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Medically Supervised Water-only Fasting in the Treatment of Hypertension

A landmark study showing that hypertension (the most significant predictor of all-cause mortality), can be dramatically reduced by fasting and maintained by a proper refeeding diet and adherence to a low-sodium, plant-based diet. 174 patients with high blood pressure ranging from Stage 1 to Stage 3 fasted an average of 10.6 days. Blood pressure reduction ranged from -29/-11 in those with Stage 1, -40/-15 in those with Stage 2, and -60/-17 in those with Stage 3, for an average drop of -37/-13. All patients who were medicated prior to the fast, were able to remain off their medications at the conclusion of the study.


Hypertension-related dis-eases are the leading cause of morbidityand mortality in industrially developedsocieties. Although antihypertensive drugsare extensively used,dietary and lifestylemodifications also are effective in the treat-ment of patients with hypertension. One suchlifestyle intervention is the use of medicallysupervised,water-only fasting as a safe and effec-tive means of normalizing blood pressure and initiat-ing health-promoting behavioral changes.


One hundred seventy-four consecutive hypertensivepatients with blood pressure in excess of 140 mm Hg systolic,90 mm Hg diastolic (140/90 mm Hg),or both were treated in aninpatient setting under medical supervision. The treatment pro-gram consisted of a short prefasting period (approximately 2 to3 days on average) during which food consumption was limitedto fruits and vegetables,followed by medically supervisedwater-only fasting (approximately 10 to 11 days on aver-age) and a refeeding period (approximately 6 to 7 days onaverage) introducing a low-fat,low-sodium,vegan diet.


Almost 90% of the subjects achievedblood pressure less than 140/90 mm Hg bythe end of the treatment program. The aver-age reduction in blood pressure was 37/13mm Hg,with the greatest decrease beingobserved for subjects with the most severehypertension. Patients with stage 3 hypertension(those with systolic blood pressure greater than 180mg Hg,diastolic blood pressure greater than 110 mg Hg,or both) had an average reduction of 60/17 mm Hg at the conclu-sion of treatment. All of the subjects who were taking antihyper-tensive medication at entry (6.3% of the total sample) successful-ly discontinued the use of medication.


Medically supervised water-only fasting appears to be a safe and effective means of normalizing blood pressure and may assist in motivating health-promoting diet and lifestyle changes. (J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2001;24:335-9)

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