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Could fasting hold a key to preventing and treating Long Covid (PSCS)?

Steffanie Hornstein - 05/10/2021 - 0 comments

Therapeutic success of fasting in patients with Long Covid

For the past few months, we have been treating people with long Covid symptoms in our clinics. In this new video, Dr. Françoise Wilhelmi de Toledo and Dr. Eva Lischka describe four cases of former patients with long Covid symptoms, who experienced an impressive recovery after fasting in our clinic.


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Buchinger Wilhelmi develops new programmes adapted to today’s pandemic situation

Many details are still to be understood about the coronavirus, its effects and how it can be treated. As vaccines advance and the relaxing of restrictions in Europe is discussed, concerns remain regarding “long Covid” or PSCS (Post-SARS-CoV-2 Syndrome); little is known about possible therapy and prevention of the long-term effects experienced by certain persons weeks or months after their initial Covid infection.

The multidisciplinary fasting programme [7] offered by the Buchinger Wilhelmi clinics on Lake Constance, Germany, and in Marbella, Spain, might offer solutions to overcome PSCS. The programme was initiated more than 100 years ago by Dr Otto Buchinger, a medical doctor, philosopher and pioneer of therapeutic fasting, and developed by four generations of physicians, researchers and family members. The Buchinger Wilhelmi programme is today scientifically based on several studies published in well-known medical journals [1-8].

A special programme adapted to today’s pandemic situation aims to improve the most frequent symptoms of PSCS: extreme tiredness, shortness of breath, chest pain, problems with memory and concentration, heart palpitations, dizziness and insomnia. Fasting periods from 5 to 15 days or, alternatively, individual nutritional strategies with intermittent fasting associated with numerous adjuvant therapies have shown significant improvements. Medical and scientific staff members of the Buchinger Wilhelmi clinics have made promising observations in recent months: A decrease in symptoms, mood enhancement and feelings of self-efficacy are the main effects of the treatment. Data from patients with Long Covid is currently being systematically collected in both clinics in Überlingen and Marbella.

How Buchinger Wilhelmi fasting affects PSCS / Long Covid

  • Metabolic reset [1,6,8] of factors that promote a severe course of COVID-19 as well as Long Covid: weight and waist reduction, normalisation of lipid and glucose metabolism as well as high blood pressure [2], improvements in insulin resistance and diabetes type 2.
  • Decrease of inflammatory processes: COVID-19 provokes acute and then chronic inflammatory symptoms of several tissues and organs like the lung, brain and nervous system, gut and heart. They lead to specific dysfunctions that the anti-inflammatory effects of fasting and some nutritional strategies can directly improve.
  • Enhanced antioxidative capacity and decreased lipid oxidation: contribute to stopping the process and diminishing the symptoms [3, 4].
  • Improved gut microbiota composition [5]: as an incentive to switch to a healthier diet and lifestyle.
  • Cell and vital organ rejuvenation: a COVID-19 infection as well as PSCS can cause long-lasting damage to certain organs, particularly the lungs, brain and heart. Recent publications show that fasting activates autophagy and apoptosis, two self-cleaning mechanisms that allow the body to get rid of old and damaged cells. After food reintroduction, stem cells and new synthesis boost re-expansion of the organs, causing them to be “rejuvenated”. This ability of fasting to regenerate to some extent the body’s damaged organs and structures can be of paramount importance in treating long COVID symptoms.
  • Mood enhancement and resetting emotional balance: necessary after challenging periods of confinement and suffering in order to regain hope in the future.

More about Buchinger Wilhelmi

The Buchinger Wilhelmi clinics founded by Dr Otto Buchinger celebrated their 100th anniversary in 2020. Buchinger was a medical doctor, philosopher, and pioneer of therapeutic fasting. The staff now includes seven doctors, among them various specialists, e.g. in traditional naturopathy, practiced in Europe and other continents. Registered nurses, physiotherapists, nutritionists, psychologists as well as personal trainers in all specialties complete the team.

At Buchinger Wilhelmi, guests and patients get the chance to push their ‘reset’ button and find inner space to make life-changing experiences, take important decisions for their private and professional life, considerably improve their risk profile and possibly gain a clearer sense of their purpose in life. An international, tolerant, multicultural community composed of an equal number of women and men, young and old, ensures that a stay in the clinic is a joyful experience.


  1. Wilhelmi de Toledo F, Grundler F, Bergouignan A, Drinda S, Michalsen A (2019) Safety, health improvement and well-being during a 4 to 21-day fasting period in an observational study including 1422 subjects. PLoS One 14 (1). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0209353
  2. Grundler F, Mesnage R, Michalsen A, Wilhelmi de Toledo F (2020) Blood pressure changes in 1610 subjects with and without antihypertensive medication during long-term fasting. J Am Heart Assoc 9 (23). doi:10.1161/JAHA.120.018649
  3. Wilhelmi de Toledo F, Grundler F, Goutzourelas N, Tekos F, Vassi E, Mesnage R, Kouretas D (2020) Influence of Long-Term Fasting on Blood Redox Status in Humans. Antioxidants 9 (6). doi:doi:10.3390/antiox9060496
  4. Grundler F, Mesnage R, Goutzourelas N, Tekos F, Makri S, Brack M, Kouretas D, de Toledo FW (2020) Interplay between oxidative damage, the redox status, and metabolic biomarkers during long-term fasting. Food Chem Toxicol 145
  5. Mesnage R, Grundler F, Schwiertz A, Le Maho Y, Wilhelmi de Toledo F (2019) Changes in human gut microbiota composition are linked to the energy metabolic switch during 10 d of Buchinger fasting. J Nutr Sci 8. doi:10.1017/jns.2019.33
  6. Drinda S, Grundler F, Neumann T, Lehmann T, Steckhan N, Michalsen A, Wilhelmi de Toledo F (2019) Effects of Periodic Fasting on Fatty Liver Index—A Prospective Observational Study. Nutrients 11 (11):2601. doi:doi:10.3390/nu11112601
  7. Wilhelmi de Toledo, F., et al. (2020). “Unravelling the health effects of fasting: a long road from obesity treatment to healthy life span increase and improved cognition.” Annals of medicine 52(5): 147-161.
  8. Grundler F, Plonné D, Mesnage R, Müller D, Sirtori CR, Ruscica M, Wilhelmi de Toledo F (forthcoming 2021) Long-term fasting improves lipoprotein-associated atherogenic risk in humans. Eur J Nutr