When UKZN’s Professor Kriben Pillay reached a point where he couldn’t eat or drink anything without experiencing extreme heartburn, the symptoms of which were only alleviated by taking medication that was not designed for long-term use – and which later gave him tinnitus (persistent ringing in the ears) – he knew health alarm bells were literally ringing.
Pillay checked himself into a medical centre near Pretoria that specialises in water fasting and within two days of the almost six-day fast he was off chronic hypertension medication after 12 years of use.
This dramatic turn-around was directly attributable to weight loss. By the end of his week-long stay, the heartburn symptoms also decreased significantly and he was able to eat without medication.
On his return to work he noticed that symptoms of tachycardia (a high heart rate that was masked by the hypertension medication) he had previously also started to show significant improvement.
‘As a former Dean of Teaching and Learning, I wonder how much real research and teaching is done in our medical schools on the therapeutic benefits of fasting,’ said Pillay. ‘Research shows that fasting has a huge beneficial impact on Type 2 diabetes, and there are now studies showing its reversibility, but still we are wedded to a drug paradigm because there is no money to be made by the pharmaceutic companies with the fasting modality.’
Pillay had two extensive blood tests done before and after the fast which gave him a clear picture of what needs to be addressed – such as mild renal impairment from his chronic medications – and which involves a change of diet.
‘The only obstacle to fasting for therapeutic purposes is one’s psychology,’ said Pillay. ‘If we can get past our cultural conditioning about food, fasting is quite an easy affair, and there’s nothing like feeling totally alive again without food and beverage stimulants.’