Fasting has been part of religious rituals and ceremonies for centuries, but we can credit physician Henry Tanner, M.D., for using fasting as a therapeutic tool for healing. “Tanner was an eclectic doctor,” Henricks shares, “and in 1877, he was living in Minneapolis and had a series of ailments. He had a heart condition, stomach condition…He decided to fast for however long it took to either cure himself or wither away and die.” Sounds pretty bleak, but as he went longer and longer without food, he actually noticed himself getting stronger. In 1880, Tanner was even invited to New York City to stage a “public fast” for all the folks who couldn’t believe that you could fast for as long as he did.
“It became a sensation,” says Hendricks. “His fast had planted seeds, and repeatedly over the next 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 years, other advocates of fasting would spring up and carry on the torch. And that is how we have gotten to this stage where it is, in fact, a therapeutic tool.”