Dry Fasting for Physical and Mental Benefits

In a world where one of the few things you can control is what food you choose to put in your mouth, various kinds of fasting have become popular for mental and physical health. People use fasting for detoxing, meditation, spiritual growth, and other benefits. Fasts come in many forms including juice fasts, wet fasts, and even dry fasts. Dry fasts are not as common but, when done properly, can still be used to improve physical and mental health.

Dry fasts are also known as true fasts, absolute fasts, or Hebrew fasts because they require full abstinence from both food and water. For many, this kind of fast has a biblical and spiritual connection. It is the kind of fast that Moses, Elijah, Jesus, and many people in biblical times participated in.


There are two types of dry fasts — hard and soft. When someone does a hard dry fast they don’t even let water touch their body. This includes showering, brushing teeth, washing hands, etc. This is because during a dry fast the skin cells turn into methods of absorption. Esmée La Fleur explains in her article, An Introduction to Dry Fasting, that during this kind of fast, the skin’s pores “develop a greater capacity to absorb water through the skin and in a good clean environment will readily absorb moisture from the air.” Tonya Zavasta, author of Quantum Eating, says that in addition to this change in the skin, “the body during a dry fast absorbs atmospheric carbon dioxide and nitrogen to manufacture its own amino acids.”
Dry fasts also seem to occur in nature. Zavasta describes how animals tend to withdraw from food and water when they are sick or wounded until they get better. The Russian doctor Sergei Filonov describes a similar observation of animal dry fasting in his book, Dry Medical Fasting: Myths and Realities, originally written in Russian (rough English translation available.)


This type of fast may raise a few eyebrows, and rightfully so. When done incorrectly or for too long, a dry fast can be dangerous. Most experts recommend easing into a dry fast using a few different methods. Allaboutfasting.com suggests starting with juice fasts and a raw diet before making the jump to a full dry fast. Filonov advises doing a shorter 36-hour fast during the week and gradually building up to two to four days. He also discusses a “fractioned dry fast” where you dry fast for five to seven days, rehydrate for three days, and continue the dry fast for nine or 11 days.

Karen Ranzi recommends caution when adding days as she knows a man who landed in the hospital with complications following a five day dry fast. She also recommends that you are fully raw for a long time before going into dry fasting. She has experienced positive benefits from doing 24 to 40 hour dry fasts, but no longer without water.

There is a method known as “cascade fasting” in which you fast for a day and eat for a day and then increase to fasting for two and eating for two and so on building up to five days at a time. Zavasta contends that the best way to reap the benefits of dry fasting, as well as the most manageable way, is by even shorter and more frequent fasts. She recommends doing daily 14 to16-hour dry fasts. Arnold Kauffman employs this method of daily fasting and describes it as one of the most manageable and satisfying fasting methods he’s experienced. Dr. Robert Lockhart of Australia also praises the benefits of dry fasting.

arnold-kaufman-and-robert-lockhart                                                        Arnold Kaufman and Dr. Robert Lockhart

Zavasta praises dry fasting because it “stimulates the immune system, activates the body’s anti-inflammatory mechanisms, purifies the blood and clears the blood vessels, as well as cleanses the GI tract and renews its mucosal lining.” Some also report using dry fasts as a method of healing sick cells within the body. Others use it as a way to feel young and renewed. For many, dry fasting can be a challenge but can also connect you mentally and spiritually to the wondrous work of your body.


Dry fasting | Types of fasting | AllAboutFasting. (n.d.). Retrieved September 26, 2016,
from http://www.allaboutfasting.com/dry-fasting.html

Filonov, S. I. (2008). Dry Medical Fasting: Myths and Realities (English version).
Publishing House Ltd “Five Plus”. Retreived September 26, 2016, from https://drive.google.com/drive/u/0/folders/0B4tJ7C56vOnxYTVmZjVjY2ItMDk3YS00NDdiLTk2MzctYzMyYTMzZmY3MjJh?hl=en_US

Kauffman, A. (2013, July 1). Dry Fasting Arnold’s Way. Retrieved September 26, 2016,
from http://www.fruit-powered.com/dry-fasting-arnolds-way/

La Fleur, E. (2015). Dry Fasting. Retrieved September 26, 2016, from

Zavasta, T. (n.d.). Dry Fasting Phenomenon: From Deprive to Thrive. Retrieved
September 26, 2016, from http://www.beautifulonraw.com/dry-fasting-phenomenon-from-deprive-to-thrive.html

Written by Hannah Reasoner, Ramapo College Intern for Karen Ranzi, M.A

3 Responses so far.

  1. Well researched article.Thanks for sharing
  2. Stella says:
    Can I alternate 36 hours dry fast with 36 hours water fast and come back to 36 hours or more dry fast? what are the changes I will promote? I am experienced Juice and water faster, and eat organic raw plant foods.
    • karen says:
      I do think that dry fasting can be extremely beneficial for healing and maintaining good health. A dry fast of 36 hours once a month for a healthy person works well. I don’t recommend water fasting more than three days without supervision. I like to do a green juice cleanse for one to two weeks twice a year.