both food and water for the duration of the fast. While the average person might read that and think “What?! Are you insane?!”, the truth is; there has been a lot of research done on this topic, and the medical benefits of doing a dry fast are actually quite numbered. The studies have shown that a single day of dry fasting is equal to about 3 days of water fasting, because of the unique biological effects that this sort of fast has on the body.
If you think about it, animals actually demonstrate this inherently. When they are injured, ill, or become diseased, they will stop eating to facilitate healing. Many of them will stop drinking altogether too, and begin their own dry fast until they are healed.
A great deal of the research done on fasting comes from a Russian doctor named Dr. Filonov, who has supervised thousands of dry fasts which often last up to 14 days. His studies alone have also popped the thought-bubble that a human cannot live more than 3 days without consuming water, as the longest dry fast on record is 18 days; not including the claims in the bible such as Moses’s 40 day dry fast. The reason for this is that the body actually is capable of producing its own water internally in the process of transmuting fats.
In a nutshell, as your body enters into the state of Ketosis, which is the state of “breaking down and burning stored fat cells”, free hydrogen molecules are released. These molecules then bond with the oxygen molecules in the blood, and water is formed internally! Dr. Filonov estimates that every day the body is able to produce over a liter of metabolized water in this way, and this freshly synthesized water is actually much more pure than that which you are likely consuming from the outside, because it is free of the toxins found in most water we drink. Through this internal water, toxins are continued to be removed from the blood – so urination does continue, even if less frequently than average. One of the biggest benefits here is that the old, dead water in the body is replaced with high quality living water which the body itself synthesized.
With that said, there is still a bit of dehydration that occurs in the body, especially the longer this is practiced; but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. When we decrease water content in the body, the pressure within our cells becomes greater than the pressure outside of the cells. As a result, this pressure causes the cells to leak their internal fluids into the external space between cells, which actually carries the toxins with them that would normally remain trapped inside the cells. This is often described as each cell becoming a furnace onto themselves, where each individual cell is manually releasing its toxins into the blood for removal – much quicker than in a regular water fast. In particularly toxic people, this can cause an overload of toxin removal in the body; and so shorter dry fasts at first is highly recommended for those who wish to try one out.
Dr. Filonov had this to say about this process too:
“Dehydration causes competition between healthy cells and pathological organisms for water. It is a real survival-of-the-fittest scenario. Inflammation cannot survive without water. A wet environment is ideal for the proliferation of pathological bacteria, viruses and worms – water shortage is as devastating as fire for them. All dead or dying tissues will be expelled from the body. A water fast does the same thing but takes much longer to accomplish the goal.
What is inflammation? Tissues are swollen with water where infection is having a party. Pathological bacteria and microbes love wet terrain. Dry fasting eliminates inflammation the same way a swamp gets rid of mosquitoes and other insects when it dries up. Microbes are annihilated immediately. The shortage of water is a cleansing drought that is disastrous to the body’s enemies.”
But this isn’t where the magic of dry fasting ends, in fact – it’s only just beginning! Another Russian doctor of biology named Y. Romanov discovered that one of the most significant benefits of fasting was the creation and release of stem cells in the body, which increases even more so during a dry fast! Basically, as the intense bodily cleanse is initiated; old, sick, and dead cells are released in massive quantities and eliminated through the urine. As this process takes place, there is now more space for cells to be born, and so stem cell production shift from being dormant into a state of active production, are released throughout the body in high capacity. This research was later backed up by a study done by the University of Southern California.
“We could not predict that prolonged fasting would have such a remarkable effect in promoting stem cell-based regeneration of the hematopoietic system.”
Professor of Gerontology & Biological Sciences at USC Davis School of Gerontology
The presence of such a massive new amount of stem cells then facilitates rapid rejuvenation and self-regeneration within the body, leading to an influx of healthy, vibrant new cells. The added pressure of the extreme environment also brings a “survival of the fittest” energy to all of the cells, where the old cells die off and the ones who can survive, become stronger to withstand such an environment. In the production of the new cells, they also gain this inherent ability to withstand extreme environments.
As a result, those who participate in a dry fast find themselves with a tremendous rush of energy upon completion. They don’t need as much sleep, and function more effectively. Many research has shown that brain activity, along with creative abilities see an increase. As this is a very spiritual practice, a lot of negative thoughts and emotions are also seen to purge themselves from the body; as the negative information in the body is removed, the energy channels through the body opens, and harmony is restored in the body on all levels.
There are two types of dry fasts – hard and soft. Soft dry fasting is where an individual fasts but allows themselves to physically touch water, such as showering, washing ones hands, or brushing ones teeth. A hard dry fast on the other hand is much more extreme, where one abstains from even coming into contact with water. This is particularly relevant, because in the state of dry fasting, the pores of your skin becomes much more susceptible to absorbing water through the skin, and so the best method for dry fasting is a hard dry fast, however for those just starting out, either is acceptable. With that said, Dr. Filonov recommends the best place to do a dry fast is somewhere in nature where the air is fresh, moist, and pure. He even encourages his patients to sleep outside next to a stream or river, so as to allow the lightest amount of clean and fresh moisture to enter the body, without going to extremes.
As far as length goes, most of these researchers do not recommend ever going beyond 14 days, which is considered extremely long. Dr. Filonov himself insists that an individual start with several water-only fasts at first, and then can begin practicing dry fasting upwards of 36 hours (a day and a half) per week. After that, a person can gradually increase this number to 2, 3, and 4 days. One thing that they have found is that to achieve very permanent, healing results, a person must go through two different stages of what Dr. Filonov calls the “acidotic” crisis. Because his book is only available in russian and has been translated by a computer for english readers, it may be safe to presume that acidotic would translate as the state of Ketosis we described above; the state when the body shifts from using external material for fuel, to internal material and releasing old, dead, or diseased cells.
Dr. Filonov wrote that these two states first occur generally between 3-5 days, and again between 9-11 days of dry fasting, and are extreme states of cleansing diseases in the body. The first wave resolves the “stem disease”, or the surface causes of a problem, such as the tumor – and the second eliminates the “root” disease, the totality of the problem, such as the cause of the tumor to begin with.
With this in mind, once one has been well practiced in doing longer dry fasts, they are able to traverse these two “acidotic” states between 2 separate dry fasts, usually with several days of re-hydration in-between them. Another version of this is called ‘cascade’ dry fasting, in which a person begins 1 day eating, and 1 day dry. Then 2 days eating, and 2 days dry, and so on until they reach 5 days on and off – being mindful that on the “eating” days, they get plenty of hydration as well. Dr. Filonov writes that he personally knows a medical doctor who cured himself of blood cancer by doing this 5/5 protocol for a full year.
One thing we also would like to discuss is ending a fast, which applies both to dry fasts and regular fasts alike, but should be especially mindful of after a dry fast. The recovery period to re-build ones strength is usually close to twice the length of the dry fast itself, and so if you do a 7 day dry fast, you might consider a 2 week period of recovery. This simply means don’t do any heavy lifting, drink lots of liquids and fresh juices, and eat as much raw food as you can in this time for your body to get back into the state of eating. It’s very important that we give our bodies sufficient time of recovery, or we might find ourselves straining ourselves and causing ourselves harm in our weakened state.
Once again, we would like to stress the note that we are not suggesting dry fasting is a “miracle cure” although many have claimed this throughout history. That said, in Dr. Filonovs book he describes many illnesses heal through dry fasting, including but not limited to:
Ovarian cysts, uterine fibroids, endometriosis, infertility, mastitis, hot flashes, yeast, parasite, viral, and bacterial infections, benign tumors, asthma, chronic pneumonia, atherosclerosis, herniated disks, brain injuries, hypertension, stomach ulcers, gastritis, migraines, gangrene, hemorrhoids, ulcerative colitis, pancreatitis, eczema, inflammation, and so much more.
For those who would like to read a copy of Dr. Filonovs book, you can download a translated copy of it here. It is quite a remarkable read, and the principle source of information for this article. For more information and testimonials, please see the sources below!
Dr. Filonovs: Dry Medical Fasting – Myths and Reality