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History

Ancient History

Fasting has been practiced by various cultures around the world since ancient times for religious and spiritual reasons. While the exact mechanisms behind the benefits of fasting were not understood at the time, its ability to purify the body and promote health was recognized.

 

20th Century

Between the 19th and 20th centuries, fasting began to receive more scientific attention. In this sense, the contributions of pioneering doctors such as the Americans Henry Tanner and Edward Dewey are noteworthy. In Europe, it is worth noting the experiences and subsequent developments carried out by Siegfried Möller and Otto Buchinger in Germany, as well as the experiments, carried out in the Soviet Union by Dr. Yuri Nicolaiev.

 

Tanner's Experiment

Dr. Henry Tanner (1856-1918), an American physician, conducted an experiment in 1880 to demonstrate the benefits of fasting. Defying criticism from his colleagues, he underwent a 40-day fast under strict medical supervision at Clarendon Hall in New York. Tanner lost 30 pounds and emerged with his theories vindicated, showing a significant improvement in his health and challenging the medical beliefs of the time.

 

Experiments and Contributions of Edward Dewey

Tanner's contemporary, Dr. Edward Dewey (1837-1904), became convinced of the benefits of fasting after an unconventional act. By fasting his three-year-old son, who had diphtheria, he observed an amazing recovery. Dewey defended the idea of not imposing food on the sick and limiting the use of medicines. His personal experience and observations laid the foundation for the recognition of fasting as a medical intervention.

Fasting in Germany

Siegfried Möller, a German physician, opened a fasting center in Dresden in the early 20th century, prompted by his reading of Dewey's book. Germany became a pioneer center for fasting, with doctors establishing health clinics and schools. Dr. Otto Buchinger (1878-1966), also a German, experimented with fasting after curing his own illnesses by fasting for 19 days. Buchinger developed his method, which included a water-based fast, fruit smoothies, and light broth, that have become a benchmark in the field.

 

The First Fasting Clinics

Building on the experience and success of Dr. Otto Buchinger, who experimented with therapeutic fasting himself, the first specialized fasting clinics were established in Germany. In 1935, Buchinger founded a clinic in Bad Pyrmont, Germany, and later moved to Überlingen, on the shores of Lake Constance. These clinics focused on applying fasting as a therapeutic method to treat various diseases and promote health. Later, in 1973, Maria Buchinger, daughter of Dr. Otto Buchinger, and her husband, Helmut Wilhelmi, opened the Buchinger Clinic in Marbella Spain.

 

These clinics quickly became the fasting gold standard in Europe and attracted people from all over the continent in search of fasting treatments for various diseases and to improve their general health. Buchinger's holistic approach, combining fasting with healthy eating and a balanced lifestyle, became standard in therapeutic fasting practice.

 

From 1980 to Present

From the 1980s to the present, prolonged fasting has received special attention as a promising therapeutic practice. Scientific studies have investigated the effects of prolonged fasting on a variety of health conditions.

 

Research has revealed that prolonged fasting can induce metabolic and hormonal changes that improve health. During fasting, the body depletes its glucose stores and begins burning stored fat for energy. This can result in reduced body weight, improved insulin sensitivity, and reduced levels of inflammation.

 

Additionally, prolonged fasting has been studied in the context of cancer treatment. It has been observed that prolonged fasting can increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy by making cancer cells more susceptible to treatments and protecting healthy cells. Prolonged fasting has also been shown to have positive effects on cardiovascular health, such as lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

 

The Emergence of the First Federations of Therapeutic Fasting

With the growing interest and recognition of the benefits of therapeutic fasting in Europe, the first federations dedicated to promoting and supporting this practice arose. These organizations were formed to provide support and resources to healthcare professionals and fasting enthusiasts, as well as to set standards and norms in the application of fasting as therapy. These federations have played a crucial role in disseminating scientific information and creating a network of experts committed to therapeutic fasting throughout Europe.
 

Key Dates

-1978. Foundation of the Federation of Companions for Therapeutic Fasting in Germany.

 

 -1986. Appearance of the Federation of Fasting Doctors in Germany.

 

 -1990. Gertrud and Gisbert gave rise to the first systematic experiences of fasting and hiking in France.

 

 -2012. Mi Ayuno is created by Damien Carbonnier in Spain, a pioneering project offering supervised fasting retreats combined with hiking.

 

 -2019. Jacques Rouillier and a group of doctors create the Medical Academy of Fasting. Its goal is to train doctors and caregivers in the medical support of fasting and its health benefits.

- In 2022, French doctors walk 100 kilometers while fasting to demonstrate the safety and therapeutic benefits of this practice.

water fast retreat

Development of Buchinger Method

Dr. Otto Buchinger was not satisfied with simply fasting, but sought to complement this practice with other elements that promoted the overall health of individuals. Recognizing the importance of physical exercise, he incorporated light exercise into his fasting method. These physical activities were designed to be compatible with the fasting state and focused on maintaining muscle mass and stimulating blood flow.  Moving away from the water-only method, Dr. Buchinger introduced a broth and juice regimen to provide essential vitamins and electrolytes to his exercising fasters, while keeping them in ketosis during the fast.

 

In addition, Buchinger understood the importance of mental and spiritual health during the fasting process. He introduced the practice of meditation and provided inspirational readings to help patients find a greater connection with themselves and cultivate a calm and serene state of mind. This combination of fasting, gentle exercise, and meditative practices allowed individuals to engage in a holistic approach to improving their physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

 

Buchinger's approach quickly gained popularity in Europe and became the standard in therapeutic fasting practice. His methods were adopted by other health professionals, and numerous clinics and centers applying his approach sprang up in different European countries. Buchinger's reputation as a dedicated physician and his success in treating chronic diseases attracted large numbers of people seeking to improve their health through fasting.

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