Therapeutic fasting

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Therapeutic fasting is a form of non-religiously motivated fasting and is mostly intended to " purify " or regenerate the body. The effects attributed to therapeutic fasting are partly based on unproven medical assumptions. At the same time, there are also scientifically proven positive effects of fasting. Often, therapeutic fasting is also associated with the desire for “spiritual cleansing”.

Types of therapeutic fasting

Voluntary abstinence from food has been practiced for thousands of years in order to counter health problems preventively or therapeutically; the traditions of Hippocrates on therapeutic fasting point to older knowledge. As is the case today, outside of commercial or branded and / or not able to differentiate structures, it should have been customary to adapt the exact fasting therapy to the fasting person and the disease or fasting goal.

  • With Buchinger therapeutic fasting ( Otto Buchinger , German doctor, 1878–1966), a small amount of energy (200–500 cal) (see: physiological calorific value ), vitamins and minerals is supplied with water, vegetable broth , juices and honey . This reduces the burden on the metabolism . In addition, there are enemas that are intended to cleanse the colon, as well as measures to support the metabolism (daily physical exercise, dry brushing, liver compresses) and nutritional training for returning to a health-promoting diet.
  • When fasting for healthy people by Hellmut Lützner is fasted with the method Buchinger / Lützner. It is aimed at healthy people in the sense of health prevention and is often combined with hiking, nutritional training, yoga or Christian contemplation.
  • When fasting according to Mayr ( Franz-Xaver-Mayr-Kur ) the basis is the “milk and bread diet”, an individual nutrition plan is drawn up.
  • With juice fasts , only fruit and vegetable juices are drunk, such as with the Breuss cure .
  • The Markert diet combines vegetable broth with an added protein.
  • Only fruits, vegetables, herbs and nuts are consumed during fruit fasting .
  • With protein-supplemented (modified) fasting, a quantity of buttermilk or a special protein concentrate ( Ulmer drink ) is consumed daily . This is supposed to prevent the body from losing large amounts of protein and induce it to break down more fat than protein.
  • With whey fasting , solid foods are completely avoided. Spread over the day, you consume 1 liter of whey (intended to reduce the body's protein loss), 0.5 liters of fruit juice (supply of vitamins, minerals and energy) and 3 liters of non-carbonated water, which supports certain body functions and so-called purification and detoxification promote and reduce the feeling of hunger . In addition, a glass (0.2 liters) of sauerkraut or plum juice is drunk every morning. It is supposed to "clean" the intestines and help to remove harmful substances suspected in the body.
  • In the case of water or tea fasting , food is also (largely) avoided, as is the drinking of juices. You only drink tea or herbal tea and (low-carbonated) water; However, many modifications are possible and common, for example with the occasional supply of juice and / or vegetable broth, kefir , buttermilk , electrolytes , vitamins, etc. This more extreme form of fasting is recommended by doctors and relevant books only completely healthy people, whereby such extreme diets are dependent are not excluded from the exact circumstances and under close medical supervision, even with health restrictions.
  • The Schroth cure is also considered a fasting cure. Drinking days and so-called dry days alternate here.
  • With intermittent fasting (also called interval fasting ) times of normal food intake and fasting, during which only water is drunk, alternate. Either fasting for at least 16 hours every day or alternating full days of fasting and days without food. Since people eat normally between the short periods of fasting of a maximum of one or two days at a time, intermittent fasting can be practiced as a permanent form of nutrition. In various animal models , this eating rhythm led to a higher life expectancy and a lower rate of age-related diseases .
  • The mock fasting diet , also known as the Fasting Mimicking Diet (FMD), represents a technologically new form of therapeutic fasting. It was researched and developed by the Italian-American gerontologist Valter Longo . The difference to traditional therapeutic fasting is that during the five-day dummy fasting diet, the consumption of solid, specially developed food is allowed. This combination enables the body to enter a state of fasting with autophagy and ketosis , despite a relatively high intake of calories for a therapeutic fasting cure .

Physical processes

If the body is not supplied with food, the metabolism shifts into catabolism over a few days . Blood pressure and blood sugar levels drop. The fat reserves are used to provide energy. Muscles are broken down to make protein. With longer fasts, the fat breakdown changes and keto bodies such as acetoacetate , acetone and 3-hydroxybutyrate are formed . This can lead to ketosis and a characteristically fruity ketone odor on the breath. When fasting for a long time, the body also releases endorphins . These physical effects were found in a study published in 2019 on therapeutic fasting by Françoise Wilhelmi de Toledo in collaboration with Andreas Michalsen from Charité Berlin .


Already on one or two days of preparation, very little is eaten: low in fat and high in fiber. Confectionery and luxury foods are already being avoided. A low-carbohydrate and high-fat diet during the preparation days promotes the conversion of the metabolism to fat burning .

There are basically two methods of bowel emptying, which in turn are divided into different variations.

  • Enema (enema): A hyperosmolar fluid is introduced into the intestine via the rectum . Due to the hyperosmolarity, water is bound inside the intestine and an emptying stimulus is triggered.
  • Laxatives : There are several remedies, for example Glauber's salt or the similar FX-Passage salt.


Therapeutic fasting is helpful or should be, according to its proponents, for the following clinical pictures and complaints

The German Nutrition Society (DGE) reports scientifically proven, positive effects on metabolic syndrome , chronic inflammation and psychosomatic diseases.

The addition of chemotherapy for the treatment of cancer by prior or subsequent fasting can protect healthy cells while killing tumor cells and increase the tolerability of the therapy. It is hoped that the treatments will be extended by limiting the highly toxic effects of the cytostatics used, without at the same time unwittingly protecting the tumor.


Many doctors advise against this method. Short-term therapeutic fasting should only be taken by healthy people. Longer fasting cures without medical supervision are warned.

Certain groups of people should not fast:

People with mental illness should consult their doctor before fasting.


  • Hellmut Lützner : Like being reborn through fasting. Gräfe and Unzer, 2008
  • Hans Peter Bischoff, Volker Schmiedel: Practical Guide Naturopathy . Methods, diagnostics, therapy procedures in synopses. Ed .: Matthias Augustin . 3rd, completely revised Edition. G. Fischer Verlag, Ulm / Stuttgart / Jena / Lübeck 1999, ISBN 3-437-55130-2 , p. 878 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. RM Anson et al: The diet restriction paradigm: a brief review of the effects of every-other-day feeding. In: Age. 27, 2005, pp. 17-25. doi: 10.1007 / s11357-005-3286-2 (Review)
  2. Longo, Valter, author: Eat yourself young Scientifically proven nutrition for a healthy and long life - the Longevità diet . 2018, ISBN 978-3-442-17714-1 .
  3. ^ Françoise Wilhelmi de Toledo, Andreas Michalsen, Stefan Drinda, Audrey Bergouignan, Franziska Grundler: Safety, health improvement and well-being during a 4 to 21-day fasting period in an observational study including 1422 subjects . In: PLOS ONE . tape 14 , no. 1 , January 2, 2019, ISSN  1932-6203 , p. e0209353 , doi : 10.1371 / journal.pone.0209353 , PMID 30601864 , PMC 6314618 (free full text).
  4. a b c d Bas Kast - The Nutrition Compass , Verlag C. Bertelsmann, 2nd edition, pp. 279ff, Munich 2018, ISBN 978-3-570-10319-7
  5. Bischoff / Schmiedel, p. 165 f.
  6. G. Hölz: Archive link ( Memento of the original dated February 6, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. Therapeutic fasting - great potential. In: UGB-Forum  6, pp. 277–279, 2011. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  7. DGE press release of February 27, 2018 , accessed on April 15, 2020
  8. NDR: Can fasting support chemotherapy? Retrieved September 30, 2019 .
  9. Judith Görs: Fasting in the fight against cancer. Retrieved September 30, 2019 .
  10. For breast and ovarian cancer: Short-term fasting probably makes chemotherapy more effective and easier to tolerate. Retrieved September 30, 2019 .
  11. Fernando M. Safdie, Tanya Dorff, David Quinn, Luigi Fontana, Min Wei: Fasting and cancer treatment in humans: A case series report . In: Aging . tape 1 , no. December 12 , 2009, pp. 988-1007 , doi : 10.18632 / aging.100114 ( [accessed January 6, 2018]).
  12. Gustav van Niekerk, Suzel M. Hattingh, Anna-Mart Engelbrecht: Enhanced Therapeutic Efficacy in Cancer Patients by Short-term Fasting: The Autophagy Connection . In: Frontiers in Oncology . tape 6 , 2016, ISSN  2234-943X , doi : 10.3389 / fonc.2016.00242 ( [accessed January 6, 2018]).