The cleansing and detoxifying effects of fasting can generate a number of toxicity symptoms:
- Hunger is usually present for 2-3 days then departs, leaving many people with a surprising feeling of deep abdominal peace. Some may feel hungry for longer, although this is usually associated with fear associated with the cessation of eating and the changing of a long established habit (or even addiction). This fear and hunger will generally pass if the fast is persevered with.
- Headache is not uncommon for the first couple of days also.
- Fatigue or irritability may arise at times, as well as dizziness or light headedness.
- Our sensitivity is usually increased both positively and negatively – to sounds, smells, tastes.
- The tongue in most fasters will develop a thick white or yellow fur coating, which can be scraped or brushed off.
- Effects of lower blood pressure is often experienced; i.e. dizziness in rising rapidly from lying or sitting to standing.
- Bad breath and displeasing tastes in the mouth may occur.
- Foul smelling urine is possible.
- Skin odours or eruptions may appear depending on the state of toxicity.
- Digestive upset, mucousy stools, flatulence or even nausea and vomiting.
- Insomnia and bad dreams in some people as the body releases toxins during the night.
Most of these symptoms, if they appear, are usually transient.
The general energy levels during fasts, after the first couple of days, are usually good, although there may be ups and downs along the way. Every 2-3 days, as the body goes into a deeper level of dumping wastes, the energy may wax and wane, and resistance as well as symptoms may arise. These stages or periods are often referred to as healing crises. For some people these experiences can be very mild or non-existent, whereas with other they can be quite strong.
Between these times we usually feel cleaner, better and more alive.
During a healing crisis, old symptoms or patterns from our health history might arise, but these are usually transient. Alternatively new symptoms of detoxification may appear. The presentation of the healing crisis (if it appears at all) is not usually predictable. It is extremely advisable to conduct fasts of any length (more than a few days) under the supervision so that, should symptoms experienced during cleaning or healing crises can be evaluated (as common to, or a positive part of the detoxification process or not) and monitored over the duration. An experienced health practitioner will also advise as to whom a fast is suitable for, or not.
Herring’s Law of Cure is used to guide us in evaluating symptoms. That is, healing happens from the inside out, from the top down, from more important to less important organs, and from the most recent to the oldest symptoms.
Most healing crises pass within a day or two. If any symptom lasts longer than 2-3 days, it should be considered as a side effect of a new problem possibly unrelated to the cleansing. If there is a problem that worsens or is severe and causes concern, such as fainting, heart arrhythmias, or bleeding, the fast should be stopped and a doctor consulted.