Herbalist to beat Fasting Record (49 Days)
Shanghai Star. 2004-03-25THE attempt by 50-year-old herbalist Chen Jianmin to beat the record for fasting set last year by US magician David Blaine is off to a good start.
Chen plans to fast for 49 days – five days more than Blaine – and he is near the end of his first week without food.
Blaine set his record while suspended above London’s River Thames in a glass box. Chen, who started his fast around 3:00pm on March 20, is locked inside a small glass cabin built halfway up Bifeng Valley, a mountain resort in Ya’an City of Southwest China’s Sichuan Province.
Seated inside a 15-square-metre glass room, his entire fast will be closely monitored by 50 witnesses, including some from Ya’an City Notary Office and a special medical team sent by the City People’s Hospital and Huaxi Medical University.
During his planned 49-day fast, Chen will not leave the room or have food – he can only drink water.
Chen, from Luzhou City in Sichuan, said his fast would “attest to the regimen of traditional Chinese medical science”.
And prior to going into foodless seclusion, he underwent a thorough physical check-up while supervisors searched every corner of the glass cabin to ensure that no food was hidden there.
Chen is keeping a detailed record of his daily life, work, volume of water consumed, excretions and feelings of hunger, so as to provide first-hand data for future medical research. Chen also asked for medical equipment to be placed in his glass box to better monitor his condition.
In the first week, Chen got up as usual at 6:00am and at noon took a one-hour nap. Without visits from the clients of his herbalist business, Chen said he would rather look on the fast as a vacation. On the first day, he practised Chinese Kungfu for the audience outside his glass cabin.
Chen said he believed in the “magic of fasting” after studying ancient Chinese medical scriptures, which said that people could achieve longevity and maintain health through jingzuo (sitting quietly) and pigu (not eating grapes).
Chen claims that he once went 81 days without food while still working regularly. Many of his colleagues knew of this feat and said the current planned 49-day fast would be a minor matter for Chen.
Before entering the glass cabin, Chen also said that instead of having to be carried out by medical workers and rushed to hospital – as was the case with Blaine when his fast ended – he would walk out of the cabin.
Chen’s “stunt” has drawn hordes of people, both local and from far away, to Bifengxia Valley. Initially, some had doubts that the water he was drinking may have been fortified with nutrients as the pipes carrying the water are not transparent.
To ensure that the water is just plain water, from the second day of his fast, it was checked by the notary office, the media and supervisors.
Chen’s attempt on the fasting record has divided medical experts. Many hold that people can only survive one or two weeks without taking food and that 49 days will be a great threat to his health and will prove to be impossible. Others have said that as different people have different physical abilities, the planned fast may be successful.
Now the Challengers of the Fasting Record
ST. PETERSBURG, Russia, Oct. 16, 2006 (AP) A Russian man on Monday claimed to have set a new world record _ for fasting. A bearded and hollow-cheeked Agasi Vartanyan finished what he said was his 50th day without food, climbing out of plastic cube on the banks of the Neva River outside of St. Petersburg _ and promptly berating reporters.
“I feel offended because my efforts did not attract much attention,” the 46-year-old said. “Only local media wrote about it.”
He then hopped into a waiting car and drove away by himself.
Doctors who examined Vartanyan said he lost 51 pounds during the ordeal, dropping to 158 pounds.
A spokeswoman, Lybov Kobzar, told reporters that Vartanyan drank about 0.8 gallons of water a day. To pass the time, he watched TV, listened to the radio, and talked on his cell phone. As the weather in the northern Russian city turned colder, he got an electric heater.
Beginning his attempt on Aug. 27, Vartanyan said he was inspired by a similar effort by stuntman and illusionist David Blaine, who fasted for 44 days in 2003 while suspended acrylic box over the Thames River in London.
Vartanyan said he planned on submitting documentation of his efforts to the Guinness Book of World Records.