Therapeutic Fasting According to Buchinger: Who Does it Help and When?

Fasting is seen by more and more people as spring cleaning for body, mind, and soul. How does Buchinger fasting work, can you do it alone at home – and what does it actually do for the body?

Regular cleaning is recommended not only for the apartment but also for the body. Fasting is meant for physical and spiritual cleansing. One of the best-known methods is the classic therapeutic fasting method based on the Buchinger method, which goes back to the German doctor and naturopath Otto Buchinger (1878-1966). For five days or longer, only the consumption of vegetable broth and diluted juices is permitted, as well as a small number of dairy products. Thus, the body receives a minimal amount of calories, vitamins, and minerals. Various positive effects are ascribed to therapeutic fasting.

Fasting brings about beneficial biochemical changes

Since primeval times, the human metabolism has been adjusted to fasting periods: In phases of abundance, our ancestors feasted uninhibitedly, in phases of deficiency the stomach remained empty for a few hours or days. Our body survives longer periods of hunger by storing energy reserves in various organs and tissues (including as fat deposits) and mobilizing them again when needed. After a long period without eating, it begins to release substances that activate fat breakdown. There are healing biochemical changes in the body, such as improved sugar and fat metabolism.

Can you “detoxify” with fasting?

What Buchinger calls “detoxification” is scientifically dubious: Slags are supposedly metabolic waste products that are deposited in the body and can cause diseases. Experts point out that end products of metabolism are continuously excreted through the kidneys, intestines, lungs, and skin.

However, when fasting, the constantly subliminal cell cleaning processes (autophagy) apparently get going: “Fasting activates the body’s own garbage disposal, so to speak,” explains nutrition doc, Anne Fleck.

Fasting doctor Buchinger experienced first-hand that not eating mobilizes the body’s self-healing powers – he used it to alleviate his rheumatism. Since then, various studies have documented the course of health-promoting processes in the body. Fasting, therefore, has an anti-inflammatory effect: the body releases substances that can dampen inflammatory processes in the body.

Therapeutic fasting does not lead to permanent weight loss

However, the complete renunciation of food also triggers stress: Since the body does not get any energy from food, it reduces its energy consumption (basic metabolic rate) and breaks down protein in the muscles to generate energy. Prolonged fasting can therefore have undesirable side effects such as muscle wasting if not counteracted by physical activity.

The pounds tumble off rapidly during the fast, but the pads are back on your hips all the faster after breaking the fast if there is no fundamental change in diet: the yo-yo effect, which is also known and feared in diets, occurs.

Fasting with previous illnesses only under medical supervision

Even if therapeutic fasting can promote health, people with severe heart and kidney diseases, cancer, gout, or gallbladder problems should not fast. Only healthy people can start fasting on their own – people with previous illnesses should always talk to their doctor beforehand. It is possible to take a cure in special fasting clinics under medical supervision. As part of a rehabilitation measure, the statutory health insurance companies then assume the costs for certain clinical pictures.

Fasting according to Buchinger: the mental side

An important factor in fasting according to Buchinger is also the spiritual side. Many fasting people report that consciously abstaining for several days is good for the body. You will find inner peace again and experience an improved body feeling. This effect is reinforced by the incorporation of daily rest periods. A changed attitude towards food and nutrition also has an effect beyond the period of fasting. Fasting can be a very good start for lifestyle changes such as changing your diet, quitting smoking, and increasing exercise.

This is how the Buchinger method works: Initiation of fasting

The fasting cure begins with a one- to two-day preparatory phase, the so-called relief days. Light food such as steamed vegetables, vegetable soup, or porridge relieves the burden on the intestines.

The actual first day of fasting then starts with a thorough emptying of the intestines so that you don’t feel hungry during the fast. A common remedy for this is a laxative drink with Glauber’s salt (from the pharmacy).

Fasting drinks and food intake according to Buchinger

When fasting, a daily fluid intake of at least 2 to 3 liters should be ensured – correspondingly more when exercising. Drinking enough is important to prevent side effects such as headaches, circulatory disorders, or flatulence: vegetable broth with herbs, teas (in the morning with a little honey), vegetable and fruit juices – preferably freshly prepared.

To maintain muscle, it is also allowed to add protein to the nutrition plan: 200 grams of quark, yogurt, or milk per day.

Bowel care and exercise

Regular drinking of sauerkraut juice regulates intestinal activity.

Promote elimination: The intestines need an enema every two days to clean them. This requires an enema or an irrigator – and some time to be undisturbed. Only if an enema is not feasible at all can you help with Epsom salt or “F.X. Passage Salt”.

It is important to get your circulation and metabolism going, for example with Kneipp affusions and sport. Regular physical exercise with a medium load counteracts the breakdown of proteins from the muscles.


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