This month a British tabloid published a story about Akahi Ricardo and Camila Castillo, a self-styled "breatharian" couple who claimed they have "barely eaten for the last nine years" and are "sustained solely by the energy of the universe."
The couple spoke of how they "have survived on little else besides a piece of fruit or vegetable broth just 3 times per week" over the last decade. At one point, they claimed, they went three years without eating or drinking anything. Claiming "humans can easily be without food—as long as they are the connected to the energy that exists in all things and through breathing," the duo are portrayed as living only on light and air, while possessing an "understanding [of] cosmic nourishment (not just physical nourishment) and living without limits.”
Castillo even claimed that she carried two children while staying breatharian, knowing her "son would be nourished enough by my love and this would allow him to grow healthily in my womb."
Like many outrageous medical woo stories, the Sun's tale was picked up by other tabloids, including the New York Post, and fringe alternative medicine websites, all of which re-printed Ricardo and Castillo's claims without contrasting them with basic science.
If anyone had checked, they'd quickly learn that the couple's claims defy everything we know about how both thermodynamics and the human body work. Their claims fall under the logical fallacy known as "special pleading," or asking for an unwarranted exception to established knowledge.
The couple's claim of going "three years" without eating or drinking violates every known principle of human nutrition and physiology. The maximum amount of time a person can go without water is about three or four days, and around three weeks without food.
Unsurprisingly, Ricardo and Castillo aren't the first people to claim they live a "breatharian" lifestyle, subsisting only on the life-giving energy of the universe, as opposed to food and drink like the rest of us suckers.
In March, Broadly profiled two of what they described as "thousands" of breatharians who say they are sustained only be energy and occasional liquids. And a Ukrainian model gained a reputation as a "human Barbie doll" for her many plastic surgeries and outlandish claim that she subsists only on "air and light" in her effort to become "the most perfect woman on the internet."
It's incredibly dangerous, these stories: multiple people have died from trying to live breatharian beliefs. A teacher in Scotland, a mother of nine in Australia, and another person in Switzerland have all died grizzly deaths from starvation while attempting to subsist on light and air.
Beatharianism comes with a grab bag of religious tenets, taking bits from Indian mysticism, Hinduism, and Buddhism, and combining them with pseudoscientific concepts like sungazing (staring directly at the sun). It's a favorite of self-styled gurus who have gotten rich off people seeking mystical enlightenment, all of whom have failed to prove their claims.
The foremost practicitioner, an Australian woman who goes by "Jasmuheen," has written a slew of books about living off light, but has failed to demonstrate her abilities in several filmed attempts. Indeed, she was found to have a refrigerator full of food in her home.
Another guru, Wiley Brooks, calls himself the "founder of breatharianism." He sells breatharian workshops ad was interviewed on the Tom Snyder Show in 1981. He also was caught buying Twinkees at a 7-11, and has concocted an elaborate mythology that allows him to eat cheeseburgers and Diet Coke while simultaneously living off air and light.
Yet another, an Indian mystic named Hira Ratan Manek, runs a "solar healing center" and claims to obtain all of his nutrition by staring at the sun. He was caught by a documentary crew eating at a restaurant in San Francisco.
It's here that Akahi Ricardo and Camila Castillo bear a second look, because they too are monetizing their fringe beliefs, which they may not actually believe.
Ricardo's website hawks books, DVDs, $1,000 tickets to week-long retreats, and video courses, all of which promise to "correct damaged DNA, generate and rejuvenate emotional, mental and physical well-being, regulate the oxygen intake in the body and align the nervous system in the best interest of the overall health of human body."
Likewise, Castillo has a website called "Pranic Woman" where she sells video courses and books about "conscious evolution" and "living on light." The only hint from either that none of this has the slightest evidence to support it is a brief disclaimer on Castillo's site that what she sells is "for information purposes only." Ricardo, however, claims his program is "scientifically proven."
After exposing the Sun's story as having originated with a British content company, CNN contacted the duo to follow up. Ricardo stood by all of his ridiculous claims, saying the exposure has led to "thousands" of people contacting him. He reiterated that "we all know the air is light. We all know there is energy in nature. So there's no way this can be dangerous."
Could there be any more extreme beliefs than those held by these people who are convinced that the earth is flat or that we live in a computer-generated matrix? Some people are convinced that it is possible to live without eating or drinking—literally claiming to be “existing on air.” These “breatharians” claim to be feeding on only light and air in addition to so-called “prana,” the supposed vital universal energy (whose existence has never been demonstrated).
For many, the idea of “feeding on light,” as they say, is a captivating siren. They claim that it is possible to “reprogram” one’s body through meditation techniques so that water and food are no longer needed. Too bad it doesn’t work.
A fast can last a few days—a week at most—but after much longer it can be very harmful, leading to death by decay. In the first twenty-four hours, glycogen stocks, the primary source of energy of the cells, are exhausted; to maintain glycemic values in the norm, the body gets the necessary glucose from fats and proteins. However, these soon run out. A fast that also omits water, of course, leads to death much sooner.
About 3,000 people in Europe alone claim to follow this extremely dangerous practice. Fatalities from this practice tend to make the news, though others who practice less restrictive forms may not necessarily come to light and may be more common. Timo Degen, a German kindergarten teacher, learned about breatharianism from a website in 1997. After three weeks of fasting, he went into a coma and died. Then Lina Marcia Roslyn Morris, a fifty-three-year-old Australian, met a couple who convinced her to live on air alone; she died after seven days, and the couple was convicted of her murder. In 1999, a Scottish man named Verity Linn also stumbled across a breatharian website and died from fasting. His body was found two weeks after his death.
Very rarely are those who publicize this type of practice put to any public test. The only documented case dates back to 1999, when Australian program 60 Minutes followed one of the main proponents of breatharianism, Ellen Grave (better known as Jasmuheen), for a week.
After only one day, she started to show signs of dehydration. Jasmuheen then said she felt “disturbed by pollution.” She was moved to a mountainous region, where dehydration worsened; she started to have problems speaking and was losing weight. On the fourth day, the program was interrupted at the request of doctors who feared kidney damage or worse.
How can anyone believe something so absurd? The spokespersons of the movement, such as Jasmuheen, actually lie. They feed in secret or drink juices or eat chocolate, vegetarian food, or fruit and are convinced that there is nothing wrong with that. They justify themselves by thinking that some exceptions to the regimen are harmless—more for fun than for necessity. In reality, if they stop making such exceptions, they would die within a few days, like everybody else.
The news media often make things worse. In Italy, for example, a TV show titled Openspace was perhaps the first to give visibility to this practice in 2015. The Turin edition of Corriere della Sera online, published April 11, 2018, reported on two Turin women who claimed to feed on nothing but “energy.” This was in fact a hoax. Overwhelmed by the controversy, the newspaper immediately withdrew the article out of fear that it could be taken seriously by gullible people.
It is precisely those who experience psychological or emotional fragility who can easily fall prey to those promising simple solutions to minor or nonexistent health problems (such as unneeded “detoxing” or “reprogramming”). This happened with another resident of Turin, a sixty-two-year-old French pensioner, Alain René Francois Fourrè, who, convinced that he could live for weeks without eating, died of malnutrition.
In 2013, a YouTuber named Naveena Shine documented her attempt to become a breatharian—a person who claims to nourish themselves on air and light, rather than food. Breatharianism has been operating in the far fringes of new age esoterica for decades, with its history of fraudulent gurus, public humiliation, and tragedy.
The channel of Naveena: https://www.youtube.com/@livingonlight6933
It is worth watching but also you can see at the end that while she gave up, she still believes.
No, prana is food for the soul, not for the body, each can be sustained only on it's own level or materia it is made of.
But I admit, that it sounds incredibly attractive for people who are forced to labor so much for food.
This is only a fools area to go down for sure,your so right on that,its so dangerous as organs can shut down,and anyone who thinks they can live off just air [pranayama & light] which is life havnt exactly balanced their own inner light of their consciousness either, nor do they fully understand the yearning to know reality of their soul path on this planet, to even think their body would survive like that is a form of mental illness in itself a eating disorder,so its on the same path as anorexia & bulimia really...
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