The Snake Oil Bulletin: One Weird Trick to Lose Belly Fat. Starve Yourself!

Hear ye, hear ye, step right up here! It's time once again for the Snake Oil Bulletin, a weekly smattering of crazy and Moran-acy to distract us from the horribleness that is life.

This week, we'll be looking into one of hottest diet fads around: not eating! No, we won't be covering those horrible girls who make fun of you in third period for not having a thigh gap. Oh no, dear reader, these people are so much worse.

Let's not waste anymore time, and plummet headfirst into the awfulness that is the Breatharian movement.

Breatharianism is the last diet you'll ever need, in that it will literally kill you

Do you need to lose weight, dear reader? If you're anything like every person in America, your bathroom scale doesn't groan so much as ask for a cigarette and a last meal before you step on it. Diets are such a pain, with their strange tastes and restrictive lists of foods you can and can't eat. Wouldn't it be easier to skip all that nonsense and just get quick results fast? Then have we got the weight loss solution for you!

Introducing Breatharianism, the revolutionary dietary system that cuts out the one factor that makes all other diet plans fail: Food! Specifically it eliminates all food completely, allowing your body to just melt away the fat and also too your organs.

Breatharianism is the pseudo-sciencey-sounding name for a cult also known as inedia (Latin for "fasting"), whose central tenets hold that the ultimate enlightenment comes when the human body has transcended not just earthly desires for sex and drugs and rock 'n roll (why does enlightenment always require being a fucking buzzkill?), but even earthly desires for things like food and water. The goal of any good Breatharian is the complete cessation of physical sustenance and to survive entirely upon sunlight. You know, like a ficus.

The best part about breatharianism is that it's great for everyone! Petulant kids who don't like their vegetables will love never eating any vegetables ever again ever! Spiritually superior gurus will simply adore the fresh new bragging rights they gain over those smug fucking level-5 vegans -- you don't eat anything that casts a shadow? Try not eating anything that has physical form, smartass!

The members of the he-man-food-haters club often pop up in the news every couple of years, mostly because its followers have a nasty tendency of dying. A lot.

One of the more high-profile cases involved a woman in Scotland starving herself to death in a quest for spiritual cleansing. After not eating or drinking for two days straight, Verity Linn decided that was best time to expose herself to the elements -- for health! -- so she hopped on a bus with nothing but a tent, plopped herself in the middle of the Scottish Highlands, and then dropped dead from exposure and dehydration -- again, for health.

Another story of a breatharian death cropped up back in 2012, when a Swiss woman, having just watched a documentary called In the Beginning, There Was Light, decided that food had become way too mainstream, so she decided to go truly underground by throwing out all her food and dying in her own home. What kind of insane movie would drive a woman to starve herself to death? Glad you asked, dear reader, but only weirdos talk out loud to their computers.

In the Beginning, There Was Light was a 2010 Austrian documentary that centered on the beliefs and prophecies of one Jasmuheen, Ambassador of Peace, or as the tax office knows her, Ellen Greve of New South Wales, Australia.

Look how many fucking bangles she's wearing. Do you motherfuckers know how goddamn enlightened you have to be to wear that many goddamn bangles? Fuck.

Guru Jasmuheen began her career as a general New Age quack, advocating standard-issue numptie beliefs like universal love energies, healing cosmic powers (and yes, of course that means aliens), and various earth-magic nonsense (she's probably got an earthing pad or twelve lying around her house). But what really distinguished Jasmuheen from her slightly less insane colleagues came when she began to preach the idea that the human body did not need food in order to live, but rather could sustain itself on "prana," an ancient Hindu magical force that powers all living things, not unlike the vital force nonsense that homeopaths believe makes their watershakes cure polio. Is there any evidence prana exists? Of course not, but if you ask Jasmuheen, that just proves it's all the more real.

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Look, don't think about it too hard and just buy her book, Living on Light, which not coincidentally was one of the only items found on Verity Linn's dead body. And oh hey, Linn's journal stated unequivocally that she was on day 7 of Jasmuheen's 21 day fast when the journal entries mysteriously stopped. She must have eaten the last of her pens for nourishment.

After readers of Jasmuheen's book started dropping like flies back in the late nineties, Australia's version of 60 Minutes decided to test Jasmuheen's claims that she could survive on prana alone, by offering to test her in a controlled environment in which she ate or drank nothing, as we can see in this rather wonky video here:

After two days of not eating, Jasmuheen complained that the pollution from the nearby city was inhibiting her ability to absorb sunlight (she's charging up for a solarbeam), so the team moved her to a mountain retreat out of town. By day four, Jasmuheen had lost over 6kg (14lbs) and her resting heart rate had nearly doubled, but still she insisted that she felt fine. Or rather, she slurred that she felt fine because by that time she could barely keep her head up. By that time the doctor on staff insisted that the test end, lest 60 Minutes be legally culpable for Jasmuheen's imminent death.

We'll say this about our dear cult leader: when she commits to the lie she damn well commits.

To this day Jasmuheen insists that the test was bogus, asserting that the air pollution was why her vital signs were so bad, and that 60 Minutes actually ended the test because they were afraid she was about to prove her true powers.

Despite her public shellacking, Jasmuheen's adventures in idiocy continued. Among her more hilariously bullshit claims, Jasmuheen insisted that she had reached such a high level of spiritual consciousness that her DNA had transformed from 2 strands to 12 in order to absorb more hydrogen:

(PAUL) One claim that I thought could be tested relatively easily, according to your web pages, your DNA is changing to take up more hydrogen and is developing from 2 to 12 strands. Now they could be checked very quickly with a blood test, a simple blood test. Would you consent to such a testing?

(JASMUHEEN) Oh that depends. What I'd rather do is people go and have a look at the work of the Dalai Lama for example. Like in 1991 ---

(PAUL) Pardon me for interrupting, but I don't think he actually made the claim that he was restructuring his DNA, and this is a claim that could be tested. Further to it actually being tested, if you could actually prove that you have managed to manipulate your DNA there are groups like, say, the Australian Skeptics, who would gladly give you $30,000 just for being able to show that. So, would you be prepared to submit yourself to a blood test?

(JASMUHEEN) For blood test for DNA - I don't know. I'd have to really think about that one. I don't know what the relevance for it is.

(PAUL) So what you're saying is that there is no objective way to be able to test or prove what you're saying except by living it.

(JASMUHEEN) Yeah, exactly, live it!

(PAUL) So you don't think that if someone makes a claim you don't think that it's up to them to be able to prove it?

(JASMUHEEN) Oh it is, and it's up to them to do it in a way that keeps them happy and the people who are wanting proof done.

Terrific. Proof is unnecessary so long as you live the lie -- we're pretty sure that's the school motto of Charlatan U, the Fightin' Hornswogglers.

So what has Jasmuheen been up to in recent years, you may ask, knowing full well the answer will be absolutely horrible. We're glad you asked! Jasmuheen continues to make a killing (ugh) by bilking rubes of their pranic love energy whore diamonds, and she's even planning a new movie (possibly a straight to astral DVD release) coming out in the very near future. Take a look at the trailer, in which you will actually see a pregnant woman say with a straight face that she only ate four times during her entire previous pregnancy, and that she has no desire for food even now.

Quoth the walking Child Protective Services case:

"[The teachings of prana] ...let us know that we don't have to search outside for someone else to give us the answer or to guide us. We have all of the answers inside us." Which is why you literally base your decision to eat and breathe on the instructions of a middle-aged white lady in a shawl. But regardless, who wouldn't want to live the Breatharian life just like these people? Especially when it has such attractive side effects as dizziness, frozen hands, and delicious bile rocketing out of our mouths. Mmm mmm mmmmmm. And remember: for health.

To be sure, this won't be the last time we'll visit our dear friends The Breatharians (what is a rejected sitcom set in the hilarious days of the third reich?). After all, we still have the breatharian guru who was caught sneaking chicken pies and McD's burgers when he thought nobody was looking, but alas, such is a tale for another day. Are you gonna finish that sunlight?

Flotsam, Jetsam, and Hokum

And now a menagerie of Morans courtesy of your friends at Wonkette.

  • Poor Kim Davis. It must really suck knowing that even the hippie commie free-love-for-all-but-don't-you-dare-wear-a-condom Pope loves everybody else except her.
  • Anti-vaxxers will soon be starting the First Amalgamated Pentecostal Charismatic Temple of the Holy Rabies Virus atop the Flaming Sword of Christ the Rubella if they want to keep killing their kids.
  • Hip hip hurray for ex-gays! It's time once again for Ex-Gay Awareness Month! Don your not-too-gay apparel and take a few minutes during this most festive time of year to give the ex-gay in your life the traditional gift of sensible penny loafers and a month's subscription to Grindr Xtra.
  • Pro-lifers protecting the sanctity of life through felonies. Plan going swimmingly!
  • Dead Breitbart is hot on the trail of a conspiiiiracy, and he won't rest until he's thoroughly humiliated a smug little teenage boy for the crime of blowing bubbles.

[Jasmuheen / Embassy of Peace / BBC / ABC / New York Daily News / Rational Wiki / Angelfire (no, really) / New York Daily News]


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