Brown Rice Fast

The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine, the oldest-known book of Chinese medicine and the foundation of the macrobiotic diet (see Macrobiotic page for more details) is based on the yin-yang principle. It describes a ten-day rice gruel fast as the first remedy for disease. Ronald E. Kotzsch writes in Macrobiotics: Yesterday and Today that The Yellow Emperor’s Classic “asserts that food is an important means for treating disease. It says that in `medieval days’ the sages treated illness first by diet, usually prescribing a regime of rice gruel (short grain brown rice) for ten days. If this treatment was not successful, then the roots and leaves of medicinal plants were used to harmonize the energies. Acupuncture and moxibustion were employed only as a last resort. If the emotions and the will of the patient are stable, says the Classic, then cereals alone can effect a cure. But note that this brown rice fast is for healing and detox, not for weight loss.

Grains have a special importance and power as human food. Water and grains are the root of life and “death comes only when they are exhausted.” In particular, rice is mentioned as a “vital and harmonious food.”

A ten-day brown rice fast may be too severe for those who have not already practiced the macrobiotic diet for some time. Such a fast is not recommended unless you get good macrobiotic counselling, know the body’s signs of yin and yang, and know how to break the fast. Instead, you can try a rice fast for one or two days. Eat as much pressure-cooked brown rice as you want. You can follow this with a couple of days of rice and vegetables with a light miso soup as the body gently comes off the rice fast and adapts to a greater variety of vegetarian foods. The longer the rice fast, the easier you should make the transition. It is wise to wait a week or more after the rice fast before eating fish, if this is part of your regular diet. Because of the past diets people have been on, reactions may vary from severe to mild to none at all. Go easy, be well informed, proceed with caution, and know when to stop.

A fast does not usually include nutritional supplements. It is usually good to drink bancha tea (see details below) or similar tea while fasting to make sure your body is getting good minerals.


Recipe for pressure-cooked brown rice:


1/2 teaspoon good sea salt to 4 cups of short grain brown rice (organic if possible) and 8 cups of pure water. Wash rice and put in pressure cooker. Add water and bring to a boil. Add salt and place cover on pressure cooker. Bring cooker up to pressure then reduce flame to medium-low. Put flame deflector under cooker and cook for 40 min. Remove pressure cooker from flame and let sit for 5 min. without opening, then remove rice from the pot so it doesn’t keep cooking. For regular daily use of brown rice when not fasting, use 1-2 teaspoons of salt per pot according to personal taste and need.

Bancha twig tea (also called kukicha) can usually be bought in tea bags at a health food store. If you can only get the loose twigs, here is the recipe for it: If the twigs you have are not already roasted, you should roast them in a dry skillet for 3-4 min. Place 1-2 tablespoons bancha twigs in a pot with 4 cups of pure water, bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5-10 min., or 10-15 min. for stronger tea. When tea is finished steeping, remove twigs from the tea and let them dry. Twigs can be reused a few times, adding some new twigs each time.

Note: If you do not have a pressure cooker, you can experiment with other methods. For example, a large cast iron pot with a lid also works well with baking the rice in the oven for about 90 minutes at normal baking temperature.

For more on Macrobiotics, go to the Macrobiotics page, or back to the Detox and Fasting section of the Wholesome Diet page.