Dry Fasting in Siberia? Huh?

I didn’t know anything about dry fasting in Siberia before I read Michelle B. Slater’s book.

Her PR rep sent me an email and asked me ifdry fasting in Siberia I’d like to read the book and consider Michelle for the Causes or Cures Podcast. I was intrigued…but I was also hesitant to pursue the topic for the podcast because in today’s hyper-accusatory world, I didn’t want to be charged with providing someone a platform to peddle “something dangerous”, and dry-fasting isn’t a convention-approved treatment for any ailment. Such a charge can cost you your current job and any future jobs, especially if you work in public health like I do. After sitting with my thoughts for a moment, I realized my hesitation was rooted in fear, specifically the fear of being judged, and I didn’t want to be a coward. Besides, I’ve already been judged for my self-published book Manic Kingdom, which is based on my true story (meaning some parts are fictionalized), but at the end of the day, I’m glad I put it out into the world. It’s a story…and if someone reduces me to some portion of that story that is super disturbing, well, so be it. They’ll be missing out on big chunks of me…just one small tragedy from the rampant wave of intellectual reductionism. ;)

I’m a curious person by nature. It’s my curiosity that leads me to engage with interesting people, perspectives, and embark on new adventures…which at the end of the day, gives me a much needed kick out of life…an intellectual buzz… a reason to keep exploring the world around me without caving to fear. Talking to someone doesn’t mean I agree with them. Perhaps I find him or her interesting or perhaps he or she amuses me or sees the world in a way that I’m curious about. Talking about a topic doesn’t mean I’m promoting anything or supporting anything. Asking questions doesn’t mean I’m against anything. Hearing a person’s story or sharing a person’s story doesn’t mean it will influence me one way over another…especially my brain, which goes back and forth on things…back and forth…back and forth…like my dog when he has to pee in the middle of the night, and I’m sound asleep. Why on earth is she telling us all this for one podcast?!?  I suppose it’s to remind myself and whoever is reading this of what is happening in minds around the world in people who are afraid of having conversations with certain people, afraid of associating with certain people, afraid of having public conversations about specific topics, afraid of stating their opinions and really, afraid of expressing their authentic selves to the world. Fear is not always a bad thing. The chronic hiding of your authentic self because of fear, is.

Ahem… I kinda digressed there, didn’t I? It happens. Moving on to the show about dry fasting in Siberia… :)

In a recent episode of Causes or Cures, I had a conversation with Michelle B. Slater, PHD about her book Starving to Heal in Siberia.  After working with a team of medical experts, trying everything in the book and contemplating assisted suicide, Michelle went all the way to Siberia as a last effort to heal from late-stage Lyme Disease, a chronic illness that devestated her. She spent months in Siberia where she was monitored by a Russian physician and engaged in a rigorous dry-fasting routine, along with other more unconventional therapies. Michelle credits dry fasting in Siberia for putting her on the path to healing.
What drives a person to go all the way to Siberia to engage in an unconventional therapy that many would consider risky and dangerous? What did her team of conventional doctors, friends and family think? What do folks suffering with chronic illness do and feel if all conventional approaches to treatment have been exhausted, but the person just isn’t getting better?  Michelle answers that, and more, in the podcast.

Disclaimer for my listeners:  I don’t recommend anyone hopping on a plane to Siberia to try dry-fasting. I  don’t endorse dry-fasting, even though I’m curiou about it. This podcast episode is not an endorsement of Siberia or dry-fasting or dry-fasting in Siberia.  I work in public health, I have a medical degree but I chose to not practice medicine, and I advise everyone to work with their team of doctors when it comes to overcoming a chronic illness. I don’t believe there are currently any peer-reviewed published studies to support the effectiveness of dry-fasting. Of course you could imagine such a trial wouldn’t get approved by an IRB.  I also don’t think I’d make it through the Siberia routine, but everyone is wired differently. I once went to a juice camp where they ban coffee, but feeling like a tranquilized, suicidal bear, I ended up breaking the rules and running to a mini mart to sneak some in. All that said, I recommend reading Michelle’s book because it’s a compelling close-up look of what it’s like for someone struggling day after day with a chronic illness and what happens when a feeling of hopelessness starts to set in. This is a podcast (not news or advice or Gospel), and this episode is one woman sharing her story.

Okay, I guess I’m not completely over my fear of being judged… apologies for the long disclaimer. But until I’m independently wealthy, I still need them in today’s painfully reductive, slap-label-happy world.  ;)

After you listen to the dry fasting in Siberia episode, also check out these others:

What was it like when the US tried universal healthcare for kidney disease? Learn more here.

Please feel free to leave a review of the Causes or Cures podcast or listen on Apple here! 

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