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The Science and Fine Art of Fasting

Herbert M Shelton



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Mockingbird Press
12 March 2019
Medicine; Health systems & services; Therapy & therapeutics; Complementary medicine; Diets & dieting; Mind, Body, Spirit
In his 1934 book, The Science and Fine Art of Fasting, Herbert M. Shelton outlined his theory that fasting is a key component in promoting healing. The book's ideas run counter to the well-known conventional wisdom that those who are sick must eat to keep up their strength and posits that fasting is a natural part of the rhythm of life. Shelton's book outlines the history of this practice and explains the following in detail: what is fasting, the purpose of fasting, how to fast successfully, intermittent fasting for healing, and the benefits of fasting in general.

Shelton was writing before the advent of genetic theory and modern medicine. His beliefs were criticized during his time, and he even faced legal penalties for publishing his views. But modern science is now beginning to show that, in some instances, his theories were accurate. Caloric restriction has been repeatedly shown to increase life span in animals, and researchers, such as David Sinclair of Harvard University, have discovered the cellular and genetic mechanisms that respond to such techniques.

According to Shelton, when someone is fasting, the energy typically going into eating and digestion is instead redirected to promote health and well-being. Fasting works as a method of resetting the body's metabolism and has a multitude of applications. Shelton divided fasting into two distinct periods: eating and abstaining. Both periods are considered to be vital aspects of the same process.

As a child on his family's farm, Shelton observed animals abstain from food when upset, wounded, sick, or just simply not hungry. Shelton came to understand this behavior as a means of survival. Man, as part of the organic world, has many reasons to mimic such behavior and has done so throughout history--as is seen in various religious practices throughout the world. Shelton viewed the purpose of fasting as a natural occurrence that generated healing and restorative benefits. As with animals, Shelton believed abstention from food is sometimes more beneficial than its consumption. For more than 10,000 years, fasting was used to alleviate human illness. In his book, Shelton gives anecdotal evidence of humans fasting for periods of 60 days or more and shows the practice has been known to cure a wide range of diseases such as epilepsy, typhoid fever, cataracts, and obesity.

Over the course of 30 years, Shelton conducted 25,000 fasts ranging from three days to over two months. Throughout the duration of the studies conducted, Shelton found the number of red blood cells increased during a fast and that a general rejuvenation occured. He claims to have observed rapid healing of wounds and various organ systems in patients undergoing the practice. In one case, a group of university students studied for one week without food and showed remarkable improvement in their performance. He asserted that addicts found relief through fasting and that other mental conditions showed improvement through his methods.

Herbert M.

Shelton and his works remain popular in the alternative medicine community even today, especially in the realms of fasting and restorative care.
By:   Herbert M Shelton
Imprint:   Mockingbird Press
Dimensions:   Height: 229mm,  Width: 152mm,  Spine: 19mm
Weight:   490g
ISBN:   9781946774071
ISBN 10:   1946774073
Pages:   334
Publication Date:   12 March 2019
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

For Herbert Shelton, health and physical wellbeing was a personal matter from the moment he was born. On October 6, 1895, he came into the world two months premature weighing only 3 pounds, surviving to grow up on his family's farm in Wylie, Texas. During his youth, Shelton loved spending time with the farm animals and, through his observations of their habits, began noting their natural dietary tendencies-including fasting. During high school, Shelton came across the theory of drugless healing through Bernarr Mcfadden's magazine, Physical Culture. This inspired him to look further into alternative medicine and eventually become one of its greatest proponents. Thus began his lifelong journey of seeking health through fasting and other natural ways of promoting wellbeing and healing. Eventually, he went on to attend Macfadden's College of Physcultopathy and interned at Crane's Sanitorium-both in Illinois. For post-graduate work, he served at Lindlahr's and Sahler's Sanatoriums and continued at Peerless College of Chiropractic Medicine and Crandall Health School. He married Ida Pape in 1921 while studying at the American School of Chiropractic Medicine and went on to receive a Doctorate of Naturopathy from the American School of Naturopathy. Shelton self-published his first book, Fundamentals of Nature Cure, in 1922. After becoming familiar with The Hygienic Movement founded by Dr. Isaac Jennings and Sylvester Graham in 1832, Shelton later changed the title of his book to An Introduction to Natural Hygiene. In 1924, he and his wife Ida welcomed a son into their family. One year after his child's birth, in 1925, Shelton became a staff member of Physical Culture, which at the time had a circulation of one million. He went on to co-found his own magazine, How to Life, and began a daily column for the New York Evening Graphic-often stirring public controversy by criticizing modern medical treatment. Shelton was criticized for his views on fasting as an alternative medical treatment and his stance regarding the medical benefits of raw food. In 1942, he was charged with negligent homicide after one of his patients allegedly starved to death; however, the charges were later dropped, and the case was never prosecuted. He continued to gain notoriety and popularity in the alternative health movement; in 1956, he was nominated by the American Vegetarian Party to run as its candidate for President of the United States. Shelton died in 1985 at the age of 77 after battling a degenerative neuromuscular disorder that left him bedridden since the age of 64. Even towards the end of his life, Shelton continued his involvement in advocating alternative medicine through his own academy: Dr. Shelton's Health School. During the 53 years of the school's operation, over 400,000 patients were treated for a variety of illnesses, most of whom recovered with the help of Shelton's theories. Herbert M. Shelton and his works remain popular in the alternative medicine community even today, especially in the realms of fasting and restorative care.

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